Edges: the secret weapon when it comes to ink and wash

March 1, 2017 | 1 Comment

One of the big challenges when it comes to working in ink and wash, is how many lines to draw. We looked at this in last week’s Foundations Friday article, but today I just want to share a little more on the topic, with some examples of my early work.

When I started sketching, my go-to subject matter was buildings (not surprising, as I am an architect) and these are made up of lots of hard crisp edges. So drawing in ink makes a lot of sense and I felt comfortable doing so.

However, when I tried softer objects (such as this 130 year old cup with lots of delicate fluting) I soon realised that ink was too harsh. So here is an attempt at limiting the ink lines and relying on my paint instead.

I also found that when I sketched complex scenes out on location I had to be even more careful about what I was drawing in ink as there was a real danger of adding too more detail and ending up with a sketch that was ‘all over the place’ and lacking in depth and focus. Drawing every detail also takes a lot of time.

Here are two very early sketches (of the Old Square in Prague and the delightful village of Portsoy in Scotland) where I was trying to draw everything. And yes, my work has changed a lot!
So what I discovered was that I needed to

  • be more deliberate about which edges to draw in ink
  • learn how to distinguish between edges that were hard or soft and/or edges that represented a change in plane or a change in colour
  • start prioritising my edges to make sure that the eye was drawn to the important ones.

The opening image, of Waterfall Cottage, shows a very deliberate use of ink for the hard edges of the building and foreground elements.

Once I had a framework in my head for analysing the edges in my subject matter, I found my sketches became much more convincing. I am also relying on the paint edges to do the work, and using ink much more sparingly.

And this framework is what I share in my SketchingNow Edges course.

I am gearing up to open enrollment again, but in the meantime I will start sharing some exclusive content via email to everyone who is on the Edges waiting list. So please make sure you sign up for the waiting list.

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