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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.
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!
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!
- Make sure your paper can handle a lot of ink without warping if you are using a bigger nib pen
- The drawing surface needs to be as level as possible to keep the full width of the nib in constant contact with the paper
- There will probably always be some pen skipping… so best to embrace it
- Smoother papers (such as Yupo) means a lot less pen skipping
- Mounting the pen so that the nib is parallel to the body of the plotter will ensure better contact with the paper
- Changing the angle of the nib to the paper will create more experimental results
- Don’t be afraid to refill the ink cartridges with your own choice of ink
- The pen nib can be disassembled for thorough cleaning
While the Pilot Parallel Pen is a unique and refillable calligraphy pen, there are other calligraphy pens you can try too, just search for calligraphy or chisel tip pens.
Disposable pen options include:
- Faber Castell Artist Calligraphy Pens
- Sakura Pigma Calligrapher Pens
- Kuretake ZIG Calligraphy Double Sided Markers
Use More than One Pen!
Contrast thick and thin lines by using two different pens, such as this work by George Henry Rowe created with both a thick brush pen, and a fineliner pen.
Or this metallic pen plot by Giulia Cosco made with a white pen and gold powder.
Or overlap marker and metallic pens, such as this work by Michelle Chandra.
Keep in mind when using different sized pens, it may be tricky to register your lines when swapping out pens! Embrace the misregistration, or try and use pens with similar pen barrel sizes.
Many pen companies offer pens of different line thicknesses and nib types in the same lineup such as:
Fake It Until You Make It: Hatch Fill Shading and Line Spacing
To create areas in your design of different widths, try a little hatch fill shading! Such as this work by Licia He, painted with an AxiDraw pen plotter and watercolor paint.
Another example of using hatch fill shading is this colorful pen plot by Paul Rickards.
Or, instead of hatch fill shading, vary line spacing to create denser areas such as this work by Cezar Mocan.
In a similar vein is this work by Adam Spannbauer where increasing noise in the center creates denser line spacing. Plotted with a white gelly roll pen on black paper!
Brush Pen: Variation through Pressure
Brush pens can also create interesting line variation and texture, especially if the plotting surface isn’t flat!
Daniela Krohnert let a piece of paper dry curled after a light rain shower and then plotted 42 straight lines with a Faber Castell Artist Pitt Pen with a soft brush tip.
Multiple Lines Width Tips Recap
- Create thick and thin segments in one line with a calligraphy pen
- Contrast thick and thin lines by using multiple pens in one plot
- Fake line width variation with hatch fill shading or through line spacing
- Use a brush pen and varying pressure to create line width variation
Images in this post were used with permission by Con Ryan (@conryan.design), Targz (@targz), Deniz (@ojelibalon), George Henry Rowe (@georgehenryrowe), Giulia Cosco (@maenade.art), Michelle Chandra (@dirtalleydesign), Licia He (@blahblahpaperblah), Paul Rickards (@rolandjuno), Cezar Mocan (@moving.drawing), Adam Spannbauer (@thespanningset), and Daniela Krohnert (@daniela_kroehnert).
New to pen plotting?! Interested in making your own pen plot art?! 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!
About the Author
Michelle Chandra studied art, design and code at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Her work has been featured in many publications including Gizmodo, the Washington Post and Engadget. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @dirtalleydesign.