The next step is to pencil out the illustration at 100% reproduction size. Since the finished piece is going to be inked separately, I just draw these in an old Moleskine sketchbook full of drawings from New York. I never used the left-facing pages, so I have a lot of blank pages to work with.
I used to ink my drawings and then transfer them to the watercolor paper and ink them again, but this double-inking made everything feel very stiff. At some point I watched this amazing video of Sir Quentin Blake painting and it really helped loosen me up. It gave me the confidence to attempt inking directly onto the watercolor paper. To help me do that, I scan in the original drawing and then bump up the levels in Photoshop until the pencil lines are nice and dark. I then print this out on a blank sheet of paper:
For this project I am just using cheap watercolor postcards that you can find in any art supply store. It is not the best paper, but it's good enough for this project. The ones I'm using are 4" x 6" with 140 lb. stock:
Next I tape the printout underneath the watercolor paper and place it all on a light box. I then ink the drawing directly onto the watercolor paper using waterproof ink. I usually set my original sketch next to the light box so that I can consult it, because it is not always easy to see through the watercolor paper, especially with smaller details. At first, not being able to fully see the drawing stressed me out, but now I really enjoy this step. I have to improvise a bit, so the inked drawing usually turns out slightly different than the pencil sketch.
Below you can see the drawing half inked, on the illuminated light box. For this drawing I used a G-nib for all of the foreground elements and then a hunt 102 nib for the tiny details in the distance.
And here is the final inked drawing, with the light box turned off. I usually let this sit at least overnight before I start painting, otherwise the ink will bleed into the colors (even with waterproof ink).
Next week I'll break out the paints!