My Inking Journey (Week 1)

Hi All !

Today I want to tell you about a new project that I’m embarking on … my inking journey.

For those of you who are familiar with the term “inking”, you’ll know that it’s commonly associated with illustrators, comic book and manga artists.  It’s a term used to describe mainly the outlining of an image with ink (usually in black).  Sounds simple enough and probably a form of amateur art in some people’s eyes, but in my first week of taking inking seriously I have realised just how much skill is required to do this “simple” and “amateur” task.

On Thursday 10th of March (yes, very precise, because I like to document my memories with accuracy), I received my dip pen and nib set through the post.  Having wondered endlessly about what my YouTube video for the next day could be, I felt the answer was given to me when the set arrived a week in advance.  Feeling like a miracle was about to unfold, I immediately set up my equipment to tape the video, pre-drew a pencil outline of Light Yagami from Death Note, ready to ink, and did a little practise using the G-Pen nib on a scrap piece of paper.  … Thin lines, followed by thick lines, followed by some line variations to see how the nib worked … yep, perfect – seemed fine ! … It wasn’t.

My inking session started with some awkward line strokes; suddenly the practise lines felt like they had been done by a completely different hand.  The nib was out of my control and the line variations were pretty much non-existent.  Course, I wasn’t going to give up because a miracle was meant to unfold, for sure !  I don’t know what miracle I was looking for but it certainly wasn’t my hand knocking the ink bottle over to spill black India ink all over my table, bedspread and carpet.  By that point I had become so frustrated with the downhill path that my day was taking that I barely reacted to the ink spill.  I simply looked at it, cleaned it, then went back to inking … I wasn’t done believing in the miracle just yet.

I turned the studio lights back on, focussed my camera and went back to inking … and when I accidentally inked Light’s eyebrow directly above his left eye to give him a ludicrously skewed expression, I realised the game was over.  Nope, no miracle today; just a bad end to what was otherwise a good day.

My first attempt at inking a drawing - Light Yagami from Death Note | Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

My first attempt at inking a drawing – Light Yagami from Death Note | Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

Folks, that’s a lesson that we often need to learn through life no matter how many times we have learned it before – that you’re not always going to get it right the first time.  For me, it seems to always be the case that once I become pretty decent at doing something, I forget that there is a learning process of getting things wrong, and when I finally start something new, I always seem to get a shock from my mistakes.  … Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it … it’s too bad I keep forgetting that saying.

Putting aside my errors a few hours later, I had taken the path I should have from the beginning – I started from basics.  I covered a couple of pages in my scrapbook of simply lines, lots of them; and, above all, I tested all the nibs in the set to see which ones I preferred, rather than which ones other people preferred (yes, that’s right you G-Pen nib, I’m talking about you).  I had taken long breaks in-between which allowed my mind to assess my flaws and how to rectify them, before coming back and practising some more … a week later, I taped my second attempt at inking and ultimately did a much better job; and that’s how I reached the end of my first week of inking.


My second attempt at inking a drawing - the character is made up | Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader

My second attempt at inking a drawing – the character is made up | Copyright © 2016 Shahema Tafader


A very long story I know, but I want to document the process of me learning how to ink not just to show myself that I come from mistakes, but I want people to see how the start does not always determine the end.  In other words, I have constantly noticed how people often comment under inking videos on YouTube about how terrible they are at inking and how wonderful the YouTuber is at it; almost as though they don’t believe they will ever get to the standard of the YouTuber.  But what a lot of these individuals don’t realise is that these YouTubers started off having the same beginner problems: they all had to experiment with nibs to see which ones worked for them; they all had to make terrible inked drawings to learn how to be better; and they all had to put hours and hours of practise in to get to their current standard.

My hope is that by documenting my hopeful development, people will see that if we simply persevere through the mistakes then we can get to a better ending … and my goal is to get to a better ending.

… So that’s it for my first post on my inking journey.  I hope you will check out my YouTube video on my second attempt at inking and please sub while you’re there.  Also, let me know what you all use to ink, if you do indeed ink; and if you don’t, let me know who your favourite illustrator, comic book or manga artist is below.

Until next time, take care !