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

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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


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