February 23, 2009

Is there an inkwasher in the house?

I just got this question as part of a very nice email:

A request for you -- have you considered doing an entry on ink washes? I've started experimenting with them lately, and it's not as intuitive as I would have thought. Is it better to lay a darker wash over a lighter wash or vice versa? How does watered down ink work versus watercolor? How does one get the pseudo-ink wash effect of someone like Toby Cypress? Etc, etc.

I know absolutely nothing about inkwashing. At all. I think I MAY have done it, ONCE, when I was ten. I'd ask an artist I know personally, but I don't know any who do inkwashes.

So I now call upon all the readers of comic tools: Can anybody help this man?


Raluca Z said...

I did a couple of inkwashes in my life - for school mostly.

So difference between inkwashes and watercolors. In the case of watercolors you mix the colors, dillute them etc on the wet paper. You dip the brush into clear water then into the watercolor then use what mix you have on the paper. In the case of inkwashes, you first create your custom washes in little bowls or whatever recipients you have by adding water+ ink in various concentrations. (I don't know what ink you're using. Some might be better for inkwashes than others. I used to use Koh-ih-Noor black ink and one drop of that at about 30-ml of water would get me a good grey.) Then you paint by dipping the brush in those bowls.

How it works. The effects are similar to watercolors used lightly (there's a way to 'abuse' watercolors - as I do and get them as opaque as acrilic paint). You can obtain large uniform surfaces if you keep the same wash and the working board a little tilted. You don't have to water the paper surface before hand. You can overlay washes starting from a lighter to a darker wash BUT only after the previous wash is completely dry. It is always lighter wash+darker wash if you want to darken. You can use the same wash several time in layers and the surface will darken - to a certain point when a. your paper will take it no more or b. it just plain simply won't get any darker. Trying to lay a lighter wash on a darker one will do absolutely nothing

Other things: Paper has to be stuck to the board - as in masking tape/ duck tape all around the contour. Because inkwash is similar to watercolors and the paper will swell a lot. Use thick watercolor special paper, because it has to resist to a LOT of watering and drying. You can wait patiently for your inkwashes to dry before you apply the next layer or you could use a hairdryer to speed the process.
In some cases ink will deposit on the bottom of the inkwash bowl - if you leave the inkwash too long (days), then you have to redo the wash. Think of it as a expiration date.

I heard there are these coloured inks similar to watercolors, I don't know much about them. I've only used solid watercolors and inkwashes - not colored but plain greys.

That is all I know abou the inkwash. Hope it helps.

Sarah said...

In my experience, it's pretty similar to watercolor. The effect you want really depends on the method of application and what you decide to do first: lay down ink or wet the paper (and in what quantity). I myself am an ink first, water after sort of person since I don't like too much bleed. Some people mix several different washes in separate containers. It's really something you have to play with to get it the way you like it. But regardless, you should have some seriously thick watercolor paper; Bristol vellum won't stand a chance with all that water.

You can create a similar but more controlled smearing effect by using a very light grey or transparent Copic art marker to pull the dried ink around the page. Note about pens and india ink (Speedball in my case): this does not work with Tombo pens, those won't do anything at all to ink. Prismacolors will smear the ink but they tend to leave blotches on the paper. Copic really is best for this sort of thing.

Mark said...

Go here http://tinyurl.com/cgjg6n
I have no better info on this subject than this post and the included Famous Artist pages. Yes I do ink washes as well.

Comic Tools said...

I want to kiss all of you, especially you Mark.