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First steps


This quick tutorial is for people who want to learn the basics in Black Ink.


The workspace

At the first launch of Black Ink, my interface looks like the example below.
You can hide the stacked panels at any time using the shortcuts Ctrl+, , .
Arrange these panels as you wish or configure them through preferences.

Create a new document

By default, the canvas size is twice the size of my view. To adjust the size, I go to the Main Menu > New..
Then I change the size directly in the canvas preview or by entering values on the left, and change the background color.


As Black Ink manages very large documents, ensure you have enough disk space by checking the file size of the image at the bottom.

Choose a brush

At the top right, you have your Favorite brushes.

You can select your brush by:

  • Left-clicking on it, as shown in this example,
  • Right-clicking to switch to the next brush assigned to the same slot.

You can also use the shortcut Num 1 for slot 1, and if you hold Num 1, you'll have the brushes from slot 1 displayed in the view. Same process for slots 2-5.
For brush selection, let's keep it simple; I'll cover more with the Brush manager later.

Let's draw with constant screen brush size!

In Black Ink, there are two ways to draw, thanks to the constant screen brush size feature, which can be toggled on or off, or by using the shortcut Y. You can find this option in each view, and it's particularly useful for sketches or quick fill-ins.

In the example just below, the main view has this option inactive and grayed out.
When I draw my final stroke remains at 23 pixels, as seen on the right in my brush parameters.

Meanwhile,in the Secondary view, it is active and highlighted in blue, this view is zoomed out and my final stroke appears zoomed in.

Eraser and Mirrored View

I start with a simple sketch in the main view.

To erase while keeping the same brush appearance, I hold E but if I want to use the default eraser, I press E I can switch back to my brush by pressing E again or by pressing B.

Very handy, I can use my secondary view to flip my drawing and correct it with the F shortcut.

Create a layer in a layer stack

To paint under my stroke, I create a new layer in my layer editor. This new layer is initially positioned above the current layer (preview of the layer surrounded by small white brackets). If I want to move the layer below in my stack, I simply drag and drop it. Then, I choose a different color from my global colors palette and paint in my secondary viewport with the constant screen brush size enabled for a quicker process.

Of course, you can rename your layers, even if they have a small preview, to find them more easily later. Double-click on the name, rename, and then validate with Enter.

Save as your drawing

Don't forget to save your drawing in .Bkd format. Bkd is the proprietary format of Black Ink, designed for its nodal layer system. Use this format if you want to rectify your drawing later.

Shortcuts while drawing

Command Description
Hold Alt Pick a color using the eyedropper
Hold S and move the cursor Change the current brush size
Hold D and move the cursor Adjust the brush opacity

Here, you will find all the possible shortcuts when you're drawing.

Shortcuts for navigation in views

Command Description
Hold R Rotate canvas view
Hold Space Move around the view
Ctrl + Space Center view
Hold Q (or use the mouse wheel) Zoom
Ctrl + Num 0 Fit on screen
Ctrl + Num 1 Zoom to 100%
Press F Flip the view horizontally


If you press R, Space, or Q, the orientation, move, or zoom tools will be active. To return to the previous tool, repeat the same shortcut or press B to return to the brush.

Use the Brush manager

You can also find brushes in the Brush Manager.

For example, you can navigate through the tree, search for a brush, or go to the category that interests you.
Here, I select the "Free Fill" brush to add a flat color under my bird and rough sketch.

Quick layer review

Alright, I have my basic sketch. I'm going to refine it, revisiting everything I've shown before: creating a layer, reordering it in the stack, selecting a brush in the Brush Manager...

Useful option for layers too: the ability to hide or show them by clicking on this icon.

Crop tool

I need to resize my image, so I'm going to crop it. I use the Crop tool, I resize the frame by stretching the edges, then I validate and I save my document.

The Selection tool

There are different ways to make a selection in Black Ink: the Magic Wand, the Rectangle, the Lasso...

In my case, I want to draw a zone to remove the tail of my bird. Since it is on multiple layers, using the selection it is easier than using the eraser each time. So, I choose the lasso select tool, draw on the layer I'm interested in, and delete it by pressing Del. I go to the other layer and repeat the deletion.

To deselect everything, I press ctrl+D

Alright, I'll stop here for this first steps tutorial. Take your time to familiarize yourself with what I've shown.

Thanks for your attention, and see you soon!

If you want another beginner tutorial for Black Ink, even if it's for the 2020 version, you can watch this video: