OK, very important question..
Do you ink before or after you paint?
If you ink after you paint, then the pen doesn’t matter as much. You’ll have a lot more options.
Of course, you’ll want to try out your pens on either a test painting or your watercolor notebook where you do experimenting anyways.
Now, if you ink before you paint, then it’s very important that you use the right kind of pen.
Because if you don’t, you’ll ruin your painting.
Be careful about what you use together with watercolors. One time, I had a store clerk from a store I actually loved (occasionally, every store will have an employee who talks out of his ass) recommend an ink pen that ruined a painting. He specifically said that it works great with watercolors.
Well, lo and behold, I buy the pen, ink my artwork, and watercolor over it. What happened? The ink smeared all over the place. And needless to say, that painting immediately ended up in the trash.
I kept the pen though because I used it for other things. Just not for watercolors.
So what are you looking for in a pen?
First off, if you plan to sell your paintings, you always want archival quality supplies. This is yet another reason I strongly recommend Pigma Micron. These are archival quality inks.
Second, you need waterproof pens. Some pens will claim that their ink is waterproof. Before you actually paint on a real painting, do a test on your watercolor journal. Make sure that the pen can back its claim.
With Pigma Microns, I simply draw, ink, wait two or three minutes, erase the pencil, then paint.
Yes, you still should wait a few minutes between the inking and the erasing. One time, I erased immediately after inking and smeared it. This ink is great, but it still needs to dry into your watercolor paper. It’s not immediate. However, it really doesn’t take that long. Two or three minutes tops.
Inking before or after painting
Going back to the very beginning of this article, I asked you if you paint before or after you ink.
If you paint before you ink, then the ink doesn’t matter so much. Your lines will be stronger and stand out more.
If you paint after you ink, the ink really matters. You absolutely positively have to use waterproof ink or else you’ll ruin your painting. The lines will be slightly weaker and stand out less.
It’s personal preference. I won’t say which way is better because it’s really up to your taste.
I personally paint after I ink. I’ve been doing it that way for so long that it’s become part of my “look.”
I’m sure there are other fine pens for inking watercolors besides Pigma Microns. But these are standard, easy to find (both Michael’s and Hobby Lobby carry them, two stores not too far from my house). Blicks had a huge supply but unfortunately, I no longer live by a Blicks. I loved that art store.
My method for inking watercolor paintings
This is super simple.
First, draw the image with pencil:
Then ink over the pencil:
Let the ink dry for 2 to 3 minutes and you’re good.
Now, you can erase the pencil:
Now the fun part. You get to paint.
Yes, it doesn’t look like much now. I prefer it this way. I simply do the outline and let the painting speak for itself.
This particular painting is on a Blick Premier Watercolor Block. I love those things, almost always hot press. I’ll use either Blick’s professional paper or Arches. Both are archival quality and both are excellent.
I won’t finish this painting for another week as I got a lot lined up. However, here are some flowers from the previous painting so you can get an idea how this one above will look:
These are done with Sakura’s Pigma Micron pens. I love those things!