Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Traditional penciling and inking - creating "The Ends"
theends at 8:11PM, July 13, 2009
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Hello! I've had a few questions about how I create my comic, so I thought I'd post my tips here.

Nearly everything I've learned about inking was from Joe Weems' DVD on inking produced by the Gnomon Workshop. Buy it! This man is incredible.

(1) PAPER SETUP: I draw the artwork on 14inX17in Strathmore bristol board. The comic page is drawn at 11inX17in. This way, it can be shrunk down to the standard comic book size, which is 6.875“ x 10.4375”.

Drawing it larger is important because it makes it easier to draw details, especially with a brush or large nib. And when shrunken down, it will make all your line work look tighter.

I quickly pencil in the guidelines (bleeds) using a ruler that I've marked ahead of time. I also had a template that I traced - but who knows where that is.

(2) PENCILING: I draw the pages using a mechanical pencil with .5mm BLUE lead by Pentel. I love this lead because, it's soft yet can be used to create precise details. BEST OF ALL: once you scan it in, you can make all your pencil lines disappear! No erasing, baby!

(3) INKING: Here's the challenging part. Let's start with the tools:

I use an ink mixture of 1/3 parts Higgins Black Magic ink to 2/3 parts Koh-I-Noor Universal. Why do I mix it? Because Joe Weems does it, and he's the man. It is incredibly black, but still flows very nicely.

HUNT 102 quill: Standard among professional inkers. For small details
HUNT 512 Quill: Longer, fatter nib. Great for solid, think lines.
Windsor&Newton brush, #2: For large black areas, textures, fuzzier lines, etc.

a) I begin inking by blocking in all the large shadows and shapes (using mostly the 512 quill, and sometimes the brush). Then I move toward the smaller details with the Hunt #102.

It's important to have a lot of line variation. For example, thick lines on the edges of people and objects, and thinner lines on the details within them. Also, things closer to the light source are drawn with thinner lines than when on the dark side.

b) It's important to continuously wipe your quill clean with a damp cloth every so often. If the quill isn't putting ink down - DON'T FORCE IT! You will end up with a nasty big blot of ink on your page. Clean the quill and try again. Sometimes you may need to scrape it clean with a razor blade. And just like a brush, don't let ink dry on the nib.

And always be mindful of where your ink isn't dry yet. Move around the page to give one area a chance to dry.

4) SCANNING: Once you are all done, scan it into Photoshop. Use File>Automate>Photomerge to merge multiple scans together if your scanner isn't big enough to scan it in one pass. Scan it in RGB color, at 400 DPI.

Once scanned, change the document to CMYK (Image>Mode>CMYK). Then do Crtl+H for a Hue/Saturation change. Select Blues and move the Lightness slider all the way to the right. Then select CYANS, and move the Lightness slider all the way to the right again.

ALL OF YOUR PENCILS SHOULD NOW BE GONE!!! HAHAHAAH! NI-ICE!

Then change the document to Grayscale, and reduce the image size to 300 DPI. Now you can reduce the image size to the standard comic book size.

I also run a filter called Unsharp Mask on the artwork to sharpen the lines. And press Crtl+L to open the Levels dialog. Play around with the settings until the lines are very black, and the paper is very white.

5) COLORING: Set the lineart on the top layer and set the layer to Multiply. Now you are ready to color underneath the lineart!

I hope to have a video tutorial on coloring soon, I'll be sure to post it here.

Thanks for reading, I hope this was helpful!

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:16PM
mattchee at 8:14AM, July 14, 2009
(online)
posts: 347
joined: 1-18-2008
I wasn't aware of that Photomerge feature. I'll have to try that out. Previously I've cut and pasted them together… with good results. But if this is easier and clean, I may use it for whenever I get the traditional urge!

Good tip on the ink too. I might try that. I currently use speedball superblack, which is the only ink that's made me happy right out of the bottle.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
repoman at 9:57PM, July 14, 2009
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posts: 44
joined: 1-19-2009
Interesting. I thought both of you guys (theends and mattchee) inked digitally for some reason. At least your stuff looks that way — and that's a compliment, very clean and detailed.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:05PM
Ryuthehedgewolf at 4:43AM, July 15, 2009
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posts: 1,340
joined: 9-2-2007
I honestly would've never guessed you drew this comic traditionally.
I think I like your comic even more now, knowing that. (Well, minus colors)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:16PM
mattchee at 8:20AM, July 15, 2009
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posts: 347
joined: 1-18-2008
repoman
Interesting. I thought both of you guys (theends and mattchee) inked digitally for some reason. At least your stuff looks that way — and that's a compliment, very clean and detailed.

You're right, I do.

I still like to do some traditional stuff here and there, though, so I dig the tips! But all the stuff you see from me in Mastorism is, in fact, digital.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
cetriya at 2:15AM, July 17, 2009
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posts: 177
joined: 5-17-2007
I hate inking with tech pens, its much harder to get a clean look with them (despite what many may belive) but bristol is not cheap.

eh, after my recent update, I think I'll just fork the money cause my hands art starting to hurt.

I'll be buying the DVD (but only after I get the serious from Feng Zhu)

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:39AM
theends at 11:16PM, July 18, 2009
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posts: 23
joined: 3-12-2009
I love Feng Zhu's artwork! He is a master, no doubt. When you say tech pens, are you referring to Rapidographs? I don't use those, I use nibs (metal quills), and dip them in ink. I find that they can lay down a much wider variety of lines than a technical pen, and they convey their own style.

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:16PM
cyberdog at 11:39AM, July 28, 2009
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posts: 61
joined: 2-10-2008
Very cool advice on how you do The Ends. Your comic art is great. I'll have to check out DVD on inking you suggested.

CyberDog out
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:02PM
emecetaylor at 6:47PM, Sept. 22, 2009
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posts: 4
joined: 7-25-2009
This is excelent I added this page to favorite to check it out everytime im going to draw :D

our an outstanding artist and a good person cause youre helping people with this tut

thnx a lot your the man :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:21PM

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