We Start INKING in Adobe Illustrator Process Video #4

Video #4 - Let's Start INKING!
SpongeBob inking Adobe Illustrator tutorial video by Sherm Cohen
Click on image - video will open in new window
(There's also a smaller version at the bottom of the post in case you have trouble watching the large video)

Okay, this is what we've been building up to!

In today's video, you can watch as I start inking the SpongeBob illustration in real time. All of these videos were recorded while I was working on the new cover illustration for Nickelodeon magazine -- so you're seeing all of the actual work that went in to creating that image.

There's no retakes here -- everything is live -- just as it happened. The only thing I trimmed out were the pauses.

SpongeBob inking tutorial Adobe Illustrator corners

Using Adobe Illustrator for inking and clean-up has allowed me to take on jobs that I would have had to turn down in the past. Getting a piece of art to look this cleaned up would cause permanent injury to my hands and my wrists if I had to do it with regular pen and ink and brush. It also would have taken forever and a day if I were using traditional materials.

SpongeBob inking tutorial Adobe Illustrator cleaning mistakes

One of the unexpected benefits of inking in Adobe Illustrator is that my line has become a lot more spontaneous -- I can be a lot more fast and spontaneous with the brush since I know that I can press "undo" if I make a bad line.

SpongeBob inking tutorial Adobe Illustrator outline

I'm hoping that once you see this in action, you'll be inspired to give it a try yourself. If you already own Adobe Illustrator as part of one of the Adobe suites, you really owe it to yourself to make the most out of your investment. If you don't own Adobe Illustrator, but you'd like to learn... you can download a free 30 day trial from the Adobe website.

Here's a smaller version of the video if you're having trouble loading the big video:

The next video might be a little bit boring, but it covers some very vital topics. Even though it appears to be focusing on Adobe Illustrator's ellipse tool, it will also show how to copy, paste and reuse drawing elements to save you time and effort. I will also be demonstrating how to use the Illustrator pencil tool to reshape a technically perfect shape into something more appropriate for a hand drawn image. See you then!

If you want to keep up with all the videos,
here's where to find the first three lessons:
here is an updated list of the
Adobe Illustrator
Cartoon Inking tutorial videos:
...and of course the completed Nick Mag cover art is at:
SpongeBob and Patrick Blowing Bubble Gum Nick Magazine Cover art by Sherm Cohen


David de Rooij said...

Thanks so much, Sherm!

David de Rooij said...

Ps. When I want to erase parts or mistakes I use expand appearance on a line, then I can use the eraser on it.

Sherm said...

Hi David..."expand appearance"? I've never tried that. Does that work on a calligraphic stroke? I think I gave up on the eraser because it messes with the quality of the brush stroke. But things keep changing as they keep updating the program. I'm always happy to learn new tips!

David de Rooij said...

I hope this helps you a little because you helped me out a lot!!

Yes, when you use expand appearance, the strokes stays the same (unlike when you use an eraser directly on your lines) but you can't edit the selected paths anymore. But I only use expand appearance when I know the lines are staying the way they are.

Sherm said...

David - That's FANTASTIC!!! I just tried "expand appearance" in Illustrator CS3 and it WORKS like crazy!

This is going to make life a lot easier...You're AWESOME for giving me that killer tip! THANKS! ^_^

FrankenBarry said...

Another good lesson... thanks, Sherm! And a good suggestion from David! The "flatten transparency" command works well for this, too. Instead of the eraser I like use pencil tool to erase, reshape, and edit the brush work.

I know what you mean about inking with a brush... it can be brutal on wrists, not to mention eyes. I've been wanting to get more of a brush & ink look with some of my illustrator work, so I'm anxious to give your inking method a whirl.

Staying 'tooned for the next episode!

Uncle Ernie said...

Thanks for your time making these lessons. I don't seem to be able to download your template. It downloads as a page of code - not as an actual file. Is there a secret I'm missing?

Sherm said...

Hi Ernie - sorry to hear you're having trouble with the template download. I just confirmed that it's working, so I'll just tell you how I downloaded it:

Go to and RIGHT-Click on the word "My Inking Template.ait"

If you have Windows, a little menu should come up that says, "Save Link As..."

Tap "Save Link As..." and a window will pop up asking you where to save it. Choose a destination and click "Save."

You must have Adobe Illustrator installed on your computer to open the file. If you dont have it, you can download a free trial at

I hope that helps! If not, you can email me at and I will email it to you. Take care --sherm

Uncle Ernie said...

Thanks! I guess on my Mac there is only a one button mouse; so no right-click. I found out the work around is to hold down the control key on my keyboard and click the link. A dialogue box opens and I can save.

One thing I have found when I use "expand appearance" on calligraphic strokes is that the strokes are made into objects but there is still a center stroke that is left behind, that can cause trouble with making compound shapes etc.. If you turn off preview you will see that center line stroke. With preview turned off, you can select one of these center strokes, them "select same fill and stroke" and "delete" to get rid of all the center strokes in your art.

RuinedJoke68 said...

These videos are amazing!!!

thanks for sharing them, I think I'm going to have to download the illustrator trial now. I can't wait to see more, are you going to go into painting too?

Sherm said...

Hi ThunderRobot -- Thanks! The videos go ALL the way thru the painting process. I recorded every step...I just have to edit them and put in a lot of cut-ins and zooms so you can see all the details.

It will take at least six more videos to get to the painting process. I've got two more videos ready for next week, and I'll keep posting more (and I'll post them faster) as long as I keep hearing from you guys ^_^

Dybiosh said...

Sherm - awesome tutorials! I just found your site via twitter and I love it! Keep up the great work.

Uncle Ernie - nice workaround - but there is command that does it, Object -> Path -> Clean Up... - and this "spine" is gone :)

IslandRob said...

Hi Sherm! Thanks for this! When I try and double up a line with the brush tool I find it is altering the first line I drew like you explain the pencil tool will. Is there something I missed? Also how are your lines deselected after you drew them? Mine seem to have a selection line running through them after they are placed. Thank you :)

Sherm said...

Hi Rob! To make sure the lines DON'T stay selected after you draw them, you'll need to find the right checkbox in the preferences, and uncheck it. The other problem you're having is probably something you can fix in Preferences, too...but I can't say for sure because I haven't used Illustrator in a long time. Good Luck!!!

Mark said...

I'm trying to use your brush template with the variable width tool in CS6. Isn't working. Ever tried it? Suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to use your brush template with the variable width tool in CS6. Isn't working. Ever tried it? Suggestions?

Sherm said...

I've never tried to use these tools in CS6, but if you follow along with the previous video I bet you can adapt those steps to the new CS6 interface. If you get good results, let me know!

Rustam Ali said...

awesome tutorials! I just found your site via twitter!!

Robert Smith said...

Helpful tutorials for everyone. Thanks