Thursday, 28 March 2019

Draw a Cathedral Window in Ballpoint Pen

I conducted a pen drawing of a church window during a trip to Coventry Cathedral. The trees breaking up the sky captivated me and I liked the linear aspect. This is why I used a ballpoint for the drawing. I had taken HB pencil, ruler, A5 sketchpad and a couple of ballpoint pens (not the cheap sort that fade or blotch). I used Bic. This ink drawing was not intended to be a draughtsman’s finish, but loose and expressive.

Close up of church window drawing

I took a quick measurement of the window’s proportions and transferred a grid onto the page. The lines were then used as a guide to ensure the drawing did not end up wonky or lopsided which can easily happen when working close to a drawing. The rectangular part of the window drawing measured 10cm by 12cm, adding an extra 4cm for the arch at the top.

Grid used as a guide for the drawing

1 and 2 As can be seen in the first image, I had divided the rectangle in half and then half again where the window panes will fit. I then sketched in the arch at the top freehand using the grid as a guide. I have darkened the grid for visual purposes here, but these guidelines were in fact drawn faint with a HB pencil.

Applying the initial lines for the church drawing

3 and 4 I got on with the drawing, being brisk and loose with the ballpoint pen. It doesn’t matter if the drawing looks scribbly at this point. In fact, I want it to have a scribbly aspect. Perfection isn’t the aim.

Heavier marks were added to the slats

5 and 6 I continued to move the ballpoint into the direction of the window slats, allowing marks to remain. I then made rudimentary marks on the ornate decoration, allowing some of the white paper to show between the marks.

Brickwork expressed via crosshatching

7 and 8 Once the window slats were illustrated to the required width, I embarked on the brickwork on either side of the window. I conducted crosshatching marks, where horizontal and vertical lines cross over one another to suggest regimental brickwork. The mortar was left blank for now.

Definition is added to the slats before expressing the trees

9 and 10 I continued to work briskly over the background brickwork using crosshatching marks. Care was taken not to get bogged down with detail, but to keep the pen moving. In order to retain balance, I worked over the window slats again, reinforcing the dark lines. I then made faint marks to suggest tree branches breaking up the sky.

Lines of varying thickness expresses the trees

11 and 12 I kept moving the pen over the branches, allowing the lines to vary in width as the branches reach into the sky and adding depth to tone. Notice how they curve up in various directions. With faint marks, I began shading in the upper section of sky.

The sky is shaded in and the brickwork reinforced

13 and 14 I continued to shade the sky with light scribbles, leaving the sky at the bottom white, to suggest a glowing aspect. With the window done, I worked over the brickwork again. I could do this last part at leisure, adding depth to tone and refining edges. The mortar required light shading here and there.

Church Window at Coventry Cathedral

As can be seen, the humble ballpoint pen can be used for artistic expression. The linear aspect of the cathedral window and the branches breaking up the sky lent itself to expressing lines and marks.

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