Including ink over or under your watercolors

Using an ink pen in your watercolor painting adds a dimension of hard, precise lines that you just can't replicate with watercolor paint and a brush. Think of it as making your own coloring book pages and then adding the watercolor. You can do it the other way around too. Paint with watercolor first and then emphasize shapes with lines using a pen.

You can use any pen that you like. It can be a dipped calligraphy pen or a disposable felt-tip. You can go with waterproof ink or not. Your local art supply store offers a vast variety of choices and colors.

If you want your lines crisp, use a waterproof pen. But don't count out the pen that blurs, because it produces a different look that can be very pleasing. You also see pens described as permanent, which means that the ink won't fade over time or in sunlight.

The cityscape in Figure 4-14a was drawn with a waterproof pen and then watercolor was added on top. The boat in Figure 4-14b was drawn with a non-waterproof pen, and the lines blurred when watercolor was added.

Figure 4-14:

You can use a pen to get either hard or blurred lines into your painting, depending on what look you're going for.

Figure 4-14:

You can use a pen to get either hard or blurred lines into your painting, depending on what look you're going for.

To test pens, take a piece of watercolor paper, write the brand of each type of pen on the paper, then take a damp brush and paint a line of water over the writing. You can tell quickly which ones are waterproof. Waterproof pens should also be labeled as such.

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