fountain pen doodles pipes cover

Doodling With Fountain Pens: Pipes Pattern

John BosleyHow To 9 Comments

The next pattern in my Doodling With Fountain Pens series is one that a lot of people tend to comment on. While it looks like it takes a lot of planning and is quite complicated, it’s actually pretty simple. I’m calling this one Pipes. If you’re ready, grab a pen and some paper and let’s get started!

fountain pen doodles pipes sheen

Using a sheening ink can add visual interest to your doodles

Thoughts On This Pattern

I still remember the first time I drew this pattern. I was at the Los Angeles Pen Show and had just purchased my first Omas fountain pen and couldn’t wait to use it. I inked it up and started doodling with it. I have no idea how this pattern happened or how I came up with it, but I really loved the final result. If I had to give it subconscious credit, it may have come from this Reddit post I saw years ago. Regardless of how it happened, I am glad that it did because it has become one of my most-doodled doodles!

fountain pen doodles pipes first doodle

Here’s the first version of this doodle I ever did

How It’s Done

The main component of this doodle is groupings of three parallel lines. Sometimes those lines are straight, sometimes they have a curve in them. The most important thing to pay attention to is that all of the lines end along an invisible straight line. Really, though, that’s just about all there is to it.

fountain pen doodles pipes basic examples

fountain pen doodles pipes invisible line

To get started with this pattern, draw three parallel lines. I find that I like the way the pattern looks when they’re drawn closer together, but you can figure out what spacing looks and feels best for you. After you draw the first three lines, draw another three across the top of those three, forming a “T”.

fountain pen doodles pipes T

Once you have this initial “T”, you have a lot of options available to you. You can continue drawing straight sets of lines that intersect with each part of the “T”, creating more intersections.

fountain pen doodles pipes more lines

Eventually, you’ll probably want to add some curved lines in the mix. These can be used to curve back underneath some of the previously drawn lines.

fountain pen doodles pipes curved lines

At some point you’ll want to start “extending” the lines that you’ve drawn by having them “continue” on the other side of the lines where they intersected. This is what gives the impression of overlap and can create a 3-D effect.

fountain pen doodles pipes connecting lines

You can continue doing this for as long as you want and these are the main components of this doodle. Make sure to extend the lines of each “T” far enough beyond each intersection so that you have room to add another pipe if you’d like. I find that even if I don’t, it’s nice to have the option.

fountain pen doodles pipes too close

Here I drew the curved lines too close together and they don’t look very good

Another component of this doodle are “joints”. Joints can be either two or three lines that curve around a set of parallel lines. These can be added anywhere and are a great way to avoid adding an intersection. I like to use these to help get me out of a sticky spot that I’ve worked myself into where I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do next.

fountain pen doodles pipes joint

fountain pen doodles pipes joint continued

At this point you should have a good idea of how this doodle works. Just keep drawing sets of lines, making intersections, and connecting them up wherever possible. I find that the less blank space I leave, the more I like the doodle, but it definitely takes a lot more time and planning.

Filling In Empty Space

As your doodle evolves, you may find that you want to fill in some of the empty space, but don’t necessarily want to add more pipes. You can color in empty space to make it solid. I always like to do this in the holes for each joint, but have also done it in all of the empty space between pipes.

fountain pen doodles pipes joint colored in

fountain pen doodles pipes space colored in

You can also add filler lines to empty spaces. It’s fine if these don’t connect with any of your pipes. They’re just to fill in blank space.

fountain pen doodles pipes filler lines

Filling in blank space is also a good way to make pipes “disappear” if you’re not able to connect them with other pipes.

fountain pen doodles pipes pipe disappears

I would suggest for your first few doodles for this pattern, don’t try to fill an entire page. Just make a small closed system where all of the pipes eventually connect back to each other to help you practice your line length, spacing, and planning.

fountain pen doodles pipes closed system

All of the pipes connect in this doodle

fountain pen doodles pipes finished

Here it is fully filled in

Troubleshooting Tips

A lot of difficulties can come up in the process of working with this doodle. Here are a few I usually run into…

  • Not enough room is available to connect a pipe: You can try to extend the lines, but it’s really hard to do it without it being noticeable. This is where a joint can come in handy.
  • My pipes don’t line up from one side of an overlap to another: This is really easy to do and it happens pretty often. When you’re drawing a curved line from one point to another, your hand or eye will wander a bit and before you know it you’ve missed your target. Hopefully you’re not off by very much. If it’s just a bit, it probably won’t even be noticeable when you’re finished. If you realize you’re going to miss by a lot, stop before you get there and make a new “T” or add a joint. This will help you to correct your angle.
  • Lines accidentally touch or converge. This one happens to me when I try and draw my lines too close together. Be sure to give yourself enough space between each line. It’s better to have a bit too much space and slightly wider pipes than to have the lines touch in multiple pipes.

Looking back at the very first time I did this doodle, I didn’t hold myself to the standard of making sure all of my pipes connected. I just drew a bunch of lines. Many did not connect and I added a bunch of filler lines in as well. To be honest, this may still be my favorite version of this doodle and I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to recreate it many times. I think I have too many rules in my head now about how this doodle works and it’s really hard to not follow them. With that being said, don’t fret if you’re not doing everything exactly how I’ve written above. Make it your own and embrace the chaos!

fountain pen doodles pipes detail

I didn’t follow most of the rules I have laid out in this article for my first doodle.

Wrapping Up

This pattern is very flexible and can create a wide variety of doodles. From small, closed systems to full-page spreads, this pattern can be used for anything that you feel like. You can also try different variations. Pipes don’t have to be parallel and angles don’t have to be 90-degrees. Instead of curved angles, try drawing square angles. Who says your pipes need to be straight? Why not introduce some zigs, zags, and curls into your pipes? Once you have the basics down, you can use your imagination and try a bunch of different variations. As long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters.

fountain pen doodles pipes square angles

In this doodle, I used square angles instead of rounded corners.

fountain pen doodles pipes not straight pipes

Look at some of the pipes here and you’ll find zig-zags and curls.

fountain pen doodles pipes variation

Here’s another variation with outlines on each closed system.

Comments 9

  1. In a positive voice I love that your straight lines are almost a squiggly as mine. I once was a doodler, and may a doodler be again as a result of this article.

    I look forward to each new one, and often refer to archived ones.

    Best wishes

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