Drawing Tips: Clean-up

Today, I’ll be talking about clean-up or inking if you’re doing comics but I prefer calling it clean-up because animation. Also, I believe inking still uses more messy lines because of the hatching involved so clean-up it is!

Anyway, to sum it up, clean-up is where you CLEAN UP the rough sketch to make it more look nicer and easier to color. I’ll be using this sketch of Silver as a sample.

Looking snazzy as always


Clean-up vs. Tracing

Before we begin further discussion, I’d like to point out that clean-up is not tracing. Sure you are drawing over a sketch but they are different things. Tracing is simply tracing the lines as is but on clean-up, you are not just drawing over, but you are improving and fixing the mistakes of the sketch.

Here’s a demonstration, I’m gonna trace and clean-up this pencil sketch to show you the difference. Here’s a side by side comparison with the rough sketch underneath.

Now there’s an obvious difference already but you won’t immediately notice the mistakes of the left image since the rough sketch underneath can mislead you. Now, let’s take down the rough sketch.

Now, if you notice the drawing on the left, it’s not really looking good. I’ve pointed out the area where notable mistakes are spotted. While on the right side, it looks a lot better and more appealing because I’ve improved the drawing while cleaning it up.


Types of strokes

Let’s talk about the types of lines you can do. First, is the single stroke. This is how it looks:

This type of line has no thickness variation. (well just a little bit) Overall, it’s just nice consistent thin strokes. The upside to using this is that it’s faster to use and you don’t have to worry where you should be thickening your lines. In exchange, mistakes can be seen easily.

Next type of line is called “thick and thin” due to its variation in thickness.

This is the type of line I use when I’m inking The Angel with Black Wings and CHAMPS. For me, the thickness variation adds more charm and I can use simpler coloring style for the comics. XD

Anyway, by using this type of line, you can actually hide some mistakes (not all) by using bolder strokes but it’s harder to have consistent linework since you have to keep in mind which areas you should thicken the lines. (on animation at least)


Other types of lines I know of:

Double stroke – We’ve been thought of this at the studio but I’ve never encountered a project that uses it. It’s single stroke x 2. You have to be mindful of the distance between the lines.

Scratchy lines – mainly used for effects or to just give more of a gothic, horror feel. Notice that I’m still paying attention to the form even if I’m doing messy lines. It’s not the same as rough sketching.

Some tips for doing clean-up

Form is king – Whatever style you’re doing, getting the objects properly formed is the basic fundamentals of a nice linework. I usually observe this to gauge how polished the style of the artist is.

What do I mean by this? Let’s take an example.

While the left drawing looks okay the shape of the object is looks distorted it’s not really appealing to the eyes. Paying attention to the form of the object will result to a more cleaner and better lines.


Zoom out – You know, that feeling when you zoomed in to the eyes and add super detailed things and when you zoomed out it looks terrible overall. Remember you are free to zoom in all you like but don’t forget to zoom out every once in a while.


Rotate your canvas – Almost all software already has a rotate function and I highly recommend that you use it in full potential. With practice, artists can draw splendid without having to rotate the canvas. I’m not really sure how others work but me personally I’m more comfortable in doing strokes that curves to the right but I’m struggling a bit on strokes that curves to the left. For me, it was more about finding the comfort zone and rotating the canvas to get cleaner lines.


Use swift strokes that’s within your hand’s range – In my experience, the slower you do the strokes, the wonkier it’ll look like. In addition to that, objects that has very long strokes can be broken down into segments that is more comfortable with your hand range.

Use every trick you know – You’re free to practice and experiment and take however long you like in your own time but in situations where you have tight deadlines, you have to use every trick in the book. It’s okay to use stablilizers when you’re inking digitally. Using circular, oval templates, french curves, and rulers traditionally is fine as long as it get the job done in time. Of course I wouldn’t really recommend relying on them all the time, otherwise your freehand won’t improve.


Lastly, LEARN AND NEVER FORGET THE FUNDAMENTALS – Fundamentals and Basics is always and will always be the foundation of drawing and this is how you’ll be able to expand your skills. Otherwise, you’ll just be a chicken running without it’s head.


That’s it for this topic! If you have any questions regarding anything art or comic-related, please contact me at commissions.avimharz@gmail.com I hope you found this somewhat helpful in your drawing adventures. See you next time!