Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - Blog


While last week’s art experiments with the strip were focused on pencils (and software), this week’s have been more about inks. Specifically, the tool I use to ink.

The dive into pencil-only strips was predicated on the idea that not finishing the art with inks would make the process faster. In truth, scanning and compiling the pencils into strips meant the overall process wasn’t saving me as much time as I’d expected, and the results were leaving me less than satisfied. This isn’t the first time I’ve ended with sketches or pencils as a time saver (see these summer arcs from 2010 and 2012). Sometimes I dig the results, but overall, I think I’m a sucker for strong black lines.

My ink experiments this week have been focused on making those black lines, but faster. I’ve long enjoyed playing with brush pens, and on Monday, I did the strip entirely in brush pen. The last panel was a muddy mess, though; if anything, I just need to work larger to make the art come together right. Here’s a recent brush pen sketch I did in an Artist Edition of my book, with which I was more satisfied. (Click to enlarge.)

Wednesday’s strip was inked in Microns, my weapon of choice prior to the digital switch. As with the pen, I cut one too many corners by drawing too small. The end result looks rough to my eye (and not artistically rough). It did make me think about the ligne claire style–which Microns are well suited for–as it’s been executed or interpreted by folks like Herge, Mike Mignola, and even Jim Mahfood. If I try that route, I think the lines have to be more precision-placed, as opposed to the sketchier look of my work on Wednesday.

All told, though, the traditional media inking still has the same old drawbacks that pushed me to digital years ago: corrections are somewhat more cumbersome to make, and you still have to scan and compile the art into the computer for wrap-up.

I think I’m going to give the brush pen another go, drawing larger. I’m trying to salvage free moments in time by drawing the strips in my sketchbook, so I’ll have to get creative about how I approach that.

A parting note on software: After one more good college try with Gimp, I slapped my inner Scrooge into submission and got myself the latest Photoshop. The oddities like floating layers, poor freehand line quality, unexpected behavior for selection and move features, and constant crashes while editing text just were eating up too much of my time (which is why Monday’s strip has no gray tones). No offense to Gimp aficionados, just wanted to cap my software tale, and say that–whatever software you’re used to–it’s nice to be “home” again.

Been doing some big playing with drawing style! You’ll see more deviations to come…


  1. Khalid Birdsong

    Thanks for sharing! I love inking with Micron pens but I also had to go digital to save time. Using Manga Studio software is really smooth and made for cartoonists. My work flow has improved and I’m moving a lot faster now.

  2. jynksie

    I still do my character drawings the old fashioned way, ink pens [faber-castell Pitt artist pens] and a scanner. My backgrounds are digitally done however, I rarely put pen to paper to create anything that Isn’t an animal or a person due to those aspects not having that black line aspect to it.

    I always enjoy reading when another creator tries different things to up their game and tighten their work time. People who can draw, ink and color in less than 3 hours… I wanna push them into oncoming traffic! [wink]

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