Hey! I really like your Nighttime Ride! I am just getting into inking and grey washes… do you have any more intermediate pix of your work, or tips on washes and layers w india ink??? thanks! - jumjumcomics
So I’m more than happy to provide more pictures of the process, and share what I can about lineart and ink washes. I’m by no means an expert, and I learn more about it every new project, but here are some techniques I’ve gathered so far.
So these are the materials I used, and just use in general, hahah.
- Dr. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink
- Micron Pens (01, 03, 05)
- Brushes (2 round, ???, 10 round,)
- Mechanical Pencils…Erasers…..The normal stufz
- Canson Colorline Paper in cream
I start out like anybody else with a sketch. For the center figure, I already knew that I wanted his clothes to be black, and in a certain style, so I went ahead and shaded some spots in with the pencil ahead of time. You really wanna keep your graphite lines light, um I guess it depends on the paper, but this stupid paper hung on to the lines with a death grip. So I either had to draw with a feather touch, or just be real sure of the lines I put down (that never happens).
I’m sure some people can just jump in there with a brush and get inking, but I like to outline with my microns and then fill in the black parts, and then add the washes. I’m working to get my hand steady enough to line things with a brush (probably need a smaller one) but for now I like the microns, even though there is less line weight variety available from a pen. They’re nice though because they are waterproof, and don’t bleed. However, I have used a pen in the past that bled, and actually it wasn’t too bad! It added extra ink to the washes I put down after and it worked for that particular piece, but generally I like to be more in control of the ink.
So I get down to work outlining all the creatures and coral, adding things here and there to keep the composition balanced, and soon enough its time to start painting in the ink layers.
To get different shades and values of grey with ink, you’re going to have to water it down from straight black. I used a paper palette (which I love using because it is disposable) but you could use any sort of palette, be it plastic or porcelain.. Just realize that the india ink will be pretty permanent afterwards. I used the brush to add a swipe of black ink to the paper, then dip the brush in a cup of water nearby to add water, mixing it with the ink strip until it’s the shade of grey I want. It’s just like paint, you can add more ink or more water whenever you want to get the results you want. For brushes, I like the round tip because they can be thick, but the tip gets down small enough to be perfect for little details as well. I use cheapy brushes because I am afraid to invest in better ones until I can learn to not leave them in the water, and how to take care of them properly……’Cause I ruin a lot of brushes…
So I carefully begin painting in between the lines to add value to the coral, and other creatures. This is where I wish I had more inbetween shots to show you guys, but basically, if you’re unsure of how dark you wanna go, start out light, just to get the hang of things, but don’t be afraid to put some darkness in there. Just go over your layers several times if need be; I do! I wasn’t using watercolor paper, but the ink behaves in a similar way to watercolor paints. You can work dry, or you can wet the paper for a more even approach.
Getting your washes smooth and even is probably one of the more difficult parts of ink. You have to work pretty fast, because it dries quickly, and trying to match up another layer to one that is dried is really hard, and really doesn’t work because the ink will layer on top of itself and you’ll get a seam. So like, for the whale, I had some pretty big washes planned. I used a bigger brush, and using the inky water in the cup I laid down a really light wash in all the places I wanted the ink to flow, and made sure it was pretty wet. Then I dipped the brush straight back into the ink and just laid out a think black stroke near the head of the whale. The ink will immediately begin to flow out where the paper is already wet, creating that ombre effect ( just like watercolors). The you can control that effect by dipping your brush back into the water cup and then diluting or saturating the ombre here and there with varying levels of water and ink.
I did essentially the same thing with the background, except instead of such a dramatic gradient, I just laid down a wet area and then immediately set to spreading a light grey wash over it, using water to keep the tone even. You wait for that to dry, then start the next layer the same way.
With ink, it’s good to have an idea ahead of time of what you wanna do, so you can work quickly with such a fast drying permanent material. But! Don’t be afraid to go with the flow and keep things loose. I don’t plan out every single detail cause sometimes you gotta trust your eye and hands to make the right choices in the moment. And obviously that gets better with time and practice!
Experiment! With paper, brushes, adding color! Something I learned this time, is that the paper I used (Canson Colorline) will buckle after a while just because of all the water I added to it. It’s pretty thick paper, so it’s not a big deal. I chose that paper because I liked the color of it, I thought it would look ‘older’, but I realize now that I could have bought Illustration Board in white, and then tinted it with watercolor to be more yellowed. So I will try that next time!