Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Every story has a beginning.
Every story has a concept.
And every idea that manifests within you can be turned into a work of art.
I start everything with a scribble, a doodle, then into a cohesive form, until the concept becomes a reality.
Don’t worry about mistakes you will make a lot of them.
At this stage, it will be of full errors and later on it will transform into a masterpiece.
So write everything down, draw your idea and gather inspiration because on the next stage we will be plotting the story.
After we have gathered all the materials, let’s build the story.
We’ll start with plotting the comic pages; write every idea that comes to your mind.
Plot everything from beginning to end, and make sure to incorporate your concept sketches.
Think of a story that will completely jive with the concept and lore of your creation.
Build up a narrative hook that makes your reader come back for more.
Now that we have finished with the plot let’s move on to the script.
The script is much more complex but here is how I do it.
First, I lay down the description of each of the page and show the direction of the story, where the characters are set on location and where the action is going to flow.
Make sure to end it with a bang so that your audience will be hooked for the next issue.
Next is, sketch the panels, yes that’s right let’s draw the panels, don’t worry about the dialogue and captions we will get to that later.
Sketch the panel that first comes into your mind, draw them in small rectangles, this is called Thumbnailing.
Draw everything freely and don’t worry about mistakes
After the first iteration of sketches, make another one, you can now choose from which angles are better from your first version
After you are done with the thumbnails let’s do the Rough Pencils and Layouts!
IV. Rough Pencils and Layouts
Once you have chosen your best Thumbnails, it’s time to blow them up into your comic pages.
The size of the comic page will depend on your platform, whether you will print it or publish it online.
Layout the pages where the eye of the reader will lead to the next page. Whether it’s from left to right or top to bottom.
Make sure to leave spaces on the panels to make way for…
V. Dialogue, Captions and Sound Effects.
This part is where we get creative in the speaking lines of each of the character; we have to study the best dialogues from your favorite movies and tv series.
Make it feel more natural and not forced since forced dialogue can feel awkward.
Write it as if you yourself are speaking the dialogue, or better yet speak it out loud to identify which ones work.
Now let’s start penciling
Penciling comics are tedious; this is where we apply all our basic knowledge in drawing. We are using Clip Studio Paint, the most intuitive illustration software available in the market.
From anatomy, to perspective, to storytelling.
With every stroke of the pencil tool, all the details will accumulate and create a unifying artwork.
The importance of storytelling of your illustration and the cinematic camera angles will be delivered in this stage.
As we left off from the previous chapter, Inking is where we get down with the nitty gritty details.
This is where we solidify the pencils and make it more 3d-like. It will add more depth to a static 2d object and make the pencils have more shape rather than a piece of scratches on the canvas.
Here we will apply the shade and shadow of an object or character. By adding blacks on the page, it will distinguish the lightness and darkness of a setting, the mood of the story, the tension and the drama.
Now we move on to the colors…
This is the coloring stage, this is where we bring life to your beautiful piece and it is divided into 3 stages.
The color flats,
Color rendering and the
Color flatting is the most tiresome and boring part but we have to live with it.
Color flats is the process where we add the color to the black and white Inked page.
It is used to separate all the different objects within the panel and page, so when using the wand tool each color will be selected easily. Just make sure to un-click the anti-alias box on the tool property to make the colored edges crisper and not blurry.
Color rendering is the fun part; this is where we add the tones of the page, the gradation of the colors from dark to light.
I use the watercolor brush to sculpt the form of each of the object and character, and then set it the blending mode to multiply.
And then I add another layer in clipping mode and with a blending mode of linear burn and with opacity of 40%.
I add the dark tones on that layer by using a shade of brown when the setting is daytime. And shade of blue when the setting is night.
By adding the highlights I added another layer with the blending mode of Add (Glow) with opacity of 30% using a lighter tint of brown.
I use a lasso fill to easily navigate and fill colors across the canvas. And sometimes I use a soft eraser tool to diffuse those edges.
After when were done with the rendering this is where we set the pages to a more professional and cinematic look by adding color effects.
First, add a new correction layer under the drop down menu Layer and then click Gradient Map.
At this part, it will be purely subjective to your style or taste.
I use the Gradient set of Sky and use accordingly to the setting or the situation of the panel. I used here, Sunrise (purple) setting and set the layer blending mode to Soft Light.
And for the sun effect, I added a new layer set the blending mode to Add (glow) and use the Soft Airbrush tool with a tint of Yellow. You can do this effect to any glowing effect like fire, energy glow and etcera.
And for like an advanced technique in coloring, we can color the lines to make the scene or setting subtle, this is called Color Hold. This can be applied numerous ways, like the objects on the backgrounds to make the lines recede and not pop out. Or make a pretty woman’s face not masculine looking.
After we’re done with all the colors, let’s move on to the lettering part.
This is where we apply the dialogue balloons, the sound effects and the captions.
Clip Studio Paint has a versatile and multitude of tools to cater all the comic and animation needs from penciling to lettering.
Lettering has never been easier.
By lettering, use the type tool and just copy paste the script that we’ve written earlier. Make sure to center justify your dialogue, and adjust to the font that you prefer.
After you have laid down the text it’s time to add the balloons. By using the Balloon tool, create an ellipse around the dialogue you laid out earlier, and center the text accordingly.
Next is to add the balloon tail, by selecting the said tool, click within the created balloon and move towards the exterior of the balloon and adjust to you desired style.
Now by adding the sound effects! Since Clip Studio doesn’t have a warp text tool, I developed a method for these kinds of situations.
After adding the desired sound effect, rasterize the text layer.
Then, click the ‘edit’ drop down menu, and click transform, and then mesh transformation.
With this technique you can manipulate the shape of the sound effect to your style.
X. Ending Note
Now that we are done with the first page, go and finish up the rest of the pages.
Whether we are on a deadline or not its important that we have the drive to finish up our stories, we just have to motivate ourselves and pursue our passions and never give up! You may never know you could be the next J.K. Rowling of the comic world.
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