In Mughal painting, the style is commonly referred to as nim-qalam (half-pen). As in Iran, painters in India ink often painted over the ink outlines with various shades of light tinted wash in carefully modulated tones to give roundness and form to the figures. Some of the earliest and most famous Mughal examples are those in which Indian artists copied monochrome European engravings brought to India by traders and Jesuit missionaries. The ink drawing technique perfectly echoes the look of the prints and it is possible that the Mughal artists assumed the European works were also produced using a pen or brush, rather than an engraving burin and press.
The style continued to be popular in the 17th century and was often used to paint scenes of ascetics and other holy figures. The nim-qalam technique was only rarely used for portraits. For these, painters mostly used full colour washes, with perhaps just the hands and faces left plain.
While much Indian painting is recognisable from its bold, bright colours, the arrival of the Mughals introduced a new colour palette and different styles of painting to the subcontinent. The earliest painters at the Mughal court were Persian-trained and one of the techniques they brought with them was that known as siah-qalam (black pen). This was a style of drawing in ink with sweeping lines, the origins of which can be found in Chinese drawings imported during the Il-Khanid era. The style became increasingly popular in the Timurid and Safavid periods, with many examples surviving in muraqqa albums.
During the 17th century, the style was also taken up by artists in the Deccan and further across India. It was combined with local drawing techniques and colour schemes and now such works are sometimes mistaken as being unfinished.
In early 18th century Udaipur (Rajasthan), an anonymous artist favoured the nim-qalam approach in his imperial portraits and paintings of the court. The buildings, trees, flowers and certain details of the figures are in colour but the backgrounds in his paintings remain plain.