Most of us who have worked with ink are familiar with using a brush and quill pen/nib pen. While this tools are classic, they can be somewhat limiting considering there are many tools that can offer more variety, richness and texture that can not be achieved through conventional inking tools. Better still, all of these tools are either free, already in your home or can be purchased cheaply at most general stores, pharmacies or supermarkets.
In this class, I'm going to introduce five of my favorite unconventional inking tools and show you the special effects they can produce and how to use each one. This class is designed to be an exploration on new drawing and painting tools.
So get ready to branch out of your creative comfort zone and try some new, fun art tools!
Thanks for joining me on this exploration into using alternative tools for ink drawings and comics! In this lesson, we're going to cover five tools that fall outside of the traditional brush and dip pen. All of these tools produce varying and unique affects that cannot be exactly replicated by conventional means. I encourage you to try each one to see if you wind up finding at least one or two that you love!
The tooth pick is arguably the most useful of the alternative inking tools since it can be used to create dynamic lines of all widths, stipple circles of many sizes and create a variety of textures depending on how hard you press it against the page and how you angle it. I used frilly cocktail toothpicks in this video, but keep in mind that regular ones will work just as well.
Check out my teacher Justine Andersen here: https://barefootjustine.com/ <-- She's the one that introduced me to the toothpick as an inking tool and got me wondering how to use other household items as art tools.
Although most often seen in horror, noir or suspense style comics and illustrations - the fingerprint texture is surprisingly delicate with it's gentle curves and thin lines. It makes an interesting and thought-provoking substitute to hatching / crosshatching and you can increase or decrease the value easily by adjusting how much ink you put on your finger. There's something kind of primal and fun about using your hands to make art and in moderation, the results can actually be pretty sophisticated.
The cotton ball is a fantastic texture producing tool that can not only soften and smooth harsh lines, it can also be used to stipple on rough textures. Since cotton balls themselves are fairly sizeable compared to other inking tools, they're great for covering larger areas and can also be torn up to be me workable for small areas, too. The cotton ball is capable of producing a wide array of value, so it's great for making gradients.
The q-tip is one of my favorite alternative inking tools. You can make strong, bold lines and since it's a tool that's easy to maneuver you can make lines that are straight, curved, rounded, etc. The cotton head in the q-tip absorbs the ink in such a way that (like the cotton ball), you can get a wide range of value and make gradients with ease. It's also a great tool to stipple with if you want circles with some uniformity on the page. I especially love using the q-tip to create rounded textures that would work well to represent foliage or a rolling fog.
Inking with a toothbrush is probably the messiest of the tools, but it can also be the most satisfying! The toothbrush also has a wide range of versatility - it can be used to make a dynamic splatter effect by pressing your thumb down the bristles or applied directly to the page to make strong, gritty textured marks. Be sure to prepare your work station for ink splatter beforehand and unless you're okay with ink under your nails be sure to wear a glove when splattering.
Make an ink composition using 2-3 of the alternative inking techniques that we learned in this class. You can draw whatever you like, but the there must be at least 2 alternative inking methods present in your piece.
Before sitting down to draw and ink, take some time to consider what techniques would best serve your chosen subject.
This video demonstrates how to use all five of the alternative inking tools that we covered within a single composition. Since most of these tools are fairly texture-heavy, I wouldn't usually recommend using all of them a once - but that's also part of the fun! To keep the drawing from becoming too chaotic and overloaded with texture, I kept a blank background and used mostly solid black lines to make up the tree trunk and branches.
Watch this video until the end to see the subtle fingerprint texture up close, towards the top of the tree.
Thanks so much for joining me for this lesson! I hope it was inspiring and instructive for you, please feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions and also let me know if you've ever used any other unconventional inking tools not listed here to make art - I'm always curious to hear what other artists are using.
Have a great day and happy drawing!
Hi, my name is Michelle and I'm an illustrator and cartoonist based in sunny Florida. I hold a BA in Graphic Design and in recent years I've been using my design training and work experience and been applying those skills to visual storytelling and fostering creativity.
I love working with other creatives and look forward to growing together.