How To Draw A Comic Strip
Comic illustrator, Pete C explains his step by step process for creating comic strips.
Usually when I start writing a comic book, I'll get an idea first. It could be anything from an idea for a character to a setting or even just a joke. Then I would start to build upon it by writing ideas down or making quick scribbles and sketches. Sometimes I'd be walking down the street and an idea would just come to me and its all I can think about until I start to create it. Once I have a solid idea of where I want to go I'll start to create characters and setting. If I get stuck for ideas I'll scribble shapes or stare at textures in a ceiling for example, I know that sounds insane but its the same as when you look at clouds you can see shapes in them. Until something pops out at me and then I'll build upon it.
When I'm creating a long story that would span more than one comic I'll set up a rough idea of where the story will go before I set about the first strip. This will often be warped with time as I change my mind about things and come up with new ideas. After this I set about writing a detailed plan of the first strip and begin storyboarding. Most of the storyboarding is very rough and simple to give me an idea for frame compositions and layouts. However I love to cram as much into a lot of the bigger, more detailed frames as I can, things that you might not pick up on the first time you read through. So these frames I will storyboard in much more detail, which allows me to play around more with ideas. This may seem like a waste of time when I'm only in the storyboarding stage but it saves a lot of time when I come to draw out the final frames as I have been able to experiment and know exactly what I want. At times if I feel the storyboard frame is exactly what I want it means I don't have to sketch it out again and I can work straight from it saving even more time.
In the same way as when storyboarding I will go through each frame individually and sketch out a final version in pencil which is then scanned into Paint shop Pro or Corel Painter. However this process is often made quicker by re using backgrounds when they are required for multiple frames and just sketching the characters and other components separately which can then easily be added in using Photoshop. Unless I'm colouring the comic by hand I'll use Paint shop Pro, Corel Painter and Corel Draw to outline and colour the scanned frames. This is quite a painstaking but fun procedure taking a lot of time, well its probably not fun at all but I'm a bit of a geek. Once coloured I add in speech bubbles and then move the files over to Photoshop to crop, add borders and text to each of the frames. I'll constantly be referring back to the storyboards for guidance on things but I do tend to change things as I go quite a lot but once each frame is set up and perfected I start arranging them page by page, resizing them to fit with each other and adding any text here might be out with the frames.
Finally I work on the front and back cover for the issue because I can generally say what I want and add any notes or jokes I want that I didn't put in the comic without concern for what the characters would say. Plus I can talk about myself or my friends or anything I want out with the comic, its much less refined. Well that's pretty much how I work with comics, I enjoy it in a different way from just creating pictures because I can get more involved in the story and it gives me much more freedom to say what ever I want to say through the characters. I hope I've made the whole process sound so horrific that you never want to try it and so there will be less competition for me. Seriously though it can seem like a lot of effort I guess but when you show it to someone and they love it then its definitely all worth while.
We're currently looking for comic strips for Snippets, so if you're a buddy artist or writer who'd be interested in showing off your work, get in touch at contribute (at) cutoutandkeep.net.