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HOW TO GAIN COMMAND OVER YOUR BRUSH PEN

You learn inking control by learning to control your pen and you gain control of your pen by learning to control your hand.


Like anything that deals with muscle control, using the brush pen also requires refining your hand-eye coordination. You didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to throw a ball, but you picked up the skill as you grew up. In fact, playing catch was probably the first sport your parents played with you as you began developing hand-eye coordination. So to begin feeling at ease using a brush pen, you must go through a training phase to refine your hand-eye coordination further.


When you practice consistently with the goal to achieve smooth and crisp lines in your inking, you develop the vital muscle memory that gives you the ability to control where you need your pen to go on the paper. After developing this muscle memory the brush pen will feel like an extension of your arm and not an alien tool you have trouble wielding.


This is the learning curve you need to go through to start controlling your pen from it moving to places you don’t want it to go. Stick through this learning curve and say goodbye to jittery line work.



LINE CONTROL


Before moving to transitioning between thicks and thins at ease, you must learn to keep your line thickness steady and consistent. Meaning, you must train to apply uniform pressure on your brush pen.


Exercise Routine to Master Line Control

This exercise is no about varying line weights, but aimed at achieving maximum control over the lines you make which includes the pressure you apply. So make sure to do these exercises trying to make lines with uniform line width.


Fill a page by drawing sets of 6 horizontal lines of uniform width side by side.


Do this with the utmost focus and concentration. Make sure to soak in your arm movement while you draw these lines during the exercise because this is where you build the coveted muscle memory you are working toward.





Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 vertical lines of uniform width, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 curved lines of uniform width, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 reverse curved lines of uniform width, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 wavy lines of uniform width, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 longer wavy lines of uniform width, side by side.


Once you are done practicing these with one particular line width, repeat the whole process over again for a different line width and aim to keep that width constant throughout. This is the best way to develop a feel for the pen pressure you apply with your hand.


After the end of the first day with these exercises you will have grown visibly better in controlling your line smoothness and pen pressure.



These exercises may seem like a chore and not much fun. But the truth is you need to learn to swing a bat before playing baseball. Remember when you had to memorize the multiplication tables? I’m sure we all cursed math for being so boring and hard. But you’ve learnt those tables and now you can multiply a hell a lot of numbers without searching for a calculator each time. That’s the magic of memorizing things so they become second nature to us. We get to level up in the games we play. And just like those multiplication tables, inking with a brush pen requires you to go through these repetitive exercises to build muscle memory.



LINE WEIGHT


We know that the more pressure we apply on the brush pen, the thicker the line gets and lesser the pressure, thinner the lines we make.


Line weights make all the difference between a pro inking artist and an amateur one. Line weight variation in your drawings convey important information like depth, contours, values and forms. Adding line work to a sketch makes it more polished giving it a finished feeling. In fact, I personally leave some of my works complete just with the inks without adding colors. To create such finished pieces just with inking you need to master this major aspect of inking called Line Weights.


Exercise Routine to Master Line Weight Variation

This routine involves all the same exercises we went through with line control but here our focus is making steady lines of varying thickness instead of uniform line width. The routine is explained in detail below.


Fill a page by drawing sets of 6 horizontal lines transitioning from thin to thick, side by side.


Do this with the utmost focus and concentration. Make sure to soak in your arm movement while you draw these lines during the exercise because this is where you build the coveted muscle memory you are working toward.





Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 vertical lines transitioning from thin to thick, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 curved lines transitioning from thin to thick, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 reverse curved lines transitioning from thin to thick, side by side.


Repeat the same exercise by filling a page by drawing sets of 6 wavy lines transitioning from thin to thick, side by side.


Once you are done practicing these, repeat the whole process over again with the lines transitioning from thick to thin. After that, repeat the exercises with the lines transitioning from thin to thick to thin. You see the pattern here, go on practicing these transitions between thicks and thins as long as you can go.





If follow this routine, trust me, you will improve quickly to show visible results in your inking skills. These transitions are what add the dynamic element to the drawings you make.


These two routines are sure to help you build the mind-muscle connection that takes to make a skilled artist. The process you go under will build new neural pathways that establish the coordination between what you see in your mind’s eye and what your hand translates on paper - the most vital requirement for any artist.


I'm immensely excited to announce that 'The Art of Inking: Fundamentals' course I've been working on is almost ready! We'll be launching the course by the end of the month and will be taking pre-orders from 25.09.2019. Read more about the course here!





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