Monday, November 28, 2011

How Some Other Guy Does It

Here's something I've thought about making myself: a time-lapse "How-To" video about drawing a comic, from script to thumbnail to pencils to inks to Photoshop. Thankfully, now I don't have to, because the artist shown below, Kody Chamberlain (previously unknown to me), does it pretty much the same way I do. Three differences I see:

1. I pencil with "non-photo blue" pencil rather than regular graphite. Because light blue pencil doesn't scan well (it's practically invisible), I don't have to erase the pencil lines, which can smudge and dull the black inks. Any blue lines that survive scanning are easily deleted in Photoshop.

2. I ink mostly with a brush rather than a pen, although I do use an ink nib like his or Pigma Microns for fine details and ruled lines.

3. I don't do a coffee wash (!). In fact, I wouldn't even if I wanted to. My goal is to produce crisp black-and-white line art with sharp edges and no shades of gray (or anti-aliasing) that I can then shade or color as needed. It prints much better. If I did want to lay down a wash, I'd do it after I'd scanned the inked line art to superimpose pure blacks over the wash.

If you're interested in how comics get made, I endorse this process as ONE good way to do it.

Incidentally, in the good old days (i.e., the 20th Century), lettering would've been hand-inked directly on the page before anything else, between the penciling and inking steps shown here. That's how I did Mom's Cancer, and how a dwindling number of cartoonists still do it. What Kody does in the video, and I did in WHTTWOT, is digital lettering, performed with Photoshop after the art's been inked and scanned.

Here's the key: even though these days lettering is one of the last elements completed, it should still be the first thing you think about when laying out the page. Words pull the reader's eye through the story, and the word balloons have to flow from one to the next effortlessly. Before you start to draw, decide where the words go. Poor word placement and lettering is a fundamental error common to bad or amateur comics. It's very important.


David Haas said...

I have a question about your blog. Please email me!

Brian Fies said...

David, You appear to be an actual human so please forgive my paranoia, but on the off chance your note is some sort of phishing scheme or other evil-doer, how about if you e-mail me? My contact info is available via my Profile at the top of the blog.

Jim O'Kane said...

Excuse my total ignorance, but what are the downsides of drawing with, say, a #2 Dixon Ticonderoga? I realize every craft has its own specialized tools, but I was just wondering about the magnitude of better-ness of an Art School graphite tool over a chewed-upon yellow pencil.

Brian Fies said...

No real downside to the faithful No. 2, weapon of choice for many an inkslinger. I do prefer mechanical pencils because they don't need constant sharpening.

That said, I am particular about the blue pencil leads I use. Many non-photo blue pencils are oily or waxy, so the ink doesn't absorb into the paper through them. Just sits and beads. Pilot makes a 0.7 soft blue lead that I like just fine.