Comic Art Tutorial

I’m gonna go over how I remove the blue lines and grime and such in a raw scanned image like this

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and turn it into something much much nicer

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first off, lets get rid of those blue lines! I highly recommend sketching in either blue, green, or red, it’s much easier to clean up than grey pencil.

Open up the layers panel and make a new Black & White adjustment layer

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Then it’ll bring up the properties panel, and you should increase the colour that matches your sketch until the lines disappear

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Next lets get rid of the grime,

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the lecturer hands us these art blogs every now and then, and they’re really useful. Tangents are pretty easy to fall for, too! which sucks ‘cuz then it’d look weird and you’d have to re-do some stuffs or worse, re-do the composition of the whole image.

the rest & explanations in Chris Schweizer’s blog :  http://curiousoldlibrary.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/schweizer-guide-to-spotting-tangents.html

John K’s blog is really good too (the guy who did Ren and Stimpy) : http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com.au/2006/06/animation-school-7-when-generic-is.html

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There is no number five.

Helpful links

Seven Hidden Patterns of Successful Storyboards

Perspective in Storytelling

Guide to Panel Variation

Comic Lettering

Wally Wood’s 22 Panel Tips

Camera Angels Tutorial

The most important tip I could ever give towards drawing/creating good comics is to read comics. Good, bad, mediocre, read them all and learn from them.

Webcomics I love :: Nimona | Monsieur Charlatan | Hemlock | Prague Race | Lost Nightmare

Using Photoshop's "Black & White" adjustment vs. rough blue line art.

When I draw a thing, I often first draw it rough using Col-Erase™ blue pencil. Then I go over top and make it look NICER using a dark pencil.

I used to remove the blue pencil from the image in Photoshop by selecting the “blue” channel of the RGB scan and turning that into the line art. That was the old way! This is the new way, and it is better!

Look at this drawing. This is what a raw scan usually looks like. See the faint blue lines in there? Ick.

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This is what it looks like when I select the blue RGB channel:

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PROBLEM:

It’s pretty effective, but not a critical hit. I can still see faint traces of the blue lines:

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Normally I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d just blow ‘em out by increasing the contrast (through the Curves or Levels adjustment). BUT WHY SETTLE FOR THAT?

SOLUTION:

I don’t know when Photoshop introduced the Black & White adjustment tool, but it’s my new best friend. Let’s make a Black & White adjustment layer above our raw scan.

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You’ll get this fun palette popping up:

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… but you’ll still see the faint blue lines. They’ll be in black & white, but they’re still very visible. HOLD ON, that’s because we haven’t DONE ANYTHING yet.

CLICK! I select the “Blue Filter" preset:

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Now look where those blue lines used to be:

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You can even jack the sliders up to make your old blue lines look BRIGHTER, which is no big deal because our goal in the end will be to make that light-grey that used to be my white paper actually look white.

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I’ma add a Curves adjustment layer.

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Fiddle with the curves til your paper surface is white and your lines look about as good as they can look:

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YOU CAN STOP NOW IF THAT’S ALL YOU WANT. Here’s some bonus shizz. I’m going to show you how to make the most useful line art you can have. Go to the Channels palette and command-click (or CTRL-click if you need your instructions to be that specific to your own personal life experience) the RGB channel’s thumbnail:

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You’ll get a selection in the shape of your lines. Important : INVERT SELECTION. Don’t “invert” the contents of the selection, use the INVERT SELECTION menu thing or just press command-shift-I. Then make a new layer to accommodate your line art:

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Fill the selection with your colour of choice:

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Ta-da! You have useful line art. Why is this more useful than simply setting your line art layer to “Multiply?” Well, give it a try and see if you can’t come up with your own reason. Or just trust me. It’s MORE FLEXIBLE.

Enjoy!

I WANNA DRAW COMICS, BUT [INSERT OFT-REPEATED EXCUSE HERE]

Here’s a thing I felt like writing - hope it is useful to someone out there. :) I may add to it later.

I WANNA DRAW COMICS, BUT [INSERT OFT-REPEATED EXCUSE HERE]

Hey. Stop that. Stop making excuses. You wanna draw comics? Then draw comics.

“But Elaine,” you say, “that’s so harsh! Drawing comics is HARD! And getting started is REALLY hard!”

Well, yes. I freely admit that. But if you really, really, REALLY want to draw comics – if the urge is truly that strong - you won’t be able to stop yourself. If I may paraphrase Bryan Lee O’Malley: “If you have the slightest inkling of an idea and the slightest amount of drawing talent, you can draw a comic.”

With this in mind, here’s a few tips that might help you get past the initial hurdle of Getting Started:

1. CHARACTER DESIGN 

This is what kills a lot of would-be comics. I’m not talking about bad character design. On the contrary. I’m talking about people who spend SO MUCH TIME on the character designs (and environment designs), they never actually get around to drawing the comic. DO NOT BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. Do not get so hung up on your designs. I’m not saying don’t spend any time on them at all, but there comes a time when you must say “Hey, you know what? This isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn good. I’ll go ahead and use it anyway.”

For each major character, one turn-around and one expression sheet should suffice. For minor characters, stick to one expression sheet.

And for background characters? Well, I’m pretty sure you can make those up on the fly, can’t you? :)

2. THUMBNAILS

A thumbnail is a tiny sketched version of your final page. Like a film storyboard, basically. They help you figure out how each shot is configured and how everything is going to be laid out on your page. It’s much easier to see if a page “flows” well from a distance, in miniature. I will sometimes try several different versions of a thumbnail to see which one works best. Also keep in mind that things will change between the thumbnail and the final – and this is fine.

My thumbnails are usually half of one 8.5 x 11” sheet (or around A5, for those of you outside North America) - Here’s an example of one, which eventually became the first page of LSA.

So what makes a good page design? What makes good shot constructions? Well, it’s pretty subjective, but there are some rules of thumb you can follow. Storyboarding the Simpsons Way is an excellent crash course, and describes ways to avoid many errors that people often make when constructing shots (such as cutting off heads in the frame).

Watch lots of movies, because nothing else will teach you more about visual storytelling. A good exercise to try is to pick a sequence from your favourite movie and literally draw it as a storyboard, by pausing on each shot and copying it. Movies will also give you story ideas. Of course, you probably watch a lot of movies already, am I right? ;)

If you’re still having trouble, think outside the box. Literally. Not all your panels have to be boxes with ruler-straight borders. They can be shaped like anything you want. There are also instances where you can eschew panel borders altogether. Try everything!

If there’s one particular shot on a page that’s very clear in your mind, sketch that first and then build the rest of the page around it.

Thumbnails are important in that they allow you to jump right in and sketch out ideas without having to commit to anything on your “good” paper. Which brings me to…

3. “GOOD” PAPER

Also known as Blueline paper. Also known as comic book board. You might be hesitant to draw on this paper, because it’s really damn expensive. “What if I screw up?” you say. It’s true it can be difficult to correct penciling mistakes on comic board, especially if you have a bad habit of drawing too dark, as I do.

This is where a lightbox comes in.

I do not draw any of my finished pages directly on my “good” paper (and for what it’s worth, I also don’t use comic boards – I use the much cheaper and much higher quality Borden & Riley Bleedproof Paper For Pens. This doesn’t have the blue guidelines on it, but you can easily rule them off yourself) I draw roughs on cheap, mulchy 11 x 17 printer paper. And I MEAN roughs. The page is well nigh unintelligible by the time I’m finished. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because I can easily trace the good lines on to a clean sheet of paper using my lightbox.

So go on – use printer paper. Allow yourself to screw up. No one’s going to see it in the end.

4. DRAWING IN ORDER

See this? This is Look Straight Ahead page 14.

Guess what? This was the very first page I finished, exactly three years ago.

If you have a lot of script to work from and your page divisions in said script are clearly defined (as they should be), you don’t have to draw anything in order. If you’re really excited about a particular scene and you want to draw it RIGHT NOW – then you probably SHOULD, while it’s fresh in your mind and you’re inspired! Then, once you’re done, you’ll be much more inspired to go back and draw the pages you’re putting off for whatever reason. (Or, if you don’t want to draw the actual page you’re really excited about, you can at least draw the thumbnail.)

I should add that this may not be possible if you’re drawing a webcomic that you update several times a week – but it is if you keep a large buffer of pages past the one you’ve just posted.

5. “BUT I DON’T HAVE ANY STORY IDEAS”

Tut tut, my friend. You do. Read some Lynda Barry and be amazed!

"But someone else has already had that idea," you say. Well, yes. Probably. Nothing is truly original any more. The truth is, no one else has ever told that story the way YOU have. Figure out how to put a fresh take on it and make it your own, and go from there.

Dissect your favourite stories, and figure out WHY they’re your favourites. Is it the characters? The setting? I like character-driven stories that reveal something about the human condition. I also like stories that emphasize the importance of one’s family (or surrogate family, as the case may be). For you, it’s probably something completely different. If nothing else, you’ll have fun re-reading your favourite books or watching your favourite movies again.

Ideas can literally come from anywhere. Go for a long walk. Ride the bus around town. Sketch in the park. You might be surprised what emerges.

6. “I CAN’T DRAW [BLANK]”

Then there’s only one way to learn, isn’t there? Comics will improve your work much faster than anything else, just because there’s so much drawing involved. There are many resources available online to help you as well - Google Image Search all on its own is an absolute godsend.


I’ll close this post by listing off some of the reference books in my library:

Making Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (read this one first)

Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner

Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative by Will Eisner

Expressive Anatomy For Comics & Narrative by Will Eisner

Bridgman’s Complete Guide To Drawing From Life by George Bridgman

Perspective! For Comic Book Artists by David Chelsea

Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis

Drawing the Head & Hands by Andrew Loomis

Fun With a Pencil by Andrew Loomis

The Art of Animal Drawing by Ken Hultgren

Writing For Comics & Graphic Novels by Peter David

Please feel free to reblog and add to this list as you see fit! :)

Now go forth and draw some comics!

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HI…I got 3 anonymous asks about how I do comics and if I can show my sketches or do a tutorial? So I figured…tutorial…I don’t do anything fancy and I do things the hard/annoying way sometimes but I hope this helps!

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to see them full-size so here’s some links: 01 / 02 / 03

Let me know if something is unclear or if I didn’t answer your questions correctly, anons. Thank you!! :D

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Finally, after months of work, I have created an inking brush for Photoshop that emulates the inkers in Manga Studio beautifully. This brush is currently being beta tested by some of the best artists in the comics industry and I will be releasing it very soon. Stay tuned, and check out my other brushes at KYLEBRUSH.com

Thanks for watching! - Kyle

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So I’ve had a couple people ask me about how to get started on their own comic project, or how to get into making comics, so I’m gonna write some stuff about it.

It should be obvious, but writing a comic is a really big commitment! There are a lot of things that factor into this— how long you want your comic to run, how much work and time each page requires, how complex your story is. Writing good stories is hard, and in all likelihood, you will probably wind up drawing stuff that you don’t normally draw. Chances are, it’s going to be more effort than you first estimate.

Don’t be intimidated by the amount of work it takes, though— just be aware of the scope of the project you’re taking on! If you’re not sure you can handle a long-running serialized comic, maybe try a shorter comic first. See if you can encapsulate a story in only ten pages. Make a pilot for a bigger story you want to tackle later. Team up with an artist or writer and split the work. It’s okay to test the medium with something small! Don’t bite off more than you can chew, only to be burnt out later.

I’m assuming if you want to make a comic, you probably read and enjoy at least a few of them, but I’ll reinforce it: read lots of comics. See how other people do it. Steal like an artist. Watch movies. Analyze why you like them and why you don’t. Apply it to your story. Write down every single tiny idea that you get. Read books. Specifically, I’d highly recommend Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card and Making Comics by Scott McCloud. Expand your visual library. Figure out what you like, and apply it to what you make.

This should be pretty self-explanatory. If you’re going to write a comic, write it about something you care about. I think this is more important than making something that’s “marketable”, or that fits a certain niche— if you really care about what you’re creating, it’ll show.

Unless you’re making comics for a living (in which case, why are you even reading this, you probably already know what you’re doing) you should probably strive to enjoy what you’re creating. The more you love what you make, the less tedious it will be to make it.

Nothing stifles creativity more than realizing you haven’t planned past this point and have to make up the rest of the story by next week or your comic will have to end. Planning is really vital, especially if you’re going to be creating a long-running comic with regular updates. You should know the beginning and end of your story before you ever start drawing pages, and have at least a good idea of what’s going to go on in the middle. Even if you add, remove, or change things later, it’s better than having to make stuff up under a deadline. 

The more you plan now, the less you have to fly by the seat of your pants and make things up under pressure. Art is a lot more flexible than story, and it’s likely that your work will improve as you work more in the medium, but it’s good to know what format you’ll be drawing in (strips, full-page, flash, or otherwise) and the tools you’ll be using to draw it. This is another reason why I highly recommend making a short-story comic on your first try— it may turn out that the tools you thought you should use are far more time-consuming and difficult than you anticipated! It’ll also help you gauge how long a page can take, which will help you make decisions in terms of style, coloring, and update schedule.

If you really want to try your hand at making comics, stop looking for excuses not to.

If you don’t have the time to create something large and epic which will take months or years to fully complete the story, make something smaller. If you don’t think your art is good enough, draw it anyway. If you don’t know how to write/draw, see if you can team up with someone who does. Make something that you can be proud of. Even if it turns out that comics aren’t really your bag, you won’t regret giving it a try.

So hey if you read this far CONGRATULATIONS you read this whole thing! If you like what I have to say you can always read my comic, Chaos, here at Smackjeeves or, alternately, on ComicFury, or even check it out here on tumblr if that’s your bag. I’ve also got an art blog, if you’d like to see what other not-comic stuff I actually draw. I hope this helps you! Go make some comics!

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