Drawing a Cat in Pen and Ink
One year ago I decided to do something that I’ve never done before, and that was a daily drawing challenge. I’ve always loved drawing cats, and have a lot of my own reference photos from my cat and friends’ cats, so I decided to choose them as my subject and further explore how to draw a cat through this daily practice. For 30 days in January/February I drew one drawing of a cat each day and posted each drawing to Instagram. Most were from photos I took myself, but some were from photos friends’ shared with me of their cats, and some were from cats I found on Instagram. These original drawings are for sale and can be purchased HERE.
A morning cup of tea, with an ink bottle, vintage nib pen and a special edition rose chocolate bar by Valerie Confections in collaboration with Edible Gardens LA. photo by Brianna Lamar
The drawings were executed in graphite pencil, charcoal pencil, watercolor brush pen, and pen and ink.
Although I have worked a lot in ink, and it’s one of my favorite mediums, I have mostly worked abstractly with the ink nib pen. It was fun to try out this medium to render a more realistic drawing utilizing some crosshatching techniques.
Since it is a bit of a different process than drawing in pencil, I thought I’d share with you the basic steps I took to approach a pen and ink drawing of a cat….for the curious cats out there 😉
First I lightly drew the basic structure of the cat with a mechanical graphite pencil.
Next I erased the pencil very carefully to leave just a faint image of my drawing. This gives me the guidance I need to create an observationally accurate drawing along with the freedom to draw fluidly with the ink and not feel constricted by my pencil lines.
To begin drawing with the nib pen, I created a very soft outline with feathery lines. Then I started with the head of the cat, laying in light diagonal hatch marks and a little bit of crosshatching to render areas with deeper value.
This was a bit of an experiment, but I decided to lay down the first layer of soft diagonal hatch marks roughly following the form of the cat to indicate the different planes, as well as the direction of the fur.
To finish, I continued to develop the form with hatch marks to create the look of the fur and deepen the values and further develop the form of the cat. I also added the stripes and spots, unique markings of this half-bengal kitty. You can see I also indicated some cast shadow on the ground to place the cat upon a surface.
Once I knew the ink was fully dry, I carefully erased the rest of the pencils lines.
The blotches are from my pen tip catching the paper as I signed my name…arrrrgh…haha….but I decided I don’t mind too much as it adds to the story of the character of the tool that I am using. Pen and Ink technique is a lot of fun, and it’s a bit tricky and messy at times….I have found joy in working with it by surrendering to it’s unruly character…or perhaps, my own in working with it. 😉
I hope you found this inside peek into my process interesting or perhaps helpful if you are looking to explore and experiment with this technique yourself to draw a cat or any other creature! To view this series available in my shop click the link below:
>>>—–> 30 Days of Cats Series Original Art for Sale <—–<<<