Monday, November 2, 2009
How a comic is born
I was looking over my latest batch of comics and I realized I had a nice step-by-step look into the Precocious process. So here comes the indulgent post about comic creation! Enjoy!
1) Before I do any drawing, I want to have a script in hand. It doesn't have to be a final draft (and it rarely is) but having a rough script allows me to figure out where dialog bubbles and characters can be placed in a strip. I do all my scripting in Word, then print it out so I can have it by my side when I go to the light box.
2) Once I have a script, it's time to prep the template. I use Canson daily comic templates, mostly because it's the standard comic size AND I can't draw straight lines on my own to save my life. Having a pre-printed template cuts out a lot of hassle. I start by lining the strip in no-copy blue. (This is my choice for pencil lead.)
3) Once the panels are line, it's time to add the dialog. I need dialog in place so I know exactly how much space I have for drawing. I created a guide I use for letting, that keeps everything even and straight. I place the guide under the template, fire up my light box and letter away. At this stage I alter the script to make it snappier or fit better in the panel.
4) Now that I have the dialog roughed out, it's time for drawing! Again, I pull out my trusty no-copy blue! This is the most time-consuming portion of creation. I lightly rough out where the figures go and then get to it. I start by drawing the eyes and work my way out. I want my final drawing to be as complete as possible, as I'm not confident to go rogue inking yet.
5) With a solid drawing in place, it's time to ink. I use a traditional dip pen, with Speedball super black ink. My nib is a Hunt globe tip 513 EF. First thing I do is ink the borders and dialog bubbles. This is a time when it's fun to work in batches. If I'm working on a bunch, the first one is nice and dry by the time I finish inking the borders on the last. Then I can go right into the big show!
6) For inking, it's a simple act of tracing at this point. I go over my lines, making corrections and tweaks accordingly. I save the minor details for later, as my nib isn't capable of fine lines. I leave the dialog uninked, as I do it digitally now. I do still ink whispers and shouting if the needs arise.
7) With the main inking done, I break out the tech pens for the details. This is for smaller figures in the panels and all the shading.
8) Once inking is done, it's time to scan the strip! I have a super-awesome Mustek A3 scanner, which is big enough that I can scan two strips at once! It also cuts out a LOT of intermediate steps in scanning, as it filters out my no-copy blue automatically, leaving only the black. I scan it into photoshop at a high resolution, then apply a contrast of 50. This reduces the image down to just black and white. I delete the white and drop the black into my photoshop comic template.
9) Once the comic's in the template, it's time to letter. I created a Precocious font using my own handwriting, so at least it LOOKS like it's done by hand - with much more accuracy than if I had actually done it by hand. (Typos are a problem, though.)
10) With the lettering done, it's time to merge all the Photoshop layers into one, shrink it down to its standard 800 pixel width and plot it into the final daily template. Ta dah!