The Mighty Pen: Learn 9 Easy-To-Draw Pen & Ink Textures

The pen is a powerful tool with a lot of possibilities. With a simple flick or carefully pulled motion, you can create a totally different look and feel. Better yet, it’s a ubiquitous object that you can use for a variety of artistic purposes. 

Learn nine pen textures to bring your drawings to life!

pen and ink textures composite picture

There are a lot of ways to create interest with pen and ink! Get to know nine common pen textures to enhance your artwork.

I’d suggest experimenting with different type of pen textures. Try making a chart to compare how the look — for this, I drew nine circles on a sheet of paper. 

Pen and ink textures to draw

1. Hatching

hatch pen texture

The hatching technique is the most basic of all the pen textures. To create it, simple draw a series of parallel lines on your page. They should not overlap. This works great for general sketching and when you want to convey lightly-toned shadows.

2. Crosshatching

Cross hatch technique

This is the counterpart to hatching. Create one set of parallel lines and then go over them in the opposite direction with another set. Again, crosshatching works great for general sketching and creating deep shadows.

Learn more in Bluprint’s new handy crosshatching guide »

3. Stippling

stipple pen technique

Stippling looks fantastic, but it’s the most tedious of these nine textures. Start by making dots — many, many dots — and cluster them to create shadow. The farther apart the dots, the lighter something will appear. 

4. Contour 

contour pen technique

Contour lines follow form. By doing so, they create a dimensional effect — doesn’t this circle look more rounded than the one filled with hatch marks?

5. Cross contour

Cross contour technique

The cross contour technique is very similar to crosshatching. It uses the same concept — layering lines in opposing direction — only you’ll follow the form. Here, I’ve created open, rounded lines in both orientations.

6. Wood grain

wood grain pen texture

Wood grain is a texture best reserved for nature drawing or sketching furniture or buildings. To create it, draw lines that are parallel and not totally uniform. Some will be long and thin while others will appear more ovular. You can create a pattern from your imagination or look at a piece of wood for reference. Whichever you chose, I would recommend using a fine-tipped pen to draw it, as wood grain is usually fine.

7. Squiggles / random marks

Squiggly pen texture

Squiggles (or random marks) are a fun way to let loose on the page. Focus on loosely scribbling and creating a texture you’ve never seen before. The more that the squiggles overlap, the darker they’ll appear. It’s one way you can create depth with this texture. Try using it when you’re drawing a subject that is furry or fuzzy.

8. Angled / contrasting directional lines

Angled / contrasting diagonal lines

If you’re taking a more decorative approach to your drawing, try being meticulous about it. I like making tiny marks on the page to build volume and visual interest. Place contrasting angled lines together to convey a sense of movement. 

9. Ink wash

ink wash technique

Bust out a paintbrush for this technique. If you’re looking for a gradual, smooth texture, apply an ink wash over your page. Start with a light, watered-down pigment that you can paint over most of your page. Then, begin to increase the amount of ink that’s in your mixture and apply it to your existing layers. Finish the piece with the darkest (and most sparingly used) tone.

Putting it all together

pen drawing using several textures

Once you’re familiar with all of your pen and ink textures, try combining a few of them into one drawing. You’ll find that different techniques have their own unique advantages. The hatching, for instance, works great for the long bristle of these brushes, while cross contouring helps give the shaft a rounded, dimensional feel.

pen and ink texture - examplepen and ink texture example

FREE Guide: Discover 6 Essential Crosshatching Techniques

cross hatched

Did you know that there’s more than one way to crosshatch? From basic parallel hatching to less common techniques, this guide will help you create value and texture for drawings that pop. Get my FREE guide »

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