Sunday, 9 May 2010

How To Draw A Comic Book Page

The process that I use to draw a comic book page is a rather simple process and one that incorporates a small written note pad of ideas and some rough sketches and just the actual doing it instead of thinking about it.

First things first we have to have some kind of rough idea of the story, so that we can plan the action on the page, I like to describe each panel in maybe one or two sentences to give me a working description that will help me draw each panel out right.

I do this next, draw a rough page plan (which could change at any minute I might add!) the draft doesn't have to be that detailed as you want to just get down the layout of your page.

Top tips - Try and work out the panel layout early on, so that you get it right and so you can just get on with the business of drawing everything in the panels, sometimes you may find that a few sketches are needed in order to plan a good comic book page out.

Also some pages require something that makes the page stand out, some do splash pages which are a one page panel of action usually or you can create a 3 panel page with the third being the largest one and a character bursts out of the panel creating some dramatic action.

The choices are up to you, but here is an example of a quick written description followed by my own little comic book page layout drawing:-

I've opted for the 3 panel page layout as I described above, so....

Panel One - Our character is an evil demonic creature who we see just a close up head shot looking really evil.

Panel Two - The demonic creature in a slightly larger panel where we see the full dark shape of the demon.

Panel Three - The largest panel we see the demon bursting out of the panel almost leaping towards the reader.

Now see how I planned the action out below in my rough sketch, nothing fancy yet, but you get the idea....


Now what we do is take this intitial draft sketch and we try and develop it, I prefer to start with a fresh piece of paper and roughly mark out the panel layout and then I start to loosely sketch the innards of the page panels, you'll find that re-drawing what you envisioned will help to bring out some creative ways of relating your idea on to the page and most times it will be better than the rough sketch or thumbnail as it's more commonly called.

As my preferred method I use a darker pencil to get some sense of shadow and form to the drawings, although not that detailed at this stage, I simply refer back to my written description and try and fill in the blanks with my own imagination of the demon creature, the drawing below is what you should be aiming for, some that looks like it is progressing and developing into something more....


The best part of drawing is moulding and shaping your drawings into solid ideas and this stage is the best as you can be as imaginative as you like and with mine I draw in lots of detail that probably at the inking stage will be blocked out when I start to realize the light source to add a bit of atmosphere to the page, but I try and make the demon creature look evil and scary just like my written description said, as often as a comic book artist you will be working from writers notes and scripts so it's best to get used to this way of working.

The idea is to get this stage of pencil drawing finished and ready for the inking stage, so by now it should be clear of where there will be totally dark areas and what remains light, you can fill large areas with your pencil or just leave them blank and add small crosses to identify for inking later.

Here's the drawing now, see how finished it looks...


The inking stage is more than just going over each individual pencil line, it's about adding a style to your work, now in the real comic book making world, you may find that you are a penciller and someone else inks your work, but today I'm going to assume that you are a complete comic book artist and just start inking your own work is the best thing you can ever learn to do.

I usually fill in the large black areas first and then swing back on the detail of the characters in the panels, this way I don't do really great detail ink work and then ruin it by using my large black markers, you though may have some other way of working and that is entirely understandable, so just work however you want as this tutorial is just an inspiring look at what you can achieve with your comic book pages.

I try to at the inking stage vary the line weights, so that it creates a good style, sometimes you'll see other artists do this and you'll notice the difference that it makes, it seems to bring the characters to life by adding movement lines and such...

Here's the finished piece drawn and inked.





So I hope you have a good time drawing a comic book page and remember, there are many ways to draw a comic page and you don't have to feel limited in any way, because comics are to feed the imagination, so go wild and be creative in your comic creations on the page.

Of course the above example isn't finished in terms of the lettering and any colour that you want to apply to your comic book page, I may write further blog posts about lettering at a later date.

Have fun!

Learn to draw comic books the Marvel way is an old book that I recommend if you need further help on drawing comic book pages and characters too...