A Touch of Colour: Coloured Linework

A Touch of Colour: Coloured Linework

If you're here, you're probably already well-versed in graphic pens and fineliners, but we have something more for you! We're looking at Etchr's coloured fineliners and brush pens and examining how colourful linework affects artwork.

Beyond Black

The standard graphic pen has black ink because black is neutral but stands out the darkest value you can get. So black pens tend to be easy to find and are a good, professional-looking art staple to use.

Coloured fineliners, though, are a little trickier to use and sometimes give off the feeling of being more "crafty" than "artsy" due to their more playful nature.

Colourful pens do not have to be only for craft projects. I will show you how to experiment with them.

First things first, swatch your pens. Swatching is more important for coloured pens than black pens because their true colours may not match the cap colour. You will also get a better idea of the pen's thickness and suitability for your work. 

Tip: For a smoother drawing experience, use hot press or mixed media paper, especially if you plan to paint your sketch. Otherwise, any smooth paper will work, even printer paper!

Cold press paper works, too. The one downside to using watercolour paper is that it absorbs more ink than other paper, which may dry out your pens more quickly.

Bonus Tip: Like Etchr's black graphic pen collection, Etchr's coloured pens are waterproof! 

A Colourful Line

After swatching your coloured pens, you can try drawing one thing using one colour and see how it affects the atmosphere or mood of the drawing. The exciting thing about using coloured fineliners is the added layer of colour association, a colour evoking a particular feeling.

For example, drawing something completely in blue gives a cool, serene feeling because we associate blue with colours like the sky or sea.

On the other hand, drawing the same thing in red will give a more passionate, perhaps even angry feeling, as we associate red with danger, blood, and fire. 

Try it for yourself! What emotions do you associate with each colour? It will likely be similar across all cultures because humans are affected by what we see in nature and our surroundings every day.

Tip: Neutral colours, like black or grey, will not have a dramatic effect on your work. You'll rely on your paint colour instead of linework colour to evoke the atmosphere you want in your painting.

Getting Spicy

Once you get the hang of having coloured lines, you can try using more than just one colour. It can work like "colour-coding" different subjects or characters or mixing elements and emotions in one drawing.

The brush pens also let you incorporate line weight, so feel free to use the pens interchangeably! This helps you add a lot of expression in your linework and is great for calligraphy too! 

In general, having coloured linework gives my artwork a softer, more subtle feeling because the colours blend into the paint more than just black.

Even a monochromatic painting evokes a different feel than black and white, so experiment as much as you like! 

Bonus tip: One of the more difficult colours to use will be yellow because it is difficult to see on white paper. Consequently, you can use it as a subtle highlight colour or to give a hint of warmth to lighter areas.

If you want to get spicy, you can try layering the colours to get something different or blending two colours to try and harmonise the overall look.

This will work best with two closer colours on the colour wheel, like yellow and green or pink and purple. And I don't recommend layering more than two colours, as your paper might start pilling if you go over it too many times.

Go Wild

No matter how old or young you are, having coloured pens is pretty fun and can add something a little extra and different to your artwork.

For the curious and those who love using colour, give Etchr's coloured pen set a try! With 8 colours, you can explore monochromatic paintings in greater depth or go all-out and make a rainbow drawing. The world is your oyster so go colour it!

Have you used coloured pens before? What do you think makes coloured linework different from black linework? Let us know in the comments! Subscribe to our email newsletter to learn more about our art products and the latest Etchr news.

Nicola Tsoi is a practising graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. She likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm during her downtime. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 
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