What nobody says about ink in comics

In the following article, we will talk about what nobody says about inking in comics. Inking and color are very important parts of the drawing you are going to make, inking achieves the desired sharpness.

We strongly recommend that you use Indian ink and that you study and practice techniques, to be able to advance quickly in your artistic process Continue Reading!

Why is the inking process so important?

Inking and coloring are very important parts of drawing. In comics in particular, it is necessary to ink everything that you want to be seen in the final publication, since the pencil drawing is only a sketch.

Have you ever photocopied or scanned a pencil drawing? In the drawing and comic industry, inking serves to make the publication look sharp, everything that is going to be printed, is susceptible to suffer some involuntary change or modification during the editing or printing process, by the very nature of the machines.

As we mentioned, inking is essential, to speed up the process, cartoonists usually work with professional inkers, who work on pencil drawings.

Let’s look at the following example, about the dynamics between illustrator and inker, here you can see that, although the illustrator establishes the concrete basis of the drawing, following the indications of the script, the inker gives his personal touch to the page, giving it a plethora of details that had just been suggested by the pencil.

lo que nadie dice sobre la tinta en la historieta
Image: Thinking About Inking: the role of comic book inkers – In My Not So Humble Opinion (wordpress.com) Lee Weeks (pencil) & McLeod (ink). May 1993. Spider-Man #34

Not all cartoonists are lucky enough to work for a publishing house that provides them with professional inkers, or, if they are independent, maybe they don’t have the money to hire one. Maybe they don’t know anyone to entrust their pencil work to! That’s why every illustrator who wants to become a professional should know how to ink.

Use Indian ink

It is very common that beginner artists are tempted to ink their drawings with marker, microfiber, or even pens, however, these tools are not the most recommended for those who want to make really publishable drawings.

Although on the Internet, there are videos of talented artists using cheap pens (with remarkable results), this will never replace the ductility of the pen, do not think that the intention of this writing is to defend the pen for some kind of traditionalist purism.

It is true that the most prominent comic artists commonly worked with India ink and pen or brush, but this is because these tools provide what is called line value.

This value is the ability of the lines to become thicker or thinner in the same stroke, the softer the tool used (and the more carefully it is used), the greater the margin of widening of the same.

A brush with many hairs, can produce a thick stroke when pressed against the sheet, but if it is carefully lifted, it can produce very fine lines, on the other hand, pens and nibs, usually allow a more controlled stroke, although with less margin of line value.

On the other hand, with the marker or pens, it is very difficult to give line value to a drawing, their tips are hard and uniform, these tools are usually left for writing dialogues.

No one will notice your pencil, but they will appreciate your ink.

Don’t despair to make the best drawing of your life with the pencil, many amateur artists seek to achieve perfection by making details with the pencil, when in fact, it is simply a part of the process.

In comics, the pencil is used to make sketches, to indicate where each element goes roughly, the magic begins with the ink, or with the coloring, in fact, these are the only things we see even in other disciplines, such as painting, the pencil is used to sketch.

Practically, no painting allows a glimpse of the pencil sketch, since, it is covered with oil or acrylics.


Study and practice techniques

The most important thing when inking a work, is the technique to use, inking does not mean to trace the pencil, but to give sense and details to the sketch, the real drawing is there, you can try to make frames, experiment with the line value, and even stain the sheet with rough brushstrokes.

It is important to emphasize that there are no forbidden tools, there are comic artists who use unconventional elements for inking, such as razor blades, sponges or stones, anything can be a tool for inking! Also, thanks to technical advances, nowadays, superb inking can be done with digital tools, which must be properly addressed.

Learn to ink physically and digitally.

The more techniques and tools you know, the better, digital tablets have reached levels of technological subtlety never imagined a few years ago, drawing and design programs allow you to experiment and even create a myriad of virtual tools.

The same, will allow you to reach very high levels of development and sharpness in inking, plus the practicality of being able to undo mistakes, and not smear beyond not run the risk of dropping your inkwell by accident! However, nothing will match the feeling of having a pen or a brush stroking or tearing a sheet.

Smudging your fingers, and even sliding your hand across fresh ink, can be annoying and ruin more than one piece of work, but over time, you stop making those mistakes, and even start to own them.

Digital techniques are perfect, but do you really want an immaculate stroke? Don’t you think that certain accidents with the ink can be desirable? It all depends on your style and how you feel.


As we could see during the article, we can say that inking is an essential part in the process of making a comic, it is always a good idea to work with Indian ink, with pens and brushes, which are the tools that traditionally allow you to give value to your line, that is, to widen it by pressing and make it thinner and more delicate by applying little pressure.

Keep in mind that there are no forbidden tools, it all depends on what you want to achieve, digital tools allow you to achieve an impeccable line if you manage to master them, but this is not necessarily good, since it depends on the style of drawing you want.

Essentially, what you should do is explore; and experiment with all the possible tools, to get to know yourself and your style better.

See you next time!

More articles

Join us

Drawing tips & Tricks

Valuable content every week.