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Pen & Ink Essentials

Become a better pen and ink artist! Learn techniques for capturing the values, textures and contours you see in the world around you.
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Learn how to draw with pen and ink alongside artist Paul Heaston. Start with how to capture form using contour lines, and make your work more expressive with gesture lines. Next, Paul will guide you step by step through creating gorgeous ink washes that rival watercolors. Switch to fine-tip pens as you use a variety of hatching techniques to create shadows, shading and more. Then, learn methods for building value quickly, as well as how to achieve incredible detail and remarkably even tones with the stipple technique. You'll even find out how to draw complex textures and patterns such as foliage, animal fur, stonework and reflective surfaces. Along the way, you'll gain a better understanding of when to apply each technique for your best results.


Paul Heaston

Daily sketches are a self-motivating assignment. By knowing that you've got to draw something, you draw something regardless of external influences.



Paul Heaston received his MFA in painting from Montana State University. He’s also a correspondent for, an internationally recognized website that showcases visual journalism. You can find some of Paul’s work on his sketch blog, Three Letter Word for Art. Paul has been teaching college-level drawing and painting since 2005.

By This Expert

Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes
Contour Lines & Gestural Lines

01: Contour Lines & Gestural Lines

Meet art instructor Paul Heaston who will be your guide as you begin to explore the possibilities of working with ink. Start by creating contour lines, which train your eye to see form more accurately. Next, loosen up your style and experiment with gesture lines, which add expression to your work.

16 min
Creating Value With an Ink Wash

02: Creating Value With an Ink Wash

Capture the look of a watercolor painting as you learn how to create a range of values and apply an ink wash to your initial sketch. You'll gain control over your brush and medium as you add light and shadow exactly where you want it to go, using Paul's tips for applying the ink consistently.

22 min
Cross-Contour Lines

03: Cross-Contour Lines

Trade in your brush for fine-tipped pens as you try your hand at cross-contour lines, which define volume more than simply the form's edges. Paul shows you how to use cross-contour lines to inform a point of view and add realistic dimension to your subjects.

11 min

04: Hatching

Once you discover the effectiveness of hatching techniques, your sketches will never be the same! Add shadows with contour hatching, imply value quickly with parallel hatching and create dense shading with crosshatching. Next, play with line width and spacing to create new effects.

19 min
Basket Weave, Gesture & Stippling

05: Basket Weave, Gesture & Stippling

Continue to explore the complexity and texture of your value studies, starting with the multidirectional basket-weave method, which provides a unique and solid quality. Next, watch as seemingly aimless scrawls add interest to negative spaces, and a series of tiny dots adds incredible detail.

14 min
Challenging Textures

06: Challenging Textures

Complicated patterns can be intimidating, but Paul shares professional techniques that can be used to suggest patterns quickly and artistically. Use pen and brush methods to create leaves, water, fur and other complex, irregular surfaces as Paul shows you how to add detail and hide mistakes.

31 min
Putting It All Together

07: Putting It All Together

Paul combines all of the techniques from class into a final sketch, which he draws in real time to allow you to follow his process. Along the way, he shares additional ink techniques, capturing a range of values and creating intrigue with multiple styles of shading and texture.

26 min