Stippling and Stencilling with Inktense by Tess Imobersteg

We all know that Derwent Inktense media has ink-like properties, making it different to traditional watercolour. That’s one of the reasons we love it.  And since it performs like an ink, Inktense can be used in a variety of techniques that can be used with ink-based products. I love the permanence of Inktense once it has been “activated” (pigment is fully dissolved in water) and dried.  Multi-media is the world I live in.  There are so many different ways to put color and texture to a substrate.  For something fun this time around, we’re going to look at using Inktense in some different ways.

The techniques I’ll be talking about can be used on either paper or fabric.

Paper Towel Stippling:
Equipment needed:

  • Derwent Inktense Blocks
  • Paper Kitchen Towel – any brand would do, I like using very textured ones.
  • Paper or Fabric substrate – for paper for any wet technique, I like watercolor or multi-media paper that is around 140 lb (300 gms). For fabric, I like white or off-white cotton or canvas. I generally iron freezer paper on the back of fabric for stability.

This is a fun technique for creating a background for paper crafting, journaling, painting on t-shirts or other wearables, even with stencilling.

Step 1: Take a paper towel, wet it down, squeeze it out  and scrunch it up.

Step 2: Add colour onto the wet paper towel.

Step 3: Distribute one or multiple colours around the paper towel.

Step 4: Press the colour onto the substrate and create your desired background design.

Tip: Make sure all the pigment is fully dissolved in water if you want the background design to stay permanent when working over the top of it. Either dissolve the blocks into some water to create a “paint” before applying to the paper towel, make sure the color is dissolved into the wet paper towel before creating your background or go over your background with another wet paper towel or paint brush to really make sure the color is dissolved.

Stencilling with Inktense

This technique I’ve used with ink-based products but it also works with Inktense.

Equipment needed:

  • Inktense blocks
  • Grater – a finer kitchen grater works well or if you have the discontinued Derwent ‘Grate n Shake’ this would work well too.
  • Mixture of distilled water and glycerine (1:1)
  • Scratch paper
  • Makeup sponge or multimedia dauber
  • Shaving foam – I use the cheapest I can find
  • Stencil(s)
  • Watercolor or multimedia paper
  • Plastic sheeting or craft mat to work on

For stencilling and other techniques, you need to make a ‘stock’ solution of liquid Inktense.  While you could use any of the Inktense forms – pencil, paint pan or block, I find the block form easiest.  I use a water/glycerine solution. Glycerine is often used with watercolours to encourage the suspension of colourant particles. It changes the flow and extends the workability of the solution. Glycerine is recommended but not absolutely necessary. I use a heavier paper, at least 100 lb (200 gsm).

Step 1: Grate some Inktense on a piece of scratch paper and transfer into a palette or other container for the ‘stock’ solution.

Step 2: Add the water/glycerine a few drops at a time and mix with a stick or brush. I like to make a thicker solution, like heavy cream.

Step 3: Place a few drops of the stock solution on the work surface. Shake the shaving foam and put a small amount on the work surface.

Step 4: Charge the sponge/multimedia dauber with a dab of shaving foam.

Step 5: Then load a little of the liquid Inktense on the sponge.

Step 6: Either hold the stencil firmly in place or use a stencil adhesive to keep the stencil from moving. I recommend stencil adhesive for fabric as it moves more than paper.

Using a vertical up and down motion (not sideways or circular) tap the sponge/dauber onto the stencil and substrate.  Sideways or circular ‘scrubbing’ motions will push ink under the edge of the stencil.

One can mix colours either on the work surface or overlay colours on the stencil/substrate.

Step 7: Inktense is translucent like watercolour and stencilling with it tends to be relatively see-through. You can see previous layers through the stencilled ink which allows for some interesting layering effects.

I hope you enjoy trying out this and other techniques with Inktense. There are many creative options with the ‘stock’ solution, almost anything that you can do with watercolor paints or inks.  Play, try, experiment and have fun. Be creative!

You can view some of Tess’ work and classes on her website or her Facebook.