Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Method of inking
worstcase at 8:09AM, May 18, 2007
posts: 224
joined: 1-15-2007
I really need help with inking. Which way of inking is better, with real pens and whatnot or on the compy? And what kind of pens would i use? I really just need peoples opinions on inking, how they do, what do they suggest etc.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:51PM
silentkitty at 8:41AM, May 18, 2007
posts: 620
joined: 1-15-2007
Well, as far as I'm concerned, the difference between digital/traditional inking is really just personal preference. Personally, I prefer digital inking because it's cheaper (no pens to buy save the initial purchase of a Wacom, saves on paper as well), faster (ctrl+z is a wonderful thing if you mess up a lot, like I do) and easier to go back and edit later if you want to change something. You can duplicate pretty much any traditional inking technique digitally these days if you have the right tools.

Of course, many people still like the feel of still using actual ink, so if it's possible, I would try both and see which one you feel more comfortable working with. As for what kind of pens traditional inkers use, the brands I hear coming up most often are Copic, Rapidograph, and Prismacolor. I personally used to use Copic when I inked traditionally, and they always worked well for me.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:37PM
Darth Mongoose at 9:09AM, May 18, 2007
posts: 488
joined: 1-7-2006
I can't recommend brands, since I live in England, and it seems they're different (if you DO happen to live in England though, and want fineliners, I recommend ‘Edding’ brand).
I like to have the pen in my hand, the texture ink gives to my work, and seeing the page finished in front of me before I scan. Plus it goes well with the copic markers I use to colour and tone.
Even if you use traditional inking, there are still decisions to make though. Generally, there are three:
Brushes and brushpens give slick, smooth and generally thicker lines. They can be hard to use, but used right give a beautiful effect. I wouldn't recommend them if you're like me and draw actual size rather than drawing A3 and scaling down, it'd get fiddly. In the hands of a confident artist though, brush inking looks great.
Nib pens Give a fine, textured look. Often used by manga artists for very crisp, fine lines, or by those who like to use hatching for shade. Can take a bit of getting used to, and suit best those who like fine lines.
Fineliners and sharpies Some artists hate these things. Critics of them say that the lines have a flat, cold, mechanical quality, are all the same thickness and that the original copies fade badly with age over time. Personally I absolutely love them. They're simple, quick and reliable. I use a set of a 0.2mm, a 0.5mm and a 0.8mm. High quality ones don't fade badly (and for artwork you're gonna scan, does it really matter if the lines have gone a bit brownish in ten years time? My six year old drawings with them are still looking nice and black) and with a little practice if tilting, pressure and making use of using different thicknesses of pen, you can negate the ‘uniform’ line look. You can take them with you in your pencil case too.

So whichever option you go for, digital or one of those three, it's really just a matter of preference.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
Triss at 8:51PM, May 20, 2007
posts: 63
joined: 3-27-2007
I hand-ink, simply because a tablet isn't a possibility. (Lineart with a tablet is, of course, utterly impossible). I use flatliners to ink… I find that nib pens are insufferable and brush pens require a lot of skill. I'm from the US of A, and I use Pigma Micron pens from Sakura. I need thick-ish lines for my CG to work, so I use 03 Size for the outlines and 01 Size and 005 Size for details. These translate well to digital coloring, and they're relatively affordable.
“When once the morning star shall rise, when earth with shadow flees away, and we stand safe within the door, then you shall lift the veil thereof…”
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:34PM
glenfx at 2:17AM, May 25, 2007
posts: 64
joined: 5-25-2007
I just replyed to another topic with a simmilar question, I just did a copy&paste from my reply. Hope you dont mind.

This is a tricky question because it depends on how you want to work.
I have experience with these:
.- art pens_metal round point (it looks like a nail and its a bit big.. its mostly for outlines)
.- art pens_thin small cooper pen (this is the common inking pen used by comic artists and its ideal for fine detail)
.- rapidographs (these are mostly used in technical illustrations, but can be used for comics as well… these come in numbered sizes)
.- brush (from these I used to use a number 2 reound camel hair brush which was quite nice.. but require lots of practice)
.-marker small tip pens (really dont recomend you to use these.. i used them for story boards since time is of escence in advertising.. but really.. i dont recomend them)

.- Digital inking (its the best ive used, yet its time consuming at first. I tryed different software: Illustrator(not free), Expressions 3 (free), and manga Studio (not free). All are preatty good, but manga studio is the best because its really quick to setup and work with.
If you are really interested in digital inking i strongly suggest Manga Studio… if you dont have money to spend, then use Expressions 3.

Hope that helps
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:37PM
Eunice P at 6:41AM, May 25, 2007
posts: 792
joined: 2-8-2006
If you are a beginner at inking, learn the traditional technique first. It helps you gain a lot of experience when you do traditional inking. It's best not jump into digital inking if you haven't mastered the foundation of traditional inking.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:23PM
ledpusha at 9:10AM, May 25, 2007
posts: 78
joined: 7-10-2006
Personally I think digital inking takes longer. If you a fast digital ink i would recommend that you get a copy of adobe illustrator cs2 cuz it has a live trace function where you can turn you raster scanned inks into perfect smooth digital inks. Page 2 of my webcomic with a burger guy that I drew is digitally inked in illustrator cs2. I found that using a small sized micron or pigma pen works out fine like sizes .005 , .01 , and .03 and theese pens are cheap like $1.50-3 dollars per pen depending where you shop at.
I hope this helps.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:30PM
danthemancartoons at 9:51AM, May 25, 2007
posts: 83
joined: 10-30-2006
I use a dip pen and ink for my weekly webcomic but fineliners for daily. I don't like the idea of digital inking because I don't want to spend ages in front of the computer. Real inking (for want of a better expression) is far more spontaneous and inventive in my opinion. The best digital inking in my opinion quite often looks like it isn't digitally inked.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:05PM
CharleyHorse at 5:19AM, May 26, 2007
posts: 627
joined: 12-7-2006
I agree with Eunice P. on this subject, but I'm going to approach it from a different tact. I only recently returned to inking after years of lay-off. Before I began, however, I first did some techniques research. If you enter the term “inking tutorial” into the search engine of your choice you will begin encountering some decent inking tutorials,, for one.

Now for my two cents worth of thought on the subject. Although I mostly ink with a brush, I started out using pen nibs. Lately I have begun using digital applications as an aide. They all work equally well, but of them all, the look of a brush imparts a bit more ‘life’ to the finished work. It's all subjective though, and - in my estimation - difficult to tell the difference regarding techniques and tool sources sometimes.

The deal about inking by hand, however, is that you rapidly become psychologically comfortable with the inking process itself and find – especially if you use a brush - you find yourself being more adventurous and experimental. that's counter-intuitive, isn't it? People naturally think that digital applications would lead to a greater degree of experimentation in inking . . . but most surveys on the subject suggests otherwise.

The neat thing about using digital applications, however, is that you can fix whatever you messed up inking by hand – assuming that you don't care if the original bristol or card stock is left mucky. Also - especially if you are going to cover large areas with opaque black, digital inking can't be beat as a flat out time saver. Oh yeah, digital inking is the bomb when it comes to laying out perfect lines at any angle or thickness.

As for specific tools for hand inking, every inker has their favorite. Although genuine sable hair is the traditional norm for inking , I've gotten bloody well tired of shelling out significant money for the highest quality brushes - and top of the line sable hair IS expe3nsive - and so after a bit of experimentation am now using a simple and very inexpensive nylon fiber brush. It's not as good, of course, but it gets the job done.

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
Radec at 12:51PM, May 26, 2007
posts: 1,414
joined: 6-18-2006
I agree with both Eunice P. and Charleyhorse. It's very helpful to gain a basis in traditional inking, even if you rely on digital work, because it helps to gain familiarity and comfort with the inking process (as charley had mentioned).
While hand inking can be very messy and difficult at times, it IS a very effective way to learn different methods and techniques for inking, and to gain confidence with your strokes.

I myself try brush pens every now and again, but unfortunately I'm not yet good enough to do anything with them. mostly I use Micron pens for inking, which is a decent and safe start, although sometimes there are qualities in other pens and mediums which could perk a person's interest.
For example, some brands of ballpoint pens can not only be surprisingly useful for inking, but can gain an interesting sheen when layered over one small area.
True, this does little at all for an online comic, but if you simply use it for drawing practice and testing methods on paper, then it can be an interesting way to examine effects of different tools for inking.

Also, digital inking may be a huge time-saver and attain terrific inking precision, in many cases it is also incredibly frustrating trying to figure a program out (well, at least in my case it is.)
There always seem to be little kinks that you may or may not be able to figure out, such as performing specific actions with the layers or such.
If you use digital inking, then I would certainly recommend you get someone to help you figure out how to use the programs effectively, because if you don't, then it is very hard to get anywhere with digital.
<= dead and buried.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:58PM
mattvoid at 3:47PM, May 28, 2007
posts: 11
joined: 5-27-2007
Worked at an art store for a few years, and I can highly recommend the faber castell's over the microns. The ink is more lightfast, and the brush is more dependable. Other then that, I agree with what most everyone else said.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:56PM

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