Jul 11, 2009

Spot black

About halfway through issue 131 of Incredible Hercules, I decided to make a change to my art. I guess it wasn't so much of a change as it was an adjustment to my approach of drawing. See, I had always thought that what I wanted to do was a sort of "open-line" approach where the colorist could basically paint the finished lineart.

But I started to realize that black can really add a lot to the story and really give it a more visceral feel. So I started spotting black on the page. The problem was, I never committed to it. So it was sort of a half-assed attempt and it wasn't necessarily working.

Then, I came across Paolo Rivera's blog post about how he does an "ink study" before spotting his black areas. So I tried it. And since then I feel like it's really opened up my mind up to the world of spotting black and it's also forced me to fully commit.

Attached is a process image. The first image is my structure drawing. Basically, I just approach that step as an animator would. Just find mass, form, and movement. Then, I go in Photoshop and use a big fat brush and black shit out like it's my job (it sorta is I guess). Then I go back to the board and render the thing and that's it.

Sometimes I'll throw a piece of tracing paper over my board and go at the test with a Sharpie. I'm not sure if I like the Photoshop method or the Sharpie method better, but I do know that the less control I have the better. Because when I have control over the tool that I'm using to spot the blacks, I tend to noodle. And all I want to do when I'm spotting blacks is find mass and make an appealing design for all the black shapes.

So that's that. A real blog post from me. On a Saturday when the weather is beautiful. I hope you're happy.


P.S. This page is from Riftwar #5, published by Marvel Comics. Issue 2 comes out soon!


  1. cool process-I'll def try that out next time I have page work-or maybe even apply it to any illustration work I have..hmm.
    thanks for sharing!

  2. Very cool process and glad see you here Blogspot. Take care, Josh