Lines and Colors art blog

Pen Drawing by Charles Maginnis on Project Gutenberg

B. G. Goodhue pen and ink drawing from Pen Drawing by Charles Maginnis
I love pen and ink drawing. It has a visual charm and character unlike any other medium.

I assume that I came by my affection for it from realizing as a teenager that pen and ink drawing was the basis for comic books and cartoons, but I was also exposed at a pretty early age to the amazing pen and ink illustrations of Howard Pyle and other illustrators of the Brandywine School in my visits to the Delaware Art Museum, where I also encountered beautiful pen drawings by some of the Pre-Raphaelite artists.

It’s medium that doesn’t get as much attention as more colorful forms of expression, but it’s still there as the basis for much illustration, comics, cartoons and concept art, as well as standing on it’s own as a method of sketching or creating finished drawings.

There are some good resources out there on pen drawing if you dig for them, and you’ll occasionally find some for free.

A case is point is the Project Gutenberg eBook version of Pen Drawing by Charles Maginnis. (Amazon listing here)

This is a relatively short treatise published in 1903, at a time when pen drawing was in its heyday as a ubiquitous method of drawing that could be easily and inexpensively be mass reproduced as illustrations in books and periodicals.

The tone and attitude of the text are a bit dated, but is fascinating as a bit of history for that, and the instruction is basically sound.

The illustrations are not reproduced well, one of the frustrating things about Project Gutenberg that I’ve railed about before, but some of them fare better than others and can give you a taste for some of the excellent pen and ink artists featured from that era, including Joseph Pennell, Daniel Vierge, Herbert Railton, B. G. Goodhue (image above, top), Martin Rico and Maxime LaLanne.

Author Charles Maginnis was a noted architect and the book is slanted a bit toward architectural rendering and supplemented with the author’s own drawings (image above, bottom), but he also includes examples from more figurative artists like Howard Pyle, Will Bradley and Alfonse Mucha.

If this whets your appetite and you want physical pen and ink instruction books with high resolution images of great pen and ink drawing, look for copies of Joseph Pennel’s Pen Drawing, Pen Draughtsmen and Arthur Guptill’s Rendering in Pen and Ink.

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Pen Drawing by Charles Maginnis on Project Gutenberg (main page with viewing options)

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14 responses to “Pen Drawing by Charles Maginnis on Project Gutenberg”

  1. I’ve always loved pen-&-ink drawings! I also love pen-&-ink & watercolour together.

    That is a lovely drawing – so delicate yet so many details!

  2. I think you know my affection for the pen! (Especially Virgil Finlay!)
    Great posts lately Charley.


  3. Thanks, ces. I agree about pen and ink and watercolor. I think it’s an underrated approach .

  4. Thanks, Randall.

    Other readers should take a look at Randall Ensley’s art and illustration blog, Fatal Error, in which he features his own work, both in pen and ink and other media, as well as articles about other artists.

  5. I love pen and ink! I actually found a single hard copy of the book “Rendering in Pen and Ink” by Guptill for $6 at a nearby used book store — thanks for the recommendation! I’m enjoying the added inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Kathleen Auterio Avatar
    Kathleen Auterio

    Thank you for posting this picture. Charles Maginnis is my Great grandfather and I had never seen this before.

  7. Dr. Mark Taylor, of Atlanta Live Media, is auctioning a large family collection of pencil and ink drawings by artist Charles S. Gibson (1892-1973) not to be confused with Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), who created the Gibson Girl, but they are still really nice pieces of artwork. This art is 100 years old and 75 pieces are available in this bundle.

    I REALLY wish I could embed the pictures in this post for you. This is all pen & ink drawings and some of the structures are very impressive – like your post here.

    I like the perspective on this picture – how the street winds around the building. It reminds me of an old set of architecture in a Kings Quest VI where the structures looked similar. There are also some pretty impressive muscle drawings in this collection – of the face, arms, legs, etc.

    So if you are interested check it out. Who knows, it might inspire you ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I had this post bookmarked for more than two months until I have had some time to take a look at it and that marvellous book of pen drawing.

    These drawings are really beautiful and really inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Davey baby Avatar

    I love Pen and Ink but it’s a freaking nightmare!! One wrong mark and you’ve got yourself a Freddie Mercury moustache

  10. I Love your Pen & Ink techniques! Soft, subtle and charming!

  11. Brian D. McFann Avatar
    Brian D. McFann

    I have a copy of the seventh edition, published by Bates & Guild, 1921. The dimensions of the book are so small, at about 5 by 7.25 inches, that it is difficult to see what the author is asking us to observe in the pictures. They are surely much reduced from their intended publication size in their orignal setting.(Many of the examples are published at a much larger size in Pennell’s book.) Were all editions of the book published at the original size? And does anyone know where any of the original drawings are? (It would be nice to see them reproduced at intended and/or original size, would it?).

  12. Brian D. McFann Avatar
    Brian D. McFann


    In comment 11, I meant to ask: “Were all editions of the book published at this same small size (i.e. about 5 by 7.25 inches)?”

    1. The current printings are roughly that size (5 1/2 x 8 1/2), if that’s any indication. Amazon link: Pen Drawing: An Illustrated Treatise By Charles D. Maginnis, Architect

  13. Iwant to send m from e-mail book to talk about the art , please