Inking Is Definitely NOT Tracing…

Inking is an art when it is practiced
as thoughtfully as Michael Cho.
iNKING TUTORIAL How to ink Inking comic book style drawings
Lucky for all of us drawing types, Michael has posted a brief (but extremely helpful) tutorial on the art and craft of  thoughtful comic book inking.


David said...

Jason Lee can say that very enthousiastic in "Chasing Amy". And it's definately true, I noticed when I inked for John. Not the easiest job! But I learned a lot.

Bob Flynn said...

I think I'm pretty happy with how I ink my comics and illustrations, but Michael totally has the black shapes down. My brain does not work like that at all, and I admire the ability immensely. So kind of him to offer us a glimpse.

chrisallison said...

Hey Sherm, do you think this has applications to funny comics? I've noticed all my favorite funny comics generally use really flat compositions and mostly just trace simplified cartoon characters (with sparing shadows).

I dunno, I love Wally Wood's artwork, but I'm not sure it makes me laugh out loud like Don Martin or Kliban. Just like to hear your thoughts as this pertains to COMEDIC applications. And everyone else's opinions too!

Sherm said...

Hi David -- Hey Bob! Glad you guys liked the link. I love Michael Cho's old-school inky retro-moodiness. His illustrations are really great!

kris.w said...

very useful! thanks for posting this refresher, Sherm!

Sherm said...

Hey Chris...that's a really great question! I had to think about it for a while, so here's my take:

Michael Cho's examples range from the flattest , clear-line extreme on one end to the most high-contrast extreme on the inky side.

I would agree that there's little application in funny comics for the heavy black Charles Burns/David Mazzucchelli/Mark Zingarelli type inking, but SOME funny artists have a pretty bold thick-and-thin chiaroscuro ink line: See Harvey Kutzman's Hey Look and Potshot Pete and Mad covers. Walt Kelly's Pogo. Dan Gordon's funny-animal inking follows this patter...Robert Crumb's comics from the seventies and eighties have a heavy black light-and-shadow treatment (as opposed to his early sixties comics which were done with a thin Rapidograph), and Bryan Lee O'Malley's modern comic "Scott Pilgrim" uses the heavy ligh-and-dark ink treatment, too.

Most classic funny-animal guys like Carl Barks and Harvey Eisenberg avoid bold inky contrasts, but their inking is still subtly thick-and-thin to help delineate form and force. The heavy black stroke on cartoon characters' knees and elbows often describes coiled-up action rather than anything literal.

Some cartoon artists use a dead, unvarying line weight to add to the deadpan comedy feel of their strips. Think Dilbert and (one of my few favorites on the current comics page) Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis. When I say "dead," I'm not saying it's bad. It CAN be cvery effective in these cases.

There's also another group of cartoonists who use a supple and simple line-weight, punctuated with heavy spotted blacks. Peanuts and B.C. have lots of black to keep the page looking interesting, and Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace has some of the most beautiful comic inking the world has ever seen!

So I would say there IS an application for funny stuff, but it's not neccessarily as important as it is with dramatic comics. Whatever looks funny is funny! I wouldn't look at this stuff as "rules," but rather just more valuable tools that are available to use if you're aware of them. Thoughtful choices are what it's all about. I frequently say that as long as you have a reason for doing something in a drawing, it's probably a good choice.

chrisallison said...

Great thoughts, Sherm, glad you shared them.