Chasing Amy by Kevin Smith featured a scene where inkers are called 'tracers'. Strictly speaking, one of the main goals of inkers is to darken and 'clean up' pencils in order to guarantee a clear reproduction. That being said, the artistic contribution of an inker can be tremendous, depending on the state of the pencils he/she has to work with. When an inker is given rough pencils or layouts to work from, the process is called 'embellishing'.
Inkers have alot less wiggle room for creativity these days. Advanced technology has allowed publishers to print directly from pencils, which are darkend and cleaned up digitally. Pencillers tend to labour extensively over pages, with inkers discouraged to deviate from what they've been given to work with.
I miss the days when embellishing was common. It was cool to see how different inkers interpreted certain artists' pencils, and I appreciated the creative contribution by an often overlooked member of the creative team.
When inking Ash's pencils for Super Combo, I was excited. I enjoy his dynamic, loose approach, and figured that my style could mesh well with his. Here's a comparison of before and after:
My goal was to define the outlines clearly, add a line weight in order to have specific things 'pop', and fill in background detail to enhance the visuals. I also chose to flip certain poses to create flow, and resized panels with dialogue balloons in mind. I think the marriage of the two styles works well, resulting in clean, fun artwork.
I think inking has always been a strength of mine, it often feels easier for me to work over someone else's roughs than fill a page with my own doodles.
Next week, an unpublished 4 page story involving a special monkey!