Peptober Day 5: Process

I've been working digitally fairly exclusively since April 2020. It took me about 4 months to just start feeling comfortable and perhaps a couple more months to actually produced something I was completely happy with (add to this about a year of non-serious dabbling). I thought it might be interesting to look at the difference between my old comic making process and the new.

My old process

The process that I found the most success with over the years was

  • Using a certain type of smallish sketchbook (A5): These from Australia, and later these from Canada
  • A blue col erase pencil: Something about drawing in blue and reducing the amount of erasing needed worked for me
  • A technical pen: Easy to clean and refill, I don't have to rely on constantly buying special pens
  • Rotering or Kohinoor ink: I started with the small bottle and eventually moved to buy the larger ones. Having a large ink supply meant I was never without ink

Outside this I occasionally tried to make comics with special Bristol paper, sable brushes and speciality inking nibs. Believing this was a more professional or correct way to make comics.

The problems I ran into were:

  • Paper quality changing in the sketchbooks I liked
  • my pen clogging up from time to time
  • difficulty finding col erase blue pencils (initially you couldn't get them in Australia, and it was only my trips to Canada which mainly keep them in supply)
  • Maintain stock of speciality items (Certain items could only be purchased online or from speciality art stores in another city or country!)
  • Speciality art items like paper not being compatible with speciality ink and or pencils (paper, pencil, ink, and eraser all had to line up)
  • Speciality lettering guides were only available in Canada (luckily I was able to buy them and even give some to friends)
  • Needing a template to help rule pages but not finding one (I tried to get one laser-cut, but it was always just a little too difficult or expensive to realise)
  • always feeling like my tech pen was not a real comic making tool and feeling obliged to use a brush or nib to get a variable line

My new process (after some trial and error)

  • iPad Pro using the app Procreate
  • Create  a file using a certain size/ratio
  • establish a group of layers in this file
  1. Comic panel template (used as a rough guide for where the panels are, made in Illustrator and imported as a jpg)
  2. Sketch layer 1 (rough pencils, basic composition and forms etc)
  3. Sketch layer 2 (refine the first draft, correct perspective, add extra details etc)
  4. Inking (I sometimes added more detail or slightly adjusted things here, but mostly I am focused on getting a nice inked line)
  5. Shading (Being able to do shading on a different layer helps it look more natural and I can change my mind if I overdid it)
  6. Colour (colouring on a separate layer is always a good idea, I just wish there was a flattening tool in Procreate)
  7. Rough lettering (I soften used pink for the rough lettering to contrast with my blue pencils)
  8. Lettering guide (another one that was created in illustrator, consistent lines with altering leading guides)
  9. Finished lettering
  10. Finished word balloons
  11. Pre-drawn comic panels


What I like about my new process

  • endless paper and ink (As long as my iPad is charged, I never run out)
  • corrections don't mess up the artwork (corrections on paper can mess up the artwork if you overdo it)
  • no more constant ruling of pages
  • no more ruling tiny lettering lines
  • easy to colour, I don't have to scan clean and format, I can colour straight into the artwork on a new layer
  • sharing is much easier (again I don't have to scan, clean and save to a web format)
  • travelling is much easier, no ink bottle in plastic baggies, or forgetting to bring your pen etc
  • being able to copy pencils (a character's unique face or an entire background) and duplicate it

What I don’t enjoy (and they are a minor few)

  • slippery screen (I relate it to a printmaking process, as many of them use glass or a plastic surface to draw onto)
  • harder/not as rewarding to sketch (a big part of my practice is sketching)


Thanks for reading...

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