After creating a detailed sketch of the illustration (see part 1: The Pencilning), I confound and frustrate my wife by busting out the lightbox, placing a high quality watercolor sheet over the lead-heavy sketchbook page, and tracing another version of the illustration. This serves two purposes: One, transferring the image onto better-quality paper that hasn't had it's fibers unfurled from endless swipes of the eraser allows for a cleaner application of ink and watercolor, and two, I'll always have a back-up copy of the sketch in case something goes amiss and I have to start again from scratch. Also, when my future offspring divide my estate in order to sell my life's output for what I can only assume will be many fabulous millions dollars, there will be more to go around (hence, less relational resentment/bloodshed).
Next, I tape the final sketch up on my drawing board, keeping the original nearby in case I need to double check an aspect of the piece; sometimes certain nuances of the original are lost in the transfer to the better paper, and having the original sketch nearby helps remind me of those nuances.
Now it's time to ink!
Since I taught myself to draw by doodling in the margins of notebook paper, I'm used to working very small. Hence, my inking tools create the thinnest line possible. I go over the pencils with a Hunt 102 nib pen that must be continually dipped in an inkwell and is so sharp I've inadvertently stabbed myself several times, drawing blood most of those times (isn't illustration FUN?!?! For your own health and safety, kids, aim to be firemen when you grow up). The nib actually creates a slight channel on the paper and deposits the ink therein, so the line is really dark. Unfortunately, sometimes the nib will pull up paper fibers and cause a very slight error that can only be perceived by someone who has spent hours toiling over the image but who will nonetheless be haunted by the mistake for at least the next week, causing lost confidence, sleep, and hair (firemen, kids).
To create a sense of depth and to differentiate the image elements from one another, I go over certain lines again with a #2 liner brush. The brush is also dipped in an inkwell, and must be washed off in water more often then the nib, causing it's line to be a bit less black. On the plus side, it doesn't pull up the paper fibers, so there's less chance of a mental breakdown.
Next up: watercoloring!