After Hours

Practical illustration for the computer-inclined: Part 3 - Inking

When we last talked in Part 2—Putting pencil to paper, you'd started furiously sketching the person or animal of your choice. Here, we'll define those lines and give you an almost-finished product.

haley2-defined-pencils

Courtesy of John Lee

By now you probably have a good idea of what belongs and what doesn't. Our heroine's shoulders may be muscular, but the egg-shaped muscles atop the skin aren't realistic. So take that kneaded eraser we talked about and erase everything that doesn't belong—extraneous definition, guide lines, and so on. While you're at it, though, fill in the detail you've only hinted at before. Draw a face the best you can using the axis lines and erase the lines. Add accessories if you wish. Give your creating a discrete outline. Take as long as you want, because the next step will make it permanent. Don't worry about shading beyond simple crosshatching (as in the sword's hilt); that's why you have ink.

haley3-black-ink

Courtesy of John Lee

Although you can use your pencil to define the lines further, Suburban Tribe creator John Lee recommends Pigma Micron pens—"specifically, number 02, 05 and 08 point-size pens, along with a Pigma Micron Brush tip," he says. "The main reason I use these pens is the deadline constraint." If you're feeling more ambitious with your time and more confident of having a steady hand, he "highly recommend[s] that you learn to use a sable brush and crowquill with a pot of India ink. It's a little more trouble, but the results are worth it."

The nice thing about using black, black ink is that it makes your images pop. Note the use of negative space to define the shine of Haley's hair and shadow underneath her bracelets and heels. You don't need a lot of lowlighting to define light and darkness—unless your character is mostly in darkness. In that case, strategic use of light elements would be more warranted.

Next time we'll talk a bit about coloring and digital effects, and put it all together. For now, resist the urge to add to your picture. You'll have plenty of time to tinker (I mean perfect it) soon.

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