Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning:
Original pencils by Roho. Inked by me. This may be the cover to Hellbound #2.
Everything was done in Corel Painter 12 using the the pen tools. Scratchboard tool for the majority of the line work, scratchboard rake for mass cross hatching, and flat colors for spot blacks. These pens are also available in Painter 11 (and probably further back then that). Since the original pencils were sent to me at 600ppi I had to increase my brush sizes (Scratchboard tool: 24px; Scratchboard rake: 8px). Scratchboard rake takes some practice to yield lines that are the right thickness for the resolution. I favour decreasing the pressure sensitivity on the wacom tablet even though it means I'll have to do that many more strokes to get dark areas.
Note that the rake doesn't yield pure blacks. Since all lines are anti-aliased unless you're using a 1-bit bitmap (which I never do) it's not a huge problem unless you're one of those inkers that want every stroke to be pure black ink or have a very precise printing requirement. It's easy to over do it, but that's what layers and erasers are for.
Hellbound 2 Cover Art
This Hellbound piece and the one before it marks a return to a style that experimented with in my early 1990s B&W work. Back then I was an inexperienced artist and I did not have digital tools. A piece inked this way with real ink is very susceptible to over rendering. Alternately, it required such careful planning that it was just too time consuming. In truth, I also spent a lot of time adding lines where there need not be to hide underlying weaknesses in the drawings themselves.
When I got back into comics and illustration seriously again I ditched my old habits that weren't producing work of a quality I wanted. I explored simplified and super clean styles with varying levels of success. You can still see I there. There's not yet a uniformity to line work as I bring in several different schools of thought in inking at once. More practice needed.
I wouldn't say that I'm in love with the cross hatched style of the last few pieces I've done, but it's interesting that I'm exploring my 'roots' again and finding new ways of applying an old technique. Over the last year I've spent a greater portion of my art time experimenting with different looks and techniques than ever before. It's funny how despite all that I still find it very natural to draw this way even though I never had a real body of work that used this technique for aforementioned reasons. One of the reasons I looked around to cleaner styles was an effort to speed production times, but the ironic thing about that is that it usually took more effort to ensure clean lines and strip details then for my brain to go on auto-pilot and spew forth tone. I wonder if this is how other artists find and settle on their styles. Only time and another hundred drawings or so will tell I guess.
via Carl Tsui

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