Staedtler-Itoya-Micron-Rotovision (Comic Process)

I am work­ing on a new com­ic, but it’s tak­ing a while since I’ve been busy at work (for­tu­nate­ly I’m play­ing with mark­ers there as well but in a much larg­er size).


My process is start­ing to get a lit­tle more delib­er­ate so I thought I might try to describe it here.

My kit of equip­ment is real­ly real­ly spe­cif­ic. I use let­ter-sized paper specif­i­cal­ly for draw­ing comics that I get at Meininger, because I have found that nor­mal print­er paper (which is what I start­ed with! so easy! so acces­si­ble!) has too much tooth and the ink is more bleedy. The kind I have is Can­son Fan­boy Man­ga & Com­ic sketch paper.

I have a deep love of mark­ers and my favoritest most awe­some won­der­ful kind are made by Staedtler: the Lumo­col­or per­ma­nent pens in black in B, M, F, and S sizes. I think they might actu­al­ly be for writ­ing on over­head pro­jec­tors so I am a lit­tle wor­ried they won’t make them for­ev­er. Dear Staedtler, if you are lis­ten­ing please make sure to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing your pens!

I have also found myself in need of small­er tips as I get bet­ter at draw­ing, so I have a set of the Itoya Fine­point Sys­tem pens in .5, .3. and .1 and I like them pret­ty well. I have nev­er been a huge fan of Micron pens but I did need an even small­er size so I got one in 005 and I got a brush pen as well.

For my draw­ing sur­face I use a hard­cov­er book about brand­ing from when I was in school for design at RMCAD. :D It’s not even a good book but it’s the per­fect size to hold on my lap (I draw sit­ting on the floor with my back against the couch). I always put 5 or 6 sheets of copy paper under the sheet I’m draw­ing on, which gives the per­fect “squishi­ness” to the sur­face and helps man­age bleed-thru.

Oth­er impor­tant parts of my kit are a big chis­el sharpie (ter­ri­ble not-true blacks but some­times you need a real­ly wide mark­er), a Sumo mechan­i­cal pen­cil, and a 16 inch met­al ruler. Oh and my lap­top and or phone for image ref­er­ence. Fin­ished or in process stuff lives in a fold­er (upon exam­i­na­tion it appears to be a Mead Five Star fold­er labeled Psych from when J was under­grad).


I think one of the things I like best about draw­ing comics is that they aren’t hard to write since they are usu­al­ly based on some­thing real: a dream, a mem­o­ry, or an event.  Though I orig­i­nal­ly just drew them in real time, mak­ing them up as I went, I have start­ed actu­al­ly sto­ry­board­ing them out in pen­cil first on a sheet of copy paper. This way I can fig­ure out what the words are, how many cells I need to say what I am try­ing to say, and what images would go along to tell the sto­ry.

When I actu­al­ly start mak­ing the final com­ic I start by draw­ing the black­ened edges and mast­head area with my ruler and the B mark­er or the chis­el Sharpie. I start­ed doing this because my scan­ner can’t scan all the way to the edge, but I like the look of the heavy bor­der. I then let­ter the mast­head (is it called a mast­head in comics? I think that word might be a holdover from my news­pa­per class days).

Final­ly, I draw each row of cells (with the B Staedtler mark­er denot­ing the bor­ders), mov­ing from the top of the page to the bot­tom, let­ter­ing in the sto­ry as I go in the Itoya .5. For more com­plex visu­als I sketch light­ly in pen­cil first and then erase the lines once I ink. Oh yeah! Part of my kit is a big white eras­er. I would say about half of the pic­tures are drawn in pen­cil first, but I would pre­fer not to have to do this because it’s slow­er and I hate pen­cils. :)

I always have my com­put­er near­by to look up pho­to­graph­ic ref­er­ences for what­ev­er I am draw­ing. Okay and now the secret part. For images with per­spec­tive I will some­times put my paper over the bright com­put­er screen and trace some guid­ing out­lines in pen­cil! I cheat! It’s true! But I am get­ting bet­ter at per­spec­tive in gen­er­al and who cares any­way, it’s how the whole thing comes togeth­er than real­ly mat­ters.

Well, that’s about it, tried and true at this point. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my process and look for a new com­ic soon.

Posted: March 29th, 2012
Categories: comics, making
Tags: , ,
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