Different inking tools: Digital inking.

Part Three of the Different Inking Tools series. You can read the previous two here:

Part 1 – Nibs, quills, brushes

Part 2 – Inks and paper

I have been with some internal struggle. The old “why do you ink?”

Pencilers, pencils, right?

Inkers used to ink using traditional tools. That lead to a piece of art to maintain, or show on portfolios or even sell as originals for the collectors. Today I am not at the stage of selling originals, since, well… my comics are not that known.

But, at this day and age, comics are mostly digitally produced. Penciling, inking and coloring are made mostly on computer softwares, leading to reduce to one medium the whole process. Only some artists still relies on inkers. I am a huge fan of those artists that still works on traditional styles (Shawn Crystal, Sean Gordon Murphy, Zack Howard, Matteo Scalera…)

– So, Softwares helps to develop a full product, a full page.

– Then, the inker is either not needed, or needs to improve his skills to the digital media. I am an inker, I can not lay down and die. Still there are plenty of good inkers out there, Some inkers today also inks digitally. Jonathan Glapion, Daniel Henriques and some other artists uses their Wacom Cintiq Companion and deliver pages inked digitally.

– At my current artistic stage, still there are some pencilers that does not like to ink / have the time / have the confidence to ink themselves. I have found several people that fits into the first group: Artists that does not like their own inks. My offer to them is to give a proper service of quality, trust and confidence towards their work. I don’t accomplish that always, but still is a progression to make.

So, this internal struggle ends with Scott McCould words:

“Digital comics and digital comic art are still drawings”.

So, as a conclusion theory:

– Since I know some pencilers who still needs inkers and I work digitally for them.

I’ve been digitally inking more and more since 2013, I started inking digitally back in 2012 very often. Then, my first pencil/ink gig, MDS. Then, I decided if I’d have some back end gigs to work in, such as  Starburn, where payment will or will not ending being as close as my basic Page Rate, then I wouldn’t work on a medium that would make me waste money on traditional tools. So, for that I started spreading my inking knowledge and started inking, first using Adobe Photoshop, then with Manga Studio/ Clip Studio Paint.

Tools in use:

First rule is that before you start inking digitally, have some experience drawing with a different medium, which is the digital tablet. Like riding a bicycle the best suggestion is to start from a basic tricycle when you are a child to one with training wheels and then a real bicycle. Basic tools are cheaper, helps you to find your best line and see if this is your thing. Don’t start with a expensive digital screen tablet if you are not sure. My suggestion is start with a cheap Bamboo tablet. Bamboo is the cheaper digital tablet from Wacom and works fine with digital drawing tools. This Wacom Wireless Bamboo Pad Review – YouTube will help you out.

The most difficult thing (at least for me) is to get used to the fact to split the connection hand/eye in two. When you start with a digital tablet, you’ll realize that you draw over a limited space, but your drawing appears on a screen so controlling the small detail, the correct angle of your wrist and the tilt angle of the tablet would take some time to adjust for first-timers. Once you control that connection (and budget) you can upgrade your tool to a bigger tablet. I can’t recommend enough Wacom Intros Pro Tablet.  It’s bigger, more sensitive, it can work wireless and it’s sensitive. The side pad helps you with some program buttons and the small circular sensitive wheel is very useful for rotation and zooming.

For Screen tablets, one of my next posts will be focused on the experience on purchasing my Huion 185 HD tablet. Maybe with a video. XD

Disclaimer: Never, never ever  never and ever think that you would make it inking digitally using a mouse. Reasons are so many, this post would take hours to read.

Ok, let’s see about these tools:


Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is the mot common graphic editor in use. Adobe set of creative softwares are the Holy Grial  for creative people. Talking about them means long hours of debate. this photo editor software is also great for drawings and inking jobs. Photoshop was my first inking software for choice when I started. I inked several small stories and my first published work, Trixie Dynamite. 

Captura de pantalla 2015-09-20 17.50.56

Advantages: I had a long relationship with Photoshop over my industrial Design / Trade Account Manager years. But not for drawing. I was a self taught user, so I guess I couldn’t even understand 15% of the software capabilities. It’s a very intuitive software but still is needed to know the basics. Key shortcuts leaves you almost no need for complexed program mixtures, so leaves most of the work to the art and your craft skills. Take a look at this tutorial to get used to ink in Photoshop.   You can enhance your inking work with great brushes

Disadvantages: First of all, Photoshop is a EXPENSIVE software. Adobe has created a Cloud version for creative people that for a monthly fee you can use the whole Adobe Suite. However, It depends on the user, for me it’s good to use, but not my natural choice. At the time I was inking on Photoshop, brushes were not very crafted and I didn’t like the Wacom Stylus sensitivity  nd the modular line it created. Today brushes are easier to create and to find, so I think it would be as good to use as Manga Studio.


– Smith Micro’s Manga Studio / Clip Studio Paint: Once I was invited to work in Starburn, I dedided not to got against the flow and listen to my friend Kóte Carvajal’s suggestion and move to the software almost every artists I know uses, Manga Studio. This software is appointed as the best comic software worldwide. Period.

Captura de pantalla 2015-09-20 17.42.21

Advantages: If you are used to Photoshop it’s almost no effort to move to Manga Studio. Most commands and the screening are exactly the same, but the main focus in not photo editing, but creating comics. It’s heavily cheaper than Adobe Photoshop. You can get the Full Pro edition for 200 USD  and Smith Micro, the software developer, sometimes makes their sales cutting up to 75% its price off. That’s the version I got.

Another advantage: Software page settings. I have set up the USA comic book settings.

Another Advantage: Frenden Manga Studio Brushes are the most life-like digital brushes I have meet up. I can have Hunt Quills, Sumi brushes, Dry ink brushes, Microns. That’s one of the key characteristics of Manga Studio and Frenden makes half the magic. I really ove that set of brushes.

Another Advantage: Material Library: 3D modeler, Color Pattern, Framing Materilas, Effect lines, a whole lot of helpers. Everyone is a world to explain and it has helped me a huge lot to my work.

Disadvantages: Probably it’s my computer (a MacBook Pro) and not the software itself, but sometimes the high resolution files tends to reboot the computer.

So, as everything in life, must gain experience on everything in order to make a wise choice. For me at least is Clip Studio Paint.

Bests CDC




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Born in Barcelona, 1977, now I live in Chile. I'm currently working as a inker or letterer for several American, New Zealand or UK publishers like Beyond Reality Media, Alterna Comics, Advent Comics, Insane Comics, IDW Publishing, Ariete Producciones and Dogitia among others.

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