Thoughts about inking

It’s funny how certain things kind of float into your life when you’re working on something related. I’ve found two things lately that really relate to inking which is kind of timely since I’ve been currently up to my neck in inking pages (RE: #inktober).

Last week I was cleaning up my inbox when I came across an email from myself about some tweets by Eric Larson back in June about inking and how lately, he wonders why some current comic artists actually use inkers since their pencils are so tight. Of course this got me thinking and I really have to agree. Nowadays, inkers seem to be a part of the legacy of the previous technologies that were used to print comics. The artwork needed to be inked in order to be reproduced and this just isn’t the case anymore with the high quality scanners that are readily available. The question is, just what value does “inking” the artwork bring? I mean in some cases, inking the artwork adds to the actual drawing, but if the pencils are tight enough, why bother?

For me, inking has been a huge learning curve over the years. I remember when I was younger, I would draw – in pencil – exactly what I wanted and I could never recreate that same “look” in ink. What I had to learn was that the pencil drawing was just a stage on the way to the finished ink drawing. I mean if I liked the pencils better, why not just stop there, right?

So now, when I pencil pages, it’s so much looser. My main focus is to get the underlying drawing right. I want the perspective, anatomy, lighting, etc. to be correct at this stage. But i’m not focused on getting the perfect line. That’s what the inks are for. So when I get to the ink stage, A) it’s quicker because I’m not focusing on the “drawing” stuff and B) I can worry about line quality, textures, how the foreground separates from the background, etc. And this would be why I’ve been able to ink as many pages in the past week as I have.

The second thing that’s popped up and is related is a series of podcasts that I have been listening to where Greg Capullo was interviewed. Anyway, he was talking about his artwork on Spawn and so I dug out my old Spawn comics and as  I was going through them and what I found really interesting was how good an inker Todd McFarlane is. I never noticed this back when I was reading Spawn monthly, but he really does a good job adding textures and line variety to the art. And to me, the way these two guys worked together is kind of how I think my drawing/inking works: drawing is about getting it right while the inking is really about finishing it off and making it look good.

So that’s some thoughts about inking. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time with ink on my fingers and it’s seeped into my brain. I’m sure I’ll have stuff to add since I’ve got a lot more inking to go.

About jason

Illustrator and graphic designer. When not working full time as a Senior Graphic Designer, I am usually working on the graphic novel On the Verge: the Arrow of Time. Artist on Andrew Jackson in Space and The Sisters.

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