Sketching & Inking – Episode 7

Sketching & Inking transcript

and welcome back to episode 7 of our comics program, with tips on sketching and inking.
The inking process, is where everything comes together.
Some artist do very thorough sketches, so the inks are basically just tracing. Others tend to do most of the actual drawing in the inks.
Some do stick figures that they then “flesh out”, others make use of “help lines” to make sure everything is in the right place. Now I don’t really cover anatomy and basic drawing in this program, you’ll have to pick that up elsewhere or just through practice. That’s how I did it.
Like I showed you in episode 5, I print out my layouts and use those prints as my sketch pages. Now that I already have the frames and the dialogue to fit in the balloons, it’s much easier to dig in, than if I just had a bunch of blank pages.
I sometimes print my layout out in a light blue, and ink directly onto my printed pages, but usually I just sketch on it and then ink using a separate piece of paper and a light-box.
A lot of artist use blue pencil for their rough sketches. In olden days, we used it because photocopy machines couldn’t pick up the blue line, so there was no need to erase the pencil after inking. The same went for most scanners.
Nowadays a lot of scanners are much more sensitive, so you have to remove the blue in Photoshop after you scanned it in – but that’s easily done, by adjusting the levels.
The other advantage of using blue pencil, is that your line art is clearly visible on top of it.
With a regular pencil, you can sometimes find it hard to tell the lines apart and you need to erase your pencils, with the risk of the ink to go pale.
The blue pencil is not some magic tool, it’s just a regular color pencil, in a light shade of blue, you can get those anywhere.
When it comes to inking, there’s no one right way of doing it. What’s important is for people to be able to follow the story rather than be impressed with the line art.
I would recommend trying out different tools, like the famous quill, different kinds of brushes and markers.
You need to find what works for you. It’s not just a question of what you like to see in other comics, it’s a also a question of what your hand wants to do. And that’s not always the same!
Now, while I love really tight inks done in quill, I find my particular drawing method doesn’t work well with that instrument. I tend to draw in a frenzied way, getting frustrated at the ink getting stuck in the tip and turning it the wrong way, scratching up the paper, getting a thick line where I wanted a thin line. Ugh!
Nowadays I use different kinds of markers, but also even just pencils sometime, and then adjust the contrast in Photoshop afterwards.
When inking, it’s important to think of your drawings in terms of light and dark.
Decide where the light is coming from, and what you want to be in focus. You can take a photocopy of your sketched page and experiment with markers on that, to get the composition right.
Often-times, when people start out drawing, they’re afraid to screw up. So they go at it really carefully, with a pencil, slowly rendering every image to perfection. That’s cool, that’s a learning process. But you also learn a lot, from doing the same drawing again with a big, black marker.
Use a light-box or even a window, put a new piece of paper over it and trace the image. If you botch the job completely, you still have the original sketch and you can just redraw the whole thing.
If you’re using a marker that bleeds, get some stock paper with a little weight to it, so it doesn’t bleed through. You have to test different types of paper and markers to find what works for you.
If you’re really good or just in a hurry, you can also do your sketches in blue and ink directly on your sketched page, but you run the risk of ruining your original. For beginners and people who want to play it safe, I would always recommend the light-box. Also because you can adjust your drawings before inking. You can also use photo references for tracing – more about the art of stealing in episode 9.
When inking on a light-box, you also have the opportunity to flip the board over and sketch on the back. Sometimes flipping the board will also reveal mistakes you hadn’t noticed before, and give you a chance of a different perspective.
Always be aware what’s most important within the panel. You can use thinner lines or less detail in backgrounds, but your characters need to stand out.
If you’re coloring your comic, you can help the storytelling that way, but if it’s a black and white story, you need clear inks so people can understand what’s going on.
We talked about this in lesson 3, but the layout of the page is equally important in the inking phase.
Thumbnails or half-size photocopies of your sketched pages can be really helpful, when deciding what parts of the images to be rendered black. Do a test run with a marker and see what it does to your overall page.
Another tip for inking, is to be aware of structure. Now, there’s a huge difference between an object made of stone, and one made of steel, wood or even fur!
Adding tiny flecks of ink can really make all the difference. How to convey various materials and structures is different for every artist. You have to find your own riffs. But remember: Less is more!
Don’t worry too much about making mistakes when you’re inking. You can easily correct your mistakes with white-out or by pasting a white piece of paper over your art and just go over it again.
I use acrylic markers, because they’re easy to apply, and the paint dries really quick. Sometimes I just leave mistakes on the board and do my corrections in Photoshop, but I tend to make my original line art as finished as possible.
So to sum it up:
• Use the tools that work for you.
• Use a lightbox to try out different techniques without ruining your original sketch.
• Try out the distribution of blacks on a photocopy.
• Use thinner lines for background and thicker lines for foreground.
• And finally; Less is more.
Allright, that’s it for now. I hope you’re all fired up to get some inking done. Next time, we’ll be talking about coloring in Photoshop.

8 Responses to “Sketching & Inking – Episode 7”

  1. Tim Burgess November 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    Hey I’m a real beginner and these are by far the best and most helpful videos on the web! Thank you and hope to see the new videos soon!!!!

    • Palle Schmidt November 27, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      Tim, I appreciate the kind words! Glad you find the videos useful. I’ll be putting up some bonus vids soon as well, so stay tuned.
      Thanks again!

  2. Eden Gonzalez December 20, 2013 at 1:48 am #

    Thank you Palle! I really love this tutorial. You are amazing ! Love your style! I

  3. Vinik Ernest May 5, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    i’m a beginner and these videos are amazing but im still having trouble drawing faces and my characters …. what would you suggest to help me get better ?

    • Palle Schmidt May 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

      Hi Vinik,

      I would suggest life drawing of people in cafes, on the train, on the street. Expand your “vocabulary” of faces and types. And for expressions, I would use a mirror!

  4. September 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Hey Palle
    I have great difficulty in finding the right inking style. Do you have any good advice
    Sorry my English
    Hilsen JLyng (Lemvig, Denmark)

    • Palle Schmidt October 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

      Hey, great to have a fellow Dane! I’ll answer in English though, so everyone can follow along 🙂

      I’ve had quite the dificulty finding my inking style as well. I guess my process was basically to copy artists I like(d) and to study shading in real life. On a sunny day, notice how the shadows from the trees fall on the ground, how you would draw that with a marker or a brush. Stuff like that.

      Sketching with a marker rather than a pencil also helps I think. And you get more inking hours in this way.

      But you have to try different tools and techniques before you find what works for you. Sometimes the inking your favorite artist applies is NOT the best fit – but the only way to find out is to try it out.

      If you haven’t already, check out vid 10, I think there’s some advice on this in there as well.

      Thanks for commenting – and best of luck!

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