Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to draw a comics page

Seeing as my first tutorial on drawing a water colour cutie went so well and requests were voiced for more, I've decided to do just that and offer up to you in photos and words exactly how I draw a cartoon page.

1: First I look at the script and cut it up into boxes. This may sound fairly self explanatory, but many is the time I've received a script where there are simply too many panel to fit upon the page, so I have to re think the script and start doubling up and lowering the panel count.

2: Then I tear off a sheet of A3 smooth Cartridge paper and layout the panels in pencil

I usually give a 25mm cut in from the top and run the image area to 390mm deep giving 15mm on either side.

3: Now comes the contentious part: Some cartoonists insist that the pencilling should only act as a rough guideline and the real work should be done with a brush or a pen, then there are others who like to get as much detail as possible in with the pencil and finish it off with a pen. Me, I subscribe to both schools of thought and use which ever one suits the piece of art I'm working on that day.

4: Once all the pencilling is complete I take a few moments to check the script with the panels I've just drawn to make sure I haven't made any glaring mistakes like, missing out an entire panel (Oh believe me its possible and I've done it). It's always best to take this 'time out' during the pencil stage as it's a lot easier to correct it now rather than at the inking stage.

 5: Once I'm sure it's all okay I start inking in the panels. There are many ways to do this: some artists use a dip pen, some are purists and prefer a brush, while the modern brood of professionals like to work with sharpies.

When working on comics pages, and having the luxury of smooth cartridge paper, I like to work largely in dip pen. And leave the bold close up work for the brush.

I use a sable No. 1 for the brush work and a Gelliot nib 303 for the pen and I use Rotering Ink

6: Once the page has been inked I find a nice, neat spot and sign the page

Charles Schulz used to say a nice inconspicuous spot, but I prefer to find an area that isn't going to get covered in word balloons and dialogue boxes later; I like people to know who I am so it's easier to know who to commission for their project.

7: Then it's rub out all the pencil lines and it's ready to be photo copied and scanned into Photoshop.

I use Photoshop as I believe it to be the best programme for what I do. Some people swear by Illustrator, I know that I'd probably wind up swearing at illustrator, but in the end it's all just personal taste.

Once the artwork has been scanned in at 300dpi I spend a great deal of time cleaning up all the dots and scratches from the art work. Once it's all clean I maximise the levels of both black and white, transform it into Greyscale then into CMYK ready for the printers. After that I colour the whole page and finally I place the word balloons in and letter them using Lafayette Pro.

And the finished page is shown below.

I've only dusted lightly on the colouring process as I've decided to save that for another day as colouring in Photoshop or any other application for that matter is a whole new tutorial in itself.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I produce my pages of comic book art and will leave any comments below



  1. Cheers Jeff and Jay. So glad you're enjoying it

  2. What a great tutorial. I just love browsing through your website and your cartoons are so amazing.

    Thank you for taking the time out to make these Tuts.

    I am an aspiring cartoonist.

    1. Thank you so much, RG. Its comments like that that make me want to do it all the more. Stay tuned as I have a few more tutorials on the way


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