Friday, March 16, 2012

Tools and Techniques: Inking (how-to, and how not to!)

In answering the popular question we hear at conventions: How do you ink, and what tools do you use? My co-horts in comics crime, Martheus and Janet Wade (with whom I've worked on "Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa" and been family with for many years) and I have posted our "how-to" for inking in a full article on the new MAW Productions Studios blog. 

In addition to what you'll read there, I wanted to give you some more suggestions here. 

You'll learn that there's a thing called digital inking.  I don't do it properly, but I do it so that it suits my needs such as the times I create a Muley-mini—quicker, not as neat little ‘toons.  You'll find a way that will suit you as well.  In this case, I take the image in pencil from a sketchbook or other paper…

And I scan that image into the computer as a color image.

I work in Photoshop, and so I choose “Image,” “Adjustments,” and “Curves.”

I move the line around in curves until I get a line color I can approve of…

...with a nicer, blacker “inked” line.  Click on “OK” and start the clean-up process--erase out the specks and "dirt" from the art that came through from the scanner, then save the cleaned up final work.  Then, it's ready for colorization.

There are other means for proper inking as well.  Martheus Wade points out that you should erase your pencils in one direction so as not to dim the darkness of your inks--a good suggestion!!  Here, I'm going to suggest to you how to ink WITHOUT having to erase your pencils!  Plus, you can still save your art in pencil.  How's that?

You'll need to make another trip down to the art store and buy yourself some Layout Bond paper.  I love using the Layout Bond paper (Strathmore makes this as well as the Bristol I use) because you can do all your pencils here--get the erasing out the way and such--and then lay this on your light table along with your Bristol on top of it, and trace your pencils using the inking styles mentioned in the full article.

Now, you'll have solid, pure black inked lines with no eraser smudges or rubbings on it AND you have your pencils that students 100 years from now can look at and learn your process.  It also makes for neat art-displays as well to let folks see your thought process in creating the strip.

The process I mention in particular happens to deal with placement of characters, word balloons, backgrounds...when folks have the pencils to look at they might see that you moved a character to help the flow of the dialogue work better, or that you changed something in the background so it didn't distract from something in the foreground.  Sometimes, it's interesting to see that some things just get left out altogether--one such strip is Muley sitting in a long  panel complaining about how "lonliness is such a long word for just one person..." 

In the original strip art there is a window; but, because the strip is about solitude, that window made you feel that he wasn't alone all of a sudden, so I removed the window leaving only Muley in the room without anything else--no furniture, no toys, no anything.  But, I digress as this leads us into a whole new "how-to!"

For more information, you can purchase “Cartooning with Muley” at the conventions for $1.00, or order by mail for $1.75 via Paypal with a request to KevinMule.  This shows a process for creating a comic strip.


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