Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Preparing Traditional Inks for Digital Art

Love comics?  Read mine now at 7inchkara.com

In our last installment of Intro to Comic Craft, we covered inking a comic page with fude pens.  In today's tutorial, I'm going to go over dropping the bluelines for your inks, to prepare them for digital coloring.

Cleaning Up Your Scanned Lineart

Open Up Your File:

Convert your Lineart to Grayscale by going to Image-Mode-Grayscale

Agree to Discard your Color Information

Now you have a black, white and gray image.  We want to drop that gray, leaving just the clean lineart.

Go to Image- Auto Adjust to drop some of those grays.

This tutorial was made possible thanks to the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon.  To help keep the art education content coming, please consider joining the Artnerd community.  Patronage begins at just $2 a month, and goodies include access to 7" Kara, Volume 1, backer exclusive tutorials and reviews, and early access to popular video topics.

To drop the rest of the grays, go to Image- Adjust-Curves

This will bring up a graph- the left side of the graph controls the whiteness of the paper, the right side controls the depth of your blacks.  You want to drag a point down from the graph towards the left side, and a point up towards the right.

You can keep adjusting this until the black of your ink as a true black, the paper is a true white, and the grays have been dropped out of the image.

When working with traditional scans, I like to duplicate my original layer, turn that original layer off, and utilize that copy as my lineart.

Before adding color, make sure you change your color mode!  For printing, you want to work in CMYK, for web, you want to work in RGB.

In the upcoming weeks, I'm going to cover digital flatting, shading, and other digital coloring techniques.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Con Announcement: At Home Con

When: Saturday, July 22nd.  I plan to begin around 12PM CST, but may be a bit later.

What:  A live streaming event through UStream.

Where:  Your living room, studio, kitchen, bedroom- or coffee shop of your choice.  Basically anywhere you want to be!

Why:  This is the first year in seven that I did not make it into the Mechacon Artist Alley as an artist.  Mechacon is a huge source of income for me, and I've spent years developing that audience.  So rather than rolling over and giving up, I'm taking the con online!

This is the perfect opportunity for those of you who enjoy this blog, but have no intention of patronizing my work at a convention.  Now you can enjoy the show at home!

What's for sale?

  • Commissions- of all types, will work on them as they come in.  If you've ever wanted to watch me do markers or watercolor, here's your chance!
  • New Wooden charms for 2017!
  • 7" Kara Volume 1- both regular and with sketches
  • Mini Comics
  • Sassy Buttons
  • Cute accessories
  • Original Art

Who's Invited?

Anyone who'd like to attend!  Everyone is invited to come hang out and chat, request to see items, and purchase items.  This is a great opportunity if you live far away, but always wanted to see me at a con!

What if I can't afford to buy anything?

You're still very welcome to come hang out!

So how does this work? 

I'm going to set up my artist alley table in my living room- the whole magilla!  From original pieces to mini prints, from books to bows, it's all going out on the table.

We're going to set up a couple cameras- one at the front of my table, one behind the table, to try and capture a bit of the Artist Alley experience.

There'll be a chat room, and you're welcome to hang out, ask me questions, or request to see specific items close up.  If you see something you like, let me know!   You place your order through the chat, wait for confirmation, then pay through Paypal or my shop.  If paying through Paypal, please include your mailing address in the comment.  I set your item, commission, or book aside for mailing at the end of the show.

For commissions, I will have examples set up on a few sites (here, my Tumblr, my Instagram) with prices.  Orders will be placed through chat- Username- what you'd like- what level of commission you wish to purchase.  Commissions will be filled (as much as possible) that Saturday, then mailed out to customers, along with product orders.  Commissions not filled during At Home Con will be filled after and mailed out.

Not comfortable with chat?  You can also reach me through Twitter DM or email to place your order.

Pre Orders Starting Today

You can also pre-order commissions starting now through email, comment form, or Twitter DM.  If you'd like me to do a portrait (pet, kids, self, or an original character) please include links to your reference.  Once you get the OK, you can send your payment to my Paypal (same address as my email).

Where can I find examples of what to expect?

You can check out some examples of my various commission tiers here!
You can check out various examples of what I sell at conventions here!

How does this differ from an online sale or shop?

In some aspects, it doesn't.  But neither does a convention table really differ from a pop up shop. Sure, the table is in my living room, and no, you can't actively pick up the items to check them out, but we're going to have a camera at the ready to help facilitate the visual aspect of shopping.  And an At Home con has benefits that a real convention lacks- no lines, no need for badges, no registration, no travel, no con fatigue, and hopefully no social anxiety.  I will address the camera just as I would address you in person, for that personalized feel, and you can watch commission progress from the second camera behind me.  In a lot of ways, an At Home con is a better convention experience if you love cons for the Artist Alley.

If At Home Con goes well, I may be able to organize larger streamed events with other artists in the future!

As a bonus:

I plan on starting At Home con early for Artnerds, with an exclusive look at how I set up for cons, step by step!  So if you want some inside information on how I prep and set up for cons, head on over to my Patreon to join the Artnerd community!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cicada Summer Inking: Intro to Comic Craft

Love comics?  Make sure you check out mine, 7" Kara, now a webcomic!

In today's tutorial, we're going to talk about inking!  I've written so much about inking over the years- reviewing dozens of fude pens, discussing brush and nib care, and sharing so many demonstrations and reviews on the YouTube channel.   Therefore, I highly recommend you check out the wonderful resources listed at the end of the post- there's something unique about WATCHING someone ink, rather than reading about someone inking.  For Cicada Summer, I've listed the materials used for these pages below.

For a penciling AND inking demonstration, please check out

Cicada Summer: Pencils and Inks


For Borders:
Calligraphy Pens

For Pencils:
Erasers (I recommend white vinyl erasers)
Pencils (I prefer a mechanical pencil with a 2H lead- less smearing)

For Inks:
Fude Pens (I used these: )
Kuretake Fudegokochi
Sakura Pigma MB

Looking for further reviews and recommendations?  Make sure you check out my Brushpens hub page!

For Corrections:
Copic Opaque White (or white gouache of choice)
Cup of water
White Signo Gel Pen

Love art and comic tutorials?  Why not show your appreciation by joining the Artnerd community on Patreon?  Your financial support allows me to dedicate time and resources to providing tutorials like today's!

Borders and Balloons

For a complete borders tutorial, please check out Using Calligraphy Pens for Inking Borders, which went live July 5th.

For word balloons, I use a Kuretake Fudegokochi fude pen- it's flexible rubbery nib allows for organic word balloons. 


Pencils are in some ways optional if you are working on top of printed bluelines.  They present an opportunity to tighten your work and add details.  Some artists are comfortable, and some prefer, to do this directly in ink, but as I work primarily in watercolor at this point, I wanted the opportunity to erase and correct some of the mistakes from my roughs.

When penciling, you can opt to do it one panel at a time, or the entire page- whatever you are most comfortable with.  While working on Cicada Summer, I found that starting my morning with inks, and then penciling the next page in the afternoon helped stave off fatigue.

I recommend you use a harder lead that leaves a lighter line- it will be easier to erase.  Don't bear down with your pencil- the graphite can knick the paper and leave fragments of graphite behind that are impossible to erase.


For this project, I decided to ink with something I'm very comfortable with- fude pens.  I use fude pens for my inked con commissions, so while I don't do many inked comics anymore, I am still in practice with fude pens.

The majority of my pages were inked with a Kuretake Fudegokochi, with larger fills completed with a Kuretake No. 55 (or No. 33, depending on what you have), a Sakura Pigma BB brushpen, and a Zebra brushpen.  You can also use a Pentel Pocket Brush for larger fills.

Inking with any tool requires practice, concentration, and a steady hand.  I recommend inking AFTER you've eaten- low blood sugar can make your hand shake.  If you're used to using a technical pen to ink your comics, I highly recommend you try out one of the dozens of fude pens I've reviewed over the years.  Most are available on Amazon with a quick search using the correct name, at a lower price and with Prime shipping.  If you want to support this blog without spending extra money, begin all of your Amazon shopping sprees with this link.  I think you'll find the flexible yet firm nib to be quite an upgrade to solid line technical pens- it's capable of fine and bold lines with just an adjustment of pressure.

I often work with a cover sheet to help prevent smearing or oils from my hands getting onto the paper's surface.  The oils your skin naturally produces can cause resist effects, or effect the drying time of inks. so a cheap cover sheet of copy paper is an inexpensive insurance plan.

Feel free to rotate your paper as needed in order to get the best angle for your lines.

Switching over to a Sakura Pigma MB for filling in black areas.

And a Zebra brushpen.

Using larger brushpens can be helpful for filling in spot blacks and shadows.  They're also useful for inking larger or foreground objects with a heavier lineweight to help give scale.

I tend to work fairly systematically- from the foreground to the background, top of page to bottom, but different artists have different methods of approaching inks.  Some go for the objects they enjoy inking most, some save those for last- experiment to find the methods that keep you inking!

Finally inking the panel with the broken border.  The border was left broken to accommodate for the figure running into the foreground, and can be tightened up once the final inks are in place.

The inked page is still not finished- I save my corrections for the end, when everything has been inked.  This gives the ink an opportunity to dry, and it gives me an opportunity to really think about what needs correcting.

Erasing and Corrections

Materials Used:

Signo White Gel Pen (or gel pen of choice, but I recommend the Signo)
Copic Opaque White (or white gouache)

Once the page is inked, I step away for the evening- it's best to allow your ink to dry for 1-24 hours before erasing.

The next morning, I begin by erasing the graphite with a soft white vinyl eraser.  Over the years, I've used and enjoyed:

Mono erasers (both non PVC and PVC work well enough)
White Stroke Erasers
Moo erasers
Pentel Hi Polymer Erasers

All of the above erasers are soft enough not to scratch your inks, but will remove your graphite with gentle, persistent erasing.

And I use a drafting brush to remove the eraser schmutz.  I highly recommend an inexpensive Alvin drafting brush as part of your traditional art arsenal- I use this thing for just about everything, and have had it for 10 years with no signs of damage.  Using your hand to brush away eraser crumbs can leave hand oils on your paper (even if your hands are clean), which can cause a resist for the ink or encourage ink smearing.

I use a white Signo Gel pen to add small white details to things like jeans.

And then use a fude pen to tighten those lines up.

For larger corrections, I use Copic Opaque White, or white gouache and a synthetic bristled watercolor brush.  The synthetic bristles are able to stand up to the thick gouache better than natural hair bristles.

The finished page

And here's the finished, inked page!

Now just repeat this process every day until your chapter has been inked.

When starting Cicada Summer inks, I made the mistake of starting my day with pencils, ending it with inks- which meant I inked when tired (which is bad news).  I recommend you pencil your page ahead of time (say the evening before), and begin inking right after you've done your drawing warm up- that way you're inking fresh!

Additional Inking Resources:

The Inking Compendium
Inking Process for Foiled Page
7" Kara Cover Process
Materials and Techniques- Inking
Sarah Benkin and Textures
Using a Fude Pen to Ink
8 Ways You Can Make Your First Inktober a Success
Mark Shultz Workshop (Inking with a Brush)
Things to Ink About
Advanced Inking Techniques Playlist
Brushpen Reviews