Thursday, June 19, 2014

More Traced Sketches: Don's Convoluted New Inking Method Explained!

More Ms. Megaton Man poses, culled from sketchbooks dating back to 2010, inked on Clearprint 1000HP Design Vellum yesterday (June 18, 2014). At this point, I've probably inked about 80% of the inkable images from my old and current sketchbooks, by which I mean tightly penciled and ready to ink with minimal modification. I didn't ink them at the time because a) they were spontaneous, casual sketches, and I had no immediate purpose in mind for them; b) the drawing paper of the various sketchbooks might by fine for penciling but less suitable to ink; and c) the images often were a bit too small to ink comfortably; and d) inking them in the sketchbook, while leaving the sketchbook intact, would have been a bit cumbersome. Still, when I looked over these images, I would say, "Gee, I ought to do something with these!" Through trial and error, I think I've optimized a method of scanning, blowing up, printing out, and using Clearprint, along with Elmer's repositionable glue stick, to salvage these freely-drawn images from the obscurity of my sketchbooks. Are they just clip art now, or will certain poses make their way into future story panels and pages? Stay tuned.

Clarissa gets zapped by some unknown ray. Unlike most of the characters in the Megaverse, who say "Darn!" or "#$%@!?!," Ms. Megaton Man is one that I feel should explicitly swear. She will say "ass" instead of "butt," etc. In other words, she's got a mouth on her, and I can't seem to do anything about it.

This is a shot of the old drawing board and the original Moleskine sketchbook, with the drawing in Col-Erase Light Blue pencil and graphite pencil, next to the blow up and the ink final on Clearprint (the orange pads below are Clearprint pads of different sizes that I prefer. The original image is about 7" tall, which I blew up to 11". Determining the right size is somewhat arbitrary. Most of sketches I've inked utilizing this method have been fairly close to size, so this is unusually enlarged. This photo also gives a good idea of the translucence of the Clearprint material. Note the Pro-White corrections on the final.

Here is something of an awkward pose for Ms. Megaton Man. I may have been looking at Ross Andru again!!

Here is a rather robust and somewhat lanky version of Clarissa. Usually she is more compact, but here she turned out more expansive than usual.

This was a swipe from a fitness image, modified quite a bit since the original source had the left forearm across the bust line, and was cropped mid-thigh. I think the result counts as original, or at least not actionable! (A special Woo-Prize if you can identify the source!)

For some reason, this pose taps into some obscure John Romita-John Buscema-Jim Mooney-Dick Giordano melange of influences. There are a lot of comic books I read as a youth but never consciously studied to emulate as a cartoonist (particularly true of Ross Andru, who was not a favorite at the time, although I can respect certain aspects of his craft nowadays); still, a these influences seem to be burbling up lately as I become less concerned of hewing to a particular style and simply try to get the job done!

One of the pitfalls of my current method is record keeping. I've tried various kinds of scanning, photocopying, and sizing; consequently I have a lot of print outs tucked away in different folders, envelopes, and boxes. In this case, this led to me inking something that I'd forgotten I'd inked before! The first time was mostly with a brush, while the second was entirely with a crowquill. In the first one the linework is a bit fatter, but otherwise I don't discern much qualitative difference. This speaks to one of the advantages this way of inking has over penciling and inking on the same piece of Bristol board: you can always ink it again if you mess up or don't like the first result!
The main advantage of this method, as I said, is that I can salvage some good work from past sketchbooks, but it also comes in handy for making corrections and possibly inking images for which the original is lost and only a reproduction or poor quality photograph remains. Most of my sketchbooks are filled with doodles and scribbles that would require a great deal of further refinement at the pencil stage before they could be inked; in those cases, it would almost be easier to just begin with a new sheet of paper and start from scratch, eyeballing the original doodle for reference. But I have also adapted this method for new panels, tiers and pages -- it saves having to erase the pencil lines from the original artwork, which can sometimes fade the ink lines.

One last pose, reminiscent of Gil Kane inked by John Romita, some of my favorite comic book artwork of all time. Appropriate for Clarissa!


  1. This picture looks like it could have been a good source for the drawing above:

  2. Thanks, Fred. I do use various sources for some of my studies, including fitness magazines.

  3. Was that a good enough guess to win the prize then?

  4. Replies
    1. No, Fred, that's not the one. But I'd rather not specify the source in case some photographer out there is touchy. Best, Don

  5. Okay, no problem- I understand.

  6. I take it you're not much for drawing with digital tools, that is beyond scanning and printing enlargements.

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  8. I still begin with pencil and paper, if that's what you mean. Drawing directly on a Cintiq or Surface with a stylus is too constraining. I'm constantly rotating the paper when penciling and inking so that I can use the natural arc of my wrist (which is more or less stationary), and you simply cannot do that as freely with a rectangle of glass and plastic as you can with a thin sheet of paper. I'll have to shoot a video of it some time, but it would really make your head spin.