From Pixels to Ink: Pen Plotter Artwork Blog

All things pen plotter artwork, drawing machines and generative art

Beyond the Pen: Plotter Art Made with Paint, Sand, & More!

The last prompt for next week’s Plot Party is “no pen.” Do you need a pen to draw artwork with a pen plotter? Definitely not, below are many different ways to create pen plots without pens!

Painting with Plotters

One of the first plotter artists that comes to mind when it comes to watercolor painting is Licia He.

Pen plot painting by Licia He (IG: blahblahpaperblah)

Licia’s colorful pen plot art are created with code and painted with an AxiDraw v3 using a custom program.

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Small Pen Plot Art: Postcard Art for Plot Party!

The second to last prompt for next week’s Plot Party is postcard! This will also be an art exchange for everyone participating in Plot Party (more info to come!)

Time to scale things down, what kind of pen plot postcards can you make?!

Tobias Grothmann: Maze Postcards

How about these playful maze postcards by Tobias Grothmann?

Postcard pen plot by Tobias Grothmann (IG: tobias_grothmann)

The solution to the maze is revealed when hit with UV light!

Postcard pen plot by Tobias Grothmann (IG: tobias_grothmann)

Tobias also keeps things simple with black and white patterned postcards too.

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Glitches: Embrace Mistakes as Part of the Pen Plot Process

“Glitches” is the third Plot Party prompt designed to inspire letting loose and embracing mistakes, errors, bugs and experimentation in the design and plotting process!

Enough talk, on to some example pen plots!

Line Misalignment: How About DON’T Register the Pens

Normally I would advise checking your pen registration when plotting with multiple pens. Of course, you could always NOT do that to wonderful effect, as in this work by Jeff and Evan of 90 Percent Art.

Pen plot by 90 Percent Art (also on Instagram @90percentart)

Mix Different Mediums and See What Happens

Most anything by Joel Cammarata involves glitchy mixed media experimentation including this pen plot on a thermal print by Adrian Hanft.

Example pen plot by Joel Cammarata (on Instagram @j.cammarata.art)

Or this unique pen plot “misprint!”

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Multiple Line Widths: Example Pen Plot Art!

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Plot Party is coming up (Nov 8-12), and the second prompt for the five day pen plot art challenge is “multiple line widths!” What does that mean exactly?! Whether you use one pen or multiple pens to accomplish, let’s look at some inspiring examples from some of my favorite pen plot artists!

Pilot Parallel Pen: Varying Line Width With Just One Pen

The Pilot Parallel Pen is a unique italic calligraphy pen (refillable!) that can also be used for pen plotting.

Example artwork by Con Ryan (on Instagram @conryan.design)

This pen is different from most calligraphy pens in that the nib is made from two plates which allows ink to flow evenly across the entire length of the nib. That means you can create broad strokes, but you can also use the corner to create a thinner line.

For the multiple line widths prompt, that means you can create thin and thick sections in one line!

Example artwork by Targz (on Instagram @targz)

Targz advises running the Pilot Parallel pen slowly, and filling the ink cartridge with watercolor. Overlapping your lines with different colored inks when plotting can create additional colors where the inks overlap!

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Weather as Art: Inspiring Pen Plot Art

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The second ever Plot Party is around the corner (Nov 8-12), and the first prompt for the five day pen plot art challenge is “weather!” Question is, what kind of pen plots can you make that might relate to the theme of weather?

plot party by michelle chandra

Local Weather as Art

If you are in need of local inspiration, you can use the actual literal weather, for starters! Daniela Krohnert did just that at the first ever Plot Party (held last July) by leaving out a sheet of paper for a few minutes during a Viennese summer rainstorm.

Work by Daniela Krohnert (also @daniela_kroehnert on IG!)

The paper dried curled, and created an uneven texture when plotting 42 straight lines with a Faber Castell Artist Pitt Pen with a soft brush tip.

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How to Use Gelly Roll Pens with a Pen Plotter (AxiDraw)

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One of my favorite pens to use with a pen plotter (such as an AxiDraw) are Sakura gelly roll pens! They come in many color flavors from classic white, and metallic gold, to even fluorescent options such as the Moonlight gelly rolls which will glow under UV light! They work great on dark paper (and white paper!)

Example Pen Plots Using Gelly Roll Pens: Black Paper Edition

Nothing beats white ink on black paper! The ink density that builds over time as pen lines overlap is quite lovely.

Example artwork by Michelle Chandra, drawn with a white gelly roll pen!

White gelly rolls create strong white lines on black paper as in this work by Diana (@di_diff_world on Instagram!)

Example artwork by Diana (@di_diff_world on Instagram!)

Metallic gelly rolls also really pop on black paper such as this generative work by Vernon Miller (@aldernero on Instagram!)

Example artwork by Vernon Miller (@aldernero on Instagram)

Mix metallic gelly rolls for a rainbow effect as in this work by Adam Spannbauer (@thespanningset on Instagram!)

Example artwork by Adam Spannbauer (@thespanningset on Instagram!)

Truchet tiles never looked better drawn with a white gelly roll on black paper – example art by Floris de Jonge (@dejongefloris on Instagram.)

Example artwork by Floris de Jonge (@dejongefloris on Instagram)

Gelly Roll Pens: Beautiful & Annoying All At Once

While you can achieve beautiful results with gelly roll pens, they can also be very trying to work with when it comes to pen plotting. But why?! The ink flow from these pens can be quite inconsistent. For this reason, I have found that the best gelly roll pens for plotting are medium width (I steer clear of fine gelly rolls!)

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Using Posca Paint Pens with an AxiDraw!

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One advantage of using a pen plotter is the ability to use most any kind of ink and pen for drawing artwork including…metallic pens!

Pen plot art by Michelle Chandra drawn with metallic silver, metallic gold and pink Posca pens and an AxiDraw pen plotter

However, in order to use metallic inks for plotting, you will be limited to disposable gel pens or paint markers such as Posca paint markers. Unfortunately, metallic ink may clog refillable pens!

Posca Paint Marker Example Pen Plots

Since Posca paint markers will completely cover whatever they are drawn on, they are great for drawing artwork on acrylic ink paintings such as this recent series of “space” inspired artwork by Michelle Chandra.

“Space Vortex” by Michelle Chandra drawn with metallic silver, & metallic gold Posca pens

They are also great for thick line designs, and come in beautiful, bright shades. Sohan Murty takes wonderful advantage of this!

Pen plot art series by Sohan Murthy

Why Use Posca Paint Markers for Pen Plot Art?

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How to Pen Plot: Guides, Tutorials, and More!

Don’t know what to plot? Need guidance on making your creative code art plott-able?! Look no more! Find below a list of suggested workflows, and links to guides, blog posts, and wikis across the web that will help you make your pen plotting art!

If you are thinking of picking up an AxiDraw pen plotter, you can take 10% off your purchase from Evil Mad Scientist, the makers of the AxiDraw, when you use the discount code DIRTALLEY10.

Suggested Plotting Workflows 

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How to Draw Code Art with an AxiDraw Pen Plotter

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If you are thinking of picking up an AxiDraw pen plotter, you can take 10% off an AxiDraw pen plotter and accessories with discount code DIRTALLEY10 when you buy directly from Evil Mad Scientist, the makers of the AxiDraw!

It’s been two years since I bought an AxiDraw pen plotter and began plotting my code art! This is an update to an older blog post detailing my AxiDraw pen plotter setup, and my favorite pens.

Just me, standing on a street corner, holding some art like you do.

Plug and Play: Setting Up an AxiDraw vs3

The Axidraw pen plotter is expensive, which means it is mostly ready to go out of the box with minimal setup. Keep in mind that the AxiDraw will need a large dedicated area to operate as the arm of the AxiDraw needs space to extend back behind the plotter (along with out front over the drawing area!)

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