Sketching with Watersoluble Line

Super-simple and minimal supplies: a watersoluble pen, a wet brush and a postcard or sketchbook. This is basically a form of line-and-wash, but doesn’t seem to be taught or discussed much. My favorite super-lightweight sketching strategy.

24 min.

Supplies for this postcard paint-along:

  • watercolor paper, about 4×6″ (10×15 cm), or other paper that accepts washes (Bristol board is worth a try) or a sketchbook with paper that accepts light washes
    • Size is not terribly important as far as the painting techniques shown; check postal size regulations in your area if you intend to mail it. 
    • I cut up scraps of watercolor paper left over from larger paintings. Brand doesn’t matter. 100% cotton paper is generally easier to work with, but postcards can be a good place to use up cheaper papers, too. Pre-cut watercolor postcards are usually student-grade paper. Use what you have. 
  • water brush—they come in different sizes and with different methods of filling, but all the ones I’ve tried have the same sort of bristles and all work equally well here
  • pen with watersoluble ink
    • Most office-style gel pens sold in big-box stores work well for this technique. Try pens you already have.
    • I’m using a old favorite Cross pen (nearest current model is the Century II) with black Cross ink cartridges
    • Other favorite fountain pens for sketching: Pilot Metropolitan or Pilot Penmanship (same nib as the Metropolitan). The Cross ink I use can be bought in a bottle and used with a converter, or use your favorite water-soluble fountain pen ink. (Note: Not all fountain pen inks are watersoluble, but many are. Many drawing inks are waterproof when dry and don’t work for this technique.)
    • Many people like the Elegant Writer pens for this technique.

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