Cartoon Inking Software For Cartoonists

Cartoon Inking Software

cartoon inking software

Created w/marker, scanned into Photoshop and colorized

Not all cartoonists use cartoon inking software but feel it’s worth discussing a bit in depth here on ToonBlog. One cartoonist recently mentioned he was  recently experimenting with different software for inking his pictures – Sketchbook Pro, Manga Studio, Adobe Illustrator. Corel Painter X which served him well for a while, but it was time to move on…

Various schools of thought say it’s better to ink in vectors, but so far it hasn’t felt as natural to me (Illustrator is sometimes temperamental with auto-smoothing curves). Another cartoonist and illustration specialist says he loves Sketchbook Pro’s interface best of all the programs I’ve used, but Manga Studio has by far the best brushes.

Cartoonists mention their favorite digital tools

I’ve used Canvas, Sketchbook Pro, CorelDraw, Corel Painter X (raster-based app), Xara Designer Pro X, Adobe Illustrator,  Serif Draw Plus, & Manga Studio and I must agree with you that Manga Studio has one of the best collection of brushes.
Working in a vector-based environment can be  challenging at first, but if you are patient with it long enough you will learn how to create varying line widths with ease and apply other illustration techniques that in some cases surpass what can be created in a raster-based software applications.

Keep experimenting. I’ve actually inked in Corel Painter (as well as by hand), brought it into Illustrator and ran live-trace. Once you have it converted to vector, you can fix the lines. I don’t like using the brush tool in Illustrator.

Corel Illustrator for cartooning

I’ve actually gone the Corel  Illustrator Live Trace route on quite a few occasions, as I’ve had illustration jobs that have required AI files. I would ink in Corel Painter, bring into Illustrator for Live Trace, and then apply colours to the vectors.
This is the workflow that has worked for me so far, but I had wondered how much worth there was in leaving the auto-trace and inking directly in Illustrator.

I use Astute Graphics Dynamic Sketch plugin for Illustrator. And it is very intuitive, in a way. This same company also offers other useful plugins you can search out.

You ink overlap then expand then live paint, the remove overlapped lines. After that you ink-bucked color into shapes, then cut up shapes with knife.
Then ink-bucketed to color shade or hilite shapes. I think I missed a 2nd live paint?

Vector is best as there are no resolution issues, to deal with. Also a lot of clients specifically request it. I’ve made a few videos about my method in Illustrator and I used this method on numerous pieces for years. It works,
feels natural and it’s quick. But now I’ve switched to Manga Studio because it’s even better actually. Plus the whole Creative Cloud thing peed me off. and you have the choice of working in vector or bitmap with Manga Studio.

Cartoon Inking Software Video Tutorials

Anyway for those interested. The videos are Inking – inking video

coloring video

 Super Fast Coloring

please bookmark the above videos for future reference…………

I certainly agree regarding vectors & resolution-independence. And like yourself Andy, I love that Manga Studio’s vector tools allow me to draw in more natural & free flowing ways that Illustrator can’t match… But – and this is a big but –
Manga Studio currently has NO way to export those vectors out of the program, whether AI, EPS or SVG, making the feature useless to me. That said, if anyone knows how it can be done, I’d love to be proven wrong! Manga Studio is already a great program –
vector export would make it incredible. It also depends on what your endgame is for the final product. In the traditional non-computer world, artists tended to draw at a much larger size than they intended the final product to be reproduced at,
since it was easier to scale down in size without sacrificing line quality.

When using  the computer, if you lay out everything with vectors you have the opportunity to scale up everyting in sizing also. So maybe you are producing for a standard book size now, but later want to produce an bigger book,  and then still later decide to produce large wall poster art or mural sized work. If your render  in vector you’ll have a simpler re-scaling to various different sizes later on, without having to touch-up for quality issues. The image I am including in this post was created using the simplest technique of which I am the most comfortable with….I penciled the initial rough sketch in pencil, on standard photocopy paper. I believe I purchased the ream of 500 sheets at Walmart!

I then went over the rough sketch with a basic “fine” tip Sharpie brand marker (no waiting for the ink to dry). I then cleaned off the artwork using a standard pink rubber eraser and dropped the rubber shavings into my nearby five gallon trash pail (what a modus operandi I use!).

I then toss the opriginal artwork onto my current favorite all-in-one Canon ImageClass scanner and scan the image into my antiquated version of Photoshop 6.0 and then colorized the cartoon and  chose my preferred  files formats in which I wanted to save the art.

Designating named folders on your hard drive make it so easy to find these images, so save to those designated folders! Don’t forget to comment on your current favorite cartoon inking software you use, since the software is constantly changing and evolving! Let me know and a future blog post will talk about updates and new technology. Thanks for visiting and come back when you can!

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