Inking samples for past works by Kevin Manklow

Inking Isn’t Tracing

Inking samples for past works by Kevin Manklow

Anyone remember that scene in the 1997 film Chasing Amy?  The argument that Jason Lee had with a comic convention “fan” regarding the role of inking a comic book?  It was by far the best part of Chasing Amy.

It’s true dammit! “Inking adds depth and shading to give the image more definition.  Only then does the drawing truly take shape.”
Inking my artwork is by far, the most satisfying aspect of this creative process…well, for me at least.  When I illustrate the line-art I’m still trying to figure things out, questioning my decisions.  When the pencil illustration is complete, I’ll then shape and sculpt the drawing with light and shadow to give the illusion of depth, form and a definitive interpretation of the pencils.  Adding the slightest weight to a line can help a character leap off a page, or sit in the distance.  The line-weight interpreted by inking can also determine the mood and emotion of a story.  Heavy line-weight could represent a darker mood and emotion, whereas a thin stroke can be applied to show distance and symbolize a lighter mood.  I have a heavy hand and I like my inking to represent shadow.  This reflects the tone and style of THE BONESETTER, as its story is dark and gritty.

The Harvest War

I have some personal industry-favorites that use ink to set tone and emotion to their comic books or graphic novels; Mike Mignola is fantastic. His inking is dense, yet simple and deliberate. He uses the weight of light and shadow as a design element to frame out the focal point of a page layout.  Jae Lee also uses heavy inks to set the mood of a story with foreboding shadows that seem to melt off the page.  His work on the Stephen King adaptation of The Dark Tower was haunting and Gothic. Even though these artists all inspire that sense of noir, I similarly enjoy the free flowing nature of Paul Madonna’s modest, quirky line-work.  His art feels alive and structured without the disruption of a single straight line.

These artists have influenced my own work quite a bit.  I’ve struggled to show a unique creative voice over the years.  My inking is thick, dark and organic.  I tend to shy away from hard angles and straight lines. I like using a brush but it scares me (I don’t have the control yet), so I still opt for crow quill inking tools, fine liners or marker brushes.  I tend to use other unconventional tools to get a natural line.  An elongated paper clip has a nice bend, and reacts well to the ink when creating hair or blood effects.  I’ve used the tooth brush method for splatter effects but it gets out of control for me, so I now use a method of snapping flexible plastic business cards against each other to get a precise splatter effect.

These tools and techniques are natural; they cannot be replicated with Photoshop or Painter Pro.  I can’t dip my digital tablet pen into pixels, then watch in amazement as line-weight shape and form on their own.  Ink will always hold a form of uniqueness and originality when applied to the pencil work.  I see it as an evolution of a pre-existing blueprint that starts with pencil drawings.  It helps bring my line-work to life and defines the artwork as innovative…never traced ;)

Lyrics Rage

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