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Drawing with a ballpoint or fountain pen: techniques and tips
Woman's hand drawing in a spiral notebook with a Visconti pen

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Drawing with a ballpoint or fountain pen: techniques and tips

20.11.2023

Drawing is, for many, a passion that allows them to express their emotions, thoughts, and frustrations while creating genuine masterpieces. To achieve them, everyone has their favorite instrument: some like to listen to the delicate scratch of the pencil or charcoal on the paper, others prefer the fine tip of markers or the gentle strokes of watercolor, and finally, there are those who try their hand at drawing with a ballpoint or fountain pen.

Mani che disegnano con una penna Visconti Divina Elegance Matte in versione nera

How to draw with a fountain pen

Fountain pens are elegant writing instruments that are not only ideal for practicing calligraphy but also for drawing. In fact, with a bit of practice, they allow you to control the pressure and intensity of each stroke, as well as create striking shading and ultra-fine lines. Learning to draw with a fountain pen is not easy and immediate. Still, by following a few simple tips and some manual practice, in no time, you will receive great satisfaction from each drawing.

The benefits and techniques of drawing with a fountain pen

One of the first aspects to consider when drawing with a fountain pen is the ink. As soon as the nib marks the paper, the ink is liquid and wet, a feature that can prove to be both a great advantage and an extra level of difficulty. On the one hand, its consistency allows you to move it around to create natural shading and line variations even after it has been laid on the paper for some time. Conversely, you must be careful not to accidentally smudge the drawing or touch it before it has dried completely. Fortunately, you can choose a paper suitable for fountain pen use, with more or less absorbent properties, to avoid any hiccups.

After learning how to handle ink, it is essential to know all the secrets of the drawing techniques to create shadows and shading with the fountain pen. The three most popular techniques for achieving perfect shading and chiaroscuro, even with the fountain pen nib, are stippling, hatching, and cross-hatching.

Stippling or dotting, involves drawing many small dots next to each other to give the eye the impression of a shadow. The denser the dots, the darker the shadow will appear. This technique helps achieve a highly realistic chiaroscuro effect.

Instead, for the hatching technique, draw parallel lines to create shadows and shading. Lines are often drawn around the shape of the subjects to mark their outline and give intensity to the drawing. In this case, line variation becomes very important since it is not possible to blur the ink stroke, as one could do with a pencil or charcoal. To give dynamism to a fountain pen drawing, it is possible to draw more pronounced lines for foreground subjects and lighter lines for background elements, thus creating the illusion of depth. Another fundamental technique for shading with a fountain pen is cross-hatching, which involves drawing lines in different directions. This technique is often used in drawings with distinctive textures and a more messy style.

Tips for drawing with a fountain pen

If you want to draw with a fountain pen, don’t forget to consider the following aspects. Unlike more common pen models, fountain pens should be held at a 45-degree angle to produce optimal results. Also, it is essential to make sure that the flow of the fountain pen is constant to guarantee a smooth, flowing stroke. To this end, it is always a good idea to properly clean the nib after each use so that the ink does not dry out and clog the vent hole. In any case, to write or draw smoothly with a fountain pen, it is essential to know how to properly take care of this elegant and refined writing instrument.

How to draw with a ballpoint pen

For those who are new to drawing with a pen, they can approach this activity by starting with a ballpoint pen. This tool gives a pencil-like effect when used lightly and at different angles. The techniques to draw with a ballpoint pen are almost the same as those already illustrated; the main differences consist, however, in the greater familiarity that many of us have with this type of instrument, its easy availability and maintenance. In the case of the ballpoint pen, moreover, it is possible to easily draw lighter or more pronounced lines depending on the pressure applied, thus achieving a blurred and veiled result in a few simple steps.

A fountain or ballpoint pen is the ideal instrument to unleash your creativity and help you get passionate about drawing. Visconti’s fountain pen and ballpoint pen collections offer instruments made strictly by hand and with precious raw materials. A good rule of thumb when choosing a pen to draw is picking the one that makes you feel most comfortable and allows you to express your art to the fullest.

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