inking

How I spend/spent my spring break

 Prismacolor and Faber-Castell pens over a regular #2 pencil. Three pages, with A LOT more background detail than I usually do. I think it’s just to get the itch of using pens out of me and to take a bit of a break from all the brushwork that goes into OVERWHELMED and AWESOME TALES.

I’m indulging myself in some adventure/humor/sword-n-sorcery stuff, just to see if I can really. It’s my first love. I really loved superhero comics and humor strips as a kid, but what held my attention most of all were fantasy novels like Raymond E. Feist’s “Riftwar” novels and sword-heavy action comic stories like TMNT, CONAN and SOLOMON KANE and KULL THE CONQUEROR. Finding comics later on like USAGI YOJIMBO and GROO THE WANDERER really take me back and make me wish I’d discovered them when I was younger. I wish more people did stuff like that. I know kids’ TV in the past decade has been more oriented towards action that doesn’t involve superheroes (stuff like “Ben 10″ for example or “The Last Airbender”), and it always does great.

Sorry, going off on a rant about unrelated stuff…

Anyway, I took this a bit into the start, I think I put about 4 hours into inking and lettering, I wrote and penciled the whole thing yesterday. I really do miss working just with technical/art pens, I really do love the consistency of the line at times compared to the effect of varying thickness that you get with a brush. All you need is a light touch and a few pens with varying size tips, and you can get a really good look with just cross-hatching and solid blacks and whites.

I was going to do this as a recent addition to the backups for AWESOME TALES #1, but I think it’ll just be free on here to view.

Autobio comics are for suckers, and lettering with a brush

I did this one-pager as a joke to relax in between working on some larger projects a few nights ago, and lettered it with a Zebra disposable brushpen, something I haven’t done outside of my sketchbook a few times.

I have to say, I really like it, the lettering looks nice for something I threw together in an hour.

Lettering…

…right now, it is the hardest part of comics and my least favorite. Doing it all by hand sometimes gets frustrating. I tried out a nib-tipped pen on an upcoming OVERWHELMED strip;

It’s a disposable pen but I got it because it was cheap and a good way to learn how to use a pen tipped like this. I’ve been using it to ink stuff in strips and pages, nothing major really but a few lines and cross-hatching patches here and there. Normally I use technical pens, but I like to mess around sometimes and challenge myself.

No reason in particular…

A panel from an upcoming OVERWHELMED

Some lettering/sound FX as I ink and letter AWESOME TALES #1

I wish I knew how to do this sort of stuff on the computer at times, because man, doing all the lettering and grays and minute detail by hand gets painful and tedious, but I have zero confidence in my own abilities to have too much blank space in the background of my panels and overall pages.

Late-night cartooning…

Spent a good chunk of last night working on comics. I tend to work a lot and best (it seems) at night…

I am 1/5 of the way into lettering and inking AWESOME TALES! #1, and it is getting easier and easier. I really love working on this project, and I really feel like I’m learning a lot about comics as I work on this. I’ve never really worked with grayscale markers this much before, but it’s definitely adding a lot to the pages.

I’m gonna try to scan and officially post a page or so in the upcoming future. These’ll be rough unedited pages, but hey, gotta hustle when you’re DIY.

Just a little panel from the OVERWHELMED strip I did last night as well. I’m moving away from single-shot gags into a bit more of multi-strip storyarcs, mostly to accommodate the new (as-of-now) upcoming character. Grandma was out-of-panel introduced recently, but will definitely be making a few appearances in the upcoming weeks.

Beginning…

I started lettering and inks on AWESOME TALES #1 a few nights ago. It’s a little scary to get started on what I’ve considered my most ambitious comic so far, but I figured the worst that would happen is I’d have to re-draw the whole page after screwing up.

My hope is to get through at least half a page a sitting, so right now I’m good. It’s a slow rate of progress, but I’m trying to also fit other work in, and I’m not in any rush. I’d initially wanted to letter the whole thing first, but I find that I enjoy the progress of lettering a whole page and then immediately cracking into inking it works too. I’ve mentioned it before, but I really like seeing a page “come to life” when you put the inks down.

I haven’t started flattening the pages, but considering all the books and boards I have around, that shouldn’t be too bad before I start scanning. Anyway, back to work…

Some late-night work & sneak-peeks…

Just me, the paper, an idea for some lettering and backgrounds, a Pentel Pocket brush, my laptop playing Tom Racine’s Tall Tale Radio podcast, and an uncomfortable feeling in my system thanks to all the hot peppers I ate for dinner.

A preview of an upcoming Overwhelmed strip. I’m really proud of the way the lettering came out in this one, as well as that middle panel;

A snapshot of the finished inks for the cover to Awesome Tales! #1. I am never doing anything involving so much solid black in the background ever;

OK, back to work!

Inking

Ty Templeton and Sean Murphy both recently posted blogs about inking, which got me thinking about it. Also, “Project BOOM!” is about to roll into the last few bits before I move into inking the whole thing, though I’ve already started inking the cover. Anyway…

I love inking. It’s arguably the most frustrating and time-consuming part of the process (actually, I take that back because I hand-letter and hand-lettering is really goddamn time-consuming), but at the same time it’s so incredibly rewarding to see a page transform to life when I start inking over my own pencils. A lot of the time, the pencils can be so sparse, that inks make the comic page almost entirely different.

Inking also is a great place for me to experiment when it comes to making my own comics, doing brush-only inks or pen-only, trying out Sharpies for huge swaths of black compared to India ink instead. It’s an art that can dramatically shift the way a page looks from inker to inker, and an artform unto itself that is just as legitimate as something like pencils.

I’m not begrudging, mind you, people who work digitally and basically end up doing the “inks” as they do the “pencils” at the same time, drawing through a tablet like a Wacom, or even someone who uses software like Photoshop to enhance and digitally alter the analog-drawn pencils to look like they’ve literally become the inked version. Everyone does everything differently, and every single approach is just as valid.

Except the way that Twilight comic got lettered. That shit is just fucked.

I’d like to think that inking will remain a skill that people in comics will continue to hone and use and not totally let die. I know hand-lettering’s not totally dying, and I take some small comfort in the fact that my lack of knowledge in tech-savvy versions of certain cartooning skills (digital inking and lettering and post-production) has made me appreciate old-fashioned skills associated with comics.

Sorry, I’m rambling, time to get back to writing and drawing things.

the art of comics (and lettering and inking)

The very cool website ComicsAlliance is spotlighting some awesome web lettering tutorials by the one, the only, the almighty Scott McCloud.

As the website mentions, they’re a little software-specific, but you never know what sort of stuff you might draw from them regardless.  I hand-letter and still consider this sort of stuff to be good to watch and try and understand, I feel like it really does help my own craft.

Also, a more traditional inking (with brushes on paper) tutorial has been floating around from cartoonist Anton Emdin, and it’s also really good as a resource and learning thing.  You should check it out as well as other inking tutorials he has at his site as well.

Hope you enjoy ‘em and learn something from them, I sort of feel that I did.