Creating a Notecard Design with Pen and Ink
Creating a one-color notecard design is a fun way to learn a variety of pen and ink techniques. You may then bring your
drawing to a print shop and select from a variety of paper colors and textures, or scan and print your own cards, using digital
print cards, available from Daniel Smith. What a rewarding feeling to write a letter on one of your own designs! Or how about
tying bright-color ribbon around several cards and envelopes and giving them as gifts? I use the white, smooth drawing paper.
Choose from a variety of papers suitable for pen and ink from the material list. Though I prefer to use Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph
Pens with the pen point size #1 or smaller you may choose from a variety of ultra-thin markers. Use Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Pen
Cleaning System whenever your Rapidograph pens become clogged. Step-by-step I will demonstrate how to create a notecard design
inspired from a photo, using a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph #1 point Pen.
Step 1 - Subject
Choose a photograph to use as reference. I selected a photo of my cat, Dexter, for a starting point.
Step 2 - Size
Decide what size notecard you will create and whether the design will be horizontal or vertical. The two sizes I use are either
5" x 7" or 41/4" x 51/2." These are the sizes that fit standard envelopes. Using a pencil, draw the desired size on a surface
having enough room in the margins for two separate value scales, each with three sections. Since a strong drawing has contrasts
of lights and darks, you may practice techniques of creating values in the small boxes. In each value scale leave the first
square blank since the lightest value will be the white of your paper. In one value scale use pointillism, a technique using
dots. The closer together the dots, the darker the value. In the second value scale use cross-hatching, a technique using lines.
The closer the lines, the darker the value. Using pencil, sketch your composition. I omitted several items from the photo,
replacing them with objects from a Victorian catalog.
Step 3 - Definition
After using pointillism on the cat and heart-shaped cake, I started to sketch the tablecloth. To emphasize areas of your
composition, use contour lines for outlining.
Step 4 - Balance
Keep a balance of black and white. I added details on the tablecloth, making it appear lacy, using pointillism and contour
lines. With the same techniques I drew the couch that the cat is sitting on and the flowering plant.
Step 5 - Tone
In finishing my drawing I used cross-hatching lines in the foreground and horizontal lines in the background. The closer the
lines, the darker the tones. For extreme contrast I sometimes brush black ink on the background areas of card designs with a
small, round brush.
About the Author
Besides being a painter, Diana Randolph is a published writer. In 1999, Savage Press published the chapbook of her
poetry/paintings titled, "In the Heart of the Forest." The debut of that publication coincided with a solo exhibit of her pastel
paintings titled "In the Heart of the Forest" at the Duluth Art Institute in Duluth, MN. That year she had another solo exhibit
at the Washburn Historical Museum in Washburn, WI. It was titled "Washburn Walking Trail and Other Landscapes of the Lake
Superior Region." Other accomplishments: Invitational Group Show - Alumni Art Show, Northland College, Ashland, WI, Oct 1998,
July 1992 and July 1997.