Start Inking Your Drawings | Inking Basics | Thomas Pitilli | Skillshare

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Start Inking Your Drawings | Inking Basics

teacher avatar Thomas Pitilli, Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools

    • 3. Brush Warm Ups / Techniques

    • 4. Pen Techniques

    • 5. Outlines

    • 6. Texture and Lighting

    • 7. Outro

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About This Class


Hi! In this class we will learn some of the various techniques for inking your illustrations. We will talk about a variety of tools and the basics behind the art inking.

Adding ink over your drawings can be a scary thing at first, but hopefully by the end of this class you'll learn enough information and techniques to give you a new sense of confidence in this area. This is a non-digital inking class, so we will be working with traditional tools like brush and pen. I feel like it's best to learn with traditional tools and then later on you can apply the same techniques and principles to whatever digital software you may want to use.

Who is this class for?

This class is for anyone who is interested in incorporating ink into their drawings. I've noticed that a lot of students and artists just starting out are very intimidated by the idea of applying ink to their pencil drawings, so I'm hoping that this class will 

What you can expect from this class:

I will start off giving an overview of some of the tools you're going to want to consider using when just starting out. 

I will then give a brief rundown of some of the techniques and exercises you can use with those tools.

Finally, I will discuss some of the principles of inking such as lighting and texture, while inking a pencil sketch of my own. Watch me approach this from start to finish. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Thomas Pitilli



My name is Thomas Pitilli and I am an illustrator and comic book artist based in Brooklyn, NY.

I am currently series artist on the Riverdale monthly comic from Archie Comics and artist on DC Comic's upcoming graphic novel, Gotham High. I also create editorial illustrations for clients such as, New York Times, Playboy, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Scholastics, Scientific American, etc. 

In addition to my client work, I am an adjunct professor at Montclair State University, where I teach a class in Cartooning. I am grateful to Skillshare for offering a platform where I can share my knowledge of cartooning and illustration with a global audience.

Finally, I also enjoy creating images for prints and other merchandise in my Etsy and Society6 shops. See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi. My name is Thomas Fertility, and I'm an illustrator and comic book artist. And in this class, I'd like to cover the various techniques for inky year. Illustrations in this class will go over a variety of tools and ways of approaching the art . Think adding Inc over your drawing can be a very scary thing at first, but hopefully by the end of this class, you learn enough information and techniques to give you a new sense of content. It's in this area many artists nowadays, including myself in digitally. But in this class I will be showing you the fundamentals. Using traditional tools, I feel like the best way to learn is with traditional rules, which you can then apply to whatever digital software you might want to use future. So, without further ado, let's jump into it and discuss the tools 2. Tools: So let's talk about tools. I think a good place to start would be the ink itself. My favorite Inc is the Windsor Newton brand Black India Ink. I've used a lot of different brands, and over the years I found that this is definitely my favorite. It drives really flat, goes on very smooth. It's not too thick, it's not too thin. Ah, very high quality ink. In my opinion, some people like other brands. I recommend just experimenting and seeing what works for you. But I totally recommend this brand. So when applying the ink with a brush, you're gonna want to use a watercolor brush. I don't recommend spending a ton of money on a fancy brush. The industry standard is the Windsor Newton Siri seven number to brush. It's a great brush, but it's pretty expensive, and every now and then you can still get it done. So I recommend just getting the cheap generic art store brand brushes. They're still really great quality. You don't have to go crazy over taking care of them and being really precious with them. Um, the last you probably about 5 to 6 months and they'll probably cost you maybe 67 bucks the most. So, um, this one is a pretty cheap Windsor Newton, and this one is like a Blick studio brand. As faras sizes go, this one is a number zero. To be honest, I very rarely use this brush or something this thin, perhaps for something very fine detail, like something in the background or very fine details on a face. You might want to use this, but I recommend using a two a three or even a four. The reason is because even though it's a thicker brush, you could get a much wider range of lines so you could use the very tip and get a very thin line. And the harder you press down, you could get a much thicker line. So within the same stroke, using the same brush, you could go from very, very thin to very, very thick. So that's why I recommend using a brush that's gonna have a very wide range of line. I like to keep on deck an old beat up brush. Um, this brush I've had for years, Um, it's seen better days, but it's still a really strong brush, and it's a kind of beat up, so it gets a really nice dry brush effect. Dry brush is when you have less ink on the brush, and so when you put it down, it's kind of soft and cloudy looking. It gives you a really nice effect for, um, different shading, textures, things like that, Um, and again, this one, because it's so old and beat up. I could do stuff like this and get pretty rough with it and get some really interesting textures. So I like to have an old brush that you could sort of experiment with and not have to be too precious with. This is probably one of my favorite tools. This is Thebe pen Tell pocket brush pen and it's a brush pen, and there's a lot of brush pens on the market nowadays. But this, in my opinion, is the best one. And I know a lot of professionals use this for professional work. I have used it for professional work as well. Um, it's refillable, which is pretty cool. This one is empty at the moment, but ah, these cartridges just refill. And the pen itself is only I think, like 1999 and The cartridges are like two for five bucks or something like that in the last you quite a while. It's really good quality ink. The bristles are very strong. It keeps a really nice tip. Um, I definitely can't recommend this enough. It's a great it's a great tool. However, I don't recommend learning how to think with a brush using this tool. It is a bit on the thicker side, and it can be a big clunky. So if you're learning how to ink with this, it might be a little bit tough. At first. I recommend learning on a traditional brush and then everything that you learn here you can apply to the brush pen. It does take a little bit of getting used to in terms of how much pressure you're gonna need to apply. But once you get the hang of it, it's super convenient. It's portable. You won't spill any ink. Um, it's also great just for sketching on the go to great great thinking tool. Speaking of pens, I love pens. I think pens are a great tool for Anqing. Ideally speaking, I think the strongest line work is really a blending of both brushwork and pens. That juxtaposition between those two kinds of lines, I think, is really interesting. When I'm working with pens. I like thes mechanical inking pens. I personally don't use my Cron's. I know a lot of people use my Cron's and really like them, but, um, I think the ink is really good, but the tips tend to break, and they tend to dry out pretty quick for me. So, um, I found these alternatives that I like a lot better. So here's just a sampling of some of my favorites. My all time favorite, I would say, is the Stabler pen thes pigment liners, A really great waterproof. On paper, they're very, very strong, very strong tip. They're great for backgrounds and panel borders and drawing mechanical things like buildings and cars and things like that. These can be a bit on the expensive side, so I have found that a really great alternative to those pens really, really similar quality is this lay pen drawing pin by Marv E. I found these at Blick art stores, and they're really, really great. This is like my new favorite mechanical pen. I'd draw with these all the time and I do a lot of my professional work with these as well . They come very close to the Stabler, and there I will say they're like half the price. So I really recommend these as faras pens ago. I like the stay there. Sort of. This is more of a marker tip. Ah, at least could go up in size. You could get like a medium or a large to fill in really black areas. I like doing some my outlines with a thicker pen slash marker sometimes gives it a slightly different effect. Um, the's kopecks air really great again, these air a little bit more on the price, your side. But they last for a really long time. The ink is really great. The line quality is really great. So I definitely recommend these, although they are on the more expensive side. So if you're a student and you're just starting out, I highly recommend these late pen drawings by Marv E. Um, those are really the pens I use. I like this pen. I threw this in the mix because this is a pen that I get from a store in New York called Muji and I'm not sure if they have them in other cities around the country, but it's a Japanese store and they have these really fine tip pens. And these are great for, like, sketchbook stuff when I go to model drawing or if I'm drawing on location gets a really nice fine line, and it's great for hatching. Great for really, really small detail. I will use this in professional work from time to time. So I recommend having something like this. Even if it's a really just really thin sort of office pen, you could get some interesting effects with it, whether for just sketching or professional work. And then, lastly, it's always good to have a little white pen around, not only for corrections but also for highlights and different effects that you could get with a white pen on top of black ink. It's kind of cool what you could do with that. And when you're drinking with a brush, I recommend having a little bit of ah, brush plate these air like 50 cents a pop at the art store, um, a little something to put water in. It's always good to control and see how much ink you're using when you're working with ink and then to have a little water handy to rinse your brush and even add a little water to the ink to create a bit of a wash effect. It's nice to have water around. I would also recommend having like a rag or a napkin around, just in case you get little spills here and there, Um, and also to dry your brush off. Lastly, I can't recommend enough different sort of rulers, curved edges and templates again if you're drawing backgrounds, cars, mechanical things that you need the line to be exact thes work really well with pens and with ink in general. So I like all the stuff that see through to so you can see through the drawing that you're working on. I totally recommend having these around, So that's it for tools. Next up, we'll talk about how to start using these things 3. Brush Warm Ups / Techniques: Okay, So before you jump right into thinking your final pencil drawing, I recommend taking a piece of scrap paper or sketchbook, paper or napkin or whatever you have around that's handy and doing some warm up exercises. Um, pretty much you just want to get your hand used to working with the brush. Get your arm activated. Get the ink activated. Sometimes the brush has been laying around for a while, and it hasn't been used, and you kind of want to fill it up with the Yank and just kind of get comfortable using it . Um, make some mistakes, get experimental, twirled it, making different strokes warming up. It's kind of like stretching before you work out. And, ah, I recommend a nice kind of warm up is going from thin to thick or thick to thin, however, which means the least amount of pressure when you start off and then you slowly put more and more pressure down, and then you could taper off, put less pressure on again and you want to do a bunch of those. You could do big strokes like that. Shorter strokes. Just as long you start getting comfortable with those kinds of movements. These are the kind of movements that you're gonna be using a lot when you're ranking thin to thick, uh, different lines to describe different kinds of shapes. - So a cool effect when you're thinking is something called a dry brush. I mentioned it before, but essentially, it's when you have less ink on your brush. Right now, I'm sort of just emptying out the ink from my brush and getting this dry effect. This is great for sort of texturizing clouds. Or you could even use this for clothing or any kind of, um, highlight somewhere. Perhaps it's just a softer line. Sometimes the way I like to use it is to soften up. Ah, harder line. So you have this nice, solid black line right here. And maybe if I wanted to soften up those edges, I could take this dry brush right now and just kind of soften up those edges. It gives it a nice effect. You could also use 1/2 empty brush to think, to think a whole portion of something, you get a nice dry brush effect. So perhaps if something is in the background, it's inked with a slightly drier brush, and then something that's in the foreground is inked with a full brush. So it kind of it is a nice contrast between foreground and background that way. So when you're playing around warming up like this, you can kind of come across some different techniques as well. But overall, I'd say the most important part of this exercise. It's just to get comfortable with the ink with the brush, Um, and get to know how your arm and your hand best works with the brush with direction. You like to push it in or pull it in. Um, all this stuff is really important before you go into your final art. 4. Pen Techniques: now, when working with pens, I don't think you need to necessarily warm up as much as you would with the ink and brush. There's a little bit more control with pens, but I do recommend having a piece of scrap paper around to test out different effects that you can get with the pens. We're gonna talk about a few of them here, get one with a good amount of ink in it. And pens are great for really fine line detail and adding certain kinds of textures. When I think of pens, I think a lot about hatching and cross hatching. Hatching is thes parallel lines that are drawn very closely together, sort of like that. And when you diagonally put another set of parallel lines on top, you create something called cross hatching, and there's plenty of patterns that you could achieve. Using this method. You could keep building it up in all different directions, and it's a great way to build up an area that you don't want to necessarily be solid. Black kind of creates a certain kind of gray. You could also use it for areas like Denham or um to build up maybe concrete or rock or something like that, all different kinds of texture. Another technique that you could use when you're thinking with pens is something called stippling. Stippling is just making these noisy little dots, and when you bunch them up in certain areas, it creates a darker space. And the less area, the less dots that you put down in certain areas creates a lighter space. So you could kind of make a nice little Grady int just building up these little dots. - So here's a little example of that kind of radiant that you could use for stippling. You could use this effect on, say, maybe, like a turning planet in space, or again, concrete or rock or perhaps, UM, area shown from really high above all different kinds of applications for for this technique. 5. Outlines: Okay, so I thought the best way for me to talk about some of the principles behind thinking is to talk about it. While I'm actually thinking a piece. I think that's the easiest way for me to sort of address some of the things that might come up while banking. So this is just a pencil sketch that I have in my sketchbook. And I thought that I would just sort of think over it and sort of just talk you through it while while I go through it and we'll take it step by step. First, we'll talk about outlining, and then we'll talk about adding lighting and texture. So let's start with the outline you could outline using a brush you could outline using a pen. I'm just gonna dip my brush in some ink here, test it out on my piece of scrap paper, and you'll notice as I do this, I move the page around. Um, pretty often, what? Why I'm doing that is because I'm moving the page so that I could sort of cater to the motions that I'm comfortable using for me. When I'm inking. I like to sort of pull the brush towards me. Some people are feel more comfortable pulling the brush away from them, so you'll figure out what you're most comfortable with. And once you do that, you could sort of turn the image around appropriately so that you could make the kind of lines that you're most comfortable making, so you'll notice that it really is. Um, it's not about rushing and speeding. You want to think about each line. You want to make sure, though, that the lines day fluid. So when you sort of find a line, you want to commit to it. So you want to go slow but not too slow, where you're sort of slowly connecting a line, you want to find a line and then just commit to it. You could always fix it a little later. If you make a mistake because this is drawing and because this is from a head, I'm sort of just creating the light source. So I'm I'm imagining that the light sources somewhere up here say, uh, meaning that all the lines that are closer to the light are gonna be, ah, little bit thinner and all the lines that are a further away from the light are gonna be a little bit thicker. That'll show Ah, little bit more of a range in depth and reinforce a little bit of lighting to the image. - Okay , So before I go on any further inking this with brush, I want to show you, alternatively, how you can Inc the outline also using a pen. If you're not completely comfortable thinking with a brush just yet, it's totally fine to ink a complete peace with pen. You could get the same kind of effects going from thin to thick or thick to thin. It's just that you have to build up that line a little bit more, but the same principles apply when using a pen. So you still want to be conscious about the lighting and where it's coming from, and also the lines being thicker in certain areas, in the lines being thinner in certain areas. So I'm gonna continue inking this piece, and I'm gonna use a pen, and I'm just going to show you that it's just as appropriate to use a pen as well. I wanted to get a little bit closer here to show you how I think something like the face where the lines might be a little bit more delicate. In this case of using a pin, it's a uh this is a 0.5 pen, and again, I'm not moving super slow, but I'm finding a line. I'm committing to it. And, um, I have a lot of lines that went down here with pencil. So I'm picking out the lines that I feel are are the best lines to kind of communicate the features of the face. And I'm just thinking about the anatomy of the face and using those pencil lines as a as a guideline underneath underneath the drawing, - not gonna get too concerned with the detail at this point. I just want to get the whole image outlined. And then after that, after all that work is done, then the fun part kind of happens where you could go in and we're gonna talk about adding lighting and texture and things like that. Right now, I'm just concerned with getting the whole during down with ink 6. Texture and Lighting: All right, so now all the line work is down. So this is where for me, the fun part really begins. This is where you get to focus more on lighting and texture, really experimenting with all the tools, both brush and pens. So I think of thinking as sort of like a step by step process where you slowly build up. So after the line where it goes down now I'm going to take it to the next step and just think a little bit about using mawr lines to suggest lighting. So with this, I think the first place I'm gonna start is sort of that shadow that's casting from the head onto the neck. It's kind of a good way to suggest sort of three dimensionality, some kind of gonna build up thinking about those hatching lines. It's gonna go from more broken up lines into a more solid black area. So there's a little bit of a Grady int on that shadow. And while I'm here, I think what I'm gonna do is sort of texturizing that hair a little bit. And the way I sketched this out is that the hair was curly, which kind of lends itself really nicely, too. Using the brush in interesting ways, making these little half circle kind of patterns. Um, and one of the things that you could do, sort of going back to Thea scrap paper technique that I was talking about earlier is before you were toe work on that hair. You could kind of practice, like, how might I How might I show those curls? No work on some of those half circle patterns. Or maybe you could experiment and say maybe they're more like no spiral e kind of lines, um, tighter even. Or maybe maybe they're just, like even less than half circles there, like these little marks and where they sort of bunch up is sort of at the bottom. And then they might get a little bit more spread out where it starts to hit the light. So that's where having a piece of scrap paper on the side of your final really helps. Because that way, you don't have to experiment and mess up on the final drawing. You could kind of just do do some tests on the side first. I do that all the time, and the more you drink, the more you will develop these little, uh, these little textural patterns and things like that. And again, you want to be thinking about the light source. So I'm bunching these up a lot more as they're further away from the light, and I might even go solid black, actually, towards the very edges of the hair. And as as the hair goes away from the shadow, I could get more expressive with the line, and there could be fewer lines to suggest it. So when you're ranking whether you're using a brush or a pin, you want to try to put down as many different kinds of lines as possible to suggest the thing that you're currently inking. Right now, I'm thinking hair. So I'm really thinking about hair and the different kinds of lines that I could make to best describe that hair. I'm also conscious of the light source, so there's sort of this halo around here that I'm keeping that's gonna show a light source and as well as create a certain three dimensionality to that hair. - Like I said earlier, I like to use both brush and pen Walla Mingqing. I like the juxtaposition of the fine lines pressed against theme or expressive organic lines. And so I'm gonna break out the pen now toe work on this denim pattern with the pencil. I sort of just very roughly suggested a kind of like rough crosshatch he texture s. So now I'm going to try and find those lines as best I can while using a pen. I think I'm gonna use the Stadler, probably a 0.5. But instead of doing a you know, a flat kind of hatching or, um, cross hatching, If I were to just do that on top of this surface, it might flatten the image out. It might be a cool effect, but it also might flatten it out. So I think what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna sort of, um, go with the shape of that area of her body and then when I hatch on top of it, I'm going to reinforce some of that more circular feel to try my best to not flatten that part out in some of the darker areas where the denim starts to fold into itself. I'm just going to sort of build up a bit of a darker tone just by doing a slight crosshatch , and I might go in several different directions to sort of build that up. So this shows, um you know, shadow and three dimensionality, while at the same time reinforcing the texture of that denim. I'm gonna do it over here. To where? Where the shorts air, Furthest away from the light. - But when I'm making a drawing, I'm very conscious of the white and black balance. All you're really working with is the color of the paper and the black of the ink. So you want to make sure that there's a balance, a nice ratio between black and white. So looking at this right now got very nice outline lines over here. There's a lot of dark texture in the hair. There's this real nice kind of crosshatch e textural stuff going on in the shorts. I feel like in the middle. It would be nice if this shirt is completely black, right? So it kind of creates a nice balance here. Ah, one way you could do it is using a brush, filling it up with ink and just filling it up. Or you could use a thicker marker for instance, I like to add larger areas of black to sort of ground the image onto the page. To me, it kind of helps make the image pop a little bit. - So while I have the brush out now, I'm looking at it again and I'm gonna go back in and reinforce some of these darker areas. This whole area is in shadow technically, if the light source is coming from above, So maybe I'll just make a boulder line underneath just to help make it pop a little bit more. - Now I could take the pen back out, and with the pencil, I suggested that there's a little sort of cast shadow, so I'm gonna kind of put that in with the ink now just slightly. It could be sort of hatching lines like this or they could even be. It could even be sort of like a solid black shadow cash shadow thing. But it just further suggests that light source and gives her a little bit more of a sense of space and place. So now I could go back in with the pen and add a little bit more texture to her face, be adding a few more lines to her lips just to give it a little bit more in a live nous you can even add over here. The guy, I think I suggested some some freckles. Give it a little bit individuality, and also, I realize the different marks that I could make with this pen. 7. Outro: Well, that's it for now. I appreciate you watching this class, and hopefully you got something out of it. Um, I had a lot of fun sort of going over this brief introduction to inking, showing you some of the tools that I have used and working on this demo here today. Hopefully, this gave you a little bit more confidence. Working with ink. I would love to see how you might apply some of the things you learned here to some of your drawing. So feel free to post down low for this class. So the other people watching this class could see some of the work that you've done. I could see some of the work that you've done. And maybe in future classes, I could go into a little bit more detail on some of the more specific things that go along with thinking your work. So thanks again for watching. And until next time, take care