Watercolor with pen is a popular mixed media technique that combines the fluidity and luminosity of watercolor with the precision and control of pen. This technique allows artists to create vibrant and detailed artwork by combining the best of both mediums. The use of pen in watercolor paintings adds definition and texture to the piece, making it possible to create intricate details and sharp lines that would otherwise be difficult to achieve with watercolor alone.
Choosing the right pen
When using watercolor with pen, it is important to choose the right type of pen to suit the desired effect. There are two main options:
- Fine-Tipped Pens – Fine-tipped pens, such as technical pens or fine-point markers, are ideal for adding fine details and lines to a painting.
- Thicker-Tipped Pens – For bolder marks, artists may choose to use thicker-tipped pens, such as brush pens or calligraphy pens.
Order of application
Another key factor in creating successful watercolor with pen art is the order in which the media are applied.
Many artists prefer to start by painting the watercolor first and then adding the pen details on top. This allows the artist to take advantage of the transparency and fluidity of watercolor, creating an organic and natural-looking background for the pen work to complement.
However, other artists prefer to start with the pen work, using it to create outlines or establish the basic structure of the piece before adding the watercolor. This approach provides greater control over the final result and allows the artist to easily make changes if necessary.
How to use a watercolor pen step by step
Using a watercolor pen is relatively simple and straightforward. Here are the steps to use a watercolor pen effectively:
- Choose the right pen: Select a pen with a fine-tipped nib or a thicker nib, depending on the desired effect. Fine-tipped pens are ideal for adding details and lines, while thicker-tipped pens are good for bold marks.
- Prepare your paper: Use high-quality, watercolor paper that is absorbent and able to handle moisture without buckling or warping. If desired, choose a rough or textured paper to add an extra dimension to your artwork.
- Start with watercolor or pen: Decide whether you want to start with the watercolor or pen. If starting with watercolor, apply the paint to the paper, and then use the pen to add details and lines. If starting with pen, use the pen to create outlines or establish the basic structure of the piece, and then fill in with watercolor.
- Use the pen to define details: Once you have applied the watercolor or pen, use the pen to add details, lines, or outlines to the painting. The pen allows you to add precise and controlled lines to your artwork.
- Experiment: The beauty of watercolor with pen is that there are endless possibilities to experiment with. Try different techniques, such as layering the watercolor over the pen work or using the pen to create textured effects.
- Practice: Like with any art form, the key to success with watercolor and pen is practice. Keep experimenting and honing your skills until you achieve the desired results.
Watercolor pen ideas
Here are some creative ideas for using watercolor pens:
- Calligraphy: Combine watercolor and pen to create unique, hand-lettered text for greeting cards, invitations, or art pieces.
- Botanical illustrations: Use watercolor and pen to create detailed illustrations of plants and watercolor flowers.
- Sketching: Use watercolor and pen to capture the essence of a scene, object, or portrait in a quick sketch.
- Landscape paintings: Create beautiful landscapes that combine the fluidity of watercolor with the precision of pen. Read our guide on watercolor landscape technique.
- Collage: Cut and paste paper, watercolor washes, and pen drawings to create a multi-layered collage.
- Lettering and journaling: Combine watercolor and pen to add color and flair to your letters, journals, or scrapbooks.
- Storytelling: Use watercolor and pen to illustrate a story or create visual narratives.
- Abstract art: Experiment with different textures, shapes, and colors to create abstract watercolor and pen art.
- Zentangle-style drawings: Combine watercolor and pen to create intricate, repeating patterns and designs.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with watercolor pens.
Watercolor with pen videotutorial
In this video Anthony to talk about how to use pen and ink with watercolor. The video includes a whole load of tips on using watercolor with ink pens for creating line and wash artwork:
Check also Anthony’s watercolor course.
Watercolor with pen FAQ
Here is a FAQ on watercolor with pen:
Yes, you can use pen with watercolor to create a variety of effects in your artwork. By combining the fluidity of watercolor with the precision of pen, you can create unique and creative pieces that showcase your style and vision.
Whether you use pen before or after watercolor is a matter of personal preference and the desired effect. If you want to create clear, defined lines, starting with pen before watercolor is a good option. The pen provides a barrier that helps prevent the watercolor from bleeding into the lines. If you want to create a more organic, fluid look, starting with watercolor before pen is a better choice. The watercolor will spread and blend on the paper, and the pen can then be used to add details, lines, or highlights on top. Ultimately, the best way to determine whether pen before or after watercolor works best for you is to experiment. Try both methods and see which one produces the desired result.
You can use a variety of pens with watercolor, including waterproof pens like pigment liners, brush pens, and technical pens. Choose a pen with a fine-tipped nib or a thicker nib, depending on the desired effect.
There are several types of pens that work well with watercolor, including:
- Waterproof pigment liners: These pens have a waterproof and lightfast ink that is perfect for use with watercolor. They are available in a variety of nib sizes and are ideal for fine-line detail work.
- Brush pens: Brush pens have a flexible tip that allows for thicker or thinner lines depending on the pressure applied. They are great for calligraphy, lettering, and sketching.
- Technical pens: These pens have a fine-tipped nib and are ideal for creating crisp, clean lines. They are great for technical drawings, illustrations, and lettering.
- Fountain pens: Fountain pens have a water-based ink and can be used with watercolor to create unique effects. However, it is important to note that not all fountain pen inks are waterproof and lightfast, so it is important to choose a pen with high-quality, water-resistant ink.
It is important to choose a pen that is waterproof and lightfast, so that your work will not smudge or fade over time. Ultimately, the best pen for you will depend on your individual needs, style, and desired outcome. Try different types of pens to see which one works best for you.
Use high-quality, watercolor paper that is absorbent and able to handle moisture without buckling or warping. If desired, choose a rough or textured paper to add an extra dimension to your artwork.
Remember, watercolor and pen can be used in a variety of ways, so feel free to be creative and find what works best for you!