Friday, February 02, 2007

Digital Inking Basics

Here's a pencil drawing from one of my favorite cartoon bloggers Pedro Vargas. The first step is to open it in Illustrator and save it as an AI file. Next select the drawing and change the transparency to around 50% or whatever you're comfortable with. Lock this layer and create a new one above it.

Select the brush tool and make sure you're on the top layer. Initially I like to go for what I think should be the heaviest lines. For me the larger forms or shapes should have the thicker lines.

Next I go for the medium weighted portions. Try to use the line weight to describe a characters form and mass. For the most part I avoid parallel line weight for the same reason you should avoid parallel lines when drawing an organic shaped character.

I use my smallest brush for all the details. Don't get lazy with the small lines. They still need varying line weights to stay interesting.

Turn off or delete the pencil sketch layer and you're done! Next week... coloring!

Additional tips:

Hold the option (or ALT key for you Windows types) while in the brush tool and quickly draw over a selected line to smooth it out. Very helpful, but don't overdo it... you don't want to kill the 'hand done' aspect!

Switch to the white arrow tool to reposition points on a selected line.

Hold down the option/ALT key with the pen tool to remove unwanted to excessive points on a selected line.

Don't forget you can adjust your Wacom Tablet preferences for additional control over the feel and functions.

27 comments:

Art F. said...

this is gold! thanks for sharing Brian. i know i appreciate it a bunch!

Arschblog said...

That looks great! Thanks that you show us how you work.:)
I still do everything by hand, sometimes it need more time when I color a drawing!
How many time do you need to ink a drawing like that?

Pedro Vargas said...

You rock something HARD!! This looks phenomenal! Dude, this is some crazy cool stuff here! I love it man! To just see your style of inking onto my own style of drawing is just insanely awesome! This blew me away completely! Thank you once again! And yes avoid parallel lines indeed. I try so hard to do that when using the pen tool in photoshop. I'm gonna reconsider and see if I can buy me a cintiq pen thing or a wacom tablet w/ pen.

Thanks again man for the tutorials. You're too good!

Brian Romero said...

Pedro, I recommend the Wacom Intuous 3. They have a widescreen version if you have a wide display like I do. The Cintiq's are awesome, but very expensive. I'll get one eventually though....

Brian Romero said...

Stefanie, I used to ink with sable hair brush, crow quill pen and india ink. All the same theories apply with digital. The advantage is the ability to get more than one shot at each line. Plus you can tweak and smooth lines very quickly once you draw them. It took me about 15 minutes to ink Pip squeak Mouse. The Sody's I did for John took a lot longer since she's a more complex human-like character.

Dustin said...

Cool man! Thanks for the tutorial! Really looking forward to the coloring part.

garyfields said...

Brian, This is gold!!!! I've been converting my stroke line to a fill and adjusting each line separately. I used the old Flash 4 program and have wanted to be able to "brush" my stuff for a while. A huge thanks to you!!!

Arschblog said...

15 minutes is a good time! I need a muuuuch longer time when I do it by hand, I use two different kind of Fineliners to ink my stuff. But when it's so fast maybe I should try it again, thanks for your advise!:D
I'm not so good in computers and I had a computer with Photoshop 7 and Grafictablet, I got it from a friend but I better use it to make photos funny. I did only few drawings on it, it was fine but after a while I go back to my Copic markers, one of the Photoshop drawings you can see in my R&S post.

mdouglas said...

Thanks a bunch Brian! I never knew about the Alt/Smooth shortcut.

mdouglas said...

BTW... Just out of Curiosity, how log did it take you to ink that mouse?

Brian Romero said...

About 15 minutes Matt.

Trevour said...

Awesome Brian! I love Pedro's cartoon work (some of my favorite on all of Blogger) and this is just some extra bonus fun!

Lattaland said...

Awesome! Thanks for the tip!

Now, here's the doozy-

How to you join the brush strokes into a path?

Brian Romero said...

How to you join the brush strokes into a path?

I'm not sure since I never want to do that. I like keeping all the brush stokes as individual paths so I can change the color or manipulate each one separately.

One more tip:

If you need to turn the brush strokes from paths into objects you can go to the Object menu and select 'Expand Appearance'.

Lattaland said...

Cool thanks Brian- and not to step on your toes with this, sense you're gonna talk about coloring next n' all, but how- pray tell, do you color your illustrator inked drawings in illustrator?

Brian Romero said...

I'll be putting together a post on coloring this weekend. It will show two ways to color even though I only use one of them.

Lattaland said...

Cool, thanks Brian!

Roberto González said...

Man, I have no idea of illustrator, but I could never do inking so great in Photoshop. Is it possible to do it well in that program? Cause I could try. The Sody Pop inking was so perfect, I think I wouldn't even get so good drawing with my hands, even if I had to ink an already sketched drawing by John K.

Mad Taylor said...

Hey man thanks a lot for this.

Hammerson said...

Superb work, both your inking and Pedro's pencil drawing. Thanks for this tutorial... I didn't know that such impressive results can be achieved with digital inking. I considered to buy a graphic tablet for some time, though I'm not sure whether I could afford a Wacom at the moment. What is the minimal size of the tablet, required for some comfortable inking? Is A5 or even A6 enough, or the larger A4 models are neccessary? Also, have you got any experience with Wacom Graphire models? They're considerably cheaper than Intuos.
Good luck with your work for John K.

J.E.Daniels said...

Thanks Brian!
I've been wanting to be able to ink properly for a while.
'Preciate it Man!

Robert Hume said...

Wow, you did all that with a Waccom? I'm impressed. Thanks for the tutorial, I need to brush up on my inking skills big time. I've had no formal training by anyone in inking, and am WELL aware that my ink jobs are sloppy and lacking in form and technique. I'll put this to good use!

Peggy said...

What're you doing for the places one line overlaps another, like the lower lip overhang? White fill or a clipping mask?

And here's a pencil/brush tool tip I always like to hand out, since John K just linked to this as an inking tutorial:

Double-click on the pencil and brush tools in the toolbox to find the secret preferences pane for each of them, and turn off 'keep selected' - if you do this, I find that things become much more manageable, as you don't have to constantly deselect lines or waste time accidentally reshaping a line when the next line is too close.

Your mileage may vary, but this simple checkbox turned the pencil tool from something absolutely unusable to a valuable part of my Illustrator arsenal.

crazyharmke said...

Thanx for sharing!
I just started inking, so I can use information like this :).
You can see my progress on my blog:
CLICK

Maybe you have some tips/advice for me?

Bwanasonic said...

"Double-click on the pencil and brush tools in the toolbox to find the secret preferences pane for each of them, and turn off 'keep selected' - if you do this, I find that things become much more manageable, as you don't have to constantly deselect lines or waste time accidentally reshaping a line when the next line is too close."

Thank you, Thank You, Thank You, infinty! Why isn't this the default behavior of the brush tool?! This is exactly what I hoped to find when I followed the link from John K's blog. I got my question answered, and got see a really good inking demo!

Brian Romero said...

"What're you doing for the places one line overlaps another, like the lower lip overhang? White fill or a clipping mask?"

I select the line, go to the object menu and choose "expand appearance." This turns the line into outlines art. From there I either chop it with the knife tool or move the points so nothing overlaps.

Guy Cx said...

Hi Brian! Thanks a lot for the tutorial, it's truly enlightning! I tried to put your teachings in practice here , it's still sloppy of course but I'll work on it. Any tips or critics would be more than welcome!