New member and professional manga artist Sonia Leong sent me the following in response to a question I put to her about her inking methods. Read on: she does it for a living you know.
Hmm, it really depends on the client, the tone of the comic and what is cheapest at the time XD
Most of the time, I like to ink by hand with real pens and paper, which I then scan then add lettering/shading or colour by computer.
I prefer inking with fineliners rather than dip pens. I like using 0.05 - 0.3 widths. I buy in boxes of 10 or more (cos I go through them like no one's business). Brand totally depends on cheapness. So I have Sakura Microns, Pilot, Staedtler, Letraset, Copic and Uni pens.
Although quite a lot of manga artists have a clean style, I can think of plenty which are much looser, so please don't think it is de rigeur! Among my peers, people have commented that one of my strengths is being able to produce a clean yet variable width line with fineliners, particularly with my 2007-2008 work. So it is not a given thing! A lot of it is to do with technique - I draw nose to paper, quite close up and use small wrist movements for details, and I lock my wrist and draw from my elbow if I need to do long strokes. I also gently start each stroke, and gently lift as a I finish each stroke, so each line begins and ends with a fine taper.
Fineliners also get subtly conditioned over time - a new 0.05 pen is more likely to have faster inkflow thus producing thicker lines, than a well-weathered 0.1 whose nib is pushed in a little, thus becoming stiffer and less prone to randomness.
I sometimes use dip pens though, if I have time. They are ultimately the most cost effective, and produce the blackest of black lines ^_^ and if you get the right nib, can produce work that is far finer than even a 0.05 fineliner. My favourite is Deleter's range of nibs (Spoon nib, G-pen, Maru-nib) and inks (perfect for manga, very free flowing compared to other inks with added shellac). Although I survived perfectly fine for a while with a Gillot architect's pen and nib, with Windsor and Newton ink. But you really have to alter your drawing style if using a dip pen - some directions are a big no-no and cause much splashing and tears.
Does that help? It's a myth that you need "manga dip pens" to draw manga, even the biggest movers in the manga world, CLAMP, use fineliners. And I feel a lot more secure taking fineliners with me when I work on the move, than taking a bottle of ink in my Chanel handbag!! O_O;;
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