March 18, 2009

Mad about inking

Each manga artist has his/her own demons, and for me that's got to be INKING. This particular process takes up the largest portion of my drawing time and even if I've been doing it for nearly two years now, for some reason I still can't get it right!

I've tried using 'real' manga pens before -- the G-pens, maru pens and saji-pens -- but being a 'Wood Rat' by birth (mind you, I don't normally believe in horoscopes, either Chinese or Western ^^), I'm bound to have my fair share of jinxes when dealing with water-based elements. So I switched to mechanical inked pens, those cheaper versions of Rotring you can normally find in any bookstore in Jakarta. Yet this still hasn't salvaged me of my inking hell.

For one, I will almost always make erronous strokes in each panel and end up having to use up bottle after bottle of Pentel's blue metal-tipped white-out, which almost certainly runs out after a chapter of 32-36 pages or so (or up to two chapters if I'm lucky).

Not only does it bug me to have to wait for the white-out to dry before continuing to ink, some pen brands SMUDGE VERY EASILY when applied on white-out, which deserves its own rant (read: blog post) some time in the future.

Also, the build-up of thick white-out layer on the drawing paper makes it difficult to create smooth lines afterwards. Of course, you can always clean it up digitally on Photoshop, but this takes up valuable time which could have been used for rendering dialogues and speech balloons (yet another manga artist demon).

An example is as follows:

Image 1: Raw scan converted to grayscale

As you can see, plenty of 'defects' here, even when the image is scaled down to fit standard pocket manga dimensions.

Image 2: Cleaned up in Photoshop

See the uneven strokes on his eyebrows? Those were inked on thick build-ups of white-out. So were the two strands of fringe on the right, which resulted in those rather greyish pseudo-strokes (don't know what to call them!) If you guessed that the neck and shoulder part were also inked on white-out... you guessed right! Cleaning up has taken its toll on my patience :(

...All this, and we haven't even touched on the problem of transparent blue underdrawings? Oh well, there's always another post.

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