Project Three – Exercise 1: Using markers or dip pens

In this exercise I will look into the different ways of using marker pens and ink/dip pens to depict natural textures in the context of Pop-Art or other ways of imitative, unreal, and iconic perception. Some question that came up to me: What kind of markings (hatching, sporting, shading, blending)? What support to use (smooth, rough, found supports)? What objects to select (colourful, complex textures)? How to obtain textures (from the objects, from the support)? Possible ideas/concepts for compositions: contrast nature – man made, iconic like a star, contrast flatness – illusion of depth.

Stefan513593 - project3 - exercise1 - marker pen on styrofoam

Stefan513593 – project3 – exercise1 – marker pen on styrofoam

Drawing with marker pens is not something I did a lot in the past, always not very happy with the rather illustrative results. Therefore I did some preliminary tests in my sketchbook and other supports to see what can be done regarding mixing and blending, as well on dry and wet surfaces. Ink is flowable (need to work on a horizontal surface) and easy to mix, marker pen is stiff and hard to blend (just a bit on coated paper or on wet surface).  Marker pens can be used in any physical state: standing, sitting etc. I used COPIC® marker pens and water soluble inks.

Final composition (36x20cm)

I chose from my studies (see below) the one with the found stryofoam support. I truly liked to work with dip pen and ink and its colorfulness. But I think to work more visually and conceptually in the context of the brief of project 3, as well as more experimental, I chose this one. I worked with marker pens and some additions to study 5. In order to modulate its texture for two objects, I applied a gesso surface under the apple slice for smoother texture and I drew one orange slice on a found milk box cut into the shape of the slice (glued on the support). Conceptually I wanted to create a flat and artificial, man-made negative space. The objects should be with a three dimensional perception enforced by the glued orange slice (collage). The slice should overlap slightly the edge of the support to get a kind of pop-out perception. I took some reference to Stuart Davis and Claes Oldenburg.

Some closeup views::

Stefan513593 - project3 - exercise1 - closeups

Stefan513593 – project3 – exercise1 – closeups


I think I depicted the textures and shadow patterns of the colorful objects quite well. The texture of the lemon with different coloured spotting together with the support textures makes it quite appealing. The negative space being flat and simplistic, matching well in color (complementary contrast). I worked out a three dimensional perception/concept leaning on the Pop-Art. The texture of the apple slice became smoother by putting gesso underneath. What still does not work so well is the composition idea of the overlapping or cutting off orange slice/edge of support. However,  the intension to keep the viewer engaged with an eye movement from the center to the edge is achieved. The pop-out perception of the orange slice could be stronger. Together with my studies I am feeling more comfortable now to draw with marker pens.


I did some studies in my sketchbook and on other supports to find out the answers on my above mentioned questions.

Composition study 1 (A4):

Ex1_Using markers_dip pens_Stefan513593_composition_1

To get used to work with marker pens. A nearly top view perspective, light from the right to support an overall flat structure. I blocked the negative space with a artificial horizontal bicolor pattern to support this further. I tried to overlap the orange slices with a few negative space marks to mix both spaces together, but not convincing enough.

+ Composition: eye rests at the centre
+ Color intensity of the dry orange slices and the lemon
+ Contrast of flat negative space (missing perspective) with the objects
+ Shadow marks in orange slices
– The dead wood piece doesn’t seem to belong here. Conor and texture in contrast with the roundness of the other objects. Although it brings a different texture in the game
– The cast shadows in blue makes seem awkward. The coole doesn’t match with the background color (although artificial it looks)
– The markings overlapping the orange slices not convincing enough conceptually.
– Blending doesn’t work

Composition study 2 (A4):
Stefan513593 - project 3 - exercise 1 - composition 2

Stefan513593 – project 3 – exercise 1 – composition 2

I tried now marker paper (supposed to be better for marker pens) as a less absorbing surface. Changing composition with light from the front to enforce the colorful lightness of the dried orange slices, a kind of silhouette. I played with contrasting (black – color) and unreal elements (cast shadows as lightest part in the picture). With a two part split of the negative space and the obliqueness I wanted to enforce the iconic appeal of the objects, like on stage.

+ Translucency of right orange slice (with fine marks depicting the texture)
+ Contrast negative space –  colorful objects
+ Dry apple slice quite well depticted in texture
+ Imaginative black space
+ The markings in the front are leading towards the objects
– The lemon seems to fly in space, and not well integrated in the composition
– Potato pieces not interesting enough texture
– Left orange slice not convincing enough (color, texture)
– Blending doesn’t work

Composition study 3 (A4+):
Stefan513593 - project 3 - exercise 1 - composition 3

Stefan513593 – project 3 – exercise 1 – composition 3

Based on the previous study I wanted to work more on the iconic concept (stage appeal). I found a nice photograph in a magazine. As this paper is coated, blending of the marks are easily done. Changed composition to support overall impression (vertical format, uplifting, star like).

+ Iconic appeal
+ Composition, brightness and embedding in the found background
+ Colors matching with the photograph
+ Perception of three dimensionality (shadow marks, blended)
– Not all colors work on that surface (e.g. yellow)
– Orange slices could be more translucent in this context

Composition 4 (A4):
Stefan513593 - project 3 - exercise 1 - composition 4

Stefan513593 – project 3 – exercise 1 – composition 4

After my compositional and contextual studies with marker pens, I moved on to ink and dip pen. I had a very limited color range (blue, red, yellow, and a bit of white). Therefore I hoped for a nice mixing and flow on the paper of my sketchbook. At the end I used a sponge to texturize the negative space keeping in the mind the background image from study #3

+ Composition
+ Shadow marks
+ Colorfulness of inks and flowability
+ Negative space pattern
– Color of lemon, too dark and strange colors (but this might be even right)
– Orange slices seem quite thick
– Color of apple slice
– Conceptually: flatness or three dimensional perception?

Question that came up: How to get more texture?

Composition study 5 (20x20cm):
Stefan513593 - project 3 - exercise 1 - composition 5

Stefan513593 – project 3 – exercise 1 – composition 5

For my last composition study I went out of my flat paper scope and selected a found styrofoam that has an interesting texture pattern, as I was wondering how I can bring texture into the composition besides drawing them. I had to study how it works with marker pen (ink did not work well as I tried out before). Changing composition, keeping the negative space pattern from study 1 but with better matching colors.

+ I was quite astonished how good I can draw with maker pens on styrofoam
+ Color intensity and color of lemon
+ Color blending options
+ Texture coming from objects and support
+ Contrasting elements: flatness – 3D perception of objects
– Composition: it moves right out of the picture plane. To use it on purpose (like open concept for further imagination) I should cut the orange slice clearer at e.g. one third.
– Clarity of shapes inside the objects



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