who does it better, what tools I use, and step by step

Hello hi hey. Some people think I have professional art knowledge when it comes to inking, I don’t think I do, but I’m happy to share my process. I am a self taught artist, I’ve been to a couple of different art institutions that never really taught me anything, more like show and follow. There are skills here but I can’t think of anything fundamental I learned. I realize this is  a privilege in it’s own, but I have learnt best exploring on my own and by myself. I want this to be straightforward so I’m going to break it down into inspirations, tools, and then a time lapse of the piece. I’ll be using my Watcher piece which I posted on twitter as I worked on it. It took me about 3 weeks to finish because I worked on it when I had time or felt like it, which wasn’t everyday. I don’t believe in killing yourself over a piece of art. There is no fun in that. 


I would be nowhere without manga. Copying how my favourite artist’s drew was how I even got into art. The problem with this is western art racism and how anything referencing anime isn’t taken seriously. Growing up and trying to draw anime in art classes would get you a bad grade. Which like????? Why? Cos replicating boring old white men is the right thing to do? Yawn. Now I understand trying to teach someone to develop their own style, but the problem is that wasn’t what they were teaching.  Anyways, there are a lot of manga-ka on this list. If you know any ink maestros please share! I’m always looking for new art to obsess over. 

Kaori Yuki

I loved how gothic her work was and most importantly the fashion. Revisiting her work now is a really big yikes, I wouldn’t recommend it for plot at all. But I loved how she drew beautiful boys  and gothic fashion. And also, hair.  This also affected my gender identity and sexuality I am sure.


Where would I be without CLAMP? I knew I could go to the manga section at Indigo and grab a CLAMP title and the art in it would be beautiful. The boys would be long and the girls would have beautiful hair. There would be angel and demon wings.  Surprisingly I started with Wish, which I think is their least known work, but I will always love the art of X the most. 

Kohta Hirano

I would fight this pervert in a parking lot unprovoked. Hellsing used to be my personality, which is embarrassing. I had the anime memorized because I watched it so much so this is probably the biggest influence on my art. Kohta Hirano’s use of black is single handedly some of the greatest inking I have ever seen. Subject matter aside, I ink how I do because of him. Also there is a lot of gender in Hellsing so thanks for transing my gender.

Junji Ito

Everyone’s horror dad, including me.  Where Kohta Hirano uses black so well, I think Junji Ito uses white space just as effectively. A lot of his linework is very clean, which works so well when he brings in the body horror and the rot. I love Junji Ito’s work but he falls into the category where fandom makes me like...need to take a step back. I don’t trust white Junji Ito fans who make it their personality! Also have you seen his viz interviews? I think they have him held captive, save him.

Suehiro Maruo 

Another pervert. Maybe more of a horror uncle. I don’t think any of Suehiro Maruo’s work has been translated to english? There are a lot of french translations though. I own The Laughing Vampire in Japanese, it’s my favourite work by him and has some of the BEST illustrations but it’s a pretty messed up story with some weird racism at the end? It’s just a bizarre work with bad subject matter but there are vampires and beautiful illustrations like the one below that makes me go absolutely feral.

Takato Yanamoto

Making this list I realize I love detailed ink drawing the combines perversion and body horror so maybe It is I who is perverse.  ANYWAYS.  The miniscule details of Takato Yanamoto are so good, I found a manga of his in an anthology I got at the BMV and I could not stop studying it. Any attempt at intricacy in my work is trying to be on this level. 

Q Hayashida

I wish I could achieve an inch of what Q Hayashida has done with Dorohedoro. But I discovered she used to work as an artist on Blame! And even though Blame lacked any interesting story I would always look at it at our high school library. I was obsessed with detail in the lines and messy quality. Honestly I read Dorohedoro in like two days and then bought both artbooks. There might be a third but I won’t let myself investigate. She is on another level I am so happy I get to witness her work. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Trung Le Ngyuen, Arthur Rackham, Sergio Toppi, Stanley Wany


All I need are three things.

Sakura Microns

I have used staedler, I’ve used copic and I’ve used another brand that I forget the name of that is also expensive. This is it for me. The ink is archival, it dries quickly, doesn’t smudge, you don’t lose a lot of pigment if you’re erasing the pencil under it.  My favourite weights are 005, 01 and 02 and I usually end up using 01 for most of a project. It’s really good to change weight and use 05 and 08 and I do sometimes but sometimes I also forget. 

Pentel Brush Pen ( NOT THE POCKET)

I used to use the pocket brush pen but it doesn’t have as much control. This was scary to learn to use at first but now I love it so much and the beautiful black it lays down when you’re filling is chef’s kiss. 

Pentel Corrections Pen

I have owned one of these for maybe 5 years. I only replaced it because I thought I lost it, just to find it again. You will make mistakes, this is how you fix them. I never want people to look at my originals cos they will just see big globs of white texture. 

I don’t ink with a brush and ink because I am a coward. Maybe one day I will get there, but I personally don’t like the lack of control you get from a brush.  Give me the crisp pen lines.


I kind of lack structure but this is how I’ve started to tackle most of my pieces. I apologize for the bad cellphone quality of pictures lol.


Because the pieces I work on are kind of large, 11 x 17 sort of thing I usually start out with some form of reference. It’s usually, what kind of tree do I want to draw? I can pinpoint what tree I’ve used for a piece no problem. I make bad photoshop collages. I was thinking of the tree from My Neighbor Totoro and forest spirits.


Keep it vague and loose. The less you have to erase the better. If I am stumped about what to draw somewhere or how to draw it, that’s where I go into more detail with pencil. There is no point putting a lot of work into a sketch you’re going to cover up with ink!!!

3. Ink!

Just go for it. For me it’s all about creating texture. I try to approach it Left to Right only to avoid smudging as much, but it also depends on what I feel like inking. I love doing tree bark, I hate doing too much foliage. It is kind of a race to complete a piece so you don’t get sick of it, but it’s something you should take your time with. I love ink because just letting my mind leave and lines appear on a page is my therapy. I work best listening to music but I also ink a lot when I’m watching movies or tv. When I approach hair I approach every line as a strand. Think of where roots are and lay down the heaviest weight and go thin. Try to be loose!

4.Self Care!

This isn’t a speed process, and sometimes creating such miniscule textures hurts my fingers and wrists. It’s really good to do exercises to strengthen and get some relief. Always take breaks! Don’t push yourself, don’t listen to old people like Yuko Shimizu who are mad you are using an Ipad to draw. They’re embarrassing even they make more money than me.

  1. You did it!

Scan them in! You want pure black and white? In Photoshop go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and you are good to go.

Thanks for reading! I hope there was something here that was helpful. Feel free to ask me any questions, recommend me cool artists I should know about, show me your own work!

Happy New year. <3