A comics inking guide for beginners
What is comic book inking?
Comic inking is the art of preparing a penciled drawing for printing. It is a process of going over the comic art; adding depth, form, shading, and definition before it is colored and printed.
Inking is not merely tracing, it is another tedious work in making comics that calls for an inker’s skills, patience, and interest.
What is a comic book inker?
An inker takes a comic artist’s penciled art and goes over them in ink. His job is to translate graphite pencil lines into reproducible black ink lines while bringing out a stylistic look on the comics.
In doing so, a comic inker should honor the penciler’s original work while identifying and adjusting any obvious mistakes. He is to help a penciler read the comic art more clearly and is entitled to point out certain faults that might have been overlooked.
A comic book inker must also be an accomplished artist in his or her own right and bear the knowledge of architecture, scale and perspective as much as the penciler does.
How to ink comic books?
Comic inking gives comic books a sharp style. Inkers add life and drama to a penciled art with lines and shadows that does not only emphasize the comics but also assures a crisp and clean work during comic printing and reproduction.
Comic inking tools and materials needed:
• Workspace – an adjustable drawing table will allow inkers to work comfortably.
• India ink – also referred to as Indian, Chinese, or just Black ink. This is a black carbon based ink that retains its color once put out to the page.
• Inking instruments – they come in many different things such as ink brushes, sharpies, mechanical pens, q-tips, crow-quill pens and many others, all of which will help an inker put ink on paper.
• Ruler – for creating perfect straight lines for panel borders. The following will also come in handy: T-square, French curves, and circle, ellipse templates and compass for making precise shapes.
• White out and erasers – used to fixing the mistakes in your comic inking.
• Old sponge and old brush – for creating splatter effects and adding texture.
When your workspace and inking tools are ready, you can now begin inking your comic art. Follow these basic and essential steps on how to start inking comic books.
- Make a simple penciled drawing, one that has clean lines so it’s easier for you to start and practice with.
- Place your ink in a small container, like a soda or milk bottle cap. Dip your pen in water and use a paper towel to absorb the excess water. Then dip your pen in ink and get rid of the excess by blotting them on a paper towel.
- Fill in large areas of the drawing first. Trace around the shading areas with a brush. In case you make mistakes in shading, a white India ink can cover it.
- Using a thinner pen, draw the lines that face the light source in you picture. (Determining the light source is important as it will dictate you where the shift of the line weight will be, the line weight gives the comic drawing’s form.)
Example, if the line is hitting the character from the left, then the weight of the line will be thin on his left towards the light and heavy or bold towards the dark.
Make sure to use your entire arm when drawing and not just your wrist in order to produce cleaner lines.
- As you move towards the opposite side of the light source of your comic drawing, you can now choose thicker pens. Outline it with varying depths to give emphasis on various parts of your drawing. For more complex proportions of your picture, such as hair, textures, and wrinkles on clothes, use different pen thickness to give these parts depths and emphasis.
Do not forget to clear up and erase your mistakes as you go along.
- It is normal to get too much water in your brush or pen and your end result could be a yellow or washy looking piece. Another cause of such is if you are using an ink with poor quality.
- If you want to further improve your comic art, you can use photoshop or other graphic manipulating programs to add touches to your comic book picture. This proves to be helpful especially if you had used too much water in your inking and your comic book picture ended with a blotted or yellowish hue.
Comic book inking in computer
Inking comic books are entering a digital age. Some comic inkers and comic artists now seek for the convenience of using computers in creating comics, opting for a faster and easier approach.
A number of graphic editing software can aid in comic book inking, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and many others. Such programs allow comic inkers to digitally correct and modify faults that are commonly difficult to do by hand.
Using a stylus and a digital drawing tablet, a penciled art scanned into a computer can then be digitally inked.
An advantage of inking comic books in your computer is that there is no more need to wash brushes, replace inks or clean up messy spills. An inker’s work is reduced.
Though most comics are still done by hand and ink, there are a number of comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels that are now inked digitally.