Create Mood in 3 Easy Steps With Mixed Media Drawing

Truth be told, I’ve never been one for working in just one medium. I’ve always found it more exciting to take the skills that I have in several things and put them together. That’s why mixed media drawing is perfect for me! Instead of feeling limited to a specific way of working, I can pick and choose the best thing about different materials to help me achieve the right mood for my artwork.

Today, I’ll show you a few simple steps for drawing and drawing mood-filled pieces using a combination of ink wash and pencils.

Mixed media drawing - completed

You will need:

The tools we’ll use for this tutorial are pretty standard: ink (I prefer sumi ink), brushes, graphite pencils,  and colored pencils for accent. I also have my eraser handy and some nice paper that’s meant for ink.

Supplies for mixed media drawing

I don’t know about you, but I love looking at cloudy skies. Picture the deep grays you see right before it starts to storm. I want to recreate those clouds using my ink wash and use pencils to illustrate the house that’s about to get rained on.

Step 1: Find reference and start to sketch.

Reference for mixed media drawing

Before I do most things, I look up a reference photo. Even though I can certainly imagine a house, I wanted to do some research of interesting-looking photos for inspiration. I looked back to images I’ve taken over the years.

Completed sketch

I selected one, and drew a free-standing house with a little landscape to give it context. You can draw whatever you like, though. This work is more about imagination and expression rather than recording what’s right in front of you. When drawing, keep your lines light so it’s easy to erase them later. You’ll see that I also drew a general shape of my dark cloud.

Step 2: Add details and color in the house.

ink wash on a sketch Completed ink wash on sketch Colored pencil ink Completed color pencil

Now that you have a basic sketch done, let’s add some color to your drawing. Maybe that means green grass or a brick-red facade on your house. Either way, include it where you feel appropriate; I’m using colored pencils to do this. Alternatively, you can also include some ink wash with your pencil drawing, pre-coloring; it’s another way you can add depth to your composition. I enjoy drawing on top of ink washes because it creates nice visual layering. Just make sure your ink has dried before you draw on top of it.

Step 3: Set an eerie mood with an ink wash.

Ink wash Ink wash #2

Here’s my favorite part of this process. It’s where you let the ink have a mind of its own! I imagine that it’s about to rain, so the skies are gray and the mood is ominous. It’s easy to create a sky in just a couple of steps. First, water down some sumi ink until it looks like a light gray color. Then, apply the wash to the area of the sky. Let it dry completely.

Then, taking an inkless brush, wet the area of the large, dark cloud. While the paper is still wet, dip your brush in ink and spread it over the moistened area. You’ll see the pigment start to travel and bleed. This is a good thing! It gives us variation in the cloud and makes it appear more wispy and airy, just as they really are. Wait for it to dry, and if you want to go back and add more dark ink, you can do so.

Ink wash after its dried and has more ink on it

And with that, you’ll have a spooky scene! Better get indoors before it starts to pour.

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