Kakimori nib with watercolour 'ink'

November 7, 2022 | 2 Comments

Last week I did this baroque sketch (of S Maria in Campitelli in Rome) using similar techniques to the workshop that I’m teaching inside the Sketching Retreat online event… which begins tomorrow!

I started with the structure, used some fun colours, and added the details last using my Kakimori Dip Pen. This nib has a reservoir which contains a lot of ink and the ability to change line thickness by adjusting the angle of the nib.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been using this dip pen with watercolour. In fact, I’ve mixed up a big juicy wash and put it in a small container so that my watercolour is now acting as ‘ink’. The pigments do settle to the bottom of the container so I have to shake the container before use.

Using watercolour instead of ink creates a lovely varied line that is easy to adjust if needed while I’m working. I can easily lift some of the pigment with a brush at any time.

I’m really excited by some of the marks and textures in this sketch… and if you are wondering I also used a little coloured pencil (a turquoise and a cream pencil) and two Gold Faber Aqua markers (Lavender Light and Sand) with the watercolour.

The next day I took my Kakimori pen out on location for the first time. and this time I drew with watercolour ‘ink’ and then painted over the top.

This was a good test to see how ‘permanent’ these watercolour lines are. Generally, if they were totally dry and I applied my watercolour washes with a light touch the lines stayed put!

I put some of my watercolour ‘ink’ in an ink sample vial with some cotton gauze inside and blu-tac on the base. This worked well and I didn’t feel stressed about spilling it. Of course, I can also create a big wash in my palette and use the pen that way as well, but it is easier to pick up ‘ink’ from a container.

You’ll also notice that I have a new nib holder!

Thanks to Jane Blundell for telling me about the Tachikawa T-40 nib holder which is a more practical length for carrying around and which comes with a cap!


Finally… just a reminder that the Sketching Retreat starts tomorrow. You can watch all 30+ workshops for free over the 6 days of the event but if you want to purchase a VIP all-access pass this is your last chance to get it at the current amazing earlybird pass. (The price will go up once the event starts).

Find out more and signup for free here

If you’re already registered for free and want to upgrade to the All-Access-Pass simply check out the Welcome page inside the Sketching Retreat classroom and/or check a recent email from David Drazil (the incredible host of this event).

I’ve started to watch a few of the other workshops and I’m keen to try a fish-eye perspective sketch soon thanks to Paul Heaston. I’ve picked up some marker tips from Shannin Williams and I can see that I’ll learn some procreate techniques as well. It’s going to be a fun week!


  • Peter Howarth says:

    Calligraphers often load their nibs with watercolour (usually gouache) using a brush to transfer the paint from pallette to nib.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Peter. I know of that technique but have found it interrupts my flow when sketching on location. But I should try to it again. So thanks for reminding me!!!

Leave a Reply