Drawing Basics: Drawing People in Ink Frees You

Drawing Basics: Drawing People in Ink Frees You

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Inktober Is the Month to Explore

Every fall a subject that fades during summer comes back with a vengeance: pen and ink sketching. A while back, one of our members reached out about sketching on mass transit, drawing quick doodles and sketches of people on the go.

It reminded me to find the work of one such artist who does that exceptionally well: Marvin Franklin. Now is an exciting time to talk about Franklin’s work because this month is Inktober — a month of art prompts and daily drawing projects to celebrate dramatic but easy, speedy and free and fun drawings with ink.

New York’s City Life

Franklin enjoys drawing people with a ballpoint pen on the New York subways, and his hand is free but sure, scribbling in darks and roughing in forms only to refine them to a wonderfully artistic finish somewhere between realism and a bracingly original expressiveness.

I think about him often when I draw in ink, because the medium he used with such a sense of familiarity has at its heart a contradiction: Ink’s permanence can set you free.

Inktober Prompts for You

The thrill of Inktober is all about harnessing the power of a pen and finding the freedom of no do-overs. I’m giving you a week’s worth of art prompts to start with. Repeat every week with a new spin, or use them as a jumping off point for your own prompts.

Monday – Draw your morning coffee or tea. If you’re not a caffeine person, draw the first drink you have today, whether water in a glass, a soda, or a mug of cocoa.

Tuesday – Draw your shoes.

Wednesday – Go out in public. To a park, restaurant or coffee shop. Draw a slice of life.

Thursday – Sketch a fantasy. A thing you want or a place you want to be.

Friday – Draw a pattern. Something abstract that takes up the whole page. Use a lot of ink and a lot of marks.

Saturday – Draw something from a weird angle. Get down low or peer at something from above.

Sunday – Sketch your hand. Your rings and the shapes of your fingers, scars or tattoos, your watch or the cuff of your sleeve.

Inktober Tips

-Start with a squiggle or stray mark. If you are hesitant because of the permanency of ink, make a mark so now you can focus on how to “fix” it or incorporate the mark into your sketch — and not about simply getting started.

-Do it in the car. Not while driving though! Cars, trains, buses and subways swerve and move unexpectedly. For an artist needing to loosen up, that’s great. You’ll flow more easily because you know that control isn’t possible.

-If you are overwhelmed, just do a five-minute sketch today. And then tomorrow. Don’t think about anything other than non-stop drawing for five minutes. Anyone can do anything for five minutes. Give yourself permission to start sketching, even if you have to turn on the clock to do it!

Getting Started

I like to draw in a figure-drawing group using a red PaperMate pen because it forces me to either slow down and make very careful marks, or do the opposite — to ignore the permanence of the marks and make them freely. Drawing in ink forces my hand one way or another. (I also like drawing in red pen because it gives me a chance to create with it instead of correct–the activity I use a red pen for all day long in my job.)

Drawing in ink forces my hand one way or another. (I also like drawing in red pen because it gives me a chance to create with it instead of correct–the activity I use a red pen for all day long in my job.)

What does pen-and-ink do for you? Let me know by posting a comment. In the meantime, a salute to Marvin Franklin — a sketching great — and a chance to get a game-changing resource if you love sketching and pen and ink but feel like you want more instruction.

Creating Textures in Pen Ink with Watercolor with Claudia Nice is for artists who love a quick pay-off and don’t want to spend weeks in the studio to make a single work. Nice shows you the power of texture in drawing and how quickly and easily your next drawing can come together. Enjoy!


Watch the video: Free Drawing Tutorials: Learn to Draw With Fine Art-Tips (July 2022).


  1. Idas

    not so cool

  2. Raidon

    I apologize for interfering ... I understand this issue. You can discuss.

  3. Raymon

    excuse me, i deleted this question

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