Faery in Ink
Interview with Katerina Koukiotis
How To Become a Children's Book Author
Faery in InkBehind the Art
by Melissa Acker
Another month, another walkthrough! This time around, I'm going to be working with ink, both black and white, on some Bristol paper, using it mostly as a paint-like medium.
First, like always, I start with a sketch. The background is going to be very loose and undefined, so a sketch of the subjects will do just fine. Once that's done, I tape the paper to the board, so that when I start using the wet ink and spray bottle, the paper doesn't buckle overly much.
Ink time! I know I want the bottom corner, where the cat is, to be quite dark, so I lay some ink in the area with a brush, and add water to keep it from being a solid black mass. Also, for ink work, I use separate brushes from my watercolor work; I find the ink can be very hard on the brushes, and can make them coarse.
A few sweeping lines of black across the 'sky' are thrown in, and sprayed with the bottle before they can dry into solid lines. Some spatter creates some texture running through the composition. Once everything is good and wet, I tip the board vertically and on an angle to create the drip lines going diagonally down. I keep the board vertical for about five minutes, long enough for most of the ink to puddle down. Keeping a few paper towels around is handy, as it lets you blot the ink that tries to run off the board, and even play with the values a bit on the way down.
I decide I want some thick white lines in the composition, so I put down some masking tape in a few areas before going on to the next step. Most of the ink in this step is just darkening the values on the area containing the cat.
With the cat rather dark now, I decide to start adding some definition to parts. Ink nibs are very fun to use, and cross-hatching is very addicting! I start by outlining the fairy, trying to keep the lines rather even in width. Then I add detail and fur texture to the cat, taking care to keep the short lines going in the direction the fur would grow. Most of the detail is confined to the head and paws, as the rest of the body is going to remain rather loose and undefined.
With most of the loose ink work done, I remove the tape.
White ink is a relatively new tool in my arsenal, so I'm still finding ways to use it differently in my work. It can be rather opaque, but only when applied thickly, and you'll find you generally have a tough time making a pure white over a dark color.
Here I follow the same basic method as with the black ink -- apply some to the paper with my brush, and then move the ink around with a spray bottle to create shapes and texture. I keep adding more white to areas I know I want to be lighter in value. It's difficult to see, but I also add a line of white to the 'sky' area; it doesn't show up as much as I was hoping, but it does soften some of the dark shapes a little bit.
I work with white ink again in this layer, making the loose area in the bottom corner even more white in some areas.
After some consideration, I finally decide to leave the fairy as she was, as just an outline. Partly because I think the composition is interesting, but also to emphasize that she is ethereal; neither fully part of the world, nor apart from it. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't -- but trying is how you learn!
I also do some pen work with the white ink. It's a little more difficult to work with than the black, but you can use an ink nib with it. The trick is getting it thick enough to work properly with the nib. With the nib I add more fur texture, and some pattern, again keeping in mind the direction the fur would normally grow in. I try to make it appear as though the pattern is emerging from the white mist.
And that's all for this month! Hope you saw something that made you want to try something new!
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