By Wes Douglas
One of the most frustrating aspects of drawing with pen and ink is the accidental smear that results from not allowing ample time for the ink to dry. A smear can result from an object coming into contact or sliding across a wet part of a freshly drawn line.
I like to pencil in my sketch lightly and then trace over it with pen and ink. Of course, I am a little bit of a neat-freak and cannot wait to erase the grey lines of the pencil--sometimes a little too soon after inking the line--and create a smeared line. Other times I have inadvertently rubbed the heel of my hand across a wet line when I am working swiftly back and forth across the drawing and created a mess.
Thankfully there is no need to slow down the speed at which the sketch is drawn because there are a few tricks to keeping this from happening.
One good trick I learned was from an old sign painter. He would use a twirling baton (a metal stick with a rubber cap on each end) as a brace for his hand. The baton is placed with
A second method of adding space between the drawing hand and the artwork surface is
A third method I have often used involves laying down a larger circle template and then placing the desired size template or ruler over the drawing. This permits separation from the drawing tools and the drawing surface to avoid any possibility of contacting the ink.
Finally, there are a few other ideas to protect the drawing surface from the hand and tools used by animators, sign painters, and airbrush artists. They will often get a pair of cotton gloves from the science surplus store, cut off the thumb and first two fingers of the drawing hand glove. This gives a sense of touch to the fingers that hold the drawing tool and protects the heel of the hand from contacting the wet inked lines. If all else fails and cotton gloves are not readily available, then the use of a forearm or a balled up t-shirt also make great supports for the drawing hand when placed just under the right-handed forearm.