Drawing a Double-crested Cormorant in Fountain Pen & Black Ink

Ruffled cobra. Neck twists up and over.  Hooked bill wedges beneath regal cascade of preened feathers. Greased free of resistance and in balanced harmony with the elements. Double-crested Cormorant well groomed and ready to fish.

Double-Crested Cormorant in Fountain Pen and Ink
  • Drawing Materials
    • Custom Heritage 92 Fountain Pen
    • Iroshizuku Take-sumi Ink
    • Tomoe River Blank Sketchbook 
    • Faber-Castell Polychromos Color Pencil 
Pencil underdrawing

Mid-summer calm, green pond invites a rich list of birds near our home. Along the Northern edge standing tall and alert we watched this Double-Crested Cormorant. Wings in mid-stretch from behind show off feathers called scapulars. My pen drawing’s interest.

Pencil drawing is for another artist. Considered composition. Strong angles. Short on details, an eraser and notions of imposing my will on the pen. I give the nib room to flourish handing the rough drawing to that next artist. Me.

The 14K gold nib of this fountain pen is semi-soft. The Pilot CH 92 has a little give resulting in modest line variation.  Unlike a steel pen nib, fast sweeping lines and scribbles are unpredictable. I find it gives drawings character. When I do slow down to begin hatching the pen can lay down consistent lines of ink.

I sometimes lay down washes in my drawings. Thinner paper buckling under the weight of water doesn’t bother me. I like it with some papers but I stay away from doing so in this sketchbook. Fountain pen paper doesn’t accommodate ink washes as beautifully as I expect.

Open irregular shapes for the feathers

My second Tomoe River sketchbook. My first was the dotted notebook where I journaled as much as I drew in it. I love the amount of pages in these books. They are well made, come with a clear cover and sleeve of blotting paper. This book’s pages are blank. The paper has more tooth. I find I enjoy using graphite or color pencil as much as fountain pen in these pages.

Hatching between within feather shapes that make up the different feather groups of the wings

Ink hatching. Lines between hatching create shapes. There is an awareness of uniformity but stopping short of boring. Drawing irregular lines. Separate primaries, tail feathers. Birds. We think of them perfectly as in field guides and paintings. I try to bring a hint of rough imperfections to my birds. It’s difficult. I have small stacks of those accurate field guides and historical books filled with romantic paintings.

I capture this crooked bend of neck over back. Something between amphibian plated armor and wet late autumn leaves kicked in the air. Double-crested Cormorant’s scapular feathers flaring out with long stretch of its right wing. Crumpled under the left side of the body.

Dimension. Special attention to ink building shapes which become lines.

In these stretches I see Double-crested Cormorant know their greatness. Their greatness turns heads including their own.

As with other birds. This water bird? Self-indulgent and oblivious to my worries.

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