White-on-black comic inking?
June 16, 2006 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Any tips for doing white-on-black comic inking?

In my ongoing effort to learn how to make comics, I've gotten reasonably comfortable inking a penciled page. But so far, I've only really done black ink over pencils. Doing white ink over black seems like a good next step, but I'm not sure how best to go about it. Specifically, how do I deal with the fact that the black areas will be covering up the penciling that I'd need to redraw with white ink?
posted by COBRA! to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You could always cheat. Draw black-on-white, scan it and invert it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2006


I have quite a few pages of original comic art and the only use of white I've seen is in correction of mistakes. Is the reverse actually done very often?
posted by beaucoupkevin at 11:43 AM on June 16, 2006


You could pencil on TOP of the black ink. You should be able to see your pencil marks just fine, and they won't show up when scanned or photographed and made into printable artwork.

It depends on the effect you're going for, but I've also just inked panels, mostly typography, with black ink on white, and then just inverted the colours in Photoshop later.
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:44 AM on June 16, 2006


Regular graphite pencil shows up pretty well on india ink, but if that's not enough contrast for you try using non-photo blue pencil. It'll be covered in white anyways so you can be as adventurous as you want.

What were you planning on using? The best results I've seen are from simple white acrylic paint. I've seen some people try to do what you're describing using White-Out or something similar ("corrective fluid") and the results are usually mediocre.
posted by lekvar at 11:52 AM on June 16, 2006


You could always cheat. Draw black-on-white, scan it and invert it.

That'd be tough going, because I'd just be inverting selected parts of a given page/panel... unless I just inked the entire page in reverse, which would break my brain.

I have quite a few pages of original comic art and the only use of white I've seen is in correction of mistakes. Is the reverse actually done very often?

Yeah, but I think it might be more common in stuff that's going to be printed in BW.

What were you planning on using? The best results I've seen are from simple white acrylic paint. I've seen some people try to do what you're describing using White-Out or something similar ("corrective fluid") and the results are usually mediocre.

Well, I bought a bottle of "white ink" from my art supply store. In appearance and consistency, it doesn't seem to be too different from white-out.
posted by COBRA! at 12:02 PM on June 16, 2006


That'd be tough going, because I'd just be inverting selected parts of a given page/panel... unless I just inked the entire page in reverse, which would break my brain.

Selection marquee, dude. It's very easy. Select. Invert.

Dave Sim did craploads of white lettering on black back when before Photoshop was prevalent. Tying to remember what he used. White-out doesn't work. Too grainy & inconsistent. White acrylic + a nib pen? But Photoshop is so much easier.
posted by furiousthought at 12:15 PM on June 16, 2006


Drawing with white ink is miserable, whether you're using a nib pen or a brush—any unevenness in the thickness of the ink is really obvious, and you usually have to go over parts of it several times. I'll second the suggestion that you invert the little sections later.
posted by interrobang at 12:18 PM on June 16, 2006


I don't know what kind of white ink you're using, but yeah -- stay away from "white out" and white paint.

If you're a brush man, the stuff you want is Pelikan Graphic White. I haven't tried using it with nibs, as it's pretty thick. With a pen I'd probably try white Rapidograph ink.
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:21 PM on June 16, 2006


Selection marquee, dude. It's very easy. Select. Invert.

Yeah, if I gotta, I gotta; but I'm working on a laptop with a trackpad, and selection's a pain. That's why I'm hoping for an analog way to deal with this.

Thanks for the ideas so far, everybody.
posted by COBRA! at 12:23 PM on June 16, 2006


Of course, a REAL man would just use black ink and only ink the negative space AROUND the white.
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:26 PM on June 16, 2006


Heh.
posted by interrobang at 12:30 PM on June 16, 2006


True enough. The thought's crossed my mind...
posted by COBRA! at 12:31 PM on June 16, 2006


In what I've read about Sin City, Miller drew the roughs conventionally, black on white and then inked conventionally but then when back in with white to create certain effects (like rain).

You could always ink the the small detailed areas conventionally and paint the larger black areas in on the computer after it's scanned. It will save you some ink.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2006


Of course, a REAL man would just use black ink and only ink the negative space AROUND the white.

Ha! Actually, that's how I used to do it! It's a wonder I still have a drawing hand.

Now that you mention Pelikan Graphic White, I'm pretty sure that's the stuff Sim used to use. I never got much mileage out of the stuff myself.
posted by furiousthought at 2:04 PM on June 16, 2006


And you know, 30 bucks for a portable mouse for easier selecting isn't gonna set you back much, if at all, over the cost of white ink + brush or whatever other options we're throwing around.
posted by furiousthought at 2:06 PM on June 16, 2006


You could achieve some interesting effects by using Photoshop's layers to combine different drawings. For example, ink something as black-on-white on a separate piece of paper, invert it in Photoshop, then drag it in as a new layer (set to 'difference') over top of your other drawing. No complicated selections needed.
posted by GeekAnimator at 2:23 PM on June 16, 2006


Actually, after fiddling with it for a few minutes, 'screen' is probably a better choice than 'difference', though 'difference' does some neat things, too.
posted by GeekAnimator at 2:31 PM on June 16, 2006


Go old school and use scratchboard.
posted by hifimofo at 7:37 PM on June 16, 2006


As for your computer problems, you want a wacom tablet of course. But you probably knew that.
posted by beerbajay at 3:00 AM on June 17, 2006


I had the exact problem you had, with a laptop trackpad being clumsy in photoshop and illustrator. I didn't want a wired mouse all getting tangled up, and I didn't want a big wireless transmitter hanging off my laptop. I highly recommend this mouse, which I bought for closer to $30 at Staples. You might not like it if you have large hands, as it smaller than most mice, but it doesn't bother me since I only use it for certain things and I don't have lumberjack hands.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:26 PM on June 18, 2006


Do your pencils in non-photo non-repro blue pencil. It should still be visible if you're working in sufficient light. Then, when it comes to inking, try Dale Rowney FW opaque white ink, or Pelikan Graphic White will work too.

I know of some guys who use white gouache but I would think that that would be more for fixing mistakes. As mentioned by some folks above, gummy, flaky, goopy chunky white-out is more or less useless for comics.

Speedball super black can get you really thick, dark, even blacks when you lay down the background. As mentioned above you can save ink by doing big swaths of black in photoshop

Random trivia: If you're doing a sci-fi comic, don't forget that an old toothbrush with bristles dipped lightly in white ink and gently frisked with your fingertip or fingernail is great for creating starscapes. Good luck!
posted by Adam White at 12:58 AM on June 19, 2006


Thanks a bunch, everybody. I'll be switching to blue pencils, possibly buying a mouse, and sitting in the corner crying over the fact that my copy of Photoshop is far too old to work with anything Wacom puts out.
posted by COBRA! at 7:57 AM on June 19, 2006


Of course, a REAL man would just use black ink and only ink the negative space AROUND the white.
posted by Robot Johnny at 2:26 PM CST on June 16 [mark as best answer] [+fave] [!]


Y'know, this actually seems to be the best way to go, at least for me. This gets the results I like the best, at least.
posted by COBRA! at 2:44 PM on September 5, 2006


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