This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
It has often been said that where nine men are successful in wash-drawing only one succeeds in pen and ink. To such a man its first demand is unlimited practice, so that every line from his pen may be free, flowing, and natural. There is nothing more inartistic than a stilted and hard pen drawing, and yet even an accomplished draughtsman in pencil or crayon may err in this respect from lack of practice. The mere suggestion of effort in pen and ink handling will spoil a drawing. Without freedom and simplicity of expression, successful technique is impossible. To attain these qualities one should use the pen constantly, even for the smallest and most rapid sketches in a notebook. Excellent practice can be got by standing at the window and sketching the people as they pass. Whenever it is possible make quick studies from the nude. This is invaluable for acquiring the power of catching the action of a figure almost immediately.
Now, as to materials. Provide yourself with black ink. India ink will do, if perfectly black and free from gloss. Winsor and Newton's, in bottles, is excellent. Some illustrators prefer Higgins' waterproof India ink, an admirable American preparation. Whatever ink you use, remember that a good reproduction, with sharp, regular lines, cannot be expected from a feeble drawing, done with pale ink on rough paper. Pale black or yellow brown or bluish lines will inevitably come out weak or broken and ragged. All lines, therefore, should be perfectly black - not necessarilv coarse or heavy, but indispensably black. Some lines may even be as tine as a diamond point could make them, but they must be purely black. In producing shades of colour it is not always necessary to streng-t h e n the lines. Beautiful gradations are sometimes produced by widening or narrowing the spaces between very fine lines.
Steel pens are always best, making smoother, finer, and more even lines than any other. Gillott's, Nos. 170 and 290, are particularly recommended. A "J" pen is used by many illustrators.
Select a good piece of bristol-board, or any smooth paper of good quality, large enough to contain five or six good-sized sketches. With the aid of two thumb-tacks, secure it at the top to a canvas of about the same size as the paper. A canvas is much better to work on than a board, as it is more easily handled, is lighter on the lap, besides inducing the pen to be more responsive to the hand.
Drawings should always be made considerably larger than the blocks desired. For the more sketchy styles of work one-third larger will answer, and - for comic sketches, in particular - drawings of the same size as the desired block will sometimes do. But for all careful and finished work, the drawing should be at least twice the length and twice the breadth of the desired block. Never go over a line the second time until the lust is perfectly dry. By observing the following rules you will save both yourself and the reproducer of your work annoyance and embarrassment: -
1. Do not make your drawings in reverse.
2. Always make sets of drawings to the same scale whenever it can be done.
3. Never cross-hatch or re-enforce a line or lighten with white until the lines previously drawn have become perfectly dry.
4. Take care to leave no pencil marks or any lines, dots, or blotches that are not to come out in the block; but in removing any of these, be careful not to disturb any of the lines of the drawing.
5. Have a blotting-pad always under the hand. This will keep your copy clean, but it should never be used to take up ink from your drawing.
6. Leave a margin of at least half an inch around the drawing, so that it may be tacked to the camera-board without injury. A glance at the illustrations on this and the two following pages will show that, although our drawing for this form of "process" must be restricted to lines, no little variety in colour values and gradation of tone is to be obtained by these means. Much brilliance of effect is to be got by the use of solid blacks, in contrast with the white of the paper, and there are various tricks, more or less reprehensible, tor economising labour and increasing the available range of tints, by drawing on specially prepared papers, and the super-imposing of transparent films over the drawing in hand. All of these matters will be fully discussed latter on. Our present purpose is to impress on the beginner the necessity of acquiring, from the start, a pure style in pen drawing by the use of line, and line alone. No true master of the art would condescend to employ any other means, although it may be allowed that, for certain commercial purposes, some of the time-saving dodges are unobjectionable. Later on, we shall give examples of the work of famous pen draughtsmen, at home and abroad, and it will be seen that the simple form of technique adopted by all alike is no check whatever to thefreest individual expression of each artist. Drawing with the pen becomes as personal as one's handwriting, as soon as facility is acquired. If the reader will bear this in mind, and for a while cultivate as assiduously the drawing of lines - coarse lines and line lines, parallel lines, hatching and cross hatching - as he did the "pothooks and hangers" of his childhood, we can promise him that if he can draw with the point at all some painters never can - the pen will soon become in his hand a ready medium for the expression of his ideas.
The first attempt will be hesitating and more or less " wobbly " - something like Figures 2 and 3. Broken lines are not, in themselves, objectionable; indeed they are for many purposes preferable to lines that are continuous, but they should be of uniform strength and not meet in the irregular fashion of Figure 3. To get lightness and uniformity of tone, a quick, free stroke is necessary, drawing from left to right. It is easiest to begin by making horizontal parallel lines, which should be of uniform strength and;m even distance apart. Most of our examples are by pupils of the Henry Blackburn Studio, where a specialty is made of teaching pen •drawing for illustration. The studies of still-life by Mr. ]. S. Eland, the accomplished head master, were made especially for this article.
Fig. 1. - First Exercise: Parallel lines.
Figs. 2 and 3. - The kind of lines to avoid.