Extra Resources

Drawing a Comic Book Page

Make note that this is only my process and it can be added to and subtracted from to create a process that works for you. I am including the process for making page 1 of Star Circuit Ch.1 as an example.

drawing comics d1.jpg

Thumbnails

Note: This is not Page 1, but this is the level of detail that I will tend to put into a thumbnail.

If all of the writing is done that means you will be able to take the words and start sketching ideas for shots and panel layouts. 

Thumbnailing is just the process of drawing sketches of the pages in a very small form (it doesn’t have to be as small as your thumb). This approach allows for a more global view of each page. 

You see, there is a composition in everything. There’s one in each shot within the panels, there’s one that incorporates all the panels on the page, and there is even a global page order that can be considered a type of composition. In this part of comics, it is essential to focus on the story points, the page flow and making sure your figures read within the frames.

Here’s a video where I break down my thumbnailing process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6wyU5tNJC8)

Layouts

Layouts are the part two to the thumbnail stage. To start this step, I make a rectangle on half of a sheet of paper. This rectangle should the same proportions as 11” x 17” but just scaled down. It one will be a good amount bigger than the thumbnail sketch which is usually only a few inches big. 

This stage focuses on tightening up the main elements and starting to add a grounded perspective. By the end of this stage, the storytelling should already be clear. Someone who has just walked up to you randomly should be able to tell what is going on within the story visually. 

This means that humans should look like humans, mailboxes should look like mailboxes and expressions should match the characters emotion. With this stage completed, it’s time to scan in this half page and blow it up to the correct proportions of the comic art board. This is where having experience with drawing software comes into play. 

In this same video I go into the layouts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6wyU5tNJC8

Layouts are will fit nicely on a 5.5” x 8.5” paper (half a sheet of letter size).

Pencils

The penciling stage is, of course, the time to draw the final pencil work on the real artboard. I usually print out my layouts on an 11” x 17” sheet of paper and then use a lightbox or window to transfer the art to the artboard. 

Now that the basic layouts are transferred to the board, I do a strong underdrawing with heavy use of reference.  I reference anatomy, my mood boards, the previously made model sheets and designs of environments. At this time, I place the right perspective grid for each of the panels. 

Once I have a good underdrawing done, it’s time to erase away most of the work with the dry cleaning pad. It essentially doesn’t erase all of the lines but leaves some of my previous underdrawing on the page to be used as a guide. Now, I use strong and confident lines to finish the page. I will shade in the dark black areas and used render lines and hash marks to give volume to objects in the scene. Lastly, I darken the panel borders to really clarify the lines.

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Finished Pencils on 11” x 17” artboard.

Inks

This is the stage that I have the least experience in. I do not refer to myself as an inker and do not claim to have the best line work with a pen. That being said, I do understand the process. Many inkers will scan in the pencil work and then print out a separate artboard with blue line instead of gray. 

They will then use their favorite tools to make the pencil lines as crisp and pretty as possible. The best inkers will also notice mistakes the penciler has made and correct them. Afterward, the inker will scan in the page to be sent to color.  

In the case of Star Circuit, I am skipping the inking stage and going straight to color. I will, however, darken the pencil lines digitally to mimic the inked values.

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Make sure to keep the art at 300 dpi or higher when scanning.

Colors

The color phase is split up into a couple of different steps. In order for professional colorists to do their work quickly, they need an easy way to select the objects in the panels. In comes Flatters. Flatters are specific people who color the page for the sole purpose of creating selection masks. These masks make it easy for the colorist to quickly select objects and render them the right color. I personally am using Clip Studio Paint for all my comic work, including color.

In the case of Star Circuit, I am skipping the inking stage and going straight to color. I will, however, darken the pencil lines digitally to mimic the inked values.

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Page 1 Finished Colors.

Letters

This is the stage where the letterer places in the word balloons and types all the verbiage. The person will also design the sound effects to help the action. In the old days, all the lettering would be done by hand, but today, to save time, software is used to place in the words. 

drawing comics d6.jpg

Captions and SFX complete.  Also, the art now cropped at the TRIM line on the artboard.

Edits

This stage is the most tedious and also the most important. The job of the editor is to make sure the book is being made to the right specifications and by the deadline. The editor is usually also an artist or writer that can critique the level of quality being produced. 

In my case, I am double checking to see of all of the elements in the art are clear and not missing key pieces. I will also heavily proofread the words and find ways to make the story flow better. It’s the editor’s job to see the book as a whole and make sure it’s a sellable product.

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Marked Edits for Page 1.

Okay, let’s say you just completed the interior pages of your book. An issue is usually 20 to 24 pages. On top of that, you finished a standout cover. Where do you go from here? How do you get people to read this gem of literature? No worries… lets walk through the ins and outs of….