The Art of Ryan Francis

The portfolio website of Ryan Francis

Let’s Make A Comic Story Part 4: Inking

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It’s inking time! Since I’m inking my own art, I blue lined my pages making it faster to get to the inking!

I want to ink this comic with the nibs that I have at hand: a Speedball #513EF Nib, Zebra Manga G nib, and a Speedball #101 Imperial nib.  I still have a holder from my crappy set of Speedball calligraphy nibs. I’m not sure if the holders make that huge of a difference other than being able to hold certain sized nibs, so I wouldn’t know if this it’s any special. I use all of this with a large 16 FlOz Bottle of Blick Black Cat Waterproof India Ink.

I first start with lining up my panels. I use a 24 inch Metal Staedtler ruler since is way larger than my paper, a 12×7 plastic T square since it’s easy to see through, a metal 5×8 T square for my other general straight line work, and a 1.0 Black Copic Multiliner since it’s my thickest pen with little line variation. I don’t feel confident enough in my inking to go thinner, but I’ll hit that another time.

If I didn’t pencil my panels dark enough to see, I mark dots in the panel corners for the second page sometimes to help me see when to stop my lines for the panel gutters.

There are a few flaws over the course of the comic and I overshoot some lines but I can make the fixes with Artist Pro White later.

Starting from page 3, this marks a big change up from the last time I made a comic. It’s the first time I worked with manga inspired diagonal panels. I tried out a new thing by letting the panels overshoot my trim lines and other than a few last minute decision changes of re-closing a few panels, it looks pretty nice. I did this to convey the action of getting into a fight in contrast to the more perpendicular panels of the first and final pages

This first panel of page 3 is a good example of me finally getting out of my own rut to something new. I first planned to close the first panel until I started inking the panel lines and I realized the open panel would work very well for an explosive action panel.

The next few pages are more straight forward line inking with a ruler and t-square . The sixth and final page in the story turned out much cleaner despite tiny flaws.  Now it’s time for actual inking!

To start Page 1’s inking, I begun to use my tech pens to line the backgrounds. It was a sloppy endeavor that I have to fix at at a later time.

I’m not a fan of my French Curves, but I feel it’s a necessity and better than just working it by hand.

Backgrounds in general are a slog to ink for me. But I do that first so I have the easier task of character inking to look forward to.

I finally begun inking my people. I’ve dabbled with nibs a tiny bit in some sketchbooks but this time it’s do or die in my actual comic pages!

I begin some my first brush work on the girls butt. I flip flop between a Round 2 and Round 1 of Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Watercolor Series 7 Brushes for my thicker and thinner lines. I know you could do that with one fairly large brush, but my skills are not up to it at the moment.

First close up of the Fat man fiddling about with my G nib before refining the tiny hairs with 0.1 Copic Multiliner.

And his Cheeto dusted hands. Thinking about this more, I feel like his hand should take up the panel more as I see more dead space than I intended.

So I scan it, scale it up in Photoshop, print a black and white image, cut it with a X-Acto Knife and paste it on top of the old panel with Rubber Cement and presto! Real Life Copy and Paste!

I spend a while refining page one with more detailing with the backgrounds. I looked back at my references and some decent game box art to fill in some details. It’s a good test in deciding what details will read but still make it look distinct.

I continue on inking. Thinking back on it, I could’ve done this much simpler which would’ve been faster, but how know if it would’ve looked good to me?

This is a look at the entire process of inking page 1 over a long while possible two weeks of working. The little details might’ve been good to fill it out but at some points I question if it matters and if anyone would actually pay attention to all of it? Those thoughts come to me when I do art in general, so anyone who thinks making comics is a struggle is totally right. It isn’t digging ditches, but many people claim they can’t draw a straight line despite rulers and the sides of books existing, but I’m on a tangent. The point is, the time will end up worth it in the end, I’m telling you this as much as I tell myself that as I work on comics.

On to Page 2. Art the start, I had about a hour to complete one page, but I got quite far all things considered. My inexperience iwth nibs and my dumb perfectionism makes me see my crappy unsteady hand in the lines. I regret not using a brush for the girl’s hair first. I also have no clue how to use a ruler with an nib so I dumbly did crosshatching with a nib. It’s stuff like that where it makes me never want to attempt crosshatching again because it never looks right to me!

Some moving on to more line art inking. I’m never used to working so large as I never have opportunities to settle down and draw because I’m always doodling in small sketchbooks I carry with me since I’m always out and about due to life obligations. Nibs continue to take getting used to so my lines aren’t as high quality as I want compared to any pros.

On a different day I decided to ink the rest of the page with brush to block in some lines. Panel two is a case of me miss managing what my lighting should be. I wanted to establish the thicker brush line to shade while establishing distance by thinning down the lines as they go back into perspective and it looks like crap and I despise myself for it. I attempted a crosshatching gradient with panel 5 but that was an incredible letdown. I make it look like a mess when I do it deliberately.

Doing the finishing touches on page 2. I added some background elements to panel to to add more continuity with page two, though the perspective is real garbage her. I added some more detailing with Milliners with some finer details like finger nails, facial hair and other cross-hatch shading stuff. also to keep continuity with page one and three, I added the wristband for the boyfriend to the fist.

I got over to page three and started on my punch. I used a nib and tried some more cross hatching  and speed line stuff I should’ve used a multiliner and a flexible curve ruler for the speedlines, but like a lazy idiot I didn’t and now I’m filled with preventable regrets.

Way later in working on page 3, I added more details such as designs on the shirt to personalize the characters, adding facial hair and more amateur cross-hatching to make a semblance of gradients.

I’m doing more work with ink. I’m using a bunch of spot blacks to demonstrate to darkness of the situation.

Working in some finishing touches and cross-hatching. At this time, I did not have a concrete idea of what the lighting was supposed to be and I was going over and over it with Pro-White to figure it out, especially with the hand.

I’ll also mention the few paper fixes I’ve done over my various panels and pages. It’s simply taking some scraps of Bristol or printer paper and rubber cement and pasting them to the mistaken lines.

The process of page 3. I’ll pat myself on the back by making my first action sequence, sure it’s not Dragonball, but at least I’ve tried to establish that sense of impact. I think after this page I kinda ran out of things for the girl to do in the comic since I was left to my own devices after interpreting the original screenshot of the post.

Page 4 went pretty smooth. I managed to ink a majority of this page in 3 hours. It’s probably less time as I stood up often to stretch and use the bathroom, but still I’m making good time!

Some brushwork form my Pentel Pocket and smaller Winsor & Newton brush. I’m mainly getting that more natruat line look that brushes can achieve. I still feel like my hair rendering in ink needs more practice, but I’m told drawing with a brush could take years. Despite this there are also some tricks I hanted to try out, like having the ends of some brush stroke dry out to give it that soft look.

I continue on and add more blacks in the pages.  I reworked fat monsters hand to keep continuity with page five. I I made a model sheet for this in the first place I wouldn’t have needed to do all these giant changes after I inked them.

I’m now thinking that I could’ve saved time and ink by just leaving the paper blank and filling the blacks in digitally. I guess I’m still in that traditional mindset.

A comparison of the entire process inking page 4. I think this page is the fasted page I’ve ever completed, since it’s mainly characters and no background. I needed the specific horror lighting, but I feel like I had a bad execution of it with my cross-hatching techniques.

Page five is where I start to go ham with my inking to make the chaos more apparent with more wild lines with the monster. These panels were my first in the page to start as I think I’m not ready to take the big splash page just yet. I’m using a sort of dry brush technique to do that water spray effect.

This big panel  is the last panel I worked on for the entirety of the comic and the one that gave me the biggest headache. I wanted to do this strange fish-eye perspective that doesn’t work at all. I struggled a lot to make it work more, feeling like I’m sinking my costed time into a shot that isn’t working.

Working on some detail work. I never feel like I’m very creative when it comes to lettering and it’s even more of a challenge with the outlandish perceptive I was trying.

I continue adding details adding some rough video game box art. I didn’t think much about what exactly the games are but just thumbnail illustrations that can read at a distance but not be too detailed. Doing all this is still a bit tedious but its needed.

A comparison inking all of page 5. Page 5 was the last ever page I worked on and the hardest one and the page I have the lowest opinion of. I still kinda regret the weird perspective thing as I should’ve just did a normal background and not some dumb wave thing. Still, it got done and I managed to pull through it, which can be the hardest thing when creating things is pulling yourself through that sloppy middle that seems to not work. The biggest thing to remember though is the layman may not even notice your mistakes, unless you mention it to them (or they read this article.)

Page 6 is the first ever page I worked on when I started inking this comic. I worked with mostly 0.1 Copic Multiliners thinking I would thicken lines as I needed them. I was foolishly sloppy with some panels and I made some last minute additions to the background details by using Pro-White and paper pasting.

I managed to ink the first half of this page in an hour. It’s simply character stuff which comes more easily to me. I rarely use them, but the Speedball Nibs give me a nice thin line. I tried out my Imperial nibs for the second half of the page; it seems to give me a thicker line.

I didn’t like the size of the eye in the second panel of page 6, so I did some real life copying and pasting. First edited a in-progress scan of the panel in Photoshop.

Then, I printed it out on copy paper, cut the panel I want with an X-Acto knife and metal triangle, and glued my new addition with rubber cement. I’ve used this technique through out several times in this comic.

Here a comparison of the final panel. Top is the original, bottom is the new edit.

Doing the final bits of the page. The black guy having a t-shirt design actually have me the idea to give my protag a t-shirt design too. I was a bit wishy-washy about if the twist and transformation would make it too obvious with the shirt, but I figure I might as well try it out.

I’m finishing up the rest of the pages with some hairy detailing with multiliners and nibs. I also get in some tiny white details with some of my white gel pens.

Final page process. Again, I work on these pages out of order of which tasks I want to tackle at any given moment.

This is one of the longer, more involved tutorial articles I’ve written. My rough timeline for completing this entire inking process is around 2 months due to having no other projects at the time and a day job. If you try this yourself you may possibly be faster or slower, but don’t fret. This is a process that’s unique to everyone and everyone goes at their own pace.

Next article is where I’ll be doing some digital touch ups in Manga Studio!

Author: mastafran42

I'm a freelance cartoonist who has been going at it for several years at this point. I mostly draw cartoons, and comics, so if you need something funny, cool, or expertly done art, I have what you need. If you have any questions, job offers, comments, concerns, complains, or simply wish to say hi, message me!

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