Tips on Transitioning From Penciling to Inking

Yikes… Looking at the sheer size and amount of detail tucked away in here - I’ve certainly got a long journey ahead of me.

Digitally Inking Comics tends to take a lot longer to wrap up then traditional inking. The reason for this is because in order to keep those lines slick at a high resolution, you have to work in pretty close.

Double the zoom then when working on the pencils in fact.

That means you’re taking about twice as long to ink a pencilled line then it took to pencil it in the first place! I feel this doesn’t really do you any favours when it comes to the amount of time spent inking a piece of Comic Art, but if you don’t have a deadline to keep it’s not such a big deal.

You really have two options. To work at a lower resolution (from a distance), or to work faster.

So I’m always looking for ways to improve upon my Digital Inking workflow. Ways that make the entire process faster without sacrificing quality.

The truth is, to become faster at anything you need to have the confidence and competence to get the job done.

The problem is that when you both pencil and ink your own Comics it can be a little tricky to transition between the two - because inking requires you to use your hand and wrist differently to get those slick, sharp looking lines.

That’s what I want to share with you in this article, while it’s still fresh inside my mind.

See, I’ve been doing a lot of drawing lately, but I haven’t inked in months. So I’ve really had to pay attention to the changes I need to make in my Comic Art method through the transition from Pencilling to Inking.

1. The first, and probably greatest piece advice I could give you when it comes to Inking Comics Digitally, is to avoid lightly sketching in the line as much as possible. This causes it to come out scratchy and frayed instead of smooth and streamlined.

Rather than jotting down short, sketchy bursts, draw out longer, faster lines. It’s all about getting familiar with how the amount of pressure you apply to your tablet effects the look of the line. So pay attention and practice. It’ll take you an hour or two sometimes to get into the groove of things.

It’s okay to sculpt your inked lines.

In other words you don’t have to throw a line down in a single stroke each and every time. If the thickness or weight needs to be adjusted then go back over it by all means – but don’t lightly sketch over it. Apply the pressure and attempt to thicken up the line as needed. This way the solid bleed of the ink will help shape the contour of the line.

2. That brings me to my next revelation. If a line needs to be extended (which it often does when working on outlines or larger forms and details) - lengthen it from where your last stroke ended.

Don’t trace back over the entire length of the line.

3. Next – work fast and don’t think too much. We’re working digitally here (in Manga Studio in case you’re curious). If you end up making a mistake, hey, it’s no biggy. Hit the undo key or break out the eraser and fix it. Thinking too much, and being too careful is only going to magnify your lack of confidence, and it’ll show inside the appearance of the line. Be in the moment, focus on what you’re doing and keep your hand movements relaxed and fluid, with your strokes fast and purposeful.

Sometimes I also suffer from being too careful and over thinking things way too much, especially when getting back into inking after a bout of pencilling.

Funnily enough, this causes me to make more mistakes, work slower of course, and the lines just turn out a little limper then they should be.

So to get into the inking zone I like to have a few practice runs first. I’ll throw down a few different strokes – relax, no pressure, and practice some rendering to warm up.

4. Here's another interesting tip I almost missed myself (it's easy to let these things slip underneith the radar when analysing your workflow)- When inking over your pencils, look just beyond the line you're laying in rather then directly at the line. This seems to aid in your confidence as an inker because it gives you an iron clad idea as to the direction that line needs to be drawn in. You know exactly where it's headed. Moving your line of sight a little faster down the trajectory of the line as you're drawing works a treat especially on those longer contours.

5. I also like to refer back to the Comic Book Inking workshop Joe Weems created for the Gnomon Workshop

For those who don’t know Joe Weems, he’s the inking master most known for working alongside Marc Silvestri, David Finch and Michael Turner. Absolute champion at his craft and incredibly inspiring. Just the chap to watch in action when settling into the inking faze of your Comic Art Illustrations.

Often times watching others is the best way to hit whatever artistic ‘state’ we’re trying to get ourselves into.

Turns out there’s actually some science to it too. When we watch others, or when we imagine undertaking a certain task, our brain processes that information as if we’re the ones actually doing it. Basically free experience points.

This is Clayton, signing off. Have a fantastic day folks and good luck with your next Digital Inking endeavour. Work hard – and keep the dream alive!


#inking #digitalinking #comics #comicart #inkingtips

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