Comic Book Illustration: Crimson Cat Inks 2

Rendering Backgrounds & Textures

Getting good at inking comes down to practice, and lots of it. Once you learn the tools and techniques used throughout the process, it’s all pretty straight forward. At some point, the act of inking itself almost seems easy.

But after that initial learning curve, the unending challenge that an inker must face, is the ability to stay focused, on a singular task for an extended period of time that honestly isn’t anywhere near as stimulating as drawing the illustration to begin with.

This isn’t to say a little creativity doesn’t go astray when it comes to inking. In fact that’s often something which is understated - your ability to interpret the underlying pencils as a clean, sharply defined inked line in an appealing way is precisely what separates the pro inkers from the amateurs.

After some time, even that becomes habit. So for the most part, an inker’s job really is to re-run over the top of a penciled illustration until it’s done. And that can take time, a lot of time – especially when it comes to inking over intricate backgrounds.

That’s what we’ll be talking about specifically in today’s comic art tutorial.

Beginning where we left off in the previous demonstration of the Crimson Cat, we’ll continue on with the inks as we define the background elements and articulate the intricate details, materials and textures throughout it.

You’ll learn how to render materials such as wood, rusted metal and brick, as I discuss how to interpret these textures in the form of stylized comic book art so that they accurately convey the background elements in a convincing way that makes sense within the context of the scene.

I’ll also discuss the importance of incorporating a background into your illustrations in the first place. Giving your character a compelling backdrop not only grounds them in a world of their own, but it also grounds the viewer within their story. It draws them further into the scene and promotes a greater level of immersion as the audience takes in the presentation.

Unfortunately backgrounds are highly underestimated when it comes to what they can bring to the table. We tend to try to avoid them because of how much time we know we’re going to have to spend drawing them up and inking them out. It’s tedious, and oftentimes difficult. Backgrounds feel like an unneeded effort that simply doesn’t hold the same level of interest as the main subject matter.

But that effort is always worth it. Because although backgrounds often take the back seat in an illustration, they’re really there to compliment, and enhance the appeal of the overall presentation. Leaving out the background tends to diminish the believability of your character, since without it they lack context. There’s nothing there to hint toward their story, or the world it might play out in. This results in an underwhelming experience for the audience and a character which is much less memorable.

Beyond that I’ll also be discussing how to remain focused when it does come to pushing through the grind and completing your inks in a timely manner. The faster you can get through it, the more engaged you’ll be, and the less of a chance you’ll have of tapping out and calling quits before the inks are done.

The longer you spend on something, the more you lose interest in it, which is why it’s so important to stay on track, optimize your process and finish the work in front of you with a reasonable amount of haste. But you don’t want to over extend yourself so much that you end up suffering physical and creative fatigue which we’ll also be talking about as well.

This epic, one hour tutorial is packed with loads of value, so I truly hope you take away more than a few gems of insight from it. Thanks for watching, and if you think your artist friends might also get a kick out of this video, be sure to pass it along to them. No doubt they’ll appreciate it and so will I!




Software Used: Photoshop


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