Hello, Silverline Family. I was able to reach out to Barbara Kaalberg and get her input on what her set-up for inking looks like. Barbara has been inking comics for a while now, and is a master of line work. She has worked on titles like Cat & Mouse, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Ultraforce, and many more. With her experience she could teach a masterclass on the subject. In this entry, she talks about her preferences for the tools needed for inking comic books.
The Bare Bones: Essential Tools for Inking
Hi, my name is Barbara Kaalberg and I’ve been an inker for a little over 30 years. I’ve recently stuck my toe into the world of digital inking, because I’ve been curious, and I’ve got one penciller whose style, I think, really lends itself to that form of inking but, for the most part, I’m an old school inker and still stick with traditional methods. I like to have something to sell at conventions, ya know?
Back in “the day,” old school inking was either done with a pen and nib (which I never really got into) or it was all about the Windsor & Newton, series 7, size 2 brush, which most brush inkers swore by. It was a round, finely pointed brush made out of Kolinsky Sable, and was the top of the line brush. In the last few years, however, the quality seems to have declined and, while I still use them, I am finding that I prefer the Raphaél 8404’s, sizes 1 and 2. Again, they are made from Kolinsky Sable and have a nice, springy feel to them. Very finely pointed, they create a smooth line that is easy to vary in size. You’d have to test both out to see which you prefer. It used to be you would have to order these from an art store, like Dick Blick, but now you can order these right off of Amazon!
As for the ink, again, qualities have changed over the years. When once Higgins ‘Black Magic’ used to be the gold standard, it’s opacity has shifted slightly over the years. I don’t know if they messed with the formula but I’m not the only inker who’s switched to other options. I now use Speedball ‘Super Black’, which I get in 32 oz. squeeze bottles. These are available from Dick Blick and, strangely enough, JoAnn Fabrics/Crafts and Walmart.com.
When I’m not using a brush, I use the Sakura Pigma Micron pens. Just any old marker or pen won’t do, because they will fade and/or eat away the paper over time. A sharpie is absolutely the worst marker you could use on your artwork. Microns are acid free, archival pens that are fade-proof in sunlight and UV lighting. They come in a variety of sizes but I find myself using the size 2 most of the time. Again, you can get these straight off of Amazon.
Every inker has their own preference for white out. Some swear by Daler Rowney ‘Pro White’ or Dr. Martins ‘Bleed Proof White’. Some even use just plain old white correction pens (although they are very definitely NOT archival friendly!). I use a simple ninety-nine cent white acrylic craft paint like Apple Barrel or Delta Ceramcoat. It comes in a little squeeze bottle and can be found in any Walmart or Target or craft store. Why? Because it dries quick, it dries waterproof and it is very, very easy to ink over. It won’t yellow or eat the page, either. One of my pet peeves is to have my black ink mix with a white correction and turn into grey mud. Fortunately I make very, very few mistakes and rarely have to use white out.
There you go. The bare bones basics of what essentials are needed for comic book inking.