How can I fix inking mistakes in comics?
January 25, 2012 9:54 PM   Subscribe

How can I fix inking mistakes in comics? White out? White paint? New paper? Start over?

So I've started doing some comics. I use bristol board and ink (with some ink washes for shading). About once every other page there's an inking issue that needs to be corrected...anyone have any suggestions? I've tried white-out, but that throws off the tone of the paper.... I've contemplated cutting out spare bristol-board and just taping a new panel over the botched panel, but that seems perhaps a bit extreme.

Any suggestions would be welcome! :-)
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you going to be scanning the final artwork in and digitizing it? If so, the tone difference of the white-out should make no difference to the digital file, since you can adjust the contrast in photo editing software to make the background perfectly white anyway.
posted by girih knot at 10:04 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ink tends to stay on the top surface of bristol board, allowing you to scratch it off with an x-acto blade (like you would scratch paint off a window with a razor blade)...the surface will get somewhat frosty or ragged depending on how deeply the ink has penetrated, but this is invisible to most scanners. It can, however, affect how the paper absorbs subsequent ink, possibly botching your light washes...experiment on a scrap piece first...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:17 PM on January 25, 2012

I like using white gesso, which takes inking over quite well. I scan everything and edit digitally though, like girih knot mentioned.
posted by sawdustbear at 10:20 PM on January 25, 2012

(sorry, forgot...the easiest way around this is to do your pencil, then your wash shading, then your outline. That way, if you have to correct your outline, you merely have to scratch off enough to blend in with the adjacent shading...make sense?)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:20 PM on January 25, 2012

I use white out pens, mostly. If it's a very small mistake on a piece people will be looking at in person (as opposed to digitally) I've also had some luck with white gel pens.

Many of my professional comics friends work with ink on Bristol. Their original pages are often COVERED in dots of white out, but you'd never know from looking at the finished books.

(scanning as a high res bitmap helps, btw -- keeps the lines super crisp for print, and renders most corrections completely invisible.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:46 PM on January 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks - all these answers were helpful! I marked sexyrobot the best because I thought I remembered I could cut out the problem areas, but thought I was making that up...

I do plan on scanning it, but previous experiments with the white out left splotches even after contrast. However, it was my first time working with white out on this level - now I know that it SHOULD work, I'll be able to practice a bit better. I'll also try the Gesso, I think....white out ends up looking a bit blue compared to the paper and adjusting the contrast eliminated some of my ink tones...but again, maybe I just need a bit of practice....thanks all!
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:11 PM on January 25, 2012

FWIW, scrapping/cutting was the standard thing in drafting back in the day. My 50's era drafting set had inking pens, a slim knife, and a whetstone to keep both sharp. By the time I took drafting in HS in the 80's it was more using erasing shields and a hard, slightly gritty tip in the electric eraser to grind off the ink. But you only get one mistake per spot.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:29 PM on January 25, 2012

scrape the ink...don't cut it! (leave cutting as a last resort) The ink+thin top surface of paper should come off as a fine powder...gently!

if you do get to 'last resort', try this method for cutting: place another sheet of paper underneath. Cut out the flaw...cut through both sheets of paper. This should leave you with a drawing with a hole in it and a blank 'puzzle piece' that fits exactly in the hole. tape it in place on the back. curved cuts will show up less than angled or straight cuts when scanning.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:32 AM on January 26, 2012

In my previous job with a well-known comic strip creator, we did all of our original art in ink on bristol. The occasional inking goof was always corrected on the art using white-out. But, NOT your secretary's office white out. There's a purpose-made graphic white-out made for art work.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 AM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've white-outed, scratched off, and in extreme cases either remade the panel on another piece of paper and photoshopped it in place or glued paper on top of the mistake.
posted by cmoj at 6:31 AM on January 26, 2012

If it makes you feel any better about it, I recently stumbled on this anecdote:
Oscar Ogg was called the King of White because his lettering and calligraphy reflected excessive use of the correcting medium.

It was part of a whole thing Paul Shaw wrote about correcting in this review of a lettering book.

"In Leach’s day the basic method of correction was white paint (Pro White in the 1970s and 1980s). Oscar Ogg was called the King of White because his lettering and calligraphy reflected excessive use of the correcting medium. By the 1970s, the development of newer materials led many letterers to use mylar, denril or similar plastics as the substrate for the final inking. Ink sat on the surface rather than soaking in and thus could be scraped or scratched off with a razor blade or X-acto knife. The abraded surface was not a problem for the repro camera. (With these materials the graphite transfer stage was not necessary since the mylar or deneril was transparent and tracing of the tight drawing could be done through it). Another method, one that Jean Larcher used, was to draw on scraperboard, a board with a smooth clay coating. Corrections were made by scraping the ink off of the coating (similar to Kemp’s correction method). A third method, one that Ed Benguiat used, was to cut letters out of rubylith with a swivel blade. This avoided the inking stage entirely. Once the design was drawn rubylith was be placed over it and a swivel knife used to trace the outlines. Then the film was peeled away to reveal an opaque letter against a clear ground. The lettering was then photostatted. Another method of avoiding the ink step was to redraw the pencil letters with a fine marker (available by the late 1980s) and then fill them in with thicker markers. Then the lettering was phototatted. Variations in density and mistakes were fixed on the photostat or film (or, in the digital era, in Illustrator after scanning)."

For whatever reason, I think this kind of history is fascinating.
posted by redsparkler at 11:09 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do plan on scanning it, but previous experiments with the white out left splotches even after contrast.

How are you adjusting the contrast? Levels or curves in Photoshop should be able to get your background pure white - all of the paper should be able to disappear. There's an OK tutorial on how to do it here. As long as the white-out isn't darker than the bristol, it should disappear with any shade from the paper, and any shadow left behind should be erasable.
posted by girih knot at 4:00 PM on January 26, 2012

Response by poster: Girih,

Sorry, I was a bit rambly. What I meant to say was that in attempting to adjust the contrast I ended up having to choose between adjusting it so I could not longer see the white out but I also lost a couple of my ink tones OR I maintain the presence of my ink tones but also the white out.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 5:09 PM on January 26, 2012

Response by poster: I'm finally scanning, and here are the results:

Gesso: too pale to cover the ink completely

Opaque white water color: covers ink completely but bleeds into any overlaying ink washes.

Both of these "cover-ups" did show up on scanning. They could not be contrasted out without also losing the ink washes. :-(

Currently I'm "smudging" the corrected areas in photoshop so they'll blend better.

I think I just have to choose from the following:
1. Give up on toning with ink washes :-(
2. Get perfect at inking
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:10 PM on July 19, 2012

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