The grain, running as it does in straight lines, offers a good deal
of obstruction to the pen, however, so that a really good line is
Thin letter-paper is sometimes recommended for pen and ink work,
chiefly on account of its transparency, which obviates the necessity
of re-drawing after a preliminary sketch has been worked up in
pencil. Over the pencil study a sheet of the letter-paper is placed
on which the final drawing may be made with much deliberation. Bond
paper, however, possesses the similar advantage of transparency
besides affording a better texture for the pen.
[Side note: _The Individual Line_]
The first requirement of a good pen technique is a good Individual
Line, a line of feeling and quality. It is usually a surprise to
the beginner to be made aware that the individual line is a thing
of consequence, - a surprise due, without doubt, to the apparently
careless methods of some successful illustrators. It is to be borne
in mind, however, that some illustrators are successful in spite
of their technique rather than because of it; and also that the
apparently free and easy manner of some admirable technicians is
in reality very much studied, very deliberate, and not at all to
be confounded with the unsophisticated scribbling of the beginner.
The student is apt to find it just about as easy to draw like Mr.
Pennell as to write like Mr. Kipling. The best way to acquire such
a superb freedom is to be very, very careful and painstaking. To
appreciate how beautiful the individual line may be one has but
to observe the rich, decorative stroke of Howard Pyle, Fig. 66,
or that of Mucha, Fig. 65, the tender outline of Boutet de Monvel,
the telling, masterly sweep of Gibson, or the short, crisp line of
Vierge or Rico. Compared with any of these the line of the beginner
will be either feeble and tentative, or harsh, wiry, and coarse.
[Illustration: FIG. 6 B. G. GOODHUE]
[Illustration: FIG. 7 HERBERT RAILTON]
[Side note: _Variety of Line_]
The second requisite is Variety of Line, - not merely variety of
size and direction, but, since each line ought to exhibit a feeling
for the particular texture which it is contributing to express,
variety of character. Mr. Gibson's manner of placing very delicate
gray lines against a series of heavy black strokes exemplifies
some of the possibilities of such variety. Observe, in Fig. 6,
what significance is imparted to the heavy lines on the roof of
the little foreground building by the foil of delicate gray lines
in the sky and surrounding roofs. This conjunction was employed
early by Mr. Herbert Railton, who has made a beautiful use of it
in his quaint architectural subjects. Mr. Railton's technique is
remarkable also for the varied direction of line and its expression
of texture. Note this characteristic in his drawing of buttresses,
[Illustration: FIG. 8 B. G. GOODHUE]
[Illustration: FIG. 9 C. D. M.]
[Illustration: FIG. 10 C. D. M.]
[Side note: _Economy of Method_]
The third element of good technique is Economy and Directness of
Method. A tone should not be built up of a lot of meaningless strokes.
Each line ought, sensibly and directly, to contribute to the ultimate
result. The old mechanical process of constructing tones by
cross-hatching is now almost obsolete. It is still employed by
modern pen draughtsmen, but it is only one of many resources, and
is used with nice discrimination. At times a cross-hatch is very
desirable and very effective, - as, for example, in affording a
subdued background for figures having small, high lights. A very
pretty use of it is seen in the tower of Mr. Goodhue's drawing,
Fig. 8. Observe here how the intimate treatment of the roofs is
enhanced and relieved by the foil of closely-knit hatch on the
tower-wall, and how effective is the little area of it at the base
of the spire. The cross-hatch also affords a satisfactory method
of obtaining deep, quiet shadows. See the archway "B" in Fig. 9.
On the whole, however, the student is advised to accustom himself
to a very sparing use of this expedient. Compare the two effects in
Fig. 9, Some examples of good and bad cross-hatching are illustrated
in Fig. 10. Those marked "I" and "J" may be set down as bad, being
too coarse. The only satisfactory cross-hatch at a large scale would
seem to be that shown in "N," where lines cross at a sharp angle;
and this variety is effectively employed by figure illustrators.
Perhaps no better argument against the necessity for thus building
up tones could be adduced than the little drawing by Martin Rico,
shown in Fig. 11. Notice what a beautiful texture he gives to the
shadow where it falls on the street, how it differs from that on
the walls, how deep and closely knit it all is, and yet that there
is absolutely no cross-hatching. Remark, also, how the textures
of the walls and roof and sky are obtained. The student would do
well to copy such a drawing as this, or a portion of it, at least,
on a larger scale, as much can be learned from it.
[Illustration: FIG. 11 MARTIN RICO]
[Size note: _Methods of Tone-Making_]
I have shown various methods of making a tone in Fig. 12. It will be
observed that Rico's shadow, in Fig. 11, is made up of a combination
of "B" and "C," except that he uses "B" horizontally, and makes
the line heavy and dragging. The clear, crisp shadows of Vierge
are also worthy of study for the simplicity of method. This is
beautifully illustrated in the detail, Fig. 13. It would be impossible
to suggest atmosphere more vibrating with sunlight; a result due
to the transparency of the shadows, the lines of which are sharp
and clean, with never a suggestion of cross-hatch. Notice how the
lines of the architectural shadows are stopped abruptly at times,
giving an emphasis which adds to the brilliancy of the effect. The
drawing of the buildings on the canal, by Martin Rico, Fig. 14,
ought also to be carefully studied in this connection. Observe how
the shadow-lines in this drawing, as in that previously mentioned,
are made to suggest the direction of the sunlight, which is high in
the heavens. An example of all that is refined and excellent in
pen technique is the drawing by Mr. Alfred Brennan, Fig. 15. The
student would do well to study this carefully for its marvellous
beauty of line. There is little hatching, and yet the tones are deep
and rich. The wall tone will be found to be made up similarly to "A"
and "H" in Fig. 12. The tone "B" in the same Figure is made up of
lines which are thin at the ends and big in the middle, fitting into
each other irregularly, and imparting a texture somewhat different
from that obtained by the abrupt ending of the strokes of "A." This
method is also employed by Brennan, and is a very effective one.
A good example of the use of this character of line (unknitted,
however) is the drawing by Mr. Leslie Willson, Fig. 16. The irregular
line "C" has good possibilities for texture, and the wavy character
of "D" is most effective in the rendering of shadows, giving a
certain vibration to the atmosphere. "E" and "F" suggest a freer
method of rendering a tone; while "G" shows a scribbling line that
is sometimes employed to advantage. The very interesting texture of
the coat, Fig. 17, is made with a horizontal line having a similar
return stroke, as may be noticed where the rendering ends. There are
times when an irresponsible sort of line is positively desirable, - say
for rough foreground suggestion or for freeing the picture at the
[Illustration: FIG. 12 C. D. M.]
[Illustration: FIG. 13 DANIEL VIERGE]
[Illustration: FIG. 14 MARTIN RICO]
[Illustration: FIG. 15 ALFRED BRENNAN]
[Illustration: FIG. 16 LESLIE WILLSON]
[Size note: _Outline_]
I have invariably found that what presents the chief difficulty
to the student of pen and ink is the management of the Outline.
When it is realized that, by mere outline, one may express the
texture of a coat or a tree or a wall without any rendering whatever,
it will be seen that nothing in pen drawing is really of so much
importance. Notice, for example, the wonderful drawing of the dog
in Fig. 34. Again, if a connected line had been used to define
the corners of Railton's buttresses in Fig. 7 all the texture,
would have been destroyed. Instead of this he has used a broken
outline, sometimes omitting it altogether for a considerable space.
On the ledges, too, the lines are broken. In Rico's drawing, Fig.
11, all the outlines may be observed to have a break here and there.
This broken line is particularly effective in out-door subjects,
as it helps to suggest sunlit atmosphere as well as texture.
[Illustration: FIG. 17 DRAWING FROM A PHOTOGRAPH]
Architectural outlines, however, are not particularly subtle; it
is when we come to render anything with vague boundaries, such as
foliage or clouds for example, that the chief difficulties are
encountered. Foliage is an important element of landscape drawing
and deserves more than passing consideration. To make a successful
rendering of a tree in pen and ink the tree must be first well drawn
in pencil. It is absolutely impossible to obtain such a charming
effect of foliage as that shown in Mr. Pennell's sketch, Fig. 18,
without the most painstaking preparation in pencil. The success
of this result is not attributable merely to the difference in
textures, nor to the direction or character of the line; it is
first of all a matter of good drawing. The outline should be free
and subtle so as to suggest the edges of leafage, and the holes
near the edges should be accented, otherwise they will be lost
and the tree will look solid and characterless. Observe, in the
same drawing, how Mr. Pennell suggests the structure of the leafage
by the irregular outlines which he gives to the different series of
lines, and which he emphasizes by bringing the lines to an abrupt
stop. Observe also how the stronger texture of the tree in Fig. 19
is obtained by making the lines with greater abruptness. Compare
both of these Figures with the foreground trees by the same artist
in Fig. 20. The last is a brilliant example of foliage drawing
in pen and ink.
[Illustration: FIG. 18 JOSEPH PENNELL]
[Illustration: FIG. 19 JOSEPH PENNELL]
[Illustration: FIG. 20 JOSEPH PENNELL]
[Illustration: FIG. 21 E. DANTAN]
[Side note: _Textures_]
The matter of Textures is very important, and the student should
learn to differentiate them as much as possible. This is done,
as I have already said, by differences in the size and character
of the line, and in the closeness or openness of the rendering.
Observe the variety of textures in the drawing of the sculptor
by Dantan, Fig. 21. The coat is rendered by such a cross-hatch
as "N" in Fig. 10, made horizontally and with heavy lines. In the
trousers the lines do not cross but fit in together. This is an
excellent example for study, as is also the portrait by RaffaÃ«lli,
Fig. 22. The textures in the latter drawing are wonderfully well
conveved, - the hard, bony face, the stubby beard, and the woolen
cap with its tassel in silhouette. For the expression of texture
with the least effort the drawings of Vierge are incomparable.
The architectural drawing by Mr. Gregg in Fig. 50 is well worth
careful study in this connection, as are all of Herbert Railton's
admirable drawings of old English houses. (I recommend the study
of Mr. Railton's work with a good deal of reservation, however.
While it is admirable in respect of textures and fascinating in its
color, the values are likely to be most unreal, and the mannerisms
are so pronounced and so tiresome that I regard it as much inferior
to that of Mr. Pennell, whose architecture always _appears_, at
least, to have been honestly drawn on the spot.)
[Illustration: FIG. 22 J. F. RAFFAÃ‹LLI]
The hats in Fig. 10 are merely suggestions to the student in the
study of elementary combinations of line in expressing textures.
[Side note: _Drawing for Reproduction_]
As the mechanical processes of Reproduction have much to do with
determining pen methods they become important factors for consideration.
While their waywardness and inflexibility are the cause of no little
distress to the illustrator, the limitations of processes cannot
be said, on the whole, to make for inferior standards in drawing,
as will be seen by the following rules which they impose, and for
which a strict regard will be found most advisable.
First: Make each line clear and distinct. Do not patch up a weak
line or leave one which has been broken or blurred by rubbing, for
however harmless or even interesting it may seem in your original
it will almost certainly be neither in the reproduction. When you
make mistakes, erase the offensive part completely, or, if you
are working on Bristol-board and the area of unsatisfactoriness
be considerable, paste a fresh piece of paper over it and redraw.
Second: Keep your work open. Aim for economy of line. If a shadow
can be rendered with twenty strokes do not crowd in forty, as you
will endanger its transparency. Remember that in reproduction the
lines tend to thicken and so to crowd out the light between them.
This is so distressingly true of newspaper reproduction that in
drawings for this purpose the lines have to be generally very thin,
sharp, and well apart. The above rule should be particularly regarded
in all cases where the drawing is to be subject to much reduction.
The degree of reduction of which pen drawings are susceptible is
not, as is commonly supposed, subject to rule. It all depends on
the scale of the technique.
Third: Have the values few and positive. It is necessary to keep
the gray tones pretty distinct to prevent the relation of values
being injured, for while the gray tones darken in proportion to the
degree of reduction, the blacks cannot, of course, grow blacker.
A gray tone which may be light and delicate in the original, will,
especially if it be closely knit, darken and thicken in the printing.
These rules are most strictly to be observed when drawing for the
cheaper classes of publications. For book and magazine work, however,
where the plates are touched up by the engraver, and the values in a
measure restored, the third rule is not so arbitrary. Nevertheless,
the beginner who has ambitions in this direction will do well not
to put difficulties in his own way by submitting work not directly
[Side note: _Some Fanciful Expedients_]
There are a number of more or less fanciful expedients employed in
modern pen work which may be noted here, and which are illustrated
in Fig. 10. The student is advised, however, to resort to them as
little as possible, not only because he is liable to make injudicious
use of them, but because it is wiser for him to cultivate the less
meretricious possibilities of the instrument.
"Spatter work" is a means of obtaining a delicate printable tone,
consisting of innumerable little dots of ink spattered on the paper.
The process is as follows: Carefully cover with a sheet of paper
all the drawing except the portion which is to be spattered, then
take a tooth-brush, moisten the ends of the bristles consistently
with ink, hold the brush, back downwards, in the left hand, and
with a wooden match or tooth-pick rub the bristles _toward you_
so that the ink will spray over the paper. Particular, care must
be taken that the brush is not so loaded with ink that it will
spatter in blots. It is well, therefore, to try it first on a rough
sheet of paper, to remove any superfluous ink. If the spattering is
well done, it gives a very delicate tone of interesting texture,
but if not cleverly employed, and especially if there be a large
area of it, it is very likely to look out of character with the
line portions of the drawing.
A method sometimes employed to give a soft black effect is to moisten
the lobe of the thumb lightly with ink and press it upon the paper. The
series of lines of the skin make an impression that can be reproduced
by the ordinary line processes. As in the case of spatter work,
superfluous ink must be looked after before making the impression
so as to avoid leaving hard edges. Thumb markings lend themselves to
the rendering of dark smoke, and the like, where the edges require
to be soft and vague, and the free direction of the lines impart
a feeling of movement.
Interesting effects of texture are sometimes introduced into pen
drawings by obtaining the impression of a canvas grain. To produce
this, it is necessary that the drawing be made on fairly thin paper.
The _modus operandi_ is as follows: Place the drawing over a piece
of mounted canvas of the desired coarseness of grain, and, holding
it firmly, rub a lithographic crayon vigorously over the surface
of the paper. The grain of the canvas will be found to be clearly
reproduced, and, as the crayon is absolutely black, the effect is
capable of reproduction by the ordinary photographic processes.
[Side note: _The Color Scheme_]
After the subject has been mapped out in pencil, and before beginning
the pen work, we have to consider and determine the proper disposition
of the Color. By "color" is meant, in this connection, the gamut of
values from black to white, as indicated in Fig. 23. The success
or failure of the drawing will largely depend upon the disposition
of these elements, the quality of the technique being a matter
of secondary concern. Beauty of line and texture will not redeem
a drawing in which the values are badly disposed, for upon them
we depend for the effect of unity, or the pictorial quality. If
the values are scattered or patchy the drawing will not focus to
any central point of interest, and there will be no unity in the
[Illustration: FIG. 23 C. D. M.]
There are certain general laws by which color may be pleasingly
disposed, but it must be borne in mind that it ought to be disposed
naturally as well. By a "natural" scheme of color, I mean one which
is consistent with a natural effect of light and shade. Now the
gradation from black to white, for example, is a pleasing scheme,
as may be observed in Fig. 24, yet the effect is unnatural, since
the sky is black. In a purely decorative illustration like this,
however, such logic need not be considered.
[Illustration: FIG. 24 D. A. GREGG]
[Side note: _Principality in the Color-Scheme_]
Since, as I said before, color is the factor which makes for the
unity of the result, the first principle to be regarded in its
arrangement is that of Principality, - there must be some dominant
note in the rendering. There should not, for instance, be two principal
dark spots of equal value in the same drawing, nor two equally
prominent areas of white. The Vierge drawing, Fig. 25, and that
by Mr. Pennell, Fig. 5, are no exceptions to this rule; the black
figure of the old man counting as one note in the former, as do
the dark arches of the bridge in the latter. The work of both these
artists is eminently worthy of study for the knowing manner in
which they dispose their values.
[Illustration: FIG. 25 DANIEL VIERGE]
[Side note: _Variety_]
The next thing to be sought is Variety. Too obvious or positive a
scheme, while possibly not unsuitable for a conventional decorative
drawing, may not be well adapted to a perspective subject. The
large color areas should be echoed by smaller ones throughout the
picture. Take, for example, the Vierge drawing shown in Fig. 26.
Observe how the mass of shadow is relieved by the two light holes
seen through the inn door. Without this repetition of the white the
drawing would lose much of its character. In Rico's drawing, Fig.
11, a tiny white spot in the shadow cast over the street would, I
venture to think, be helpful, beautifully clear as it is; and the
black area at the end of the wall seems a defect as it competes
in value with the dark figure.
[Illustration: FIG. 26 DANIEL VIERGE]
[Side note: _Breadth of Effect_]
Lastly, Breadth of Effect has to be considered. It is requisite
that, however numerous the tones are (and they should not be too
numerous), the general effect should be simple and homogeneous. The
color must count together broadly, and not be cut up into patches.
[Illustration: FIG. 27 HARRY FENN]
It is important to remember that the gamut from black to white is
a short one for the pen. One need only try to faithfully render
the high lights of an ordinary table glass set against a gray
background, to be assured of its limitations in this respect. To
represent even approximately the subtle values would require so
much ink that nothing short of a positively black background would
suffice to give a semblance of the delicate transparent effect of
the glass as a whole. The gray background would, therefore, be
lost, and if a really black object were also part of the picture
it could not be represented at all. Observe, in Fig. 27, how just
such a problem has been worked out by Mr. Harry Fenn.
It will be manifest that the student must learn to think of things
in their broad relation. To be specific, - in the example just
considered, in order to introduce a black object the scheme of
color would have needed broadening so that the gray background
could be given its proper value, thus demanding that the elaborate
values of the glass be ignored, and just enough suggested to give
the general effect. This reasoning would equally apply were the
light object, instead of a glass, something of intricate design,
presenting positive shadows. Just so much of such a design should
be rendered as not to darken the object below its proper relative
value as a whole. In this faculty of suggesting things without
literally rendering them consists the subtlety of pen drawing.
It may be said, therefore, that large light areas resulting from the
necessary elimination of values are characteristic of pen drawing.
The degree of such elimination depends, of course, upon the character
of the subject, this being entirely a matter of relation. The more
black there is in a drawing the greater the number of values that can
be represented. Generally speaking, three or four are all that can be
managed, and the beginner had better get along with three, - black,
half-tone, and white.
[Illustration: FIG. 28 REGINALD BIRCH]
[Side note: _Various Color-Schemes_]
While it is true that every subject is likely to contain some motive
or suggestion for its appropriate color-scheme, it still holds that,
many times, and especially in those cases where the introduction
of foreground features at considerable scale is necessary for the
interest of the picture, an artificial arrangement has to be devised.
It is well, therefore, to be acquainted with the possibilities of
certain color combinations. The most brilliant effect in black
and white drawing is that obtained by placing the prominent black
against a white area surrounded by gray. The white shows whiter
because of the gray around it, so that the contrast of the black
against it is extremely vigorous and telling. This may be said to
be the illustrator's _tour de force_. We have it illustrated by
Mr. Reginald Birch's drawing, Fig. 28. Observe how the contrast
of black and white is framed in by the gray made up of the sky,
the left side of the building, the horse, and the knight. In the
drawing by Mr. Pennell, Fig. 29, we have the same scheme of color.
Notice how the trees are darkest just where they are required to
tell most strongly against the white in the centre of the picture.
An admirable illustration of the effectiveness of this color-scheme
is shown in the "Becket" poster by the "Beggarstaff Brothers,"
Fig. 69. Another scheme is to have the principal black in the gray
area, as in the Vierge drawing, Fig. 26 and in Rico's sketch, Fig.
[Illustration: FIG. 29 JOSEPH PENNELL]
[Illustration: FIG. 30 B. G. GOODHUE]
[Illustration: FIG. 31 JOSEPH PENNELL]
Still another and a more restful scheme is the actual gradation
of color. This gradation, from black to white, wherein the white
occupies the centre of the picture, is to be noted in Fig. 20.
Observe how the dark side of the foreground tree tells against the
light side of the one beyond, which, in its turn, is yet so strongly
shaded as to count brilliantly against the white building. Still
again, in Mr. Goodhue's drawing, Fig. 30, note how the transition
from the black tree on the left to the white building is pleasingly
softened by the gray shadow. Notice, too, how the brilliancy of
the drawing is heightened by the gradual emphasis on the shadows
and the openings as they approach the centre of the picture. Yet