Digital Comic Tutorial
Disclaimer: I’m no expert so don’t take my professional word for anything. This is merely the process I use to make my comic, Point of Singularity. I use The Gimp 2.6 and Manga Studio 5 but the entire process is easy to transfer into any program - trust me, I’ve been switching around for years. Remember to save often!
*All the text is blacked out as this page will be published on the 13th.
Step 1 - Layout! I start with a basic A5 layout, something snatched from one of the many comic resources online, such as DeviantArt. I added my logo to the top of the page for consistency, but it’s mostly a blank slate. There are all kinds of different shapes and sizes, so try to have a good idea in mind what you want, if you’re planning on publishing in print, comic site’s size restrictions and so forth. My A5 layout is 1600x2100 px.
I work on this size and scale it down by 50% (800x1050 px) for digital publication. The blue lines you see are bleed lines. Bleed lines are like warnings - if you go over them, it might be cut off in print so keep that in mind. I often go over them for effect, but I never put anything important there. My blue lines are on a layer above my background, so they can be easily removed when I finish.
Step 2 - Refer to Script! The script! I write my script in LibreOffice or Google Docs using Consolas font (if anyone cares). There’s no real “true” way to write your script, do whatever feels right. I based my script template off of various screenplays I’ve seen and went with a few ideas I liked the best. A script is like a map, so feel free to create your own legend as you can see I did.
I’ve mentioned this before, but my scripts go on forever. I rarely set a page number before I’ve drawn the page, because I’m never sure how things will space out aesthetically. For the best impact, I look between my script and my storyboards (I explain more about those here) and decide as I go along. This might not work for you, or you might have better structured ideas than myself. I number the pages as I do them and sometimes a little ahead, but only by a couple or so.
Some of you might be wondering if scripts are really that important - can’t a storyboard cover all of that? It certainly can, and often does for some webcomic artists, but for me, it doesn’t. I like to have more detail, and while we want our results to be subtle, I need to know if Pelor’s looking anxious because of a staring stranger, or worried because he’s afraid he’s going to get caught. This is what the script is for, apart from dialogue.
Step 3 - Sketching! Finally, sketching! I use a very small brush for sketching, but as you can see, I’m messy as hell. Whatever you like to use is fine. Because of the script, I have a vague idea how these images will look. Some panels come easier than others, so don’t worry if you’re not 100% clear on how it will go. I usually try to sketch out borders before I begin, starting with the most prominent or important panels and working roughly around them. Don’t be afraid to experiment with panel shapes and sizes either! I’m a bad example here because I do tend to play it safe, but use your favourite comic artists as examples. Finally, reading comics can count as “research”!
Not pictured: I do set up the text on the page roughly at this point, if only to make sure the text and the pictures aren’t squishing each other. You really, really don’t want that, so plan ahead in the sketching stage.
Step 4 - Colour Blocking! This is an optional step, but since I work in solid blacks, I create a layer below the sketch layer, set it’s opacity to 50-60% and roughly block out where the black should be. We want to make sure there is enough contrast, and that each panel doesn’t look too blank or too dark (unless that’s what you’re intending).
Step 5 - Borders and Inking! At this point, I make the black layer transparent, and lower the opacity on the sketch layer to 30-40% so I can prepare it for inking. On a new layer (creatively named “borders”), with a .30 line (Gimp’s Circle 19 brush, I use it for everything), I use the rectangular selection tool to select the area I want the border around and I simply Stroke each. Then, I save the image as a .psd and port it into Manga Studio 5 for inking.
You can use any program you want for inking - this is just my own preference. For anyone still wanting to use the Gimp, I suggest following my inking tutorial, and remember to read the comments for more program information.
Step 6 - Word Bubbles! First thing’s first! I type out all the dialogue on the page before making the word bubbles, since then I have a rough idea of how it will all fit. Remember again, make sure nothing is squished and feel free to view the image at it’s intended publication size to ensure it’s readable. If anyone’s curious, I use a free comic font called Evil Genius, and yes, I know that is incredibly apt and awesome. As for the bubbles, I have two methods for this as one is very program specific.
Manga Studio 5 - Manga Studio contains a lot of ready-made resources, and it’s very simple to drag, drop and resize your word bubbles onto the page. You can set your own line thickness and their tail tool is very simple and easy to use. WARNING: porting this to the Gimp or another program may corrupt the file - I merge all the word bubbles into one layer when I’m done and that prevents the issue.
The Gimp/Others - Using the selection tool (Elliptical, Rectangular or Freehand) make the shape you’d like around your words. Then, instead of stroking this shape, go to Selection > Selection to Path. Paths are a great deal smoother. Remember to unselect all of your selections then stroke your path with whatever line thickness you want. You can create a layer below your new lines and colour in the background of bubble however you’d like.
Step 7 - Final Colour Blocking! Same as the previous colour blocking step, just finalized and much sharper. Since my line art is black, I use a very dark purple-grey, I lock the lines layer and colour any line art that I don’t want to be hidden by black, such as Pelor’s entire outfit. When I was merely working in black and white, I painted the lines white instead.
Step 8 - Colour! I lay down all the flat colours, and since I mostly cell-shade, I only need maybe 4 layers for this, 2 for background and 2 for foreground. Then, some basic two or three tone cell-shading and I’m done. This step might change depending on what you’re hoping to do, but there are enough colouring tutorials out there anyway. (Hell, I’ve written enough of them myself).
Step 9 - Texture! This is incredibly optional, but I add a final layer on the Overlay setting, at 60% opacity that gives the overall image a papery effect. I just like it. Do whatever you’d like.
Now, I’m not sure if this was too thorough, not thorough enough or just fine, but let me know if you have any questions or comments (or if I was stupid and forgot to mention an important step)! I made a bit of a name for myself back on DeviantArt for being a Gimp Evangelist, so it’s my expertise but most things are easily portable to Photoshop so not too much should be lost in translation. Feel free to ask anything, and reblog and share with others!
Q:So far my favourite is Astral and I love Pelor - but I might have more favourite characters once I learn about the cast more - I really want to see more of your story (; w ; ) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don’t worry! It’s moving along, I swear! Small spoiler: I am about 3 pages away from introducing one of the major characters!
In your honor, I’ll do my best to produce some more Astral art!
Q:I love Pelor and his running commentary on the shit that happens to him because he's just so sarcastic and cynical and relatable but oh man am I interested in getting to meet this Galatea person.
I’m glad the running commentary isn’t getting on everyone’s nerves by now.
Galatea’s awesome! I’m upset that I can’t skip pages and just bring her in now with no context. D: Thank you!
Q:1.) Pelor Mitternacht (PhD or Medical Doctor? I... shit, I don't know) 2.) Galatea based solely upon the wtf amazing art you've done 3.) Aesop based primarily upon IM conversations. :D
Pelor is both, actually! He’s never actually held a position as a doctor of medicine, but he has the degrees somewhere where the Medical Board can’t find them and revoke them.
Yay! Thank you!
I did not see the “which character of mine is your fave” meme BUT I WANT TO KNOW WHICH CHARACTER OF MINE IS YOUR FAVE???
GIVE REASONS. AND AN OPENING PARAGRAPH AND CLEAR CONCLUSION…
When all of someone’s pure good characters are white and their only morally questionable characters are ambiguously brown.
Awesome PoC Tumblrs
Dirty South Radicals (Note: currently under construction)
Racebent Disney (Note: currently on hiatus)
Stop Whitewashing (Note: currently on hiatus)
Last Updated September 29 2013.
Initial impressions of Rick from The Walking Dead: Okay, not bad.
Then: Ah, he’s getting a little annoying. This should pass, right?
Then: Jesus Christ Shut Up
Then: You sanctimonious fucking prick. How fucking dare you like how do you even
Then: Oh I see he is supposed to be Jesus 1000% done with Rick
gonna be livestreaming this in a few! i’m colouring a line art part of a trade with iratescientist
come and watch if you’d like!
This is what fucking happens when you give Kitty lines. Like, Jesus Holy Mother of God, how do you get THAT out of my inferior lines?! *sobs into oblivion*
“It’s a big honor to be the first Palestinian to win an Emmy award,” Burnat told the elite industry crowd in his acceptance speech (watch it here).
“I made this film … to share my story with you and all the world. We want what you want — peace and liberty. We want a good future for our kids so we need your support and your help. Free Palestine,” he concluded.
5 Broken Cameras is an intimate portrayal of the grassroots resistance movement in Bilin village in the occupied West Bank, featuring footage and narration by Burnat, one of the leaders of the popular protests brutally repressed by the Israeli army.
The film was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary earlier this year.
Yes, yes, YES.
Regular schedule resumes next Friday!