Guide for Beginning Comic Book Artists

Do you want to become a comic book artist? This guide will help you on your journey.

Comic Artist’s Resources

Comic illustration is hot right now, and not just because of the flood of Marvel and DC Comic based movies. Comic illustration is fun. It’s imaginative. And it breaks the rules. I have recently decided to dabble in comic illustration and found it hard to find informative web sites. Well, you don’t have to peck and search like I did. I’ve done all the leg work for you! This is a list of great resources for artists aspiring to dive into the world of comic illustration.

Digital Webbing has the latest comic industry news, a list of recommended how-to books, forums, talent search and more.

This is a forum for artists that focuses on comic book type illustrations.

Animotions has free anime props and characters, forums, and more.

This site is a mass of comic information. The “All About Comics” section is particularly helpful to artists.

Wowwy Zowwy, Batman! This site has an amazing amount of tools for comic illustrators.

Exactly what it is called: Manga Tutorials.

What is Inking?

By Ben Soto

Inking is the art of going over a penciled drawing with Ink before it heads over to a colorist or sees print. It would be easy to call inking tracing, however inking is lot more involved than that. An inker’s job is to add texture and form. I think Banky Edwards, of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, defined it well when he said, “It’s not tracing, alright. I add depth and shading to give the image more definition, only then does the drawing truly take shape.”

Another job of the inker is to give the penciled drawing clarity. 


Inking Tools 

  • For this tutorial I’ll be using crow-quill pens, head sizes: 513 bowl pointed and 104.
  • I’ll also be using a #3 sable round tip brush
  • A rag to clean and dry my quill tips
  • A jar of water to keep pens and brushes wet
  • When it comes to ink, everyone’s choice varies. There are a lot of good brands out there but the one that works best for me is Dr. Ph. Martin’s waterproof India ink, Matte. It’s a little pricier than the others running for a little over $6 a bottle. Mind you, this is just my personal preference when it comes to ink. A cheaper ink should do you for the sake of practice.
  • I’ll be inking on Canson Smooth Bristol Board 100lb. Strathmore is another great brand to use.
  • I use Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay white India Ink for the pesky mishaps.

The Image 

I’ve asked my brother to supply me with a drawing for this tutorial. His style is great for a beginner learning to ink. His lines for the most part are clean. It’s recommended you ink over someone else’s pencils as opposed to your own. Publishers wanna see you ink over someone else’s work, as you would be doing for them should you be hired. Also, over someone else’s pencils, you’ll be able to see your style as an inker begin to manifest over time, which would otherwise be hidden. Ask a friend to draw something for you. After you’ve practiced a bit and feel comfortable taking on a professional’s pencil work, InkersVault.com, is a great place to get some pages to work on. 

Notice that the pencil drawing has a few “X’s” here and there. Pencilers use the “X” as an indicator to the inker that the marked area should be filled with black. Not all pencilers will do this, some will take the time to shade in all areas that would be black. This is usually done, not for the inkers sake but for the penciler himself . It helps him see the page complete in his mind.

Step One 

Inking a comic

The first thing I like to do is fill in those big areas with black. Using the 104 size quill tip, I trace around the area first, before I fill it in with brush. 

Step Two 

After all the large and marked places are filled, the next thing to notice is where the light source is coming from. This is important for you to determine before attempting the outline of the figure, as it will dictate where the shift of the line weight will be. Simply put, line weight helps to give the drawing form. If the light is hitting the character from the left, then the weight of the line will be thin on his left towards the light and heavy or bold towards the dark. 


Step Three 

Using the 513 head on my quill pen I outline the character on one side and with the 104 head I outline the other. I took some artistic license on the hair for the sake of clarity. Add those finishing touches.

Clear up those mistakes. And of course, once it’s done, you’ve got to sign it!

Step Four

One of the things that can happen when your first learning inking is you get too much water in your brush or pen. and the end result is a yellow or washy looking piece, don’t be frustrated. This inking demo by Ben Sotocan also happen if the ink your working with is of poor quality.

If you have Photoshop, it can be helped by tweaking levels and contrast. Inking takes time to get the hang of.

Keep practicing and Good Luck!