Over the years lots of people have asked me about my inking technique. To be perfectly honest, there is nothing about what I do that is unique. My technique is probably similar, or even identical, to what you do.
But if you are unhappy with your inks, I can provide some helpful advice. Maybe it will shed some light on your problem.
This might sound silly to a lot of you, but I have been to many a livestream where someone tried to make crisp lineart from a distance. While it’s probably possible if you’re hand is steady enough, the more you zoom out the less delicate your line work will be. This is because of how digital media works. It’s not a reflection on you or your skill.
I spent approximately the same amount of time on these, but there is noticeable difference between what I did at 100% and what I did at 300%. At least, I think so.
The one thing you need to watch while zooming in, though, is line consistency. Zoom out frequently to see how you’re doing. If you stay zoomed in the whole time you’ll get some nasty tunnel vision and lose sight of the bigger picture. Zoom in to ink, zoom out to check your progress!
Play to Your Strengths
This is a sketch I did a while back. Nothing spectacular, just a simple portrait. I threw some inks on it, and the result was this.
Suits it, right? You can see how I got the same feeling from sketch to inks. What if I had gone with thinner linework.
Certainly not bad lines, but I think we can all agree that it doesn’t suit the sketch, and the feeling is drastically changed. It’s lifeless. This is because I was purposefully working against the sketch’s strengths. Working against mine.
The way you sketch should influence your linework. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible for you to capture the life you had in your sketch. It’s already really hard, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot!
If you find you ink in a way that doesn’t necessarily suit your aesthetic, the problem probably isn’t with your inks. It’s with the way you sketch. If you want thinner, more delicate lines, sketch using thinner lines. If you want thicker, toonier ones, using a thicker brush to sketch! Plot out some hard shadows. Even if you ink them…
(Digital) Inks Aren’t Forever
Don’t get married to your inks. Just because you inked it, doesn’t mean it needs to be there. This is especially true with inks>colors. Often times a shadow will do an effective enough job at getting across what you want the audience to see.
As you color, you can erase some lines. Color will often be effective enough to get your point across. This is especially true with clothing folds.
And the last thing I want to mention…
Inking Is an Artistic Process
I think a lot of people see inks as a means of getting to the color stage— that inking itself isn’t artistic, that it’s just a mechanical tracing over your sketch work. I think this is far and beyond the most harmful thing an artist can do to their work.
Inking is an art form. It takes practice and patience and a confident hand. If you treat it like a chore, and put zero heart into it, your linework will look lifeless. It will cripple your overall picture. Your piece should be able to work without colors, so take your time. Work with your sketch, not against it.
I guess that’s about it. I’ll just toss a few other pieces of advice here and be on my way.
- Practice inking other people’s sketches. Try to work with their sketch, to get a sense for what’s important.
- Practice inking over people’s linework! If there’s an artist you admire who has the sort of linework you want, try treating their lines as if it were a sketch. You would be completely shocked how much you miss when you look at a piece as a whole and not as parts.
- Don’t try and ink curves in one fell swoop. You should treat digital inking like traditional inking and build your lines up.
- You can use more than one layer if you are having difficulty on certain parts.
- Use the lasso tool to select and transform linework that looks good but might be too short/long/the wrong angle.
Reblogging this here as I often just mass delete text posts over at my personal blog and wouldn’t want to lose this on accident.
But perhaps it’ll be useful to you, too.