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DIY Tutorial: Ink the paper yourself

Papier selbst einfärben / tönen

Why do I ink a paper at all?


There are various reasons why you should draw on tinted paper. Our art store has a huge selection of papers, most of which are white. When drawing, this means that the lightest areas of my drawing remain as light as the paper. So I can “only” go darker. A gray-tinted paper is a neutral tone, here I can work in both directions: in the dark shadow areas and in the bright light areas. The result is a lively drawing that conveys a lot of depth and three-dimensionality.


For our students, as well as for all those who learn realistic drawing and painting at classical art academies, drawing on toned paper is the preparation for painting with oil paints. Drawing with charcoal and white chalk on toned paper is practically the end of the training in drawing before moving on to oil painting. The first works in oil are created in grisaille - this means painting in black and white. This allows the student to concentrate on the new medium of oil paint and work with a small palette, i.e. with only two colors and their nuances.

Let's move on to the action...

What materials do I need?

  1. a wooden board the size of my paper as a base and for stability

  2. Adhesive tape to stick the paper to the board

  3. Sheet of paper, we recommend Arches watercolor paper rough (grain fin) 300 g/sqm 56x76cm

  4. Soft, wide brush to be able to work over a large area

  5. A slightly larger plastisk bowl filled with approx. 1.5/2 cm of water

  6. Black ink (e.g. Chinese ink) Pipette to drip the ink into the water

  7. A small piece of the paper extra

The process:

Step 1: Carefully stick the paper to the board using the adhesive tape. We recommend completely edging the paper so that it does not slip.


Step 2: Use the pipette to pick up some ink and drip it into the plastic bowl of water


Step 3: Mix the ink a little with the brush and pick up the mixture and test it on the small piece of paper to see if the color is good.


Step 4: Take up enough of the water-ink mixture with the brush and spread it evenly and quickly on the paper. First with vertical brush strokes and then again horizontally.


Step 5: When the result is even, the process is finished and the paper remains glued to the board for 24 hours to dry.

The next day you can start drawing on tinted paper straight away. You only need about 15 minutes for preparation and toning. In total, including the drying phase, you will need 24 hours.


Watch the matching video for the paper tinting tutorial:



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