View Full Version : Digital inking.... good enough?

07-18-2003, 06:55 AM
Hi there guys.

I'm working on a comic for the Dark Horse New Recruits scheme, and was considering various ways to produce the inked pages.

Traditionally, I ink with a brush and a pot of good ol' Indian ink, but I've tried a couple'a pieces in Illustrator (and one using Streamline), and the results have impressed me - those were one-off illos tho', not full-blown comic pages.

What I've been considering is scanning two halves of a full-size page (I don't have an A3-sized scanner) from the pencils, and inking them in Photoshop using my graphics tablet. This way I can preserve my pencils, erase any mistakes, and have a .psd file ready to send to the colorist without any further prep.

But does this style work? If it's done right, can it look as good and fluid as the real thing, or will it always look artificial?

What I guess I really want to know is should I stick with ink, or go digital?


Phil Clark
07-18-2003, 08:20 AM
I would stick with the ink while you practice the digital. When you get to the point where you cannot tell the difference between digital and traditional then you just have to decide which you prefer, and which you can do faster.

Ian Miller
07-18-2003, 12:35 PM
Everything is digital in comics. Why have digital inks? I just read the New X-Men riot at Xavier's graphic novel, and they had some digital inks in there. They were okay, I guess, but not as good as the real thing.

To preserve the pencils, what I do is tape a piece of bristol over the pencilled page and ink over a lightbox. That way I can keep the pencils while having the inks.

Jeremy Colwell
07-18-2003, 01:47 PM
I'm all for people using digital inks. I'm doing pages now without ever putting ink to paper (except in printing of course). I use Photoshop though, not illustrator or streamline because I feel it can mimic the "feel" of traditional inks more. So far, the process has only had one person complain. But that wasn't about the art, just against the whole idea of inking on computer. Mike Grell was amazed at how the inks looked and when I told him they were all digital pages he has doubly impressed. I'll post some when I'm able if that'll help.

I agree with Phil about deciding which you prefer and on a business end, going with which is faster. But I don't think you should strive to make the two processes identical looking. Let the digital inks be what they are and maybe they will be more accepted, IMO.

Good luck with Dark Horse,


07-18-2003, 02:16 PM
There's also a method for printing your pencils out frmoa acomputer as a color line, which you can then easily remove in Photoshop. We detail this method in a sticky thread at the top of the Tips forum.

Personally I think that digital inks are great, when they're done well.

Baloodoo Bill
07-18-2003, 07:40 PM
Have you tried just real clean pencils? Layout in blue, tighten with a soft pencil, scan with blue filter on.

This is essentially what Disney did with 101 Dalmatians. They just Xeroxed the animators originals straight to the cel bypassing the ink stage altogether. The work was considerably rougher but far more lively.

Phil Clark
07-18-2003, 11:27 PM
While producing printed books directly from the pencil stage may sometimes work, it seldom holds the life and energy that inked art has. And adding colors to the mix just makes things look worse not better, IMO.

07-19-2003, 01:43 AM
There's not a lot of artists that can really pull off the pencilled page by itself... I think Mike Kunkel does it well, but even he admits that he went with that "style" because he hates his own inkworks...

Dash Martin
07-19-2003, 05:33 AM
If it can be done right...do it. However for me...if it LOOKS digital, I can't take it seriously. I've only seen a handful of artists pull it off. Check out Brian Bolland's step-by-step. He knows how to do it right.


Baloodoo Bill
07-19-2003, 06:34 PM
Originally posted by Phil Clark
... it seldom holds the life and energy that inked art has.

This may just be semantics but, I have to disagree with you. It's been my experience that the more you work a drawing, the more life you suck out of it. Drawing is an act of creation where inking is more an act of reproduction. The original always has more life and energy than the copy.

What inking will do is add weight and solidity giving a greater sense of strength. Unfortunately, this also leaves the work looking static and frozen in comparison to the original drawings. The Jack Kirby Collector is full of examples. His stuff was finished by some of the greatest inkers in America and none of it has the life of his originals.

But, what the heck do I know, as they say.

While perhaps unfair, as it doesn't exist in print, Check out Nowhere Girl for an example of colored, ink free comics.


Phil Clark
07-19-2003, 06:51 PM
Originally posted by Baloodoo Bill
Drawing is an act of creation where inking is more an act of reproduction.

And that statement leads us to a debate about what an inker does, and that is something I don't want to get into here. Don't want to hijack this thread with a discussion that needs it's own thread.

I will just say this... there are two schools of thought regarding inking. One is that the inker traces the pencils exactly, changing nothing other than line weights and spotting blacks. The other is that the penciler and the inker are an artistic team and the inker (at his/her best) improves what needs improving, and just traces the rest.

So if you belong to the second school, inking is an art unto itself, not just an act of reproduction.