The Making of “Old Unreliable”

The Making of “Old Unreliable”

During #Inktober 2017, I drew an imaginary motorcycle in pen and ink. When I draw from my imagination, the details develop as I go. Here’s a good example of how I work.

Since I can erase the pencil lines out from under the dry ink, the initial sketch goes directly on the final surface. I used to use 2B lead, but I’ve switched to the harder 2H lead since it leaves a fainter line from the start.


Initial idea sketch using 2H lead in an 0.5 mm mechanical pencil on Da-Han watercolor paper

I don’t always outline everything, but I did in this case because the structural elements were critical. I used to use the larger (0.5 mm) pens first, years ago, but I’ve realized that I prefer to keep the lines small as long as possible. I can always thicken a line later.


Basic outline using the 0.3 mm pen, to ensure all the shapes are defined

After that, it’s all about the middle values and the textures. On this motorcycle, I align my strokes with the direction of the form. I may or may not do that with a landscape; it all depends on the effect or “look” I want. One of the things I love about this kind of drawing is that the details simply suggest themselves as I go. Sometimes, it’s the random overlapping of adjacent shades that appears to show some new form or structure. All of the final details are based on that discovery process.


All basic gray values blocked in using the 0.3 mm pen; some texture begun

In some cases, as I did here, I’ll go over certain outlines with the larger 0.5 mm pen. That pen is also good for solid black areas. For the heavier textures, I’ll overlap the 0.3 mm lines and/or go at it with the 0.4 mm pen.

So there, it is: “Old Unreliable” – Pen and Ink – 11×7.5″/28×19 cm.  (Available for sale)


Final version


Inktober 2017 Recap

It all started with a friend’s innocent question: “Are you going to do #Inktober this year?” I’ve done ink of various kinds for years, but I’ve not focused on pen and ink for a long time. With Hi-Tec’s wonderful technical pens, I got a lot more experience. Inktober is, essentially, a challenge to do 31 ink drawings in 31 days.

Here are mine from 2017, pretty much in chronological order:

Inner Vision: “Emerging”

Inner Vision: “Emerging”


“Emerging” – Inner Vision – Acrylic on Canvas – 13×17.9″/33×45.5 cm

“Emerging” – Acrylic on Canvas – 13×17.9″/33×45.5 cm

The path to this sacred place is long and difficult.
Many times have I come to stand on this shore
waiting, hoping for a glimpse.
Each time, I have had to leave before the darkness falls.
Time and again, I have returned.
You knew I would.
Once more the arduous journey is taken.
Patience, persistence, openness, constancy, trust.
You emerge.
I see you.

Inktober 2017

Hey, for those of you following #Inktober 2017, I’m adding my images to their respective pages here on the Mark Ivan Cole blog. As usual, the latest images are on top. You can also follow me on Facebook, where I’m posting daily all through Inktober!

I’ve added the #Inktober hashtag to a board on Pinterest, as well, so you can find my stuff there.

This has been an interesting challenge! I’ve not done pen and ink with such intensity for a long, long time, and it’s been fun to get back into it. I’m taking the opportunity to both reacquaint myself with some old techniques and stretch out and take some risks. Not everything has been an unqualified success–at least from the perspective of “what I intended to do!” That’s what risks are about, eh?

For an intro to what Inktober is all about, here’s Jake Parker on what got it started and what it is.

Try it! Show us how it goes!


“Some Guy” – Pen and Ink #Inktober 2017