Tools and Tips for Inking your Comics

Tools for Inking Comic Books:

Different artists use different tools to create their art. Generally, when you look at the credits for a comic book, you can have about four different people contributing to a book. There is the writer, the penciller, the inker and the letterer. And in some cases, like mine, you do all of that yourself. An important part of making comic books is the inking. I’ve often said that a bad inking job can ruin some pretty good pencil drawings. (Check out my tools for pencilling comics post here!) This post will show you what tools I use for inking and I’ll go over some quick tips & techniques for inking. I also cover this topic in my eBook, How to Create your own Comic Book.

To begin with, you need a final pencil drawing that is ready for inking. What I like to do is preserve the original pencil drawing by scanning it into the computer and making a high quality PDF out of it. Make sure it is at least 300 dpi in resolution. For help on scanning your pencil drawings, I created a short video. I then print out the PDF and start my inking on the print out. This preserves your pencil drawing in case you have an inking disaster. Those will happen from time to time.

Once you have printed our your pencil drawing PDF, it’s time to prepare for inking. Below are the tools I commonly use.
Tools for Inking Comics

Most important of these tools is the inking pens. I use Prismacolor Premier Inking Pens. They come in several line weights and I use at least 4. I typically have 05, 03, 01 and 005 that I keep in my art toolbox. The 05 pen is the thickest and the 005 is a very fine line. These are pretty good pens, but there are plenty of different inking pens out there. Just make sure you use pens that come in several different line weights.

Next I use a small, clear triangle for any straight lines that need inking. Make sure it has an inking edge. An inking edge is a small lip around the edge of the triangle to prevent the ink from wicking under the edge and smearing. I also have several French Curves that I use for abnormal and random curves that need inking. Make sure these also have inking edges.
Tools for Inking Comics
Finally I find that having a circle and ellipse template are very useful, because you need to draw circles and ellipses more than you might think. All of these tools are invaluable to the inking process. So now that we have our pens and other accessories, let’s talk about inking some artwork.

Below is a scene from a never published book of mine. I always start by using a straight edge to outline the panel border with my thickest pen. I usually then progress to other things that use the thickest pen. In the case below, I will outline the character and the outline of the meteors. My process is to start with the things that will require the thickest pen weight and move to the thinnest. The small detail, like the lines in the buildings, will get added last with the 005 pen.
Inking Techniques
Any large areas of black ink, such as a night sky, do not color that in by hand. You can fill that in using graphic software like photoshop. I’ve also used two rendering techniques above. I use a hatch and a stipple to indicate shadows and debris. Both are exemplified in the dust roll coming off the meteor crash. There is also some stippling in the building debris near the bottom of the panels.

Below is a recent character drawing I did of two of my main characters, Spark and Prox. Again, the heaviest line weights are shown in the outline of the character and the smaller detail lines are in lighter line weights. In this particular drawing, the line weights don’t vary as much as I usually do, because I ultimately ended up rendering this drawing in Photoshop. Because of the color being added, I didn’t want the very fine detail to get lost in the color. Click here to see the final colored rendering of this inkwork.
Inking Techniques

If you’re interested in learning some Photoshop coloring techniques I made a few short videos on how I color my comic book characters. This is helpful if you’re interested in coloring your comic book covers, or just looking to make a color picture. With a few simple techniques, in addtion to your own particular style, Inking isn’t that hard and can really make your artwork look stellar. Print out a few copies of your pencil drawings that you scanned, and practice different inking techniques to see what you like best.


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