Tutorial: Inking in Photoshop

After finishing your pencil drawing in Photoshop, the next step would be to print it and collate it at the wall before penciling in corrections. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll skip right ahead and start inking!

Again, I’m doing this in Photoshop using the Wacom tablet. Add a new layer to your image. Set the opacity to 50%. Choose the Brush Tool (B key) and locate the Brush menu (Window > Brush or F5). Set the Brush size to 6 px, roundness and hardness to 100% and spacing to 1%. Make sure only ‘Smoothing’ is selected in the Brush Tip Shape menu (Shape Dynamics would not stay unselected so I left it at that). Again, you can save this preset (little square icon in the lower right corner of the Brush panel) and name it ‘Ink’ for example.

Other useful features are showing a crosshair in your brushtip (check the box under Edit > Preferences > Cursors). Make sure that you select ‘Normal Brush Tip’ in this same menu.

Fig. 1: Adding a new layer, Brush settings, tracing a glyph and stroking a path

Now zoom in and start inking! The useful thing about having set the opacity of this layer to 50% is that you can see and easily follow your underlying pencil line. Again, you can hold down Shift to create a straight line. Also, you can use the Pen Tool (P key) to make round shapes (such as the ‘placenta’ sign) as you did when drawing vector lines in Illustrator. Bear in mind that instead of using Alt to edit an anchor point as in Illustrator, in Photoshop it’s the Ctrl key. When you’ve shaped a path, right-click (this is also a button on your stylus) and choose ‘Stroke path’. Select the Brush Tool and click OK. In my result, these stroked paths became somewhat thicker than the hand-drawn lines. You may be able to fix this by decreasing the brush size before you stroke a path using this method. After stroking the path, you can use the Delete key to delete the path. Make sure to set the brush size back to 6 px (or whichever size you were using).

Chicago House uses thinner sun lines and thicker shadow lines for their drawings. The effect is pretty, but it requires more work.

When you’re happy with the result, hide the pencil layer (by clicking the eye icon in the Layers panel) and set the opacity of the ink layer to 100%. Correct any mistakes and when you’re ready to save just your inked drawing, hide the photo layer and save the image as .jpg (smallest file size), .png (best for web) or .tiff (best for printing).

Fig. 2: The inked result (notice the outline of two of the glyphs are thicker than the other lines, which is not so pretty)

Useful shortkeys:

[            Decrease brush size
]            Increase brush size
Shift    Draw straight lines

Again, many thanks to Chicago House for sharing their methods in a comprehensive manual! See: Digital Epigraphy (2014).