Hey guys, I just wanted to give you a look at my current all-digital process for creating comics pages quickly and easily, using process saves from a page of the upcoming all-ages original graphic novel, Power Lunch, by J. Torres and me, available in Previews right now!
1. Thumbnail. Since I’m drawing the pages digitally, I start with a thumbnail on the same template I’ll be using throughout this process, layer after layer. At this stage, I’m trying to lay out an interesting page and convey the actions and emotions J. spelled out in the script, blocking out the big actions and trying rough ideas for how the characters will be “acting” in the scene. (I’ll be using the pencil tool in Photoshop for just about everything in this entire process, btw. It’s my fave.)
2. Pencils. My current process involves using linework for characters and shapes for background elements and most props, so in the pencils and inks, I focus on the characters and leave the backgrounds fairly loose. Here, I refine the character expressions and body language to their nearly final forms, on a second layer, using the pencil tool set to black with partial opacity. I’ve also laid down the panel gutters, in black for now.
3. Inks. Still using the pencil tool, just with the opacity raised to 100%, I draw over the pencils on a third layer, trying to make my lines as clean and deliberate as possible. These are the lines the reader will eventually see, so they need to be right.
4. Flats. At the flatting stage, everything is given its local color (an object’s color in white light), on another level. On Power Lunch, most of the pages were flatted by my good friend Jordan Gibson. This step makes the coloring stage much easier, even if the colors used aren’t the final ones, because it’s easy to “grab” sections of color with the magic wand and recolor and shade them. I’ve now done just that to change the gutters to white.
5. Character Colors. Here, I’ve altered the flats to their near-final colors and added shading. I’ve also “dropped out” some of the interior character lines to color. I really like that extra touch of detail, especially given the simplicity of my style.
6. Backgrounds and Special Effects. As I mentioned above, I do most of my backgrounds as shapes these days (again with the pencil tool), which I think makes my characters pop out a bit more, and gives the images a more animated or illustrated feel. (It’s also about a hundred times faster and easier, so I’m sticking with it.) J. wanted Joey to wear fun food-based t-shirts throughout the book, so I drew them as separate elements and pasted them into each instance.
7. Final Touches and Corrections. With just a few minor adjustments and the removal of the template guidelines, this page is ready for CMYK, linework backup, and uploading to FTP. This new, streamlined process has me drawing a page a day, completed to this step, or x pages in x days, doing each step for all pages at a time. The two major time saves are 1) Drawing the thumbnails on the same template and 2) Simplifying the background elements.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this process demo. Check out Power Lunch this October, and click here for a free PL wallpaper!