A few weeks ago, I finished the seventh and last story in a series of comics I’ve been working on since Autumn of 2013. The comics, most of them four pages long, have been run as a series in a Christian children’s magazine. Below are a few sample panels, and a brief explanation of how I went about drawing the comics. In part 2, I’ll explain a bit about how I switched to working more digitally.
I went for the traditional approach when I drew the first three stories. Two of the stories were made as comics, and the third was presented as an illustrated short story. I should mention that I didn’t do any of the actual writing on this project, but I had a lot of freedom in how I wanted to illustrate the manuscript that was delivered to me.
I almost always placed the text and dialogue in panels in either InDesign or Illustrator first (pictured left, speech bubbles left empty), so that I could pace the story and size the panels appropriately. I would then print small versions of the pages and draw loose sketches of the characters and environment within the panels. I usually used cheap copy paper for this. When I was more or less happy about how it looked, I went on to draw a more detailed and refined version on bristol board (Daler Rowney Bristol Board). I would then ink the lines with a couple of Micron Pigma pens in various sizes (02, 03 and 04). From there, I would scan the comic pages at a ridiculously high DPI, add a threshold filter in Photoshop to get crisp, 100% black lines, and start coloring. Below is an example of the aforementioned steps. The last image is the finished full page width panel (without speech bubbles).
Here are a few sample images that I produced using this procedure. I might also mention that the last step in my process was to import the comic into a template in Illustrator, in which I added word balloons and lettered the comic.
The animated gif below shows how I usually colored the comic panels/illustrations.
Now I didn’t plan to make this post when I made the comics, so it’s not possible to show the real “step by step” procedure. However, I hope you get the gist of how I tend to work when making comics. In part 2 I will write about how I started using digital inking brushes in Photoshop (and saved some time in the process).