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Comic Book Illustration: Oriana Inks

Inking Over The Roughs, Rendering Textures & Materials

In this video I’ll be showing you the inking process of a character called Oriana. This piece was commissioned by Tin Man Games for a Game Book called “The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.” 

Go here to learn more about Tin Man Games:

Funnily enough, the initial concept I came up with for Oriana looked much more inviting than the villainous vibe I ultimately settled upon for her. That’s why it got knocked back and needed to be changed. Her personality just wasn’t coming through enough.

The way a character comes across depends on many subtle variables, all of which play an important part in defining their overall feel. Especially when working for a client, it’s your job as the artist to capture the essence of the character in its purist form so that they exude an undeniable presence, whether it be one that’s welcoming or foreboding.

Oriana was the latter. So the kind of vibe I needed her to give off was one of intimidation and authority. She was in essence a gate keeper. This meant instead of giving her a youthful complexion that shone with beauty, as I’d initially done, I’d have to age her so that she appeared more mature, and maybe even a little gaunt.

I did this by placing additional shading around her cheek bones and eye sockets, to emphasize the underlying forms of the skull. She’d have an aloof expression across her face that suggested a sinister confidence, as if, no matter how you played your cards with her, you’d always lose. 

Since Oriana’s face was a central point of focus within the illustration, I prioritized it above everything else. That’s where the viewer’s eyes would be drawn to, and first impressions are matter most.

Like most of my illustrations, this one began as a basic sketch which I used to establish the overall composition, pose and placement of the character. The design of her outfit was roughly suggested but in no way refined. All great ideas start out this way. As a blurred vision that’s brought into focus through a process of refinement. 

Most of that refinement happens in the inking stage of the illustration, which takes up a bulk of the production time. It is however much more mindless, and requires less thinking than the initial preliminary draft. Because all the information we need to carry this illustration forward is already there, all that’s left to do is ink over the top.

Actually, there’s a little more to it than that. Inking is a much more nuanced process than you might think. It’s less about tracing over the pencils, and more about interoperating them in a pleasing way. The aesthetics of the line drawing are represented by the inks which define them in the final illustration after all. 

So what matters most when it comes to inking is the quality of the line. That it’s sharp, energetic and weighted well. And that every hatch describes the forms being shading with a sense of solidity. The tones and values throughout the illustration should contrast with one another in a way that enhances its readability.

The most challenging aspects within this piece of comic art were the texturing of her dress, the table she’s leaning on and the flames in the background. Before entering into this, I didn’t have any idea how to approach these elements and the way they might be presented in the format of a stylized comic book illustration. This was a fun obstacle to get around, and I enjoyed taking multiple approaches to arrive at a rendered aesthetic for each of these materials.

Keep on creating, and keep on practicing!


Software Used: Manga Studio


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