Hatchling In Ink
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Hatchling In InkBehind the Art
by Melissa Acker
I wanted to do a quick ink piece for this tutorial, mostly because I hadn't done any cross-hatching in a long while, and it's just fun. I wanted something that sort of looked like an old-fashioned print, but with some color.
So first I of course needed a sketch, so I doodled something up real quick. I always enjoy drawing creatures coming out of eggs, and the sketch came together easily. I drew it right on the support, which in this case is 7 by 10 inch 140lb cold-press watercolor paper on an ARCHES block.
I decided to go with something more stylistic than what I usually do, and thought that I would like to try using a background wash and combining it with a monochromatic drawing on top. The wash was done before the ink for two reasons: one, I don't trust waterproof ink not to smudge or lift somewhat when exposed to large amounts of water. And two, I wanted to know what my color values were before I finished the ink portion, so I can judge if my inked shadows are dark enough without having to go back and retouch.
The background was completed in one step. The whole piece was covered with quinacridone gold, and I pushed various different colors into it, including permanent rose, cadmium orange, burnt scarlet, and sap green. All I knew was that I wanted to make the bottom half darker than the top, and just made it up as I went along.
Time to start the ink! I used an ink nib and a pot of ink for this. When working on watercolor paper, you need a strong nib, or the tooth in the paper will destroy the nib (and in fact I had to use two different nibs for this piece, as the first one did break). Thankfully they aren't very expensive, but it's still aggravating to have to stop when you're in the zone to change nibs.
Again, since I'm working on a paper with some tooth, I had to use a very light hand to safeguard my nib and keep the tone of the ink regular. First I completed the full outline of the drawing, just have something to work from.
Once I was satisfied with that, I started working in the shadows, adding value and texture with cross-hatching. The eggs were probably the hardest part, as a line in the wrong direction could spoil the whole illusion of the roundness; it took a very steady hand to keep the lines light and parallel. An ink spot on the shoulder had to be blotted to keep the style somewhat-consistent – I hate ink spots.
I stopped before the whole thing became overworked, or too dark and detailed; that wasn't the look I had in mind for the project. Once the whole piece had some work done on it, I went back in and retouched some places, notably the head and wings.
And that's it! This piece only took about an hour (if you take out the two hours of drying time for the paint) and was great cross-hatching practice.
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