That's a great way to look at it! When I first started, my shading was pretty minimal-- and it seems like lines are the generic backing for inking. Only makes sense, right? But with pencil, it's so much fun bringing a roundness to it. It truly makes the drawing POP without seeming cheesy or over done. It shows love and care for the drawing-- and these days, it's wonderful seeing artists who can grasp that!
Jim Lee and Neal Adams are great influences. Mine were J.H. Williams III, Jock, and Dustin Nguyen-- all for different reasons and perspectives, of course.
Anatomy is SO MUCH FUN to study! I've been doing the same in my free time, although I don't post as many unfinished works here.
i definitely agree with you about being able to flesh out a drawing more-so with pencil. it just layers so hell once you start working with different grades of lead. plus being able to blend and smooth is really nice.
i'll definitely have to look at more of those artists you mentioned. always good to broaden horizons. i think i actually have some of Jock's work somewhere? did Dustin Nguyen work on the "Red Robin" title before it got canceled?
What kind of pencils do you use, anyways? I tend to stick strictly to mechanical with .5 lead. I spend A LOT of time thickening foreground lineart to mask minor details and make them look much thinner than they actually are-- an interesting perspective trick I figured out. Blending and smoothing is nice-- especially for muscles and light cape details, I've found.
Marcus To worked on Red Robin, Dustin Nguyen did a lot of work on Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham.