Inking – my tools

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve spent the month inking new pages. I love inking. To be completely honest, I always work towards the final inked page. Even when I draw in pencil I’m constantly thinking about the type of inkline that I want to make. I’m not sure why more artists don’t ink their own work since you really have control over how everything comes together. In fact, even though I love to draw I’m sure I’d do just fine as an inker, working over top of someone’s drawn pages. But alas, I ink my own stuff…

Now the basic thing that you need to remember and that I learned in college as far as working with ink is: you can use absolutely anything to make a mark on the page. And the reason why this is key is because this will let you make all kinds of marks and textures.

As far as tools go, I’ve got quite a few different ones that I like to use:


That’s not really too specific but as you can see I’ve got quite a few different brushes, pens, quills and other assorted stuff that let’s me make different marks and get different effects. Let’s take a closer look…


Brushes. Probably the most traditional of tools, I switched to using a small brush after watching a video where Jonathan Glapion went through his inking tools. I tried it out and never looked back. The majority of my inking is done with a brush. It takes a good deal of practice to get a steady hand, but it’s worth it. I’ve got a bunch of old beat up brushes that I use too because they can give me a less controlled mark which can be cool at times too.


Pens. These are probably the most common tool that people use to actually ink work. I like pens and use a variety of tips sizes to get the various effects I’m going for.

Brush pens. I’ve had various brush pens over the years. I just picked up this one a couple of weeks ago and I love the line quality that it’s been giving.


Quills. Just like with brushes and pens, I have a variety of different quills. My favourite one is a quill that I’ve had for years and is pretty much mangled and destroyed from using over top of acrylic. The thing is, it gives me such a unique line it’s awesome. Quills are one of the traditional tools used for making


Toothbrush. This is one of the easiest things that you can use to splatter artwork. Simply dip the tip and flick it onto board with your thumb.


Whiteout pen. this is an awesome little tool because it lets me draw INTO black areas.


White paint. Guess what, I always needs to clean up an inked piece. Sometimes lines don’t end up quite right or splatter ends up in the wrong spot. White paint (I use either gouache or acrylic depending on what I’m doing… gouache is pictured above) is a great way to touch up work. I’ll even use white paint to draw into black lines and areas just like with a white out pen or to create various textures.

What else can you think of? Seriously, you can use just about anything. Straws, sticks, sponges, you finger, crinkled up paper, knives and forks…. Whatever you can come up with you can use. Throw the kitchen sink at it and see what happens!

Don’t forget digital. I’ve also started using my tablet and Photoshop brushes to add in some digital ink lines. Sometimes this is because I realise something once a page is scanned and cleaned up into the computer but mainly I work towards knowing that I’ll add some digital stuff in once I get to Photoshop.

And finally… Paper. This is the other half of the equation that no one talks about. What you ink ON is almost as important as what you ink WITH. Most professional comic art is done on the standard 2-ply bristol but that doesn’t mean that’s all that you can use. I work mainly on watercolour paper because I want the toothy texture that it has so I can get certain effects with the linework. If I switched to working on a smoother paper my work would look a lot different. Experiment, play around and see what you like.

Inking really is fun and there are so many awesome artists out there to learn from that it’s worth spending some time on. Once you’ve got some tools, then you can dig into all the different techniques like cross hatching or stippling. But that’s for another post.

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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