Ink and Splatter

One of my most popular styles, Ink and Watercolour splatter, is also one I don’t see other artists use very often. I thought I’d share a bit on here about how I draw these, what I materials I use, and how I get that fun splatter effect! 

I first started using ink pens to draw when I bought myself a manga drawing kit. The kit came with four Sakura Pigma Sensei pens, in four different sizes: 1.0mm, 0.6mm, 0.4mm, and 0.3mm. I found the 0.4mm to be my favourite, because you can get different gradations of the ink by using the side of the nib rather than the tip. This let me shade in my ink drawings and get really subtle tones for detailed parts like the eyes. 

One of my favourite ink and splatter drawings, of a monarch butterfly. The red and yellow in my orange mixture separated while the paint dried, which ended up looking amazing. That’s the thing about splatter drawings – the splatter isn’t something you have a ton of control over, and it will often surprise you!

My very first drawing I did this way was a cheetah, and it turned out surprisingly well! After thinking about it for a while, I wanted to add a bit of colour to the drawing, just a ‘splash’, if you will. The way I did this (and still do, to this day) was a bit odd. 

I use a shot glass, fill it up with water, and mix in watercolour paint until I get my desired colour and darkness. The key here is to put in enough paint that the colour isn’t washed out – you want a good splash of colour on the drawing. It’s a good idea to do some test droplets on a scrap piece of paper before you splatter the drawing. 

To get a nice splatter effect, you want to drop the colour onto your drawing from a decent height. I usually pour it from the shot glass at about a foot or a foot and a half up. Pro tip: Make sure any other art nearby is covered, because the splatter travels far! I usually splatter my drawings on the floor so I don’t get paint all over my work surfaces. 

Often I use colours from the natural colour of the animal, but the fun thing with ink and splatter is that any colour will do! Here’s a portrait with a splash of green that really makes it pop!

Once you’ve poured your paint onto the drawing you can play around with how the paint sits within the splatter. If you’re getting lots of water bunching in one area, you may want to absorb some of it with a paper towel. The paper will warp at this point, due to the liquid, and those warps often collect water (and thus pigment). When everything is dry, the areas with the most water will be darker, so this can look a bit weird. One strategy I use is to gently adjust the warp of the paper until the centre of the paper is the highest point, which will make the pigment collect on the outer edges of the splatter, which often look really neat! Don’t worry if some of the water runs off the drawing, those drips are often a really cool effect. 

Another pro-tip: Once you’ve splattered, keep your drawing on a flat surface that is closed away from any pets, so you don’t get dogs or cats knocking it over and messing up your splatter. The splatter takes a few hours to fully dry, and I like to check on it now and then to see if I want to move any of the pigment around before it’s dry. 

Once everything is dry, you have to go back over the ink parts of the drawing that are covered by splatter, so they stand out. This will blunt the tip of your ink pen, but it’s worth it to get a really nice bold effect. And then you’re done! I love these types of drawings, they’re a unique and fun way to bring some colour and character to a subject while still drawing realism. 

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