Do you admire the work of artists who use ink to create intricate crosshatching art but feel intimidated by the technique? Ink is often one of the more permanent media you can use, so, understandably, you’d feel a bit anxious when facing the blank page.

Artist Abe Orobia has found a great way to practice your drawing by using a whiteboard before you start. Dry erase markers are so easy to wipe away, so you can fine-tune your design again and again before you do your final drawing on paper.

Let’s dive in and learn Abe’s approach to making fantastic ink drawings. We will follow Abe’s entire demo, breaking it into manageable steps!

Step 1: Map Out the Shape

At the beginning here, Abe uses simple dots to map out the shape of the object he’s drawing. All successful still-life artists begin with a simplified representation of the form they’re depicting so that they’re able to draw accurate proportions without committing too much time right away before they’re sure about what direction to take.

Step 2: Lines

For this step, consider the difference between lines that curve and shake a bit as they go and lines that go straight. As Abe points out, curved lines have more character than straight lines, so to showcase your individuality and add more dynamism to your image, let your lines be a bit wobbly and imperfect.

The more of an experienced artist you become, the less perfectionistic you will be about the individual lines in the early stages of a process.

Step 3: Rendering

At this point, you can start playing with different line thicknesses. Notice how your eye goes straight towards the bold areas.

Conversely, if those bold lines more or less frame the composition, the thin lines will be the ones to stand out. Always examine your compositions to make sure the different parts of the picture work together as a whole.

Step 4: Starting Our Main Project

With the warmup sketch out of the way, it is time to use the whiteboard to begin something that we’ll finish on actual paper! We’re going to draw some garlic cloves.

Map out the proportions using construction lines to get the sizes and shapes accurate. By determining the length and width of each garlic clove, first of all, you’ll make the rest of your lines accurate later.

Step 5: Constructing the Garlic

Once the size of the garlic cloves is determined, we can then add the shape. Use loose lines to shape the garlic.

Step 6: Definition

Now, this is where we practice the hatching that will make the finished piece come to life! While doing this, keep in mind that the lines you draw should follow the object's shape.

Also, if the object has texture, you'll want to draw the lines accordingly. Garlic has a ridged texture up and down its layers, so you'll want to indicate that with your lines at the same time as you're shading the picture. The result is quite magical!

Step 7: Real Paper!

Since you did so much of the construction lines and planning on the dry erase board, this finished piece will be easy and relaxing! Start wherever is the most intuitive for you and work from there. Feel free to do so if you would like to sketch the shapes with a pencil before adding the ink faintly!

Step 8: Garlic Layers

Notice in my sample how when my lines overlap and get messy, there isn't much realism. I was making a few mistakes in my case, but you can use the messy look to the advantage of your style if you plan it on purpose!

If you make a mistake in your drawing, try your absolute best to carry on until the end anyway. Your picture never looks like what you imagine when it's unfinished, and that makes a mistake stand out more.

Step 9: Fleshing it Out

As you add more details to each clove of garlic, you'll find yourself noticing whether you prefer bold lines or fine lines. When I sketch in ink, I tend to use a combination of bold and fine lines, and I like to cluster the fine lines together when I shade. I prefer to use bold lines more for edges of objects to have a built-in shadow under the edge.

Step 10: Another Paper Sketch

Abe adds a quick texture study of a fascinating mask he owns to round out the demo. Here's where some fun bold lines come into play. The stitching on the front of the mask is just a series of bold lines, which are pretty satisfying to make.

Step 11: Details

The mask is leather of some sort, so there's lots of great texture as well as some punched holes. Use lines of varying thickness to add dimension, and remember when adding the dots along the surface to space them out according to the contour of the mask.

I hope you feel more confident about ink drawing by the end of this demo! Remember, you can always fall back on erasable media such as dry erase markers on the whiteboard or even pencil sketching to practice your drawings before committing to the ink!

If you’d like to learn more from Abe, check out his 90-minute animal drawing class! Also, if you’d like more updates from us, you can subscribe to our email newsletter!

Elsa Wahlstrom is an illustrator/writer living in the south Idaho hill country. She  loves to create cozy, homey pictures and populate them with funny little creatures  having surreal little adventures. Her biggest inspiration is the music and comedy that  came out of England in the late 60s. When she’s not busy making art, she goes for long  hikes, plays a few instruments, and collects vinyl.


  • Jodi Jason said:

    This “Practicing line work on a white board” by Abe Orobia is a good tutorial, but I think you have some things mixed up. You have the title in the newsletter as “Guide to Urban Sketching” and a write up on Elsa Wahlstrom at the end that doesn’t seem to fit.

    June 01, 2022

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