Saturday, January 24, 2009

Basic Inking Process Tutorial

I just posted this tutorial on deviantArt, and now I'm sharing it everywhere else:

To start, I draw out small sketches on a page in my sketch book, trying out various ideas. Once I have something I like, I scan it into the computer at a high dpi (600dpi or so), and reprint it at a much larger scale. From there, I can retrace it onto a clean page in my sketchbook and refine the picture, fixing mistakes, and adding details.

Now with a better pencil sketch, I scan it into the computer once again, and convert it to a faded cyan (called non-photo blue or non reproductive blue) in Photoshop. To do this, I convert the image mode to Grayscale, then to CMYK. Then I go to Image>Adjust>Channel Mixer. From here, I leave the Cyan Output Channel untouched and move directly to the Magenta Output Channel. I drop the Magenta level from 200% to 0%. Next I move to the Yellow Output Channel, dropping the Yellow level to 0%. Then finally I move to the Black Output Channel, dropping the Black level down to 0%. You should be left with a Cyan image. The next step is to change the layer opacity to 50%, so the Cyan isn’t so intense.From there, I print it onto bristol board. This way, my pencils are left untouched by a possible ink mishap, and my pencil illustration is perfectly replicated onto illustration board without blemishes like heavy erasing or pencil smudges.

Here, I begin my inking process. I use Higgins Black Magic Ink, and two Connoisseur brushes, one small and one fat. I also use two kinds of Bristol Board. I use Strathmore 300 Series 9”x12” vellum Bristol Board for Illustrations like this, and Canson Fanboy 10”x14.25” Manga Art Boards for manga pages (or Comic Art Boards for comic sized books). I prefer vellum to smooth because it grabs to the pencil pretty well, but its only a personal preference. I also enjoy Canson Fanboy’s Art Boards because they come bluelined with rules for panelling and marking bleed room, safe area, and actual page size.

I decided to scan this at about 80% complete. If you notice, there are a couple inking errors, but I will fix them with acrylic titanium white paint when I am finished. At this point, everything has been done with a brush, but now I am going to use a Micron Pen to ink her fine hair lines, her eyes, and the fringe on the cloak/serape. I have left these specifically because I will be using a french curve for inking the hair lines, and circle templates for the eyes. I am using a pen for the fringe because they are so small, I don’t trust myself completely yet with a brush to get all that line work done without making a fatal mistake so close to the final product.

Finally done with line art. I scanned it in at 1200dpi as bitmap, which removes any of the non photo blue that can still be seen. From here, I’ll convert it to grayscale, and rescale it to 300 dpi at the correct size it will be printed at. With just some minor cleanup of stray spots of black, the image is now ready to be colored!!

At this point, I’m sure everyone has a grasp on the actual digital coloring process in Photoshop.

So, this is my Caperucita Roja (Little Red Riding Hood), which I am planning on making a manga sized comic book. If I can work fast enough, the book should be printed in time for the Spokane Comic Convention, May 30th, 2009.

Okay, here’s a run down of the most basic tools that I use. First off, I have a set of Speedball nibs and nib holders, and I’d use that over the Micron pen that I used for the fine lines before. The ink in the Microns pulled up slightly when I did some erasing, and its just not that strong of a pigment compared to the rest of the inked page. Next, I have a wrist rest for a computer mouse. This elevates my hand when inking, keeping me from dragging my palm into fresh ink. Next to that, I have a Gerber baby food jar. I use that for my water. I am currently using Higgins Black Magic for my ink, it looks very dark when I am done inking. I also use a metal lid from an energy drink can to dispense my ink. I can use the dropper in the Higgins Black Magic, and drop a few drops in the lid, and I can visually see how far I am dipping. If you dip too far with your nib, ink can soak into the wood of the brush and start to ruin it. Secondly, I don’t have more than a few drops out at a time, which is better than an unopened bottle of ink that could cause major damage if spilled. Lastly, I have my brushes and Bristol Board, but I’ve already mentioned the product names.

I hope this tutorial gave you a basic understanding of my process, and maybe you learned something that can help you excel with your art.
-Jesse 1/24/2009

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