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Amy Reeder [userpic]

Another Infamous Tento Tutorial

October 3rd, 2005 (11:25 am)

Hey, people! Sunday’s my day off and my wrist hurt a bit, so I couldn’t play around on Painter or whatever. So instead, I made a mini-tutorial on how I distribute line weight while inking. I wish I could do a tutorial on inking in general, and the many approaches you can use, but I don’t have time for that at the moment! So instead, I’m just showing what I did for a particular picture in hopes that it may be helpful. The drawing I’m using is my chapter break for chapter two of my TOKYOPOP series "Fool’s Gold", in case you’re curious.


Line weight, to me, is the art of contrast and illusion. You’re feigning the feeling of depth without actually shading. The more dramatic your line weight is, the less you need other things like toning, shading or coloring.

I think the BIGGEST falsity out there when it comes to line weight is that all it means is to have thick lines away from the light source and thin toward the light source. Not only is there more to it than that, but I believe that you don’t even have to use that technique for line weight at all! In fact, I don’t. I don’t think it fits with my style, and it’s kind of a pain in the butt anyway, if ya ask me.

And then there’s those tutorials on line weight where some awesome artist is like, “So I just make it darker where I think it looks good” and proceeds to show off a bunch of cool lineart. Great. People, if you’re some artist who just effortlessly rocks, DON’T write tutorials.

-------------------------------Tracing Your Sketch-------------------------------

So what do I do, you ask? First, I just trace over my sketches, not worrying about line weight. But even in this step, some natural line weight occurs that I think is important to the picture. Namely, the lines are generally thinner when they bend out. There’s a few people who do the opposite: they thicken lines as they bend out and even at times make them point out. Many people do this with noses. And that’s a cool look, too. But for me, I lighten the lines at these points (or even make them nonexistent). It gives it a lighter look. I’ve circled some spots that I did this at, although they’re not too extreme. Apparently I need to work on that.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

-------------------------------Where to Thicken-------------------------------

After I’ve traced my sketches, I start to work on thickening lines. There are several cases in which I would thicken lines:

Where one line hits another line. I call them intersecting points—the line that ends is thickened right where it joins with the other line. I do this a lot in hair, as well as in clothing folds. It’s the technique I use the most, inspired by what I found in Ai Yazawa’s work. I’ve circled all the areas where I do this:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I also do this on the table at every “intersection point”:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I don’t use this technique where lines intersect in a 2D way but not in a 3D way. For instance, the hands are in front of the girl’s face, but whenever the face lines hit the hand lines, I don’t thicken anything, because they’re not actually touching. The whole point of thickening in this technique is that when these lines that touch intersect, one’s overlapping the other, making a very short shadow that hasn’t been tainted by any light, even if it’s reflective. We’re thickening the deep, dark corners.

I also don’t thicken lines when I’m drawing a very light seam in clothing. Note the cuff seams where they join the side of the sleeve—I don’t thicken the seam line even though it’s intersecting.

Where an object is directly overlapping another object. This one’s really fun, in my opinion. Basically, with any lines where an object is touching and overlapping another object, I thicken the lines, away from the light source. And I don’t typically thicken evenly. I try to think of where the overlapping moves closer or farther away due to things like clothing folds, and I do thicker lines where the overlapping is starting to move farther away. Here are some examples:

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As two overlapping objects approach an edge, they’re generally curving. I thicken and curve the line extra at these points. The button strap thingie on the girl’s sleeve as it approaches the edge of the sleeve would be an example.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

In deep, dark corners. This kind of has to do with the intersection rule, but basically, I thicken extra much in the deep corners of objects. Sometimes, I hatch in these areas as well! I’ve circled some instances:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I hatch against the grain, meaning my hatching lines point perpendicular to or diagonal from the lines surrounding it. I start out completely black and slowly lighten and separate my hatches until they fade into white. I think this is pretty standard except that I’ve seen people hatch with the grain when it’s under the chin. More on hatching later.

Where lines curve in. I already said that I make lines thinner or nonexistent when they curve out, but what about when they curve in? I thicken them. I only do this sparingly, but it happens! And it’s fun. Here are some examples:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Now, note the one I circled that’s under her right upper arm. That was actually a straight line that I darkened. But I thickened it because I saw that clothing fold above it and decided that even though we couldn’t see it at our angle, that point was curving in.

In the middle of longer clothing folds or folds that don't get thick anywhere else. I also take a few clothing folds and thicken the lines a little in the middle of them. I didn't do it that much in this drawing, but I found an example on a fold right below her left collar button. I thicken it in an angular way (as opposed to smooth), to make it feel more dynamic.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

-------------------------------Finishing Touches-------------------------------

Alrighty! Now that we’ve thickened some lines, there are some more finishing touches to add to the mix!

First of all, with clothing folds, if I want to have them fade more than just having the line disappear, I do two or three teeny diagonal hatches at the end. I’ve circled some examples:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

For a more dramatic effect, I black out some areas that are away from just about any light source. I only do this in more static, dramatic pictures, and when the thing I’m blacking out isn’t too fun to look at anyway. Here’s what I did:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

If I didn’t black these out, I probably would’ve done some crosshatching. This is definitely NOT a technique to overdo, if you ask me! Although some people do amazing jobs at it. I guess I just don’t, so I try to do it sparingly.

Also, see where I black out that fabric on the bottom right side of the picture? There’s some trim that goes in more than the rest of the clothing, so notice how my line of black retracts a bit at that point. So when you do big thickets of black, really consider what you’re covering and treat it like shading, knowing exactly where everything lies in a 3D world. Anyway, I don’t think I explained very well what trim I’m talking about, so I circled it:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

For shadows on flat objects that other objects are resting on, I also do some hatching. In this case, the hatches are horizontal and the shadow cast is small and squished horizontally. This makes it look like there’s actually some perspective on the flat object and makes everything feel less like it’s floating in space.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Notice that the shading under her left elbow goes down for a second once it hits that little curvy motif on the table. This is because in my imagination the table depresses inside of those motifs, so I’m still keeping things like those in mind when it comes to shadows.

I also hatch a lot on inanimate objects, as if I were shading them. It gives things more of a rustic feel, and you can get away with hatching more on inanimate objects than on characters. It’s a still life thing, I guess. So here are some objects I hatched:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The directions of the hatching vary. With the fool’s gold (the rocks there), I’d just hatch in the angle of one of the lines on the squares, to give it a boxy look. With the magnifying glass, I hatched lines perpendicular to the object, in keeping with the perspective, uh, if that makes any sense. And with the table motifs, I did curvy hatches to suggest that those areas curve in.

One last thing I do which I don’t think requires an illustration is that I vary the line width of straight lines on inanimate objects. So in this case, I used the line tool to make the table, and I don’t want it to look dead, so I thickened and thinned very slightly in random spots. In my case, I use the ruler in ComicWorks to add and detract. It’s quite the useful tool!

-------------------------------End Product-------------------------------

Anyway, here’s the before and after of my long-winded technique!:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

And here’s an animated gif to compare the before and after (I switch them slowly once and then fast once in the animation):


Aaaand the final toned product, in case you're interested:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

-------------------------------Extras -------------------------------

Some extra tidbits of info on line weight:

-Remember not to overdo it! Overdoing it can make things look too static. And use it VERY sparingly when you’re drawing characters from far away. The reason it's easy to overdo it is that many of these details are so subtle that you want to make them big and blaring so that people will notice them. But you don't WANT people to notice them. They'll still see the effects, whether they're conscious of it or not. No need to slap it in their face!

-The more you tone, shade, or color, the less important it is to use these techniques. Your lineart will either be in the way or all the care you took to make it perfect won’t show up. In fact, when it comes to realistic shading, it’s best not to use too much line weight, and absolutely NO hatching. Remember, line weight is the art of illusion and contrast, not realism!

-When you’ve got someone in the foreground and tinier people in the background, thicken them lines of the foreground person, especially the outlines!

-------------------------------The End-------------------------------

Uh, that’s about all I can think of for now ;) Thanks for reading, and feel free to link to this tutorial, but please do not display it or the pictures elsewhere, and DO NOT mess with these drawings, aka toning or coloring or changing it, unless it’s for your own enjoyment and for no one else to see (that means no online posting!!!). These images are © 2005 Amy Hadley and TOKYOPOP Inc., yo!


Posted by: Shady (maiteoida)
Posted at: October 3rd, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC)

First of all- that image is really cute. XD; I really like it!

Second of all...I always feel so enlightened when reading your tutorials, especially in this one- I'm pretty sure when I ink I try to follow what you've said, but I actually never THOUGHT of it that way. I just do it, you know? It's so cool that you can actually ARTICULATE what is going on...I have a feeling I'm subconsciously aware of what I'm doing, but if you asked me to explain I'd probably have no idea. That's why this is so cool!

Posted by: Shady (maiteoida)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 12:31 am (UTC)

Oh, and I have a question that may be stupid...but what tool do you ink with in CW? o_o The pen tool, or the pencil tool? I say this because your lineart doesn't seem to have the...sharpness? that comes when you use the pen tool, but I've never seen the pencil tool in action so this is just a guess. ^^;

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 01:06 am (UTC)

First of all- that image is really cute. XD; I really like it!

Weee, thanks!! Yeah, I don't think a lot of artists know what they're doing when they're good at it, which is too bad. I sorta feel like the bridge between good people and people who want to get better. Guess I'm not a certified teacher for nothin'!

For inking, I do the tracing part on PS, setting my size AND opacity to stylus, so it has lighter and darker lines. I just feel like it makes it look more...organic, and I don't get little stray hairs like if I were to work with the CW pen tool. Then, I bring everything over to CW, and I do 50% threshold so there aren't any lighter pixels, but I think it still just looks...different. It's hard to describe! And then in CW I do all the rest of my inking with the pen tool.

I actually use the pencil tool more for various highlights (especially on shiny things like metal and windows) and fading in and out of tones.

Posted by: Crispy (crispypoohs)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC)

Wow... this is like ... mega informative. I actually understand what you're talkinga bout, too, which is always a plus. Sometimes tutorials are like "then we take the quantum mechanical average of Hydronium and Ureah, stab it with a pencil, put it in our mouthes with a drop of ink, then spit it back onto the page, creating a wonderful comic page with little to no effort!" and leave me to think "... what?"

Yeah... anyways, I really liked this. It's interesting to see just how much your art's changed -- how far you've come. I loves it.

I'll see if I can adapt these things into what I'm trying to do right now...

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)

Lol it's always a plus when you can actually UNDERSTAND a tutorial!! Thanks, crispay!! Yes, I hope you've found some ideas you can use!

Posted by: The Sunlit Path (product_of_84)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 06:37 am (UTC)

I had no idea you had a livejournal.
And you as yet don't know who I am.

But damn this is a good tutorial. You're so amazing and it's showing in every stroke, as exampled here. I'm definitely going to come back to this.

-the king of dreams

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 04:16 pm (UTC)

Yaaaaay, Mr. Dreams!!! Glad to know you have an LJ ;)

And thanks!!

Posted by: 3 of 5 (wasurera)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 06:46 am (UTC)

Nice tutorial. =)

Posted by: Theresa Deanna H. (palevalentine)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)

-claps- this is a great tutorial Tentopet, it makes senses and I didn't get confused at all...genius! its so hard to find books that can give clear instructions without it sounding like rocket science lol XD

The picture is very lovely by the way ^^ the way you drew the hands, her expression its so professional and unique.

and just in case you were wondering this is misu (I'm called Pv-chan now lol) I had to make a new LJ account.

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 4th, 2005 09:31 pm (UTC)

Hey, misu! Thanks! Glad that it's understandable! I worry about that a lot, lol.

Posted by: Fiammatta (fusakugyoku)
Posted at: October 9th, 2005 02:09 pm (UTC)

Drattit, Tentopet! Why do you always have to be so awesome at this stuff?!

Tutorial was excellent. My line variation was really random and meaningless, but this is going to completely change that (I think). Sheesh, how do you know all this stuff?!

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 9th, 2005 11:33 pm (UTC)

Lol!! Glad it could be of help! I just...think about art all the time and try and figure it out. Ya know--I analyze other art and the world around me in hopes that I can pick up something useful. And I almost always can :) It definitely ain't effortless!!

Posted by: metafix (metafix)
Posted at: October 17th, 2005 10:16 pm (UTC)

I'm going to try this out first thing in the morning ^^ (It's half past 12 at night here, so it's a tad late for a 15 year old to start new drawings ^^') Please please continue with making these great tutorials, they really help me a lot^^

And... would you mind if I put your on my friends list here on LJ?

Posted by: metafix (metafix)
Posted at: October 17th, 2005 10:18 pm (UTC)

oh btw, do you work on A3 paper or just A4 or.... something else? and with what kind of pens?

or do you work on the computer with everything?

oooh I'm so curious^^

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 17th, 2005 10:41 pm (UTC)

I do absolutely EVERYTHING on the computer :) It's how I learned to draw, pretty much.

Posted by: metafix (metafix)
Posted at: October 18th, 2005 09:32 am (UTC)

woah 0.o well, I'll stick with my variety of media for originality XD

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: October 17th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)

Hey, no problem at all! Thanks!

Posted by: metafix (metafix)
Posted at: October 18th, 2005 09:32 am (UTC)


Posted by: Emma Vieceli (emmav)
Posted at: January 6th, 2006 12:50 am (UTC)

Great stuff. Nice to see it all broken down so clearly! Thanks ^_^

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: January 6th, 2006 04:20 am (UTC)

Thankya!!! I try my best :)

Posted by: Straw (strawbarry_gurl)
Posted at: May 11th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)

Memoried *o* ♥

Posted by: Amy Reeder (tentopet)
Posted at: May 11th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: July 3rd, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC)

ok lets see what you could teach me then!

Posted by: eathknight (eathknight)
Posted at: December 19th, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC)
i love eet

Very nice tutorial dude hope you post some more tutorials about it.


Posted by: pajee (pajee)
Posted at: March 31st, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)

Randomly wandering the net reading tutorials, I actually saw your YouTube Copic tutorial first... then hoped over to your DA... ect. Not a stalker really xD

But I wanted to leave you a message telling you how informative and readable the tutorial was. Learnt a lot even though I should know this stuff already xD

Posted by: Kassie (klebkatt)
Posted at: April 11th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)

holy crap is this useful. Thank you so much!

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