Saturday, January 30, 2010

Inking LOLA: A Ghost Story

LOLA: A Ghost Story, written by J. Torres and pencilled by Elbert Or, is currently now available in hardcover from Sputnik Comics, Druid’s Keep, Comic Odyssey, Planet X and Fully Booked.

I did some inks here and there for the book and my studio Robo Monkey Pixel Fighters (RMPF) did some of the grayscale (some of Elbert’s students took some of the pages in an effort to meet the deadline). It was certainly an interesting project and a delight to help illuminate J. Torres’s story, especially one such as this that highlight Philippine culture and belief systems and spins it into one entertaining yarn.

I hope that we see more of these kinds of stories in the future.

There have been a lot of kind words online on the book and the illustration. In behalf of RMPF, especially Neil Amiel Cervantes and Katrina Mae Hao who did the grayscaling, we’d like to say thank you by giving you guys out there a sneak peek into how a LOLA page gets produced.

Let’s begin!

The Pencils

Elbert typically sends the pencils to me online in a 300 dpi, PSD format file.

I prefer to ink via traditional methods so the first order of the day is to convert Elbert’s lines into blue.

I do this to allow me to erase the blue lines digitally in Photoshop later, after I’ve inked over it.

This blue line version will now be printed out on a specialty board I buy that I used specifically for inking works.

With Elbert’s pencils I don’t go immediately to inks.

I spend some time figuring out the intent for a particular page via a script I was provided with. After that I spend some time with a blue Prismacolor pencil adding elements which I feel will help in the storytelling, add shadows to help push create the mood and ambience the scene needs, and correct some details in the art.

It is only after accomplishing this that I start inking over the blue lines.

The Inks

Most people probably think of inkers as tracers, content to follow the penciller’s lines and not figuring prominently in the art process.

It’s a common misconception by people not familiar with the comic book production process.

A bad inker can easily ruin great pencils so it is always in the best interest of an art team to get a good inker.

I use different tools for different inking projects.

In the case of LOLA, I used a Sakura brush, Chinese ink, Prismacolor blue pencils, UNI Pin technical pens of varying points, a felt tip pen, and a bunch of rulers, French curves, erasers, and a bottle of correction fluid (an inker’s best friend).

The finished product looks a bit something like this.

At this point, I turn over the page to Neil Amiel Cervantes or Katrina Mae Hao for scanning and cleanup.

They begin by taking out the blue lines, taking out the smudges and dirt found all over the page, and making sure that the white are crisp and the blacks…well, black. They check with me on the cleaned up line art and I go over it to see if we missed anything.

Once that’s done, I give them the go signal to start the grayscaling process.

The Grayscale

The original mandate for the book was to produce it in grayscale.

It was only when promotions and solicitations for the graphic novel came out did I find out that it was converted into sepia. Consequently, some of the intended effects that were clear on grayscale were lost in sepia mode but I’m hoping the readers would still like it nevertheless.

The guys used a combination of cell-shading and airbrushing techniques to great effect.

After adding grayscale, we go over the page again for a final check and then we e-mail it back to Elbert who will send it to ONI Press for lettering and whatever else that needs to be added.


Click on the image below to see the entire process

LOLA: A Ghost Story

Story by J. Torres
Pencils by Elbert Or
Inks by Jonas Diego and Elbert Or (with assists from some of Elbert's students)
Grayscale by Robo Monkey Pixel Fighters' (RMPF) Neil Amiel Cervantes and Katrina Mae Hao

Go buy our book now!


NeL said...

I'm interested in buying the book, where can i get the copy here in the philippines? Email me at

Secular Ink said...

Thank you for the instructions. :) These are going to be helpfull.