Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chuck Berry - ink layering technique

I tried out a new technique involving inks and a process similar to screen printing by which you layer your ink drawings over one another to create your tonal shifts.

I started out with a simple line drawing with a little, but not too much detail. The areas inked in black here represent the areas that would remain black for the final piece. To illustrate these lines I used black Sumi ink with a brush on Marker Paper.

After completion of the black layer, I taped a new piece of Marker Paper over my line drawing and got out my light table. With the black lines showing through, I inked in the areas where I wanted mid tones to show up on the final piece. This go around there is more of an emphasis on getting some of the details.
With the mid tones complete I added a third piece of Marker Paper to the top. This time, using the same technique, I concentrated on areas where I wanted the lighter tones to come into play. After all of the layers were inked, I scanned them in and started putting the composition together in Photoshop. I had all of the tones on different layers and set them up like so:
Bottom Layer-Blacks, Opacity 100, Layer Style Normal
Middle Layer- Mid Tones, Opacity 70, Layer Style Multiply
Top Later-Light Tones, Opacity 40, Layer Style Multiply

When all of the inks were set up on top of each other, this is what my image looked like:
After I had my tones scanned in, I started adding colors and other effects to get the final piece. Overall, kind of a fun process. A little time consuming, especially the scanning part. It's bad enough that my scanner is so small I have to put my drawings together like a puzzle anyways, but on top of that, making sure that three layers of drawings lined up. This was a first attempt with this technique, so I might try it again. I'm a little curious to see how it would work with a more illustrative composition including things like a background or some environment.


  1. To be fair, Frank, I got the idea from Jeff Soto's blog:

  2. It's fucking awesome, i think i'm gonna make a tattoo out of this.... really great