Tips on Drawing with a Dried Out Brush Pen (or Marker for that Matter)

October 7, 2021
Dried out Sakura Pigma Professional brush pen on defunct heavyweight drawing paper in a handmade book.

At the left is the sketch I’ll be demonstrating in my video below.

A persistent cough for the past 3 months has kept me from being chatty on my sketching videos. Most of these sketch videos end up as pieces for my Patreon demonstration site. But if I’m working silently to avoid coughing when I edit them I need to rethink what the point I’m trying to get across is.

While editing a couple extra videos for my October Patreon line up I realized that I’d like to share two of these videos on RozWoundUp to my general readership. I just love the sketches involved so much. I wanted to encourage people who are doing an ink project like InkTober.

So this week and next week I’ll be putting up a sketching demo each week.

For both of them I’ve edited out as much coughing as I can (sometimes I was sketching during a cough and so there will be points where the audio goes out to save you from the coughing). Also I was able, by pacing myself, to do additional voiceovers without coughing so I could make the points I really wanted to convey.

Today’s video (at the bottom of this post) is about the fun of using a dried out marker. I give you tips on handling the marker to get the most out of the marker and your paper. In other words it’s “materials girl” in action.

I hope you’ll enjoy it.

If you would like to see other videos of me working and discussing my process as I work I encourage you to subscribe over at my Patreon site.

As a subscriber you’ll have access to all the demos and creativity posts at your subscription level, for as long as you subscribe. I hope you’ll check it out.


In my Patreon posts about my demonstrations I like to include exercises and project ideas that will help subscribers build their skills and enhance their creative process. (It’s that bossy gene.)

With this video I added an exercise because I didn’t mention something in the video which I believe is important for you to try—take a dried out marker and use it to sketch your under-drawing. Then ink or paint on top of that adding additional details as needed or desired.

It works best if you do that with the most dried out of markers—ones that are only making the faintest of lines. It will end up looking like a light pencil sketch if you’re using pigmented ink, or dissolve if it’s dye-based and you paint over it.

So try both types of inks.

I find it’s fun to take Tombow Dual Brush Tip pens in one of the light shades of gray and use them in this way. The light gray ink dissolves into the paint without altering the color significantly because the marks are so dried out and light.

Working with something like the pigmented ink Staedtler Pigment Liner means the lines will stay, but if you use light pressure they end up look, as I said about, like a light pencil sketch. So even if you paint transparently with watercolor they will add interest and charm to your sketch. 

Have fun playing with this approach as it will help you think intentionally about the surface design of your sketch.

Today’s Demonstration Video

The following video runs for about 43 minutes. 

If you would like to view the photo reference I was working from use this link to Sktchy—Bearded Wizard.

You don’t have to be a member of the Sktchy App to view this link. The link will open a browser window right on your computer. Put that window next to the window containing this post and today’s video and you can watch the video with the reference photo right at the side.

(Typically I like to include the photo in my demo video, but there is not always time to hear back from the “muse” on Sktchy for permission to include it in the video. And on other occasions I move the paper around so much in the video there isn’t room to have a good view of the sketch and the photo in the same frame.)

I hope this video gives you some ideas for using those dried and worn out pens you’re accumulating! Have fun sketching.


    • Georgy
    • October 8, 2021

    Please Be Well!!

    A few years ago i had a cough like that – it turned out to be from Tree stuff in the air . . . that ‘unstoppable’ cough went on waaaay too long – But, everything was fine – I’m Trusting your cough is something like that – and, as i type – you’re already cough free . . . Still, i hope you realize LOTS of us care about YOU 💙

    1. Reply

      We’re trying Georgy, and I appreciate your good wishes. I’ve got new meds, and almost an entirely filled Hahnemühle Travel journal with all the notes and charts. (I’ve actually got the 3 months of records in two of them at the back, but this last one is filling up the entire thing. I actually stopped sketching in the front end of that book!! A little sad about that as you know how much I love that paper!) The good news is that the new meds are helping and I’ve actually been able to go out on my bike. So while I missed summer, I’m getting a little bit of fall in. I am not cycling past people, but that will come, right?! Thanks for your concern.

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