Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

What's better? Inking with tablet or pen?
bluebug at 7:00PM, Jan. 14, 2007
posts: 12
joined: 12-30-2006
I'm fiddling around with different ways to draw my comic. I've never really liked my inking and I wondered if it would look better if I inked by tablet. Any opinions?
(It's pretty self-explanatory, but just in case, the “new style” in by tablet and the “old style” is by the mighty micron pen.)

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:28AM
ozoneocean at 7:15PM, Jan. 14, 2007
posts: 26,049
joined: 1-2-2004
The old style looks better here: because of the line thickness mainly… You can use any thickness you choose with digital inking, but it's best to use much thinner lines if you want to emulate the old style a bit more faithfully ;)

Drawing the comics at a large size and then shrinking them helps or course. Heh, in my own style it's now drawn 100% with a tablet so I have no “inking” stage, but I do rough versions then then cleaner versions in layers over the top. All my line art is done in a mid grey; that's because of my colouring style… dark outlines don't look good with it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:25PM
Aurora Moon at 7:30PM, Jan. 14, 2007
posts: 2,630
joined: 1-7-2006
honestly, I think both looks great!
I do my inking by tablet mostly because right now all the pens I have on hand isn't really suitable for inking… they smudge too easily at the sightest movement/friction of object/or hand against paper, even when the ink is dry on paper!
I'm on hitatus while I redo one of my webcomics. Be sure to check it out when I'n done! :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:09AM
LunarYouko at 9:29PM, Jan. 14, 2007
posts: 102
joined: 12-11-2006
I think both look good, though I like the thinner lines of the traditional method a bit better, which is an effect that you can get with a tablet by adjusting the brush/pressure settings.

I personally prefer inking with my tablet, because of the undo button. It is easier to ink confidently for me with the knowledge that I can go back and redo parts that don't come out right the first time, something I don't have with traditional inking. It also saves from buying pens to ink with.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:49PM
bluebug at 10:04PM, Jan. 14, 2007
posts: 12
joined: 12-30-2006
Good point, LunarYouko. If I CG long enough, then return to sketching, I finding myself looking for an “undo” button XD. It's a wierd feeling.

I was going for thicker lines on purpose. I like the “sketchiness” of tablet lineart. It has a quality that pens don't provide. I didn't want to emulate the old style exactly, because then I could just stick with my pens. Though I suppose I am working towards being able to draw everything on computer .. so I should work on doing cleaner lineart in Photoshop.

And … can anyone offer suggestions about brush settings in Photoshop? I couldn't find the right settings for the brush in Photoshop so I ended up copying my line layer and doubling it up so it would be darker.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:28AM
cclb at 10:53PM, Jan. 14, 2007
posts: 5
joined: 1-14-2007
yes thats the problem with cg..u get to attatched to the undo button :P…i haven't done traditional sketching with pen in quite a while which is also making it hard for me to decide what median i should use for my comic :/…
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:37AM
ozoneocean at 3:13AM, Jan. 15, 2007
posts: 26,049
joined: 1-2-2004
. And … can anyone offer suggestions about brush settings in Photoshop? I couldn't find the right settings for the brush in Photoshop so I ended up copying my line layer and doubling it up so it would be darker.
It depends on what version of PS you use… It can be complicated to set up, but once you do you can save the new brushes you make along with their special settings!

I use Photoshop CS1, so I don't bother with brush sizes: if I want a different size I just flick the pen ‘right click’ button and move the slider to the right brush size. That also works for “hardness”.

What I do set up for the brushes are these: For colouring brush settings I have the “opacity” set to “pen pressure”. And for the line art brush I have the “brush size” set to “pen pressure”. Nothing else is set, only brush size for drawing and opacity for colouring.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:25PM
ShadowsMyst at 2:04PM, Jan. 15, 2007
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
I prefer the look of the traditional inking myself, but both seem to suffer from a lack of variation in line width. Good inking requires fairly substantial variations in line thickness to give weight and depth to an image. In the old inking style the lines are on the thin side while with the tablet the lines are rather thick. This makes the drawings look flat.

To be honest, I found that photoshop was… clumsy to ink in compared to say, Manga Studio, Open Canvas, or Painter when it comes to strait brushes. I have a really shakey hand, so I got much nicer lines in those than I ever did in PS with less hand cramping. But if you use the vector tools along with brushes presets you can get some pretty sweet lines. Such as in this tutorial here:

This is an example with a traditional pen, but you can see the varying thickness in lines clearly.

While I find the computer can produce a cleaner line, I've found I'm faster with hand inking. But similar principles apply to both in terms of thickness and thiness to give light, shadow, and weight to the image.

I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
anystar at 3:23PM, Jan. 15, 2007
posts: 154
joined: 4-11-2006
Flash and ComicWorks (or MangaStudio) are definitely what I would recommend for digital inking, though I think that inking by hand gives it a less ‘mechanical’ feel. I've also always felt that inking by hand takes up a great deal less time, at least for me. But to each his own :3 Whatever works best for you. Your art should be something you enjoy, so definitely ink that way that pleases you most. >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
bluebug at 9:39PM, Jan. 15, 2007
posts: 12
joined: 12-30-2006
I'm no doubt faster at hand inking, but I imagine it's because it's all I've ever done. Anything new takes a while to learn. I was looking at changing my inking style because I'm getting bored with the way my inks look. Though probably if I just vary the line width I could achieve a better result than switching to tablet.

ShadowsMyst: I used to vary line width in my pics, but now coloring takes up so much time that that fell by the wayside. That's a great tutorial, though. It really reminds me how much better lineart looks with line width variation. The big problem is that my .01 pen tip dies because I press too hard.

anystar: That's funny. I thought tablet inking gives a more organic feel. But that's mostly because of the opacity variation. If I used something like India ink or markers I'd probably feel that hand inking was more organic. And yeah, that's why I was looking for a change. I was getting unhappy with my inking so I wanted to do something different that would make me enjoy it more :)

ozone: I use Photoshop 7, I think. And I've got a wacom tablet, if that makes any difference. I'm definitely going to have to do some experimenting.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:28AM
ozoneocean at 8:29AM, Jan. 16, 2007
posts: 26,049
joined: 1-2-2004
ozone: I use Photoshop 7, I think. And I've got a wacom tablet, if that makes any difference. I'm definitely going to have to do some experimenting.
Yeah, Photshop 7 is excellent. You can do those setting in PS7!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:25PM
Darwin at 5:52PM, Jan. 21, 2007
posts: 619
joined: 4-25-2006
Uh…well not a lot I can add here except my opinion on the subject of tablets.

I love my tablet no doubt, it give me a quality of color I can't get by hand. There are times however that I fall back to my hand drawn/inked pictures. There is something about the pen/tablet that exacerbates the unsteadiness of my hand. I can draw a better inked line by hand than I can on the tablet. That may be incongruity in the tip of my stylus, or perhaps the texture of the matt on the tablet. Either way my lines look worse for it.

Still That is the way I have been doing my art.

I think I am a bit different from Ozone in that I sketch my cells out on a pad by hand and then scan them into my computer. I find that this is less pressure (Don't ask, I don't know why I feel under the gun trying to draw sketches on the tablet - maybe its the spousal unit breathing down my neck for the use of the computer! LOL!), than doing it directly on the tablet.

Once scanned in, I select the image I want off the page, create a new file with a see through background, throw a layer over the sketch and then start on my finished lines. I don't like trying to make a scanned image into a picture directly, even background eraser doesn't do as fine a job as it should to clean the stuff up. That is really irritating when I forget to overlay a clear layer and then proceed to get half the cell drawn out. This also gives me relative cell size and dimensions and helps me flesh out how I want to lay out the page (nope the page layout is never set in stone.)

I'm still learning the meaning of differentiating my line width depending upon the image I am working with. I'm still experimenting with that one.

A lot of it is preference really.

Dunno if it helps at all…
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
Tim Wellman at 8:29AM, Jan. 24, 2007
posts: 164
joined: 1-14-2007
I ink by hand because it is SO much faster… average around an hour to ink an entire page… I have a tablet, but I use it to touch up my traditional inks once scanned.

I *do* have Manga Studio Debut and if I were going to digitally ink, I'd definitely use that program… not only can you do things you can do in Photoshop, like adjust brush sizes and the way the tablet interacts with them, but in Manga Studio, you can actually choose pin nib types and adjust as little or as much automatic line smoothing as you want, it even lets you set automatic line tail-offs and attacks… plus, it's fairly cheap. If you're not a manga artist, it's still worth the price for the digital inking capabilites… but, if you *are* a manga artist, the program also has hundreds of drag-and-drop screen tones, built in speed lines, etc

One tip for traditional inking… scan your artwork at 600dpi, black and white and save it as a bitmap… yes, it will look crappy… but then, in photoshop, reduce the dpi to 300 (or 400 if you happen to work for Marvel) and set your page size to traditional comic art, 6.875x10.5 inches… and you'll see, the linework really sharpens up (in photoshop, convert the b&w lineart to grayscale before resizing)… this is a trick most all professionals use… scan big as b&w, convert to grayscale and reduce the size
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:30PM
Peipei at 11:32PM, Jan. 24, 2007
posts: 520
joined: 7-18-2006
Inking is alot more fun in my opinion :3 It takes longer, but its loads of fun ^^ Plus I like traditional comic art better too ^^ But then again, I only used a tablet like once or twice ever xD Only bad thing about inking is if you mess up, you cant erase. But thats what photoshop is for right? :3

I like Pie!
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
JillyFoo at 5:44PM, Jan. 31, 2007
posts: 627
joined: 1-2-2006
Depends on if you want to spend most of your time making comics in front of a computer. With inking you can take the paper almost anywhere. Computer(unless it's a laptop) you're kinda stuck in one place.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:08PM
Mark at 3:35AM, Feb. 1, 2007
posts: 286
joined: 8-29-2006
then again I don't think you get much mobility with a brush and india ink either. Somehow, I cant immagine setting up to brush ink in the middle of a park or something
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:54PM
deletedbyrequest03 at 8:10PM, Feb. 3, 2007
posts: 815
joined: 8-13-2006
It actually depends on the way you wanna do your comic. If you like dark, thick lines, then ink it traditionally. If you like the lines to be soft and thin, then use the tablet.

My opinion? I like to ink it traditionally. It's faster, and easier to do. For the thickness of the line, you can just get different size pens. I have 0.7, 0.5, 0.3, and 0.1 for my sizes. But that's just me. (I use felt tipped pens, not fountain pens)

It actually depends on you, nothing else. They both look great, it's just a different way of drawing it.

This year, school's full of BS!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:05PM
subcultured at 11:41PM, Feb. 3, 2007
posts: 5,392
joined: 1-7-2006
if you practice you can duplicate real inking with computer inking

even proffesionals like brian bolland inks with a computer
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:01PM
lothar at 4:28AM, Feb. 12, 2007
posts: 1,299
joined: 1-3-2006
Tim Wellman
I ink by hand because it is SO much faster… average around an hour to ink an entire page…
i agree ! i can ink a page in like 40 minutes, but it will take me 2+ hours do the additional PS junk to it, im thinking about just going back to markers for the color as well, everything is so much slower with a computer !
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
Piscareous at 9:08AM, Feb. 12, 2007
posts: 104
joined: 2-22-2006
I wish I had a tablet to ink with, I'd like to try it that way.
“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance”
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:44PM
LIZARD_B1TE at 4:42PM, Feb. 14, 2007
posts: 3,308
joined: 6-22-2006
I prefer pen.

Mostly because I don't have a tablet.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:36PM
Friedenmann at 8:56AM, Feb. 18, 2007
posts: 87
joined: 11-26-2006
Time, time, time…

For me:
hand ink: 20 min
digital outline: 3 hours (same long as shadin'…)

I think it's matter of trainin' but I'll be doin' my best not to outline a comic digitally.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:31PM

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