I am doing some work in pastel and colored pencils. I like to finish the fine white details with a white pen. At the moment, I'm working with a white gel pen.

However, either the ink (the gel) isn't flowing properly on the heavily burnished parts, or it clogs up when drawing on the dusty pastel layer. So, in short, drawing the final white details is a battle and takes a lot of time.

So I was wondering, does anybody here have a solution for adding the fine white details in such a drawing?

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    Just noticed the mixed media aspect. Any liquid is going to have a hard time dealing with the pastels when applied. You may want to spray fix or otherwise find a way to bind the pastel layer before applying paint or ink. Of course you risk the pastel layer darkening slightly from the fix. It doesn't answer your specific question, but have you considered using white pastel instead of ink for the light details? – rebusB Mar 11 '19 at 23:54
  • As I fix all my work anyway, that's not such a bad idea. I'd been thinking along the same lines, after some further research.I really want to go for pens, so the research was focused on the best gel pens. I've made a choice now and will order it. If I have more success with it, I'll mention the type & brand but not before. If I'm unsuccessful, I'll take the white ink with a dip pen option, although I have a history of spilling ink with dip pens, on the drawings, horror. Anyway, I'll keep everybody here posted, but don't hold your breath, because I'll need to find time to do some proper tests. – Peter Mar 12 '19 at 7:34
  • As for using my white pencils, both pastel and colour, I do use them, a lot, but sometime they are just not white enough, and my pastels, definitely not fine enough. (my drawings usually are A6, A5 or A4 sized). – Peter Mar 12 '19 at 7:34

I'd suggest you use white acrylic ink with either a dip pen or a fine pointed brush (whatever suits you better).

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    This is one of the main reasons white ink exists. It's definitely the right tool for the job. It's a good answer, and could be a great answer if you add in a little information about the distinctions between ink and other options. Welcome! :) – Allison C Mar 7 '19 at 14:55
  • I just added my next steps to my original question. But, if I'm not successful with them, white ink and a dip pen will be my next move. Cheers for the suggestion. – Peter Mar 12 '19 at 7:38

Use a spray fixative such as this one to fix the pastel etc. to the page. This way, the artwork stays on the paper, leaving you to put anything you wish on top.

A cheaper alternative that some say works is to use hairspray.

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    Yup, I use a fixative, I'll let you know how succesful I am on drawing with the aforementioned gel pen that I ordered. – Peter Mar 12 '19 at 14:21

I use white paint with a fine tip brush (0 size) or a white correction pen to add the white details.

  • There are lots of white paints out there... is there a specific type: acrylic, laquer,...? – rebusB Mar 11 '19 at 23:51
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    @rebusB Depends on the base colors you are using. When working with simple paper and colored pencils, I usually use poster paints, as they are easy to dilute and to work with. But you could use acrylic as they would stay better on the material. – Bella Swan Mar 12 '19 at 4:31
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    Bella, thanks for the suggestion. I work in watercolor too and use gouache there for the fine white details. But, I'm having trouble with very unsteady hands, one of my reasons to switch to pencils/pens, so I'm trying to figure out a work flow without brushes. – Peter Mar 12 '19 at 7:42
  • @Peter have you tried using correction pen instead of paint? They've got fine tips, and the ink doesn't soaks into paper either. – Bella Swan Mar 12 '19 at 11:33
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    @Bella, no, not yet, but another good suggestion! I'll have a look – Peter Mar 12 '19 at 14:18

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