How to Clean and Tone a Sketch with Gimp
I thought I’d share how I make my little comic doodles using a rough sketch and gimp. I enjoy making these because they’re quick to do and don’t require any of my fancy drawing tools, meaning I can make these at work to pass the time (I keep card stock on my desk to use instead of an actual sketchbook). Typically, it will take me under two hours to make one of these from start to finish, depending on how complex the drawing is. To follow along, you’ll need:
- paper (a thicker sketchbook paper, or card stock)
- pencil (you can use your fancy drawing pencils, or a simple every day pencil)
- Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Marker (the kind you can pick up in any office store)
- Scanner (and the basic knowledge to use it)
- Gimp (and the basic knowledge to use it)
Making the Doodle:
To get started, draw your doodle on the paper with the pencil. Easy, right? (sorry, this isn’t a drawing tutorial, it’s a “make this picture look good and put it in a digital form” tutorial).
Don’t worry about getting your doodle perfect – I usually leave a lot of my sketch lines. We’ll erase these later so it’s okay. I also don’t put in the finer details until after the main inking is done.
Using the ultra fine point marker, start slowly going over the lines of your doodle. *NOTE* This can be tricky to get the hang of at first, so don’t get discouraged! Even if you make a mistake or decide you don’t like what it looks like, you can fix it with Gimp. Notice that extra line on Wonder Woman’s right thigh? I decided after I inked it that it made her leg look too straight, so I added the second, softer line. I’ll remove the first line in the touch up phase.
Continue to ink your lines until you’re happy with them (please excuse the blurry pic).
Once the main inking is done, erase your original sketch lines. This is where you’ll really see how your doodle looks. If there is any fine detail to do, sketch it in now and ink once you’re happy with it (I did the W on Wonder Woman’s chest after the other inking was done, and no, still not happy with how it looks but that’s about the best I can do on a little chibi doodle).
Go over your picture one last time and make sure it’s as clean of pencil marks as can be and then scan it, saving it to your computer.
Editing in Gimp:
Now, open the picture in gimp.
Start by creating a new layer. This is the layer we’ll add our clean up touches to.
Working on the new layer, zoom in until the area you wan to fix is large on the screen. In this case, I’ll be fixing the line on the thigh.
Select the magic lasso tool and select around the blemish you want removed. Using the paintbrush and white, touch up the area (notice I had to be careful around the lines of the boot as I didn’t want those removed).
Repeat where ever necessary. When you’re satisfied, merge the touch up layer down to the bottom layer. This is your cleaned up raw. I like to save my work as a PNG now, usually naming it something like [projectname]_clean.PNG
If you’ve already saved your clean version of your doodle, save a new version of it (something like, [projectname]_1.png). This is the version you’ll be adding screen tone to. With the newly saved version, scale it down to the size you want it to be. Then go image >fit canvas to layer to shrink the canvas to fit the new smaller size.
Now select the area you want to fill with screen tone by selecting it with the magic wand tool. Next, use the paint bucket and set it to ‘Pattern Fill’ (click the image of the current pattern to be given more choices). Choose the pattern you want and then click the selected area on your doodle to fill it. Repeat until you have filled in all the areas you want with screen tone.
Some things to remember when filling in with screen tone:
- Don’t over do it! Use the already available white space to your advantage and don’t fill every space with tone.
- If more than one area is supposed to be the same color, use the same tone to convey this. I.E, Wonder Woman’s top, boots and star on her crown are all supposed to be red, so I used the same tone for that.
- Try to use different types of tone to keep things from running together. I always use a dot tone for the hair (manga influence?) but like to use the noise tones for solid colors in the clothing. I think it gives a nice contrast.
- If you’re trying to fill in a space but the magic wand is selecting more than you want, check your lines. If the space isn’t closed in completely, do touch up with a black paintbrush to close off the area.
- The patterns I used are default to gimp, but if you want to find more just google “download gimp patterns”. Deviant art has many good manga/comic screen tones you can use to add more tone to your art.
Looking good! Now make sure to save your work. Here’s our original, uncleaned raw next to the cleaned and toned finished pieces:
Note that when I cleaned the raw, I removed the smile (decided I didn’t like it) and touched up many areas where the ink had gone over the line.
And that’s all there is to it! Happy doodling :D