Rusty Gilligan is a veteran inker with far more credits in the comic book industry than we could list here. To name a few, he’s worked for Marvel, DC, Image, Big Bang, Bluewater Comics, AC Comics, and Red Leaf Comics. He’s created trading cards for Topps, Clubhouse Diamonds, Skybox, Fleer, and Upper Deck. He’s also worked in the film industry for the X-Men Cartoon, Heavy Metal movie, and Spiderman 2 & 3 films. His press work includes: Card Collectors Price Guide, Comics Book Collector, Comics Buyers Guide, MAIN Magazine, and USA Today.
Recently Rusty completed sketch cards for Upper Deck Beginnings and the Capt America sets, worked on the Lady Gaga comic for Bluewater, a pinup for the upcoming Ripperman trade paper back from Arcana, and has been working on a new comic imprint from his own company.
But that’s not everything. Rusty has wrestled professionally as the Brooklyn Warrior, and then went on to the name of Wildcard.
He was heavyweight champion of the UWSA and the CWL – wrestled in the AWA, NWA, WWF, Mexico Lucha Libre, and a lot of other smaller organizations.
Sadly, his wrestling career ended abruptly when he was injured, where he finished up his wrestling resume by commentating for the CWL on channel 56 in California.
Rusty has crafted a “How To” for inking in a detailed step by step process. Red Leaf Comics proudly presents, the incredibly talented Rusty Gilligan…
Welcome to the progress tutorial of “Armor Guardian – Sir Bennshir”, soon to be released by Red Leaf Comics in the pages of Armor Guardians #1 due out in the summer of 2011.
First off, let me start by saying that this was a great piece done by Steve Williams. It was half finished pencils, and half sketch – perfect for an inker to be creative with.
Click on any image in the tutorial for a larger, detailed view!
00… When I had gotten this piece via email from the editor, I immediately brought it into Photoshop – a photo editing program – and reduced it to cover size and converted it to blue line. This is a simple process where I select the pencil’s shading and color and replace it with blue. This makes life easier for the colorist, who later just selects blue, and erases it, thereby deleting all extra pencil lines from the final inked piece.
01… All inkers have a ‘starting point’ when they assess a piece. Some start at the top, so as not to smear ink when they move through the piece… others will start with muscle tone or face… I prefer to start with the center and hop a round a bit. In this case, the belt and chest plate stood out in my eye, and I began embellishing on the artist’s sketch.
02… I moved on to the cloak, giving it a ‘fur’ quality. By keeping the lines short and jagged, not connected as much, it gave it a hairy appearance. I next tackled the axe blade and loin rag. The axe was easy, I just gave it a worn look – this guy’s been using this thing a ton!
As for the loin rag, I kept with the flow of action, and allowed it to sweep back a bit, against the direction of the swing. A minor detail like this allows the reader to see the path of movement, which emphasizes the direction of force… like hair blowing in the wind.
03… Muscles in the leg area were next. I imagined this guy to be hairy, after all, razors were hundreds of years away LOL. Also, I tried to give just enough detail in the loin rag for the colorist to work up shading and texture. You have to think of the next person in the process – if you overcrowd your inks, the colors will be too thin and/or details could be left out.
04… Some six-pack plating and an outline of muscles, kept the flow of movement in check… you can’t be all over the place with muscles, you have to think logically. In this case, the time period dictated that this brute wasn’t a typical ‘workout in the gym’ bodybuilder; his muscle tone would properly be uneven. He would walk or run a lot, hence the muscular legs, and his arms would be huge from swinging a two-handed weapon with force. I learned from the late Gil Kane to map and outline your frame before filling it in, not the other way around.
05… To best see where the muscles would intermingle, I brought in the only item to invade on their borders, the hair and head. Personally, I hate inking hair, but in this case, it was easier then most. I swept it up and back, again, for the path of movement. Now I know just how far to extend muscles, arm hair, shading, etc. It would look off-balance, in my opinion, if the hair was just outlined with a few blotches of shading. Where that might be ok for masks, this wasn’t a typical superhero piece.
06… To make the framing more complete, I had to correct the length and angle of the axe handle. If you notice in earlier phases, the handle went askew in his hand area and was a bit too long for him to be choking up on without bopping himself in the head LOL. Also, his camera-left arm and hand were drawn a little out of proportion with the figure. You have to remember, this is a sketch, its imperfect and as the ‘the next person in the process’ it’s up to the inker to determine the way to alter or eliminate these facets. I took the easy approach, as you can see in the next step…
07… I covered the area with more hair, did minor shading, corrected the finger placement and darkened them, and kept the angle of movement without re-doing the whole arm. I brought the piece back into Photoshop as a scan, and slightly mocked up the arm at a new angle… in truth, it looked unnatural. This was a pleasant compromise.
I then began ‘fleshing out’ the stoned wall and parapets of the castle. I gave the stone pieces a double line, to enhance the mortor work and added ‘veins’ or cracks for an aged look. This is called ‘antiquing’ or false-betina. Even though the castle stones were new back in this time period, adding details of aging allows the reader a sense of the period.
08… Between this phase and the last one, I corrected the shape and spacing of the stonework, to make it more uniform in size with the rest of the wall. Uniformity was the key to older architecture, just like the pattern of a chess board, or the layout of a tiled floor.
I changed the angle of the sun here, slightly, to appear that it was coming from a spot closer to the spire in the background. This allowed me to darken the background stones in a reverse effect, adding depth to the piece. Now I could determine the muscle tone, hair, and shading of his arms which were predominant in the foreground – catching the reader’s eye.
09… Starting on monster number 1, I wanted to break up some of the work I did on the main figure, so I created a ‘new’ shading and patterning for him. This is a good way to bring out something that isn’t there, and breathe life into what is there. I added a ringed effect to his shoulder and neck area, to appear as scales – then, I did some loose crosshatching to his body – I think he stands out more now. Not that he’d win any beauty contests either way, LOL.
I was also hoping that the patterning on the smaller monster would provide an outlet for some creativity on the colorist’s part… remember, “The next person in the process”.
10… I moved on to the other monster, and corrected his jaw line by adding a shaded row of teeth behind the foreground teeth and widening the webbing of his cheek, thereby giving it depth. Now, it looked more centered with the top row of teeth and not slanted.
11… After final touches on the upper monster, to give him more reptilian features, I filled in the muscles on the main figure to match the pattern with his legs. The bats in the background were added to balance the sky against the main figures… it now sweeps more towards the action, where before your eye was more in his chest piece and belt.
Describing the steps above actually took more effort than inking this piece, LOL.
I hope that you enjoyed this progress tutorial as much as I liked presenting it for you. If you have any questions, please contact the good folks at Red Leaf – I’m sure that they’d be glad to hear your feedback. And be sure to visit their website for free and exclusive web comics and previews of their new comic line.