My process on a comic project – part 1

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.

Traditional inking
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.

Print

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).

regular-lines

crisp-lines

panel-colored

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.

big-illustration-sample

chicken-dog-and-girl

The animated gif below shows how I usually colored the comic panels/illustrations.

coloring

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).

Ghibli Jam 2014

Just a quick update for now. This past week, from the 3rd to the 9th of March, a lot of artists have contributed their Ghibli-related artwork to The Ghibli Jam tumblr. I decided to join in, partly because I couldn’t find much love for one of my favorite movies of all time – My Neighbors the Yamadas. So I drew the whole family! Well, almost… I realize now that I forgot the dog! Here’s a link to the Tumblr post.

My Neighbor the Yamadas

If you haven’t watched the movie, here’s a semi-long review I wrote some time ago, just in case if you’re interested in my thoughts about it (no spoilers).

Hourly Comic Day 2014

Yesterday, February 1st , was Hourly Comic Day. Here are the comics I drew. If you’re interested, you could also check out the comics I did for Hourly Comic Day 2013.

Hourlies_01 Hourlies_02 Hourlies_03 Hourlies_04 Hourlies_05 Hourlies_06 Hourlies_07 Hourlies_08 Hourlies_09

That’s it! Thank you reading! Not too exciting, but it was fun (and exhausting) to draw. Shoutout to Matt Cummings (@EiffelArt), who got included in the comic through that sneaky tweet.

Update: Here are some of my favorites from Hourly Comic Day 2014. I definitely recommend checking them out!

 

Cat doodles

Simon's Cat fanart

Last week, I watched this video from the Simon’s Cat channel on YouTube. Even though it was late at night, I decided to have a go at drawing a generic tabby cat. It went so well that I decided to try drawing a few more characters. To be more specific, I drew The Kitten and a hedgehog from the series of short films about Simon’s Cat.

For all of the little drawings above, I used the Sexy Sumi-E brush from Kyle T. Webster. I highly recommend trying out his brushes. They’ve definitely altered the way I go about drawing digitally in Photoshop.

Coloring collaboration

Sophiechan recently published a piece of lineart on her Facebook fan page, asking people to color it the way they liked. I decided to go for it, and tried to make a full out “anime illustration”. I made use of a few reference images that I like for style guidance, and the result can be seen below.

Sophiechan-coloring-competitionToday, Sophiechan uploaded a gallery containing 30 of the best pictures to her Facebook fan page, mentioning at the same time that she had recieved 200 entries. I was lucky enough to be among the 30! It’s interesting to see how different the various artists colored the same girl, so I recommend taking a look. I was also amazed to see such variety and skill among the entries.

Sophiechan is an up-and-coming manga artist. Her website can be found at www.myanimediary.com. She’s also got a YouTube channel and her Twitter handle is @Sophiechan90.

Happy 2014

Happy New Year, you guys! As I sit here eating leftover Christmas chocolate, I want to write a quick “year in review” for 2013, just to get it out of the way. And also to give the blog a fresh start for 2014.

I revisited this post from March last year, where I shared some thoughts about having goals. I’ll be bold and summarize the last year as a productive year. I made comics and illustrations for print, I started working freelance with drawing, continued my freelance engagements in graphic design, and I’ve learned more about being creative. I’ve also learned something that I kind of knew already… that there’s way too little time to be able to work on, and complete, every project and every idea I happen to have.

From August and through the latter part of 2013, I felt like there was always something going on. Either some graphic design work, drawings that needed to be done or comic pages to finish. This also resulted in me working late afternoons and often during the weekends. Luckily, this has made me more diligent about keeping an eye on my work schedule and, to some degree, planning things ahead. To my knowledge, I’ve never missed an important deadline, so it has always worked out fine. But I’ve also realized that I have to resist saying yes to every project or commission that comes my way.

Stress-related things aside, I’m grateful that I get to draw comics and create cool things for people. I’m busy as ever, but that’s not a bad thing. I also get astounded by the following fact on a regular basis.

Making comics

So there you have it! I look forward to keep making better and better things in 2014, and I hope to share as much as I can with you. Comment below if you want to tell me your New Year’s resolutions, or if you just want to say hi! I’ll be updating this blog with more stuff from my sketchbooks, new comics and (hopefully) fresh musings and thoughts about things that I learn as I go along.

If you happen to like the illustration above, I can tell you that I made it in Photoshop (based on a pencil sketch) with Kyle’s Ultimate ‘Mr. Natural’ inking brush and Kyle’s Ultimate ‘Wet & Wild Watercolor’ brush. I bought them quite recently, and they are super fun to use. I highly recommend them to anyone with Photoshop and a Wacom tablet! You can get them both, and a lot of other pretty amazing brush packs, here (some of them are free/’name your price’). While you’re at it, you can also check out his Twitter (@kyletwebster).