Craft: John Martin – Inking Lines

Hello everyone, I’m John Martin and I’m the inker on Friar Rush and Wolf Hunter for Silverline comics. Now, in my opinion, it’s easier to show than tell you about inking but I’ll give it my best. When it comes to inking the most important thing to keep in mind is the line. It’s the one thing that can make or break a page or cover. As an inker, it is the one aspect of the page that you have to bend and manipulate to make the pencils shine even more and become the finished product ready for color and print.

Now, having a healthy variation on line width is what you use to imply several things like depth, weight, light, and shadow. Heavy lines are used close and in the foreground, then they become lighter the further you go into the background. Outlines of characters, objects, buildings, etc. should always by a heavier line than the lines used inside them. For example, if you outline a person the lines should become thinner on the interior of it for all the normal details (eyes, nose, mouth, etc), then even thinner for the rendering of shadows.

If you weren’t using blacks for shadows you would then not only use the weight of the line for indicating distance but also where the shadows would be. The heavier line will be where the shadow is on the figure or object and of course, the lighter would be the indication of the light source.

Now, when you are using line weight for both depth and to help indicate a light source it can get a little tricky so you as the inker have to make the best decision based on what the focal point is in the panel/cover. These decisions are why no two inkers ink the same page the same way. A perfect example of happens during the Inkwell Awards, when they pick inkers to ink a piece to put up for auction.

In closing, lines are the biggest thing needed to bring a page/cover to its full potential and the most important thing for an inker to keep in mind and practice daily. So, get out there and start making a mess and laying some ink lines down. I know I am.


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