How the JHall do

by JHall on March 27th, 2013

A kind fellow asked me to give a brief walkthrough of my drawing process when making comics, since my Let's Draw videos are a bit fast (1500% faster than realtime, and STILL takes 10 minutes to get through. Yeesh). I told him I'd oblige, but I refuse to be brief.


STEP ONE: I think about what comic I'm about to draw and how I want to present it on the canvas (mostly vertical, mostly horizontal, etc) and create a new document by estimating how big it's going to be (I can add more canvas later if need be).


STEP TWO: I then sketch out the first few panels where I think they should be, taking into consideration how much action and text I need to pack into them and also panel variety (if I can help it I try not to make all the panels the same size to avoid it getting boring and as an added challenge for myself).


STEP THREE: This is when I actually start sketching the comic itself. Now, sometimes I'll just make little boxy skeletons in all the panels to map out what's going on in each part of the comic, or I'll just start to fill up one panel at a time with a more complete sketch. A circle marks where the head will be, a rectangle where a characters body will be, etc. How much I detail their expressions in this phase is determined by a lot of things, like how complex the drawing will need to be and how lazy I'm feeling. Luckily when I start the line art process I can always just undo any mistakes so I don't always sketch complete characters, it's more to just make sure I know where they are and what they're doing in the panel.


STEP FOUR: Once the whole comic is sketched I add panel breaks (usually black) in a separate layer and begin the line art on another separate layer. I used to do the line art on one layer and use the paint brush on a layer underneath it to color, but I found a better way-- now when I do my line art I make sure all the lines are enclosed so I can fill them with color using the fill bucket. So when I do my line art I pay close attention to where the lines meet and make sure when it's time to color there won't be any colors spilling into areas they shouldn't (although it's all fixable if that happens). The line art is one of those things where having a tablet is useful, not only because it's more natural than drawing with a mouse but you can add varying line width by applying pressure on your tablet.


STEP FIVE: Once the line art is all done I select all the lines in that layer (ctrl+a), copy them, and paste them into a new layer. So now I have two layers with the same line art. I do the same thing to the black panel breaks. I then merge one line art layer with one panel break layer and put *that* layer below the other line art and panel break layers. I do this so I can use the fill bucket on the merged layer and if the line art gets a little messed up in doing so then I have the separate line art layer above it to cover up any problems. EXAMPLE- You can see here that by using the fill bucket the line art got a little choppy Here it is with a separate line art layer on top So I color all the characters/backgrounds I can with the fill bucket.


STEP SIX: If I want to add shadows and highlights I select parts of the character using the magic wand on the merged layer that all the color is in and then add a new layer *above* that and *below* the line art that is on top of it. In this new layer, with the colors still selected, I pick a dark color (black is the classic choice, but sometimes a deep purple gives it more pop) and use the pen or brush tool to make shadows. I then reduce the opacity of the entire shadow layer until I like the way it looks. If I want, I can go back in and blur some of the shadows with the water/blur tool to give it more of an airbrushed look. I do the same with highlights.


STEP SEVEN: For text I have to bring it into Paintshop so I save it as a Photoshop file (paintshop can open those, but can't open Paint Tool Sai files) and open it it Paintshop. If need be, I'll also add speech bubbles in Paintshop by making opaque ellipses under the text layer. Or, I'll just add text and bring it back into Paint Tool Sai to manually make speech bubbles. To do this I do the same thing I do with line art and coloring; the text layer is at the very top, and under that I draw the black outline of a speech bubble around the text. I copy and paste the speech bubbles into another layer and fill them white, with the original speech bubble outline on top of this layer and all of them under the text layer.


That's the basics of 90% of my comics right there.


Drop me a line if you have any questions/comments/used panties to give me

© Jhall Comics 2012 - Design by Thomas van Dongen