Teaching Thursday: Inking Lineart

Over the past few days I’ve been working on an animated book trailer project for Illustration class. The approach I have been taking is to sketch out the rough scenes and then use a light table to ink lineart on a new piece of paper. Then I scan them in and piece them together in Photoshop before colouring. One thought that has stayed with me throughout this process is, “Man, I need to get better at inking lineart.” Today’s Teaching Thursday post features tutorials that I’ll be studying in order to improve–they might even help you too!

Ink Techniques with Francis Vallejo

First things first: let’s get inspired. This is a video in which illustrator Francis Vallejo demonstrates three different ways to ink traditionally–pen, brush, and a combination of the two. I’ve often heard people lament that inking takes the life out of a drawing, but Vallejo’s gorgeous finished artwork proves that wrong. Even if you’re not interested in learning how to ink, watch this video to see a unique style and a beautiful artistic process.

Scott Ruggels’ ‘The Inking Tutorial’

I reached back in time to 2004 to find this surprisingly relevant tutorial that explains different inking styles. The author breaks down classic lineart styles into “draftsman” and “painterly” but then goes on to explore almost a dozen additional styles, complete with visual examples, annotations, and helpful explanations. I had no idea that there were so many defined styles–this is definitely a resource I will be revisiting!

Michael Cho’s Sketchbook: Spotting Blacks

Here’s an older blog post by Toronto-based illustrator Michael Cho about identifying the areas of your lineart that should be black to indicate a light source. There are three sample pages that show his sketches before and after applying black shadows and give advice on placing the shading correctly.

Inking Tutorial by Picolo-kun on DeviantArt

DeviantArt is usually full of tutorials about lineart because it is the internet home of many digital illustrators. This particular tutorial is helpful because it talks about both traditional and digital inking techniques. I especially liked their visual on how line thickness helps to delineate foreground and background and their examples of how black-filled areas can create textures such as water or scales.

Digital Inking 101 by Dawn Griffin on Webcomic Alliance

If you’re wondering whether to create your digital lineart in Photoshop or Illustrator, here is a quick comparison between the two that explores the pros and cons of each method. I have always been a Photoshop inker, but this convinced me to give Illustrator a try.

This is only the tip of the inking tutorial iceberg. If I missed one, please let me know! Are you going to give inking a try?

Till next time,


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