How I’m Now Inking My Art – Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

For the first time since you saw that bad joke, yes, this is a sort of “electric boogaloo”.

In Part 1, I went over how I inked my piece and ended it on the part where… well, the inking is done.

Is it? Well… kind of.

When it comes to a piece, 90% of the time I have to go back after I erase all the pencil lines and either make some lines stronger or just touch them out because the ink didn’t dry, the eraser killed the line, etc… This time, that wasn’t the case. I was really happy with the lines as they were. and since this is about how I’m inking my art NOW, I think it bares mentioning.

Step 6. At this point, I’m playing inspector. The ink work is basically done, and most, if not all, emphasis and details are done. The eraser didn’t take a lot this time, and that’s partly because of how I worked this time. I used a 2H pencil, a very hard-lead pencil, that produces some really nice light lines. I don’t use a lot of pressure when I sketch or draw, even refine my drawing.

As for erasing over the ink lines, I don’t recommend using a kneaded eraser for that. I love them to death, but in this case, it will hurt your ink lines. Instead, use an old friend from grade school, a soft white rubber eraser. This way, you only remove your pencil lines and if you’re using India Ink or India Ink pens, you’re less likely to see smudging when it dries or when you erase your lines. Trust me on this.

For THIS piece, there wasn’t anything to fix. But to give you an idea, here’s what I did on an old piece of mine:

Step 7. OK, let’s get digital!

This is where it can either get really tricky, fun, or any other number of things. So we’re going to deal with the quasi-simple art of scanning!

If you’re like me, you like to work big (I actually don’t, but I do) and most of your work is going to be reduced to somewhere between 25% or more. So for the purpose of this, we’re going to just assume our paper is 11″ x 17″, or A3 sized. In fact, it’s actually 14″ x 17″. Save a large-format scanner or copier, you have to do extra to get anything larger than 11″ x 17″ in less than one pass, but again, we’re going to keep this simple.

You have a few choices here: You can either invest in an A3 Scanner, which normally goes for $150. Or you can use your normal scanner and scan in the piece one half at a time at 8 1/2″ by 11″. OR, you can go to a copy machine and reduce your inks to 8 1/2″ x 11″. I tend to use the later the most, and I DO recommend it IF your work is going to be reproduced smaller than what you drew. Even if its not, I still say do it since it saves time and, in the end, blowing it up won’t be hard. Why? Easy! Resolution!

I tend to scan in all my work at either 300 dpi or, in cases where I plan on doing a lot with it or make it larger, 600 dpi. In either case, I use Greyscale.

Step 8. To me, this is the great debate: You’ve just scanned in your piece. Its in Photoshop, waiting for you to do whatever you like, and… you get this.

A big gray-scale-style mess. You’re left wondering what to do. Do you adjust the levels? But if you do that, you still have grayscale! Or if you use the Threshold tool, you could lose details and the lines look rougher! What do you do?

Well, here’s my 2 cents: I don’t think there is a right way here. If you’re scanning in an ink piece to be an inked piece, where you don’t plan on doing anything else with it, I say use grayscale. But if you plan on using color on top of it… well, its tricky. OK, not really.

First, take your piece and admire it in its glory.

Next, if you want, create a New Adjustment Layer for Levels. You can do it straight on the artwork if you want, but I do recommend an adjustment layer since you can go back and change it later if you screw up.

After you do that, make another Adjustment Layer for Threshold. As you can see, you’re now turning the image to nearly pure black-and-white. If you were to just use the threshold adjustment, you would get an image with less definition. It may not seem like a lot, but in the end, it does make a difference.

And that’s really is about it. The piece is ready to be color, manipulated, and countless other things at this point. All that is for another day… and another tutorial.