Perhaps you are surprised at how long this comic is taking me to do? I know I am!
So this month I thought I’d briefly walk you through my process and share some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way, so that if you’re crazy enough to have a go at a comic, I can hopefully save you some time. I’ve also included some resources throughout this post that I have found helpful so far.
What’s the story?
If you’re not lucky enough to be married to a writer, you will have to either write the story yourself, or persuade someone else to for you. While I’m not here to give you writing advice, I would say that the format your story is presented in will really make a difference to how you start to draw it. If possible, get the story broken down by page and then further by panel, so that you can start to visualise how much of the story will be on each page, sort out the captions/text that will likely be in each panel, and give yourself an idea of how many pages the comic will be. Here’s a sneak peek at the script for the comic that Neil sent to me:
Sounds basic, but what size will your comic be? You may laugh at me, but I was so excited to be doing a comic when I started that I grabbed one of my trusty Dr Who comics off the shelf, drew all around the edge of it and just started drawing! Using another comic as a template is all well and good, but when we decided the comic would be printed as well as released digitally, size suddenly mattered a lot more. If you’re planning on getting a physical copy to hold, then you need to check out the amazing guys at Comic Printing UK – they have an excellent guide to sizing here. I didn’t find this until I’d already drawn 4 of the 6 story pages, and so had to resize them all using the reduce function on the scanner/printer, and adjust further in photoshop. It’s a lot of fiddle. Don’t be me – get the size sorted before you draw!
I love researching my art. Learning more about a subject, discovering weird and wonderful facts along the way is part of the process. However, I am convinced that there are more cat pictures and videos on the internet than there are people on the planet! Finding research images has been time-consuming to say the least as I’m overwhelmed with choice and sifting through a lot of images to find the ones that will help me. I’m sure this has added a heap of time to this process – after all, it’s all too easy to get distracted by silly stuff like this if you’re not careful!
Ready, Steady, Draw!
Once I rough sketched the panels, allowing space for the text, I refined the lines. Then I tape the cleaned up drawing to my lightbox, and inked the outlines onto a fresh sheet of paper and scanned it into my computer.
In photoshop, I cleaned up the scanned image, removed dust etc, converted to black and white and removed the background. By doing this, I now have a clean outline ready to add colour and textures to using layers. Keep your outline layer at the top of the stack in photoshop and put your colour and texture underneath for a consistent comic outline effect.
So you thought there wasn’t that much left to do once your comic is drawn and coloured? Lettering your comic is a whole new level of witchcraft and things have come a long way since ComicSans! You could hand letter it, design your own font that you program into your computer, or make use of one of the thousands available online. For this comic I’ve used ‘DigitalStrip‘ – a font I downloaded for free from dafont.com They have lots of fonts available, just double check the licensing info and how it is applicable to your particular project and distribution plans.
Once you’ve settled on a font you’ll then have to create outlined text boxes to put them in. There’s a handy tutorial here that will walk you through. Of course, depending on your comic, you might also need some sound texts which may demand a completely different font, or even some hand lettering – KAPOW!
So – the good news is that the comic is pretty much completed, except for a few small edits. As soon as it’s available I will let you know – make sure you’re following me on twitter or instagram and like my facebook page to be first in the know.
Are you contemplating doing a comic? Or a you a comic creating pro? Let me know in the comments below!