Doot Doot Garden: The Blog of Craig Thompson
Doot Doot Garden: The blog of graphic novelist Craig Thompson
float down the liffey November 27th, 2013
Last week, I finished pencilling chapter three of SPACE DUMPLINS. I usually pencil & ink a single page on the same day (two with BLANKETS), but this time for the sake of editing, I pencilled an entire chapter at once.

Seeing the whole chapter made it more malleable & consistent, more tangible to “stage”, and saved me from repeating compositions. But my work days felt more monotonous – tending to a single task for weeks on end – and I missed the creative “down time” that inking affords me. Pencilling is all sweat & brainwork, but inking is more intuitive – freeing my mind to listen to music, podcasts, talk on the phone…

Many of you asked why I’ve started using colored ballpoint on my pencils, but it’s purely for fun – now that I scan the pencils and print out blue lines, the pencils can be as messy and colorful as I like. As an experiment, I dabbled with inking some panels digitally on a 13HD Cintiq.

Below is an excerpt from a page I inked twice – A) The old-fashioned way with a brush and India ink. B) The newfangled digital tablet way. I was surprised that the difference is almost imperceptible. An advantage of digital is that I was able to draw word balloons and color holds on separate layers, and of course it’s all easier to correct. But for now I still prefer the tactile sensations of light bouncing off paper, crude ink, and finicky sable hairs.

The pictured character is named TINDER, after my cartoonist buddy Jeremy Tinder – whose style I aped for the character design.

14 Responses to “float down the liffey”

  1. Arjuna Says:

    Awsome, this post is very interesting, I follow very carefully your work!

  2. Lucia Says:

    We met at the Barcelona Comic Fair. It’s fascinating to see some of your new work! x

  3. Jordi Says:

    Wow! Interesting process! The whole thing looks amazing!

  4. Tony O'seland Says:

    I am rereading Habibi for the fifth time after having used it as instructional material in a course I teach titled “Literature of the Graphic Word.” I simply wanted to let you know what an amazing bit of work it is, and that through my using it in my class, the PhD’s who teach Womens Studies are considering adding it to their course on literature and womens stories. Thanksk you for your time and work.

    Tony O’seland
    Faculty Advisor: NSU Student Veterans Association
    Lecturer in Composition and Literature
    NSU Veterans War Archive Project Dir.
    Languages and Literature Dept.
    College of Liberal Arts
    Seminary Hall 362 Ext. 4506
    Northeastern State University
    609 N Grand Ave.
    Tahlequah, OK 74464
    918-456-5511
    oseland@nsuok.edu

  5. Wes Says:

    i’m glad you stuck with traditional-style inking, since i notice and prefer the difference over digital, actually..

  6. Dussan Says:

    What software you use for the digital inking?

  7. Shandara Says:

    Your work is amazing, I love when you show us your drawing from scratch. And I do prefer the traditonnal inking, Im glad you’re sticking to it! :-)

  8. Maiz Says:

    I love seeing these process posts, too. So cool! I think the brush and ink looks very different: wetter, messier and more organic… better! I am so looking forward to Space Dumplins. Enjoy your long stretch of podcasts and phone calls!

  9. isa Says:

    if you had lied and said a) was digital and b) was traditional, i´d have believed it too…

  10. amelia Says:

    well, I think it’s a bit like making bread with a machine versus proofing & kneading loaves by hand. The end result is more satisfying (and dare I say it?!? Really truly ART from the heart and hand.). I’m so glad I have this site to go to when I want the rest of the world to go away. Thanks for sharing, Craig!

  11. Jess Smart Smiley Says:

    Hooray for Jeremy Tinder! Digital is in such a strange state right now. It is still largely based on mimicking physical techniques, rather than relying on the abilities that digital media offer us. Tablets are becoming more and more distinguished from books and I hope that digital media does, too. In any case, I am also a sucker for ink.

  12. Fantin sailley Says:

    Je vous ai découvert il y a de cela trois ans dans ” Understanding Comics” juste dans quelques cases et fut frappé par le “trait” et le style dont il émanait une sensation que je ne connaissais pas jusqu’à lors, j’ai donc décidé de m’acquérir tout d’abord un pinceau Pentel et aussi, de demander en cadeau un de vos ouvrages. Ce n’est que 3 ans après donc que l’on à daigné de m’offrir “Blankets” et c’est sans mentir une des meilleurs B.d qu’il m’ait été donné de lire, elle aborde avec force et sensibilité les doutes et problèmes qui me saisissent actuellement, c’est un livre si personnel que je suis presque gêné de l’avoir en ma possession, je vous remercie donc, j’en suis sortie retourné… Croyez en la sincérité de mes dires… (J’ai aussi lu “Habibi” avant “Blankets” mais l’histoire m’a moins touché, bien quel est puissante mais ne me semble pas destiné…) See you soon and Merry Christmas !

  13. -- anonymous Purist Says:

    please never go fully “Digital” on us.

    it’s people like you and Baudoin who keep us inspired to create and keep art alive,

    like you mentioned, that using traditional pen and INk is akin to wielding a graceful tool, from a lon-gone age, like a lightsaber was for Kenobi,

    – anonymous Purist

    “… I go where I please”

  14. carlocki Says:

    Craig can you send me a photoshop file with your brushes and preferences?

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