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Digital Inking - An Artist Way to To Graphically Enhance Pencil Sketches

digital ink, a way to create comic look-like digital imagesThe first time I hear of digital inking I didn't know what is all about. They, I got the ah ah moment when I saw comics-looking drawing and pictures done digitally.

..and I started to look into it. My journey continues.

For many years animators and artists who have used ink as a medium to define their penciled sketches have painstakingly done this work with pens and different sized nibs, Now graphical software exists that allows digital inking to produce work that is detailed and can be refined many times to achieve the final picture.

The tools that are used now to produce these fine works can be found in the top graphics packages like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Animators and cartoonists today have a rich variety of tools to work with and an almost limitless amount of colors at their disposal. Perhaps, too many, I wonder?

However let’s get down to the basics of digital ink and dive a little deeper into the process of how it is done.

  • The first step for anyone who wants to use this process is to have a reasonable well detailed pencil drawing that can be scanned into the computer either saving it as a separate file or importing it directly into the chosen program.

  • Then a semi transparent layer is added to the drawing giving the effect of tracing paper to allow the artist to commence adding thin reference lines to the original drawing underneath the layer using the tool that is the closest match to a pen.

  • Once the guidelines are in place the artist can select a tool which will allow lines of various thicknesses to be added just as if pressure was being applied with a normal pen nib. Animators use this technique in their characters to give their heroes or villains that chiseled masculine look but one that can be exaggerated for effect, using color to create scenes or weapons that awesome. Where digital inking comes into its own though is that the artist can continually rework the drawing until the effect required is achieved a simple keyboard press or mouse click can undo any unsatisfactory line.

Inking in Illustrator and Painting in Photoshop: Part 1 from Metsys on Vimeo.



Inking in Illustrator and Painting in Photoshop: Part 2 from Metsys on Vimeo.

  • Once the artist is completely satisfied with the work the original drawing can be removed as the primary layer with the digitally inked layer replacing it. In recent years digital inking has been used by tattoo artists to create intricate and detailed designs so that when customers see them they become amazed at the quality of work that can be produced. Architects also use digital ink to help them produce line drawings in the initial stages of formulating ideas for new buildings they are working upon.

Originally, one of the first uses of this type of ink was as a security measure, graphics tablets were used to record handwritten signatures by the use of a stylus that would follow the signatories hand movements and then convert them into a an image.

This enabled organizations to check the signature to authenticate documents that were sent to them for action.

Digital ink has come a long way since its early inceptions but now with practice you too could draw works of art that resemble the styles of the masters, and who knows you could even become a great cartoonist in your own right.

There are even tools which allow you to create images of this kind automatically:

Try for instance Vector Magic: not as good as old-fashioned, time consuming, manual work, but it comes quite close.

I will report more on this topic since I love it. Check my other website as well mister-vector!

digital ink with Vector Magic

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Credits: top picture, bottom picture from the Magic Vector site





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