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Drawing Lesson 29, Part 2 – Drawing a Rose

Drawing a Rose in Black Ink

Video Lesson Description

In this video lesson you will discover the process of Drawing a Rose in black ink.

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Drawing a Rose Step by Step

The premium quality paper is used for the ink illustration. The paper surface is smooth and takes the ink well.

I will use the “Leonard England” metal nib for Drawing a Rose in black ink. As this is an illustration done in pen, and not an academic drawing, we can bend the rule of developing the whole drawing simultaneously and work from the top-left to the bottom-right. The medium dictates such approach as ink takes time to dry and we definitely want to avoid smudging the ink by hand.


Drawing a Rose
I begin drawing a rose with outlining the contour of the rose petals. I vary the pressure on the pen to achieve an uneven live line in ink. The line starts thin, then goes thicker, and ends thin once again.

The rendering inside the petals can be done in many different ways when drawing a rose. I would suggest following the shape of the petals for the best results when rendering.

Drawing a rose in ink is quite different from techniques used in drawing with graphite pencil or charcoal. Smooth blending of strokes is not doable. Every pen-stroke is clearly visible and as dark as the rest of the marks. So to achieve the artistic results you want, you can vary the length and direction of pen strokes, their thickness and distance between individual strokes.

When drawing a rose, the flower is being outlined first in black ink and then its petal texture rendered in thin pen strokes. The density of strokes defines the tonal value of shades. To increase the depth of the tone, I do cross-hatching lines that go under an angle to the first layer. It is important to keep gaps between lines at all times. There are no half tones in black ink strokes. Every line comes out as black as the previous one. Without gaps between strokes, the shaded area would become completely black in color.

Ink drawing requires a certain discipline and cannot be rushed. Needless to say, when drawing a rose in ink, fixing mistakes is quite a challenging task. So it is better to avoid any splatters and drips, as it is almost impossible to erase them without damaging the paper. If by accident you had some wrong lines or drips, it is better to leave this area alone to dry completely before attempting to fix an error. When the ink is totally dry, you can try carefully scraping the ink with a razor or scalpel. When the surface of paper is scratched it can reveal its fibrous texture that might cause ink bleeding.

The Ink Drawing Media

Ink drawing is a very old medium. It has been around for many centuries and was used extensively by the Old Masters of the Renaissance.

Ink is used for both writing and drawing. Throughout the centuries, people found many ways of making writing inks. Various materials were used for that purpose: berries, plants, minerals and animals. Inks vary in quality, opacity, viscosity; they also have different drying times.

For drawing in ink, it is better to use pigmented lightfast ink rather than dye-based illustrator’s ink, which will eventually fade.

Drawing a Rose – Black Ink Wash

The illustration of roses in black ink has a final wash of diluted black ink on top of the pen strokes. When you are drawing a rose and want to apply washes, consider how your black ink looks in a well diluted condition. Not all black inks are black. Some can wash out into blue, brown or purple tint and it might affect the appearance of your artwork.

The ink used for drawing a rose is Liquid Indian Ink by Winsor and Newton. This ink is a water-based solution of traditional Chinese stick ink of lamp black. It is non-waterproof. This ink has a slightly brown tint. Liquid Indian Ink has more watery consistency than Standard Indian Ink by Winsor and Newton. Standard Indian Ink is made from carbon black and contains Shellac as a medium. Shellac makes this ink more water resistant and gives a glossy sheen.

Both inks are good for drawing a rose with an old-fashioned dip pen. However, they give a different performance. The nib would hold less Liquid Indian Ink compared to a Standard one. Liquid Ink can bleed on fibrous paper, so it is a good idea to check how the paper takes this ink first. When it comes to washing nibs after use, Standard Ink is much harder to clean up especially when it is dry. On another hand, when ink drawing is dry it would not be dissolved in water and watercolor wash can be applied on top without diluting the black drawing.

Correct Pen Grip for Drawing a Rose in Ink

Now I want to point your attention once again to the importance of the right pen grip. When drawing a rose, the right way to hold a pen is to support it on your third finger and hold it down with the thumb from another side and index finger from the top. The pen handle must point directly to the writing hand shoulder. In this way, when you bend and extend your three fingers with the pen, the nib will go forth and back in parallel to the paper surface. This will ensure constant pressure on the nib while drawing a rose, and much greater control of the pen.

There is no secret why correct pen grip is important for good results when drawing a rose. It is pure mechanics. Think of your hand as a complex mechanism with levers in the form of bones and hinges in the form of knuckle-joints. The pen is just an extension of your hand. For this tool to move smoothly in parallel to the paper surface, all three fingers must move in unison and keep constant pressure on the pen. It happens naturally when the position of all parts of the mechanism is correct.

Check it for yourself by doing a small experiment. Point the pen handle away from your shoulder, and now move your three fingers with a pen. You will see how the tip of the pen lifts up in a curved trajectory rather than staying close to the paper. So you have to use other unnecessary hand movements just to keep the pen on the surface. It takes too much of effort on your part, with most of your attention going to controlling the pen, not on making a beautiful piece of artwork.

Drawing a Rose in Ink

Drawing a rose in ink is very rewarding. I really get pleasure from the process. When I’m drawing a rose in ink, I feel that artwork will last a long time. For some reason, I don’t have the same feelings about digital artworks. Good quality non-fading ink on acid-free paper can survive for centuries. Compare it to the digital media. In the last few decades files were backed up on: floppy discs, zip cartridges, CDs, DVDs and portable hard drives that all have been quickly outdated. Paper is paper; it will last much, much longer than any digital storage.

Drawing a rose in ink is highly recommended for any fine artist who wants to improve their art skills. The whole process, starting from dipping a pen in ink to drawing careful lines on a piece of paper, requires good discipline. Practicing drawing a rose in ink improves your artistic eye and hand. It is something that takes time and patience, but rewards with non-disposable skills that will last for a lifetime.

I also like ink drawing for its original quality. Every artwork I have done in ink is original and one-off. Original artworks will always be valued for that reason.

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