How to Draw With a Ball-Point Pen

By Andrew Dewitt
Ball point pens can create wonderful art.

Ball-point pens can create highly detailed illustrations. Unlike other mediums, the ball-point pen is constantly yields the same strokes or lines. This can allow and artist to work very close lines together to create a level of sophistication and technical detail that would be impossible with other loose mediums like charcoal. Ball-point pen art is similar to using a pencil but the artist will need to shade and darken using vastly different techniques. Ball-point pens are also cheap to use and replace, making this style of illustration great for beginners and more advanced illustrators alike.

A light pencil sketch will be your foundation.

Create your initial sketch in pencil. Keep the sketch loose and concentrate on the placement of the figures, background and objects.

Erase the pencil so that only the ink remains.

Trace over your initial sketch with light strokes from your ball-point pen. Let the ink dry completely and use a kneaded eraser to remove the pencil sketch below the picture.

Vertical and horizontal lines can heighten the strength of the color you are using.

Add thin vertical or horizontal lines with a colored ball-point pen to create a base color. Add diagonal lines with the same color to heighten the effect of the color. This can create a darkening effect so be careful where you use it.

Cross hatching can create shadowed areas. Here a shadow has been created under the figure's legs.

Add in shading and details using different directions of strokes than the previous layer. Always keep the strokes neat and orderly. Add darker colors after you have blocked in all your light colors.

Note how the contour lines reveal the shapes of the figure and tree.

Create realistic shape and depth by using curved contour lines across the surface of shapes. Contour lines are lines that run across the shape an object that show the viewer how the shape curves and bends. For instance, a tree trunk can seem more 3-dimensional with curved contour lines running across the shape.

Tip

Try experimenting with different stroked to create contour lines and shading using your ball-point pens.

Warning

Do not zigzag back and forth to save time. This will ruin the effect you are creating.

About the Author

Andrew DeWitt is a freelance writer/illustrator and stand-up comic with more than eight years of professional experience. He has written for Chicago Public Radio, Vocalo Radio, Second City Chicago, and The Lemming. DeWitt has a liberal arts degree with a double major in theater and creative writing.