Here are 7 important tips that I put together for line and wash paintings that might help you if you’re learning this unique style. Consistency is the key to improvement!
Take your time with the drawing. It is important to do so as unlike pencil, it will always show through the watercolors.
My process involves drawing the scene first in pen and adding watercolor afterward. I find doing it in this order leads to a better outcome, especially with more complex subjects like buildings as I have a ‘plan’ to work off. I treat it almost like a coloring-in book.
Subjects such as florals and natural landscapes tend to work fine in either order (pen or watercolor first) as there are fewer hard edges to define.
Try to vary the way you hold the pen. Closer to the end for a looser look and for larger shapes, and close to the tip for more detail and smaller shapes like windows. And hold the pen gently! All this will influence the ‘style’ of the drawing/painting.
With more complex compositions and buildings, use a pencil first to add a general outline + crucial areas like the horizon line. This increases the accuracy of your pen work, in terms of object placement and perspective. Go over your pencil drawing with your pen and add in all the details, then use an eraser to remove the pencil.
If you make a mistake, just lift off and redraw where you were meant to. Don’t try to correct the mistake by going over it again and again with a pen, as this will draw more attention to the area. Small imperfections add to the beauty of pen and wash.
Paint all the lighter colors first in one wash from top to bottom of the page. Add in other colors/mixes while the paper is wet. Once dried, slowly add in the darks and work in the values, while still allowing the pen marks to show through.
Have fun and remember it is just a drawing and not meant to be 100% perfect or a masterpiece. Have faith in yourself and you’ll be surprised at what emerges from all the linework.
If you enjoyed reading this article on 7 Important Tips for Line and Wash Paintings, be sure to view the free demonstration videos below. They are fully narrated in real-time to walk you through each step of the drawing and painting.