Self-Portrait 2016 - Ilka Perea Studio

Process of Digital Inking and Coloring with Adobe Illustrator

This is a caricature of myself that I drew in 2015 and I tried to finish one year later. In this post, I explain the process of inking and coloring with Adobe Illustrator.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio

The purpose of this project was to paint it with Adobe Photoshop, but after trying it several times over a year, I accepted that I’m a mess painting with Adobe Photoshop and went back to my element: Adobe Illustrator. I just needed a couple of hours for two days to finish it.

Sketching

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Sketchbook - Ilka Perea Studio

I started drawing a sketch with outlines. This draw took me a few times though I know the proportions of my face. I didn’t put the shadows on it because I needed to digitize it and then paint it in Adobe Photoshop … or at least that had been the plan.

Inking and Coloring

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio

The process of digital inking and coloring has become much faster and more accurate with the digital tools that the market offers. Adobe Illustrator has more control over the color selection, tracing levels, and error correction.

Now I explain the process of digital inking and coloring with Adobe Illustrator.

Inking Process

Inking is the process in which we add ink over the pencil lines to define outlines and even shadows. Traditional inking requires the use of pens, ink, and high precision drawing skills. This process is difficult to correct once it has been traced with ink. Digital inking allows corrections. Here a lot of precision is still required, but any error can be reversed without consequence.

Adobe Illustrator offers several tools for this purpose. I usually use the Pen Tool (P), the Pencil Tool (N) and complement it with the stroke and brush properties, different tools for different effects.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Inking process - Select the Stroke

First of all, I removed the fill color and keep the stroke color in black.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Inking process - Select the pen tool

2. I selected the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool bar.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Tracing

3. With the Pen Tool (P) actived, I clicked on my sketch to trace the lines.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Inking process - Tracing

4. I changed the width profile of the stroke.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Inking Process - Stroke Weight

5. I adjusted the stroke weight, I mean, the thickness of line.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Inking Process - Bezier Curves

6. Once the line has the appearence I want, I could improve the bezier curves.

Coloring Process

Before beginning the process of coloring, it’s highly recommended to select the color scheme.

This is not a straightforward process. One can start with some tones and change them later to assure the correct transition between tones. The most important step in this process is choosing the tones for lights, shadows, and the middle. For this propose, I often begin selecting the middle tone (base color) and later the lights and shadows (a lighter color and a darker one).

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Color Palette

For this project, I just selected 3 levels of tones. However, nothing and nobody put you down of doing more levels of tones. Indeed, it would look much better.

Coloring

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio -  Selecting the outlines

Once I had the whole illustration traced, then I selected all outlines.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Live Paint Bucket Tool

Next, I clicked on the Live Paint Bucket Tool (K).

Applying the Paint Bucket Tool, it’s easier to fill the areas with colors. I started painting the skin. Next, I filled with color the area which represents the hair. Later, I continued with the other details like eyes, eyebrows, lips, and teeth.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio

Once I painted with the base color (the middle tone), then I continue with the shadows. I like to begin with the shadows because they give me the light directions and the perception of the object volume. Finally, I put the light tone on.

Inking and Painting an Illustration with Adobe Illustrator - Ilka Perea Studio - Self-Portrait 2016 - FINISHED.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this project!

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