Comic Book Digital Inking Techniques with Illustrator Vector Anchor Points

I’ve received several requested to show the steps I used to create my digital inking of the Fantastic Four pin up I did of artist Ariel Padilla’s pencils.  I was looking for some art to ink and found the pencils on his DeviantArt page. This was a practice exercise I gave myself in the inking process of comic book art using Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been a graphic designer for over 9 years but this was the first time I used my design knowledge for comic book inking.

contreras designs illustrator inks 01 Comic Book Digital Inking Techniques with Illustrator Vector Anchor Points

Points & Paths: Example 1

For this self assignment I decided to use Adobe Illustrator for inking the pin-up. I had used photoshop for a previous piece earlier I did of Batman 2.0, a character redesign. I had fun with that illustration but this time I wanted to do this digital inking in vector format. Why choose vector verse bitmap? Well in a vector image it is made up of anchor point that are connected by paths (lines) that connect them. A vector image can be re-sized without loss of quality to the illustration. So basically you can re-size the image as small or as large as you’d like without pixelation, it will keep it’s sharpness no mater the size.  Which is really neat.

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Points & Paths: Example 2

For this illustration I choose to use my anchor points to create only straight paths (lines). I didn’t use any curved lines. The cool thing about using anchor points and paths is that you can make curved paths, resulting in less points This is shown in Points & Paths: Example 2. So why didn’t I use curve paths? Well honestly it was a self exercise to see if I could do it. I wanted to create the curved lines through straight lines. I found it to be a fun challenge.

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Points & Paths: Example 3

I did not create lines or outlines of the original pencils. What I did was look at each line as a shape. I could have easy used the brush tool in Illustrator, but I found I actually had more control of what I wanted to achieve by using the pen tool.

With the technique I like to use of anchor points and paths I am able to get a type of jagged smooth shape. The strength of anchor points is you can use as many or as little points as you’d like to create your lines or shapes. I’ve illustrated this in Points & Paths: Example 3.

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Points & Paths: Example 4

After I created the shape from the pencils, I colored it in with black. I’ve shown this in Points & Paths: Example 4. As you can see it’s a piece of a puzzle that makes up the inking. These shapes help to create the feel I was looking for when digitally inking this drawing. This technique really works well when inking the Thing’s rocky skin.

I have included more example of the anchor points and paths technique I use in inking these pencils. In Points & Paths: Example 5, we see how the wavy fire on Human Torch can be created without using curved lines. Every anchor point in the flames helps to create the illusion of line weight, depth, and movement.

In Points & Paths: Example 6, I’ve shown how I created what looks to be a line on the Invisible Woman’s arm. It is actually a curved shape created with paths. It is a shape that includes the bottom line of her arm and the shadows around her neck. You can see her hands and the background are already colored in.

Although this technique might not seem to be the most efficient, it allows for a lot of control. Looking at each line as a shape helped me to create a type of line work I would not have achieved otherwise.

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Points & Paths: Example 5

contreras designs illustrator inks 02 Comic Book Digital Inking Techniques with Illustrator Vector Anchor Points

Points & Paths: Example 6

This was my first comic book digital inking using Adobe Illustrator with the anchor points and paths technique. I have done a few more since this one. Although I have used curved line in those illustrations. This was a fun self exercise in learning to digitally ink the work of some else. I am very happy with the way this illustration came out, and I’ll continue to use Adobe Illustrator to digitally ink comic book pencils.

fantastic four by arielpadilla Comic Book Digital Inking Techniques with Illustrator Vector Anchor Points contreras design comic inking 01l Comic Book Digital Inking Techniques with Illustrator Vector Anchor Points

Points & Paths: Example 6

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About Ralph Contreras

I'm a graphic designer and proud comic book nerd living in Santa Fe, NM. I have aspirations of becoming a professional comic book artist. I've been reading comics for over 25 years. I owned and ran my own comic shop for 5 years. I've set up this blog to archive my journey from comic fan to comic creator. I'm posting my character designs, pencil drawing, digital inks and some fun free comic resources. I'm always interest in making new friends and contacts, so drop me a line any time. - Shazam!