Here’s the follow up to the dry-ish exposition that I posted earlier. The image is from a postcard that I bought a while ago, and I love to use it for demos. I had to resort to using Photoshop to do my “inking”, but everything that follows should still apply, regardless of medium. I don’t profess omniscience regarding ink and drawing in black and white, but I figured after working with the black goop for 5+ years, I should know SOMETHING, right? I hope this helps anyone that wants to jump into ink drawing :)
Notes on Inking:
Initial Line work: Focus on larger shape groups and avoid getting bogged down with minute details from the beginning. At this stage, a foundation for the drawing is being built. It is best focus on the gestures, angles, and “broad stroke” information right now.
Secondary Line work: Once the major shapes are established, the next priority is to begin “working down”, that is looking for medium-sized to small shape groups within the larger ones you’ve established initially. From here, it’s also a good idea to start thinking about the light source(s) in the image. Where is the predominate light? The answer to that question will help determine where most of the shadows will fall. A lot of extraneous work can be saved by knowing where large areas of black will be placed.
Primary Shadows and Spot Blacks: This stage is one of the most important aspects of the drawing,as the value range will be established as well as the major forms in the piece. As mentioned earlier, the direction of the predominate light source will inform where the major shadows will be placed. In a similar fashion to the line work, it’s ideal to think in general terms first. Establish the largest groups of shadow shapes first and then work down to the medium and smaller shapes as the drawing further develops. It’s also good to have consistency with the direction of the shadows. In other words, the large and medium shadows should all be facing in about the same direction. If not, the eye will immediately pick up on the discrepancy and the illusion of form and weight will be compromised, as well as any compositional “rhythm”. Note what information is in the foreground, mid ground, and background. It is also important to consider the value relationship between those sections of the drawing. For example, if the foreground is considerably lighter than the mid and background, then there is a high likelihood that the objects that rest in the latter areas will be obscured in black to make the objects in the foreground more visible.
Secondary Shadows and Textures: At this stage, it should be obvious where the predominate light source is as well as the major shapes and forms in the drawing. Now is the time to work on the smaller details and information that was overlooked in the initial stages of the drawing. If there is a secondary light source, then a much smaller group of shadows can be drawn to refer to it. The same rules should apply, meaning the direction of those shadows need to be consistent, otherwise the suspense of disbelief is sacrificed. The addition of surface textures should ideally occur during this stage. Since ink is a primarily black and white medium, there is a strong possibility that stylization will be utilized to this end. A number of marks can be used to denote different textures, but they should be limited to keep the drawing from becoming too busy, and it’s important to remain consistent with this visual shorthand. As an example, if a series of crosshatches are used to signify wool, then that same series of crosshatches should be used to identify a wooly surface in any other area of the drawing, If not, then it would be assumed by a viewer that every object in the drawing would be made out of the same wooly material, which is only ideal if an artist were aiming towards surreal or comical ends.
Highlights and Reverse Drawing: At this point, there may be some important information or details that were lost in the primary shadow/spot black process, such as objects in the mid ground of a drawing that are reflecting light from the primary or secondary light source. There are a multitude of tools that can be employed to pull white shapes from a black surface, from craft knives and abrasive objects to white gouache or ink, and it’s to the discretion of the draftsman to decide which is best suited for the task at hand. As with the shadows and dark shapes, it is important to remain consistent with the establishment and direction of light shapes.
These are general rules and observations concerning drawing with ink as a medium, and as such there is room for elaboration, amendment, and even complete disregard (granted the artist has fully grasped and mastered the aforementioned rules beforehand). It is up to the artist or draftsman to practice regularly to discover what works best for him/her. Everyone starts from roughly the same place, but the destinations reached are almost always unique, varied and interesting.
BEST REGARDS AND GOOD LUCK!
I inked some rough layout by Becky Cloonan for Conan.
This is just awesome stuff. I don’t think most people really appreciate just how much an inker can influence the final product in comics art.
What you have here is the pencils and published alternate cover for the second issue of The New DCU Batman, with inks by Scott Williams. Williams has been Lee’s inking partner since the early 90s. This is pretty much the standard look for their art going back to when I was a kid.
Next we have the same picture inked by Buz, Mike Mayhew, Stuart Saygar, Tim Vigil, Travis Charest, and Frank Cho.
Each of these gentlemen put a distinct touch, and feel to the art. And God Damn, do I love the Charest piece. Now I am hoping that we get a bevy of top colorists to lend some flavor to them as well.