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Painting with Carol » ruling pen
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Painting with Carol

Techniques, tips and tricks for watercolours and acrylics

How to use a ruling pen

April 25th, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment, Painting techniques

There has been a great deal of interest on how to use the ruling pen. Maybe I should try and explain a little better how I use it. Many years ago, I was an apprentice draughtswoman. In those days you were allowed to say draughtswoman, these days it is called draughtsperson. I know it has nothing to do with how to use a ruling pen but I thought a little background may help you to understand. The Engineer would pass his sketches on to the draughtsperson and the plans were then drawn to scale in pencil. Once they had been passed by the Engineer the plans were then drawn up in ink - and this is where the ruling pen comes in.

You can buy different quality pens - I use a good quality pen such as “WILD” Heerbrugg made in Switzerland, but another very good brand is “STAEDTLER”. There are ruling pens that are not as expensive to buy. I have found that cheaper ruling pens take a lot longer to run in; you will find that it is inclined to scratch the surface of whatever you are working on, be it wood, canvas or paper. You can use a very fine sand paper such as 000 and gently sand the tip of the pen to help overcome this problem. I have also found that everyone is quite different with the amount of pressure they use, so treat your pen like a feather, gently does it. Providing the pen is filled properly it should work for you.

To fill the pen, I mix the paint on my pallet to the consistency of ink. You can use an eye-dropper to fill the pen or you can just pick up the paint with your brush - whatever you are comfortable with. I find it’s best to hold the pen upright in order to use it properly. My daughter has told me that she could make a little movie of me using a ruling pen, if that would help. Please let me know.

17 comments

All The Extras

February 26th, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment, Watercolours

If you take up a hobby of any description you will need extra “stuff”. I just love that word “stuff” - I have so much of it much to the disgust of my family. Here’s a quick list of some of the stuff you’ll need for watercolours:

  • Razor blades for scratching highlights which of course we will go in to when we paint together.
  • A fine mist water spray. Chroma has the best one I have found so far. You’ll need it to quickly wet the paper down.
  • Don’t through away your old toothbrush as you can use that for splattering.
  • A synthetic sponge and a natural sea sponge. I often use sponges for different effects.
  • Paper towels and tissues are very much apart of a watercolour artists list of things to have, I couldn’t live without tissues for different effects and blotting up mistakes.
  • A ruling pen. I use this all the time and often I am asked what it is. It can be bought at The Art Scene. My camera has died but I will take a photo of the “Ruling Pen” for all to see when I get it back; I think you will find it self explanatory.
  • An eye dropper for measuring out water when I mix my paints.
  • A soft and hard pencil for quick sketching.
  • Along with a pencil of course goes a pencil sharpener.

I am sure there is so much more. I will enter them in as I think of them.

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