The Comic Process
My process for creating strips is fairly simple. Almost all of it is created by hand. Here is the process describing how I made this strip.
* Ideas for the major plot arc:
Prior to starting Familiar Ground, I had an idea for a story. I didn’t know all the details of that story, but I had an idea of the major characters. I knew the starting point. I knew the end point. I knew that I had to hit certain spots in the story by certain dates. I also had a rough pencil sketch of where I want to take the first three books (oh yeah, I’ve divided the story up into three books).
So I know the destination and the spots along the way I need to reach, but the actual path in getting there is a discovery I’m making every day.
* Ideas for individual strips:
Ideas come from everywhere. I try to always have a writing pad and pencil with me at all times. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve come up with a great idea only to forget it five minutes later. If you’re in a creative field, ALWAYS carry something to write with.
I have one 200 page spiral notebook where I place all my strip ideas and write out actual dialogue.
Sometimes I’ll write the dialogue in my notebook along with the idea. Sometimes, I flesh out the dialogue from a single word idea when I sit down to draw. However, the goal is to always trim the text as much as possible, so regardless, I usually need to edit my dialogue before actually drawing the strip.
Writing the dialogue in the panels is the first step before I start drawing. Often (though not always) I would also sketch out how I want the panels to look like.
- I use the following materials for the regular strip:
- Smooth Bristol Board, cut up into 5.5″ x 14″ strips (the actual drawn panels are 4″ x 13″)
- Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens (various size pens, including brush pen)
- Micron archival ink pens (08 and 005)
- Prismacolor colored pencil (non-photo blue)
- White out
- Clear plastic ruler
I have other things around that I’m playing with but aren’t currently going into the regular strips (watercolors, india ink, sable brush, etc).
Oh, and this is the workspace I use for drawing.
* Drawing and Inking
I use a pre-cut template to outline my panels in non-photo blue pencil.
Then I start writing the dialogue in blue pencil after drawing some guidelines.
I draw the balloon clouds and then draw the figures around that, again using blue pencil.
Then I ink all of it using the various ink pens I have, just going over the blue pencil sketches, depending on how thick the lines need to be.
I usually start inking the text first using the micron 08 pen.
Then I ink the rest of the strip using the Pitt brush pen for thicker lines, and the “S” Pitt pen or the 005 Micron for fine lines. I usually stay close to what I’ve roughed out in blue pencil.
The non-photo blue pencil lines are not picked up by the scanner so I don’t bother erasing them.
* Scan and Post
I scan into Adobe Photoshop, erase mistakes and post to the web.
It takes me about two to three hours altogether to go through the above process.
Strip stats: Bristol board 5.5″ x 14″. Drawn area is 4″ x 13″. A few older sketches are on 4.75″ x 12″ Bristol Board with a drawn area of 3.25″ x 11″. Special/Sunday strips are on 11″ x 14″ bristol with no set drawn area.
Strips are currently priced at $45. Special/Weekend/Double size strips are priced at $55. These prices will be going up each year on the anniversary of this strip (April 1st), so get them while you can!