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"Inktober: What makes great inking?", 4th Oct 2016, 4:50 AM #1
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I really have shied away from ink for most of my life, because I just don't understand it!
I was scrolling through the inktober list on deviantart, and wondering to myself what makes some pieces really amazing, while others are lackluster? I thought maybe we could all share our thoughts and try to get better together by critiquing the greats!

So post a piece of lineart you really like.
Link back to the original piece/artist.
Talk about what you think they're doing right.
Also talk about one other piece someone else has posted if you want.

Here's one I really liked from Zatransis.


It's really hard for me to figure out what he's doing well. It could be that the initially drawing is just really solid and has good form, but that is one think I like about it. Like the ear. You can sense the shape of it by the weight of the lines. There is, admittedly, some undersketching, but I still think it would work just as well without it. The teeth really work well too. It seems like he's taking care to consider every line's weight as he draws. I just wish I knew what he was considering.
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4th Oct 2016, 5:12 AM #2
ArtistXXY

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Sorry I don't have any artist (Can I count myself?) but as a avid user of ink, I have to say in general the varied line weight is what gives inking/ inked works its energy and eye pleasing effect. Then there's also texture. I used to really only like clean lines (still shows in my work) but lately I find dry brush textures to add visual interest.

The artist you chose also has very strong shapes in their art so that plus the thick varied line weight (or "line quality" as some call it) gives the piece a strong, powerful energy.

In short energy is what creates good inking. The contrast of black and white or black and some other light surface helps add to the appeal too. ^___^,,
4th Oct 2016, 7:09 AM #3
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Great insight, ArtistXXY! I really like your inkwork too! It feels really natural!

Would you be opposed to giving any suggestions about the latest inktober piece I did? It feels really awkward, and I'm not sure what to do to improve. :(
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4th Oct 2016, 9:13 AM #4
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Here's one I really like by CreatureBox.

I love how they manage to have so much detail while still keeping the drawing so clear and high-contrast. Often black and white drawings seem fussy and difficult to parse (to me at least) when they get more heavily rendered, but I really like this one.
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I usually avoid inking digitally (it drives me mad for some reason) and I don't have a scanner to hand at the moment, but I'll see if I can give some suggestions for your drawing. Part of your dissatisfaction might be coming from the general structure of the sketch rather than the inking. It seems like something went a bit strange with the angle (or possibly the foreshortening) you were using. You could easily add more energy just by working with the composition a bit (for example by using the woman's hair to give a sense of movement). Here's what I mean:


It's usually nice to have areas of contrast in order to direct the eyes through an ink drawing. In the example piece you posted attention is drawn to the man's gaping mouth due to the large area of solid black there. Also the concentration of details around the mouth (like the teeth) attract the eyes. Using these techniques to draw attention to a focal point in your drawing might be helpful.
ArtistXXY described the importance of line quality/line weight really well (so I won't repeat them). You're clearly using different line weights in the drawing but not quite taking full advantage of them. I'm not sure how to say precisely which parts should be rendered with heavy lines and which with light (it takes some trial and error….and I'm also really not a great inker to being with). Some things that stick out to me though are:
-The lips: you might want to employ lines of varying thickness here in order to communicate the curvature (and subsequent shadows) associated with them. The uniform thin lines make them look a little flat.
-The heavy dark lines around the hair: I can see that you were headed in the right direction here (thinking about dark areas in terms of shadow) but the really heavy outlines make her ponytail look a little too solidly structured (like tentacles or something, if that makes any sense).
The strands of hair: Something about the extremely thin lines is a little bit distracting. You don't necessarily need to outline each strand of hair completely in order to define them. The effect of thin strands could be achieved with slightly thicker (and more varied in thickness) lines that are broken in places.
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4th Oct 2016, 11:15 AM #5
Spearhafoc

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One style of inking that I've been practicing with involves establishing positive and negative space with shadows rather than outlines. Chris Samnee is great at this.

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4th Oct 2016, 4:27 PM #6
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Ooooh, I really like the one from CreatureBox. It almost looks like a sketch, but when you see how every line is very purposefully put in there, it's even extra amazing.

I also love the Elektra image. I'm not typically a fan of heavier ink lines either, as they're sometimes too muddy for me to figure out what's going on, but these are very deliberate in directing your eye and utilizing white space well!

@TenPenny - Thanks so much for the critique! I think part of the reason the initial sketch is wonky is that I was trying to get a bit of a bottom-up POV, but I don't think it was working very well. @.@ I think what you said about the lips really struck something in my brain, and I see it in the other pieces too. I feel like I'm not thinking about ink as showing form. I should be using the thicker lines to make the white part pop forward more. And the thicker the line, the more bold the white becomes, which is maybe why the hair looks like tentacles. I have a lot of food for thought for today's inking. Thanks so much!!
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4th Oct 2016, 6:27 PM #7
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With so many different kinds of inking techniques, you have to consider what the purpose of the inking is for. For comics, it started out as an economical step in the conversion of pencil drawings into lithographic plates for printing on cheap paper.

Comic book inkers had to be fast and efficient to meet the print deadlines, while making everything perfectly readable in the story from panel to panel. To enhance readability or increase efficiency, sometimes inkers had to ignore details or add new details.

Since they got paid per page, the best inkers were super fast, used sable hair brushes (which are fast and easy to reload with ink), and their inks showed a lot of confidence. As a result, very little sketchiness is found in the best ink lines. Because they used a brush, their lines taper and thicken with incredible smoothness and fidelity that we don't see in marker-based inking (though it can be simulated). The best inkers use this line variability to enhance the sense of form, texture, volume, weight, perspective, light and shadow.

Using a brush fast and well takes a heap of skill and experience. So if you want to really appreciate good inking, practice with a [non-digital] brush and you will soon understand what you've been missing.

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An otherwise boring page made excellent with good inking (by Will Eisner)

America's greatest comic book inkers:
http://www.acomics.com/ink2.htm


In addition (or alternatively), try sumi-e ink painting, a tradition that values the beauty of economy, speed and precision, and also a fair amount wabi-sabi.
14th Oct 2016, 5:35 PM #8
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Don Nelson is a great cross-hatcher:




Also Bone Realm by our very own Micah has some amazing crosshatching in it.

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