INKtober - Part 2 October 31, 2016 00:18

Let me stop right here for a moment and tell you how blown away I was by this video that my wife Jess edited. By Friday morning, I'd already dumped 1 1/2 hrs of video on her, and then proceeded to add another four pick up shots to complete the inking continuity. As I spent the day coloring the image, she methodically worked to assemble, trim, speed up, and pace this. Long day and story short, by the time we went to the gym she'd finished the video you'll see here! I am absolutely enchanted by this, and have watched it about ten times now. Jess really shaped something marvelous. I hope you like it as much as I do. I think you will.

Okay, so this is the inking part of the inking video set. (To see Part 1, which shows the rough sketch being enlarged, cleaned up, and transferred to Bristol for inking, go here.) As for materials, I like a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #1 brush. For ink, nothing beats Winsor & Newton black Indian ink. The one with the spider on the label, not the dragon. The ink from the spider label bottle is made from the blood of a giant space spider and is collected at great risk and expense and is the blackest black I've ever run across. The ink from the dragon label bottle is made from people who work as coal sculptors blowing their noses and collecting what comes out in bottles and calling it ink.

If you haven't yet done this and are thinking of trying it, let me urge you to use a real sable brush. Years ago while I was working at Disney, I was staying late, trying to ink something. It wasn't going well. I had tried doing this before, and it always, always, always ended in sadness, defeat, and piles of horrid, tortured little inked characters that looked like they'd been put through a special machine designed to make things appear as though an anteater that had been freshly run over had, as his final act, dipped his tongue in ink and tried to draw something.

I was on, like, the seventh one of these tiny disasters when Richard Vander Wende happened by. Richard is an incredible artist who can draw and paint anything. Anything. He was working on Aladdin at the time, helping define their style, and was apparently also working late. As he passed by my desk I did that thing where I leaned over my drawing like I was having a stomach ache so he wouldn't see the shameful state of what I was doing.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm... I'm trying to ink. But it isn't going very well," I said in a low and ashamed tone as I straightened up to reveal my tragic drawings.

He considered this for a moment, then said...

"Do you mind if I give you some advice?"

Now advice from Richard is something to be listened to, and I fatefully said "yes."

And this is one of those moments that was a turning point in my life. He said something so simple and important.

"You're using a really cheap brush. If you want that stuff to work you need to spend some money on a sable brush."

Richard then showed me a proper sable brush and how it holds a point and can be mooshed almost flat and then return to a beautiful point. He showed me that you can re-shape it any number of ways and it will resiliently return to a razor-sharp point in an instant.

This changed everything for me. I went and spent a staggering (for the time) twenty dollars on a brush and instantly... instantly, my inking got better. Not just better, but by then end of an hour I was pretty much doing everything I'd hoped I'd be able to do when I started trying to ink in the first place. So if you want to do this sort of thing, find the right brush for you. But I'd advise finding a sable brush as a starting point.

And all of this is to produce something that simply can't be accomplished digitally. You will have a magical thing called an original. By definition there is nothing else quite like it. Yes, it's a lot of work to take all these steps, but in the end I have an inked piece that is immune to power failures, format changes, EMP, and computer crashes. Go to a comic con and spend the day looking through old inked pages and paintings and tell me you'd prefer those artists had drawn and inked them digitally. Last I looked, an original "Peanuts" comic strip starts at something like ten thousand dollars. But the best part is seeing the lines, the hints of pencil, the expert lettering. Knowing that actual page spent time with the artist and vice-versa.

And before you say it (because someone always says it), my drawing has every property of a digital drawing as well, since I've already scanned it. The best of both worlds!