Pen & Ink
Basic Guidelines and Tips for hand drawn maps with pen, ink and paper.
This is by no means a definitive article on Pen and Ink drawing. I wanted to pass on some basic knowledge of my years of rendering maps in pen and ink, as well as pass on a few tips that might help some of you avoid the mistakes that I’ve made in the past. There are some things in this particular field that aren’t easy to find and come through a process of trial and error. I would also like to point out that I’ve never had any formal training in art, architectural, drafting and design, or cartography. It has all been self-taught and I would never consider myself an expert by any definition of the word. In fact, every time I sit down to start a map, it’s a learning experience and I look at it as such. The best advice I could probably every give you is this: Patience, Practice and Practice.
There are of course three essential tools in this trade: Pens, Inks, and Paper. There are other tools and supplies that are worth mentioning here. First and foremost are pencils. Every final map I draw has been outlined (lightly) in pencil; I prefer wooden Staedtler brand sketching and drafting pencils, I usually a light to medium grade (2B, B, HB, H 2H 3H). They are easily erased from most sheets with a gum eraser or a flexible, polymer eraser (soft white), once the ink has been laid down. Other supplies might include: compass, ruler, t-square, all manner of stencils for drafting and design, masking tape, pen knife or razor, soft brush, lint-free cloth, erasing shield, white out, scaling compass, drawing boards, thumb tacks, and Jolt cola (for those extended sessions).
Pretty much everything I use for pen and ink artwork and cartography. Followed by some of the compass, eraser and pencils.
PENS Felt-tip and fiber-tip pens I use the least, but the one of the handiest has been a brush pen. These are most commonly used for Asian character lettering, but I have found they can be used for more finesse where a quill pen cannot. Relatively cheap and fun to use I suggest at least one in every cartographer’s arsenal. Most other felt-tips do not mesh well with the india ink we’ll be using in our other pens.
some felt pens there on the right.
Dip pens or quill pens do come in handy, especially when you need to build lines for mountains, or cliffs, or need varying width in your strokes. I love working with them personally, and have been using them in some form or another since age 10. Speedball makes a good quality and quantity of nibs at affordable prices. There tends to be a wide variance in user preference on which is used when doing various projects. I find that the most frequently used in my maps are the crow quill 107, 108 and 102, hunt 104, 107, 103, 99 and 512. Rotring makes a cartridge ‘quill’ nib Art Pen in fine, medium and large sizes that come in handy, sadly the ink does have somewhat of an offset with india ink on certain sheets.
The drawback with most dip pens is you limited in stroke direction (meaning you turn your wrist and paper more) and they do have a tendency to drip or splatter if not careful. Having to re-dip the pen has a tendency to interrupt you rhythm. It also takes quite a bit of time gaining adeptness at using dip pens if you’ve never really used them.
Cleaning quills are quite easy. I use rubbing alcohol to get the ink off and then wash the nibs in warm soapy water. I suggest not doing this over an open drain. Nibs can get slippery when wet and soapy. Rinse and let air dry or if you need to immediately reuse it, wipe it off with a lint-free cloth. A paper towel can be used if your careful not to get it torn and stuck in the ink chamber (the split in the nib).