Adventures in Inking: Waterproof vs Water-resistant Ink

I love inking but it has also caused me great frustration over the years. I have always just inked using Pilot G-Tec gel pens (usually 0.4 and 0.3) and then filled in large white spaces with either a Sharpie or just a regular marker as long as the shade of black is close to the Pilot G-Tec’s ink. Sometimes, I get the results I want, other times, I’m completely underwhelmed when I can’t get the look I’m aiming for.

For example, this Batman vs Bane piece may look OK but I thought the lines were too few and simple:

This drawing of Batman giving a present to a kid was done before Christmas Day last year and while it got a lot of Likes on Instagram, it still wasn’t able to scratch the particular inking itch I was feeling:

Feathering with gel pens can give a drawing a very detailed look, but since the lines are too thin, I found that you have to feather a lot to give a sense of three-dimensionality and to fill in spaces that are just empty. I really liked this Batman vs Joker piece but around this time, I was already looking for inking alternatives:

After going back to peruse the works of my spirit animal and unknowing mentor, Brian Bolland, I decided to get serious about inking. I knew artists who specialize in inks use paintbrushes and other more sophisticated tools for better-looking ink effects, so I went to my local art supplier and got a bottle of Higgins Eternal Ink. I also bought two super cheap synthetic paintbrushes since the store didn’t have the Pilot Brush Pen I was looking for:

The results were, frankly speaking, quite dissapointing to me. Higgins Eternal Black Ink was too watery and the shade of black was really uneven, so you could see your strokes and painting over areas that are already covered with paint gave the entire thing a patchy look. I grew even more frustrated than ever before:

I did some more research and found out that what I was looking for was actually not Higgins Eternal Black Ink–which was water-resistant ink–but was waterproof ink more commonly known as India ink. This stuff was supposed to be much darker and was viscous enough that it didn’t flow all over the paper. Went back to the local art supplies store (which is Deovir Art Supplies, by the way, with stores in SM Megamall and SM City North EDSA), and got me a bottle of Speedball Super Black India Ink:

One stroke was all it took to conclude that I finally had the right stuff. Speedball’s Super Black Ink gave a deep, gorgeous black shade. It also helped that I bought two new, more expensive paintbrushes (still synthetic but definitely better put together than the previous ones). I took a stab at inking this drawing of Damian Wayne Robin with Titus the dog and Harley Quinn and got some interesting results:

I didn’t dive headlong into that drawing without prior knowledge of inking. In fact, I watched several how-to videos on YouTube just so I was sure what the heck I was supposed to do with my paintbrushes. The first time I did it was admittedly difficult, and I had a feeling that I should get smaller, finer paintbrushes to be able to feather better and give my drawing more detail. But after finishing the Harley Quinn piece, I rested a bit and went back at it again and somehow–somehow, I was already doing a lot better:

So it looks like with inking–as with anything else in life–the most important thing is practice and experience. The size of the brush isn’t as important as the lessons you learn while you do this painstaking thing over and over again. I’m getting the hang of this and I’m obsessed! Looking forward to inking more illustrations really soon!

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2 Comments

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  1. Experience is definitely a good teacher, but quality tools help a lot. Glad you found your ink and better brushes!

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