All About Line Weight Part 2

by Matthew Russell - Posted 1 year ago


Welcome back, my CryptoComic Compatriots! We are here with Part 2 of the “Inking: Line Weight” series. I wrote this as a single long blog tutorial. After noticing how much I info I dumped on you, I decided to break it up into smaller, easier digestible blog post.

If you haven’t read All About Line Weight Part 1 now is your chance. Read it before you continue. We discuss inlinking on a desk and not something so complicated as a human face.


We will be going into something a little bit more difficult by drawing a face. For this example, we will use a sketch of Spider-man. As many of you know, Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. We are going to attempt to try to recreate Spider-Man using his rules.


I don’t claim to be an artist on his scale. As you can see by the final pie3ce, I am still somewhat unhappy with the work. I feel like it is too stretched and skinny.

Blue Lines

We sketch everything out using a blue pencil. This is done so that I can remove the blue lines later with PhotoShop. However, this is technique is usually reserved for the paper so that I can keep the original drawing intact. I am using Procreate on the IPad, but I am so used to this step, that I do it anyway.

I do my initial sketch on a separate layer (which I can just turn off later). When I am reasonably happy with it, I will turn the opacity down to about 40% and create a new layer on top of that.

HB Pencil

Now I sketch out everything. I don’t need to worry about anything right here. As you can see my lines are sketchy and jagged. The detail lines go outside my contour lines. Everything here is rough and that’s ok.

I’ve picked my light source and clearly marked it on my picture. Hint: it’s on his forehead.

I keep refining this layer until I have something workable. Now I’m ready to ink.


As you can see, I follow the same steps as if I was drawing my parent’s desk (See part 1). I do my outlines and a little detail.


I am going to turn off all my other layers except for the white background and see where I’ve made any mistakes. Remember that since we are doing this in Procreate, technology is a lot more forgiving than paper.

I straighten out any lines. I can clean up any sketchy or wavy lines and I keep it all clean and concise with the same light line weight.


Now due to the fact that we are dealing with a human and not flat straight subject, there are some added rules to know before we carry on any further.

Before we get into this, I wanted to explain something vital. 90% of inking is subconscious. When we look out the window at the world, we don’t see these rules that I am about to present to you. We add them to trick the mind into understanding the subject more.

Avoid Coloring Book Feel

Having all the lines the same thick weight will give you, what I like to refer to as the coloring book feel. Avoid this at all costs. I see this mainly in logos but occasionally in comic art. This is a big no, no.

As you can see from the illustration below, I drew the deity of the church of the flying spaghetti monster. I tried to keep the line weight the same throughout and it looks like something you would see out of a coloring book. This is harder than you would think.

Fat Belly

In order to make a convincing “fat” belly, start heavy and work thinner. This makes the subject look stretched and a little unhealthy. A good rule of thumb is thicker lines around fat and muscle and thinner lines around the bone.

This will help give the illusion of a real-world muscle and fat. Underlining texture is key to understanding how to ink.

Thick Lines for Closer Subjects

Although there are no hard lines found in nature, that being said, the closer a subject is to the viewer, the harder (thicker) the line.

Further away subjects are contoured with thinner lines that are softer. This helps give the illusion that they are farther away.

Swipe or swoosh

A good swoosh line will give the illusion of motion. This will be the exact opposite of a later rule.

Thicken the line on the apex of the swoosh for the motion line. As I have said, it will add a motion feel.

Underside is darker

Typically most light sources are from above, it is, for this reason, that line weight is heavier, the lower you go on a subject. The head is typically closest to the light source, thinner lines. Feet, furthest away, thicker lines.

Of course, this being comic books, that is not always the case, invert this rule for subjects where the light source is coming from under them. Basically, the further a section of the subject is from the light source, thicken up the lines.

Remembering Light Source

I touched on this a little in the last rule, but it bears repeating. There are sometimes that I skip my lines, or don’t add any lines depending on where the light source is. As you will notice, the webbing directly next to the light source is virtually gone, or nonexistent.

The apex of a curve

Unline the swoosh (mentioned above), when drawing something like a landscape or outline of a subject, our contour lines will be thinnest towards the apex of the line.

By making it the exact opposite of the “swoosh” we can see the difference. It might not be obvious as to why this line is different but the audience will subconsciously know that they are.

Closeup image here

2 lines meet

I like to thicken lines where they meet at “T” intersection. Think about how the jawline meets with the neck. Give it a little more weight to indicate the convergence of sections of the subject.

This does not necessarily apply to the webbing on the costume, due to the fact that that is just details on the material. This mainly applies to the subject itself.

Pull, don’t push

When drawing a longer line that needs to be smooth, pull your pencil (in this case, apple pencil) towards you. Don’t push the pencil away, this will make it harder to draw a smooth curved line. I also find that it helps to control your breathing. Only make the stroke when exhaling. It will help steady your hand.

If you don’t believe me, ask any sharpshooter. They will give you the same advice.


Starting from the very top of the head, I make a nice round oval. If you notice that the line is stretched tiniest closest to the light source. The back of the head and bottom of the jaw are thicker.

I, of course, and not talking about the outside designs of the eyes, due to the fact that they are simple designs.

The left side of the jawline is thinner than the right due to the fact that it is both further away and closer to the light source.

Save any hatching until you are completely done with the contour lines.

If you notice, I didn’t put any webbing on the costume, even though it has the same style as the face. This was so that I could keep the attention directly on the face, which is directly in the center of the paper. I can get away with less detail towards the outside in order to make sure that the focal point is where I want it.


I now have one piece done. This means that I can pick up the next piece and keep applying everything I’ve learned and perfect my craft.

Don’t ever think that since I’m done with the piece, I’m done. As my old college professor used to tell me, “Done is the engine of more.” move on, get more practice, and real-world experience under your belt. You’re done when you’re dead.

To end on a happy note, art is one of the most relaxing things you can do. Get good and get your work out there so you can get paid while you’re still alive. Upload your progress in a living journal of art on the CryptoComics Marketplace. And don’t forget, we will see you, in the funny pages.