The Zen of Inking Motorcycles

I have finished inking Spam and the Sasquatch! The motorcycle that had me singing the blues yesterday has been drawn properly, more or less, and inked. I present that panel tonight as proof that I can sort of fake a mechanical device. I gave the rider, Maddog, who is a vampire, a bat helmet, because they really do make them and if I were a vampire who rode a motorcycle, I would soooo have a helmet like that!

Inking has its own rhythms, as does every project. This is the longest story I have yet undertaken (64 pages), and I found that I got into a groove that helped me continue even when I was bored, or dead tired, or just wanted to go do something else for a change. First get the panels in place: that always kind of grounded me. Sometimes I’d do the panel borders before bed, knowing that I’d have a page started when I got up. I purposely didn’t use a ruler for those, because I wanted a sort of organic looking line. Foregrounds first, usually, with a bigger pen; then switch to the fine for the background details. As I was inking this on the lightbox, I would occasionally lift up the inking paper and check my pencil sketches underneath. At the end of each double page spread, I’d mark the page numbers at the bottom, write in the title and sign it. Finishing each double spread this way gave me a feeling of completion, something I needed while there were so many pages yet to go!

Next I’ll be starting on the painting; I’m going to do it in watercolour, mostly, probably with bits of acrylic, gouache and marker when needed for special effects. I’d like the originals to be as close as possible to the way they look in the book, because the finished pages will be for sale. The only thing I plan to do in the computer is clean up borders and insert the dialogue.

Without further ado, here is the motorcycle panel. Notice how I cleverly hid most of the fiddly bits of the engine with Maddog’s leg!

Spam motorcycle

7 responses to “The Zen of Inking Motorcycles

  1. To me the bike looks perfect! I am really looking forward to having a glimpse at the coloured panels. I am just working on my second panel coloured with photoshop, and I am a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities of changing the colours. Doing it digitally I am running the risk of never calling it done, I’m afraid.


    • Thanks, Ulla! Ooh, Photoshop! It’s hard at first to get over the choices, but eventually it comes down to your previous experience with colour — I find that my basic instincts are still based on my same old colour sense that has served me well in the past, but being able to tweak the shades a bit is very valuable. Do you make copies so that you can work on several different ones and compare them?


  2. Very clever! Love the helmet and the bike and Spam coming out of the wrecked van saying, “Meowwww, it took you long enough!” or whatever he says in the story. I am so excited about this, Karen.


    • Thanks, Annie! I don’t remember what exactly he says right there (lettering comes last, but I did leave room for it), but it’s something like that. I’m glad you’re excited, so am I!


  3. You made me laugh yesterday about the motorcycle! Glad you managed and the result is very decent. Illustrators all have something or the other the really struggle/hate to draw.


    • Thank you, Ben! It’s true, and machines seem to be my weak point — I wish I had spent more time drawing rocket ships and cars when I was a kid! Time to catch up. I had a look at your work too and quite enjoyed it, so I’ll be following you. I love the cats and dragon on the walls!


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