Fake Art School: 001 Elements, Introduction

Fake Art School is my attempt at learning from the old masters using primary sources freely available on the internet. Download the book from the link below and join in! Discuss and share your work on Twitter.

Textbook: Elements of pen-and-ink rendering
Assignment: §1 pp. 1-2, Introduction (PDF pp. 19-20)

Chapter Overview

The introduction to this section is short and to the point. But it also provides definitions of the major concepts discussed.

We start with a definition of rendering, “the treatment of a drawing in light and shade.” This describes how a rendered drawing differs from a plain outline. The rendering is what gives a drawing a semblance of reality. It’s what provides depth and done well, a 3D effect.

Next we find out about light and shade, which is the degree of lightness and darkness of a scene. It can be shown many ways but this section is focused on the simple rendering that can be done with a pen.

Judging light and shade is more difficult than finding the outlines in a scene, and requires careful observation. The values can be distorted by contrasting values close by making light objects brighter and dark objects darker. Successfully managing contrast is the key to a good drawing.


There were no drawings related to this chapter. So I’m using this to go get some fresh drawing paper. My advice for Fake Art School students is to start with smaller pages. Large pen drawings are time consuming and don’t make for good practice. It’s better to start small. I think it easier to learn by doing a lot small drawings rather than just a few larger ones.

The drawing basics: pencil, pen, paper, and eraser.

I’m also going to skip the sketchbook for now. Using loose sheets makes scanning them much easier. I initially thought about using index cards, but the ones I tried were absolute crap quality. Even plain old 20# copy/printer paper is better. Moving up to a heavier 70# (114gsm) paper also makes for a better drawing experience.

I found a low priced option at Michael’s, a US-based art and hobby store: Canson Value Drawing Pad. I’ll cut this into halves and fourths for my lesson-sized cards.

Also, I’ll be taping the cards to a piece of foamcore board (cardboard also works) to make them easier to handle. Regular masking tape works fine, or you can get the low-tack artist/drafting kind.

For my pen, I’ll be using a Platinum Preppy fine point fountain pen. I like them because they’re low priced without being cheap. They also can use the excellent waterproof Carbon Black ink in cartridges. But almost any pen can be used. I just like the feel of drawing with a fountain pen.

I also have the Preppy in extra-fine, but I want to use a broader point for these exercises. It’s too easy to get bogged down in the details with a tip that small.

Miscellaneous items: pencil, kneaded eraser.

One last note about supplies: always try to use refillable pens and pencils. The cost of the throwaways add up over time. That money is better spent on higher quality tools, which also happen to be refillable!

Chapter Review

It’s always good to have a clear definition of what to focus on. Most line work is about the outline, and getting value with just a pen point requires more work. I look forward to diving into copying some of the book’s examples.