Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Inking Out Loud...

I put myself into a quandary today.

From left to right - 1. Sketch. 2. Sketch, hand inked. 3. Sketch, completely digitally inked.

Now, the spot blacks and textures in the center frame are simply copied over from the third one. I didn't clean up any line weight issues, etc. I scanned it in, and left it at that. Zoomed in at 100%, it looks like crap. All of the imperfections of the paper can be seen (which some might argue is charming and a welcomed tactile attribute). The inconsistencies with my technique are brought to the light. And it's just all around unappealing to me. But then, not hand inking for almost a year tends to yield these types of results on the first try...

On the other hand, the digitally inked version is clean and crisp. Granted, it's also finished. While the middle frame definitely feels like it came from a hand, the third one almost has hints of a manga style. Perhaps that's from the toning, and how I chose to use the texture. Not sure.

Regardless, the story is set in a place called "Basement City." There's nothing clean about that.

However, the other thing that needs to be remembered is that these pages won't be presented to the world at 100% magnification. They'll be on 6x10 (roughly) pages. And images tighten up when they're shrunk down. So that's also something to take into account...

Not completely sold on one or the other. And there's no doubt that they'll marry somewhere along the process. The question isn't a matter of whether a digital brush will touch my book. The question is of balance, and what exactly I'm looking to accomplish with my weapon of choice.

What you're looking at here (left to right) is a couple more inking tests and the original, undoctored ink of the top image. The sketches on the left were mostly done with micron pens, which lend a little more control to line placement. I like the voice of the brush, but I also like the precision of the pen. Once again, this all comes down to what I'm trying to execute in the final product. Perhaps the inking will be a panel-to-panel decision (brush here, digital there, micron over yonder), based on composition and such. Hm. It all remains to be seen...

Also, I think it's important for an artist to present his imperfections to the world from time to time. It keeps us accountable.

And it makes us feel unashamed of words like "yonder."


  1. I like the real ink version so so so much more. I think it just fits with the grittiness of the character and I prefer the boldness of the line. And I like the imperfections. I can relate to wanting to make everything technically perfect. If you like the inking digitally, maybe you could use a more natural digital technique that looks closer to the traditional version. Just my two cents. I know sometimes it helps to hear opinions. I like the middle one.

  2. Thanks, Josh. I do, sincerely, always appreciate input. Yeah, I had this discussion yesterday with someone, and brought myself to the same conclusion: hand-crafted is the way to go, and leave the touch-ups to Photoshop. Mucho thanks for the thoughts.