Carl Grimes Fan Art – ‘Drawing with Ink’

This week I carried on working on my bigger project and also worked on some comic fanart for a friend’s son (an older teenager).  He’s really into the comic version of ‘The Walking Dead’ by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore (with later art by Charlie Adlard).

He asked for a fan art picture of Carl Grimes when he gets shot in the eye.  It’s based on Charlie Ablard’s original art.

It’s not really the kind of subject I usually draw – I’m not really into horror – it’s too scary – but I do really enjoy making pictures for other people so I had a go.

Here’s the sketch…

It was done on Bristol Board with my graphgear mechanical pencil.

Then I inked it.

I began inking in the normal way but then, about half way through I saw a really inspirational video on YouTube.  I had previously posted a link here but when I left a courtesy message on this person’s YouTube page they deleted it.  Now I don’t know what that means.  I thought I was following the proper internet etiqette and being polite and respectful but with the autism there’s always a chance I did something wrong so I’m going to err on the side of caution and not link to this chap’s video anymore.

Anyway what I really noticed about his technique was that he wasn’t outlining or inking the pencils, he was drawing with ink.  He was using the pencils as a guide but still drawing.  Maybe it’s a subtle distinction, but for me it was a powerful learning point.  So I continued the rest of the inks for this Walking Dead fan art piece concentrating on drawing with ink rather than ‘going over the pencils’ or ‘outlining’.

Finally I added some tones with a waterbrush.  I had a mixture of ink and water in that to give me some nice greys.  And then I added some strong red watercolour for the blood.

So here’s the final picture…


An Easy Digital Colouring Process

This week I worked on a number of smaller images in my sketchbook and started a bigger project.  The smaller images were in ink and pencil…


[Pencil on paper]



[Ink on paper]


[Ink on paper]

(NB:  The Drawing is my own but the character ‘Strontium Dog’  (aka Johnny Alpha) belongs to 2000AD (Rebellion) and the art style I used was my own version of Carlos Ezquerra’s brilliant work.)

Then I coloured them digitally.  I thought it would be fun to go through the basic colouring process I use with the gecko picture as an example.

(1) I start by scanning in the art work and cleaning any scanning artifacts (I always get one which is irritating).  I also do a general clean up of the image and adjust the curves and levels if it’s needed.  I usually do this bit in photoshop.

(2) Then I save the cleaned image and open it in Manga Studio 5.

(3) My next big job is to put in the ‘flat colour’.  Basically this process involves colouring every pixel of the drawing in flat solid colour with no anti-aliasing, shading or anything else – just flat blobs of colour right up next to each other.  I tend to use colours similar to those I want to use in the final product but you don’t have to.

So here, I’m putting in the flat colour for the first few leaves…

To combine the colour with the line art like this I put the line art in the top layer and set that layer to ‘multiply’.  Then I paint my flat colour in the layer below.

Here’s a bit more flatting done…

(Here you can see I’ve accidentally painted the flower properly with final colours in the flatting layer.  I could have wiped it all out and made it white but I knew there wasn’t much I wanted to do with that part of the picture so I left it.)

Generally I paint the flats using the polygon selector with anti-aliasing off so I get a clear division of one colour or the other with nothing in between.  Once I’ve selected my area I just fill it with solid colour.

Finally when all the flat colour is done it looks like this (without the linework on top of it)…


So with the linework we’ve now got to this…


I really love flatting images, I find it repetative but nice and it makes me feel relaxed.

(4) Next I complete the detailed colour and shading for each flat area.  This is where the real digital painting starts and I find in a lot of ways I can paint in my PC just like I paint on a canvas.  I can’t always get the same effects digitally but I do have the advantage of the back button which will undo my last few changes – I wish I had that on paper sometimes!

Here’s the painting done for the leaves but not yet the gecko…

And here’s the desktop with the gecko painted fully too…


(5) Finally I put on any borders I need and save the fullsize image, then reduce the size for the web and it’s ready to go.

Here are my final coloured pictures…



Days 71 to 72 – Facial Expressions, Encoding and Autism 2#2

My next plan was to make my own facial expression drawings based on Mark Crilley’s guidance but using my own made up Manga character.

Also, while working on this I was reading the early chapters of ‘Bakuman’ – a Manga series about two lads who decide to become Manga creators.

Bakuman Manga Cover
“Bakuman Manga Cover”

I got to the bit where the artist in the pair decides to work with nothing but a G-pen (which is a kind of dip pen with a nib very commonly used in manga called a G-nib.)  I thought this would be really cool to try.  So I had a dig around and found an old Italian dip pen and a flexible calligraphy nib which works well and very much like a G-nib.  Then I drew the sketches on Bristol Board (because the ‘Calli’ Calligraphy ink I’m using bleeds around each line in my notebook) and inked them with the dip pen.

This is my dip pen …


But the nib I’m using is not the one which came with this pen, it’s a modern calligraphy nib very similar to a G-nib…



At first it was really difficult to use the dip pen.  Line pressure needed to be controlled as well as direction.  My lines were noticably wobbly, they didn’t have a good shape and they took ages to dry.  Lucky for me there were twleve pictures to do, so I managed to have a good practice.

Here are the results…

Set one…



Here’s set two…



And here are the last four…



By the end of it I beginning to find my way into occasional good lines.  Even though I’m only beginning with this, I prefer the look of the dip pen lines to the multiliner.  The biggest problem I had overall with this method was that they took 2-3 hours to dry where the lines were thick.

Here’s a picture of the wet ink…



At the moment I can only really tell the following facial expressions – OK (plain face), angry (shouting), sad(crying) and happy(laughing).   I was going to look into the ones depicted rather simplistically in manga to see if I can learn to recognise a few more in real life.  However I’ve since found out that, for instance, the confused manga look isn’t that close to what most people do on their face when they are actually confused in life.  So I’ll just go on enjoying manga!


Days 69 to 70 – Facial Expressions, Encoding and Autism 1#2

So in the last few days I’ve been working on drawing facial expressions in manga.   It’s something I’ve been avoiding for years.  When I paint or draw people I like to draw them with a plain face – no particular expression.  If I can,  I prefer even more to paint people with masks on.  This is because  (1) I think masks are really cool and (2) I don’t have to engage with any facial expressions at all.

Facial expressions are one of those things which I find really confusing because of the autism.  I can’t decode what all of them mean, especially at the time.  If I could constantly record the expressions people make and then go back and analyse what I see with the help of someone who can read this stuff, I think I could come up with an algorhythm to predict facial expressions, but I can’t record people like that.


To learn other bits of social interaction I have in the past recorded many complete series’ of an Australian programme called ‘Nothing to Declare’.  It’s about the Aussie border protection services.  I have used this programme to learn a lot about social interaction.  I like it because the customs chaps say straight-out what they see in a person’s behaviour and what that means to them.  They also model an assertive but fair and compassionate approach to interaction which fits with my faith and values.  Once they’ve explained a bit of behaviour and ‘decoded’ it for me I can spin the recording back a bit and watch it over and over until I can remember it.  Then when I see behaviour that fits what the customs people described, I can think about using some of their responses.  It has helped me to deal with more difficult situations a bit better.


manga books crilley


So, anyway,  given all of this, I certainly felt a certain amount of trepidation in trying to draw twelve different facial expressions.  Firstly I drew the 12 expressions which Mark Crilley has in his first ‘How to Draw Manga book’  (it’s the book on the left in the picture above.)

Here are the pictures:



I drew them in pencil, then inked them with my multiliners and then added shading in pencil.


Quick Comic Portraits

I’ve been looking at the work of an artist called Mark Crilley recently.  He’s a comic book artist and storyteller and he does a lot of great YouTube videos.

He draws in a manga style but it’s not too stylised and I think his stuff  looks totally  fabulous.

Here’s an example of his work:

Brody's Ghost 2 Inside 1


Before seeing Mark’s work I didn’t really like black and white (well greyscale really) comic books but his stuff is so good I’ve really got into it.  The above example is from a comic book series he wrote called Brody’s Ghost.

Bridy’s Ghost by Mark Crilley


Anyway last night I was looking on his YouTube channel and I saw a video which shows some of his ink sketch work  which he did some time ago while he was teaching in Taiwan.  It really inspired me to get sketching again.


Now I’ve always found drawing for comic books really hard because I find it really hard to imagine things which don’t exist.  Basically when I draw a figure from my mind it just looks all wrong but if I sketch from life or a photo or TV then it’s better.  I  much prefer drawing from reference.  So I thought I’d do sketch each day from the TV.  Yesterday I was watching a bit of a Sky series called ‘The Last Ship’ and I did a couple of sketches from that.  Here’s the first.

This is a photo of the TV which I just paused so I could sketch:

comic portrait 1 source_web


And here’s the sketch which I did in pencil first and then inked.  Then after I scanned it I coloured it in greyscale.

Comic portrait 1_web


My plan is to do a quick sketch  each day (5 min pencils and 5 minutes inking) and try to get a basic likeness and basic proportions and perspective correct.  In this way I want to build up a catalogue of figure drawings with people in different positions and stances which I can then use when I want to draw from my head rather than from my eyes.

I’m hoping that as I work at it my lines will get better.