It’s been a while since I updated my comic build blog. Blame it on the workload required to actually complete this project. Which is a lot of work, believe me. Which I still find incredibly enjoyable despite all that.
I’m one of those guys that devotes ALL of his attention to the task at hand, so dividing that kind of focus from my comic work to writing means one of the two things is bound to suffer and for me, the comic work is higher on my list of priorities for now.
Currently as I write this, the book is still undergoing its colouring phase. I’m taking it slow and steady in this final stage because this is where the real magic happens. It’ll take as long as it takes. I’ll only move onto the next page once I’m reasonably satisfied with how the current page looks in colour.
So why colour? Why not just leave the book in black&white?? Afterall, it already looks good in black&white.
Well here’s why.
ANY comic looks ten times better in colour compared to their black&white counterparts.Reality of things is that people are much more likely to check out the badly drawn full colour comic compared to another nicely drawn one in black&white.
I can hear the arguments coming. But before you unleash hell on me, hear me out. Maybe after listening to me, you might end up changing your mind. And that’s a big maybe if you’re a die hard black&white fan.
Think of it like this, black and white art is like a black and white screen television while the full colour art is like the colour screen television we are so used to using in many of our homes. Which one do you prefer, and don’t you dare lie to yourself.
That’s what I thought.
Colour beats black&white any day simply because of the fact that it’s more attractive.
Heck even my own comic art looks far better in colour than it does in black&white! Here’s a sneak peak at the last page I worked on, page 18 of my book.
Colour does a lot of things for the comic.
One of the critical things I noticed about colour is it helped make parts and sections of the art much clearer that weren’t noticeable while the art was in its black&white state. I’d get an independent party to scrutinize one of my pages and it would take them a minute or two to notice bits I wanted them to see immediately.
That really irked me, but colour quickly remedied that issue because I could now easily create a center of interest using colour and guide their eyes where I wanted. Granted I did take some measures before utilizing colour within my art such as simplifying the said art because I did not want colour to become a tool for covering up mistakes like most people seem to do.
One of the other critical things it does is it makes the art much more realistic. Think about it, we associate colour with certain objects and feelings. You use colour to set the mood of your page much more clearly compared to a black and white page, something you can’t really do in black&white, unless you’re really good at playing with light and shadows. Which to be honest, most of us aren’t. But hopefully,were working towards that aren’t we? I hope so.
But colour on its own isn’t invincible, it needs the black&white art. This black&white art is the heart of the comic. It is the Adam to the Eve that is colour.
Which brings me back to my main aim of this particular article. And if you haven’t guessed it by now, it isn’t just about colour. It’s also about inking ,which is the next step after the sketching phase. I’ll write another article about colour soon, ofcourse as I keep working on the book. For now, the spotlight is on inking.
So what’s inking?
The first time I ever heard that term ,I thought about ink being splashed all over paper like the way kids do back in kindergarden or nursery school as we call it over here in Kenya. Kids just kind of dip their hands in a bowl of ink and plaster those same hands onto paper creating these ink impressions of their little hands. Adorable huh? We’ll I realized I was being silly imagining all that humdrum stuff so I turned to the greatest source of information right now. The internet.
And boy did I find out how misguided my imaginations were!
Inking is a big part of the black&white world. Infact cancel that, it IS the black&white world.
There are so many articles online about inking that my blog would not even come near to scratching the surface on that topic, so I’ll just cover the basics because my comic blog isn’t necessarily a tutorial of how to make a comic but rather how I myself made mine and the stages i went through to get here.
Don’t expect any indepth instructions on how to use design and comic softwares from me because if you’re reading this, you must have some level of competency in using said software if you plan to succeed in making your own comic. So go check out articles online on the topic to learn more detailed information about that.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s my understanding of inking.
Inking according to me is more of a process of making the sketches much more bold, clearer, and truth be told ; much better.
It’s where you get to clean up all the stray lines you made during your sketching stage, and instead replace them with the lines you feel are in the right place. A good example of this is here in one of my pages below
Notice that in the image I dimmed down the sketch layer to use it as a guide for my new line art. I opened up a new layer, selected an inking brush from the brush library in my drawing software and proceeded to lay out new line art over my sketch art.
The completed page looked like this after all the inking was complete
In case you’re trying to figure out what page of the book that is, I suggest you head over to the 254comics website link below and buy yourself a copy. Easy as that!
Okay, back to business. We were still on the topic of softwares.
Computer softwares like Adobe Photoshop ,Adobe Illustrator and Manga Studio just to mention a few because there are so many digital drawing options out there ; make for really good comic drawing companions. In this case I personally used illustrator.
There are two stages in the inking process that I’ll cover below;
1. Inking the line art
Just like I talked about in the image above, inking in the line art is basically repeating your lines in your sketch image but with much bolder lines. Here you get to smoothen out the bits and lines you didn’t like in the original image, a good example is this image of the face of one of my book’s main characters, Lisa Sagini.
Notice how much smoother the lines on her face are and how much darker and bolder they are. That’s what inking does. It replaces the light pencil like nature of sketches with dark bold lines. It’s what makes the work look more professional because it gives off a more refined impression of your art when someone looks at it. So work on those lines, smoothen them out. Avoid the shaky and fuzzy lines unless that’s the kind of look you’re going for.
Here’s what that particular sketch ended up looking like when I was done with it. It was one of my first concept arts before the book so bear with me in case it isn’t at par with my current art.
But inking line art isn’t just about drawing out the lines, you must remember that you are creating art hence the rules of art apply.
You must employ the elements and principles of art. Include different methods of shading , mix thick lines with thin ones etc. You know what’s required.
2. Inking in the shadows
Now inking in shadows is a bit of a controversial topic because every artist has their own technique of going about it. I myself use a different technique, so don’t necessarily use mine. Find out what kind of styles are out there, then choose what works for you.
For me, dropping in the shadows comes much earlier even before the inking stage. I do it in my sketching stage. I sort of create maps of where I want shadows and then take the dive by filling them in. Here’s what one of my inked sketches looks like.
I’ve left that particular page incomplete so that you can see where exactly the maps are and where the inks and shadows go in.
And no, I won’t talk about how to sketch out action scenes, not right now anyway. That’s a whole other article for another day. I’ll keep covering such stuff as I work on the book.
The book itself is a really long series, so expect to find images of sketches you might not get to see in the current available book. It just means you’ve got to keep following the series as it unfolds to find out what they mean and how exactly they fit into the storyline of “The Unaffected Resolve“. So hang in there reader!
Digitally dropping in the shadows is a whole other monster by itself. But if you followed the previous steps where you set up your maps correctly, lay out your inked line art then it becomes easier from there.
From there all you have to do is now drop in the inks. Which is a bit tedious by the way because you have to follow every individual map you created and carefully fill in the inks making sure you don’t spill any of it outside the map’s bounderies. To do this, I used the lasso tool and after selecting all the maps I filled them with black colour. Just like that, and you’re done!
Here’s what one of my pages looks like after both steps. I’ll use a familiar image for this demonstration, my book’s chapter page. Here it is below.
Here’s the sketch itself with all the maps in place
Here’s the inked result
Fast forward to the colouring phase and you end up with this.
So there you have it. I hope that’s been helpful! For those of you that haven’t checked out my book already, head over to the 254comics website and buy yourself a copy. https://www.254comics.com/comics/unaffectedresolve_1
There’s also a 254comics phone application for those of you who prefer reading comics from their phones.
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