Tools of the Trade

Those who create comic books today are fortunate to have the computers, printers, and advanced technology that weren’t around for the early creators in the 1920s, and up until the 2000s. Technology not only revolutionizes and simplifies the lives of humans, but it expands the possibilities for creating a comic.

I mean, there was a time when color was added to pages for printing by arranging cyan, magenta, and yellow overlays of acetate on an image. And many times, the acetate was created at different strengths by screen printing on the film the dot patterns we know and love. This method, however, severely limited the range of colors artists could use. And of course, there was the method where cyan, magenta, yellow, and black color film separations were shot with a camera, then put together for the larger product process.

Today, comics are made a little differently, although some artists still preserve old techniques.

The general process for which a comic book is made is: scripting, storyboarding, pencilling, inking, coloring, and lettering.

The script is typically made in a computer text program, such as Microsoft Word. The storyboarding and pencilling are simply pencil on paper. The inking is done by hand, which many American comic creators and Japanese mangakas still do.There is a range of technique that comic creators will employ when coloring their comics. You will find many mediums, from colored inks, colored pencils, watercolor, gouache, and acrylic paint.

With the invention of drawing tablets and computer based art programs, many artists will complete the remaining processes, if not all of the processes, digitally.

The best, most widely used software for creating comics includes Clip Studio Paint, Sketchbook Pro, and Photoshop CC.

The best drawing tablets for creating comics are Wacom tablets, specifically the Cintiq, on which an artist draws with a stylus directly on to a touch screen.

While it might be difficult at first to make the switch from drawing on paper to drawing on a tablet, the benefits make it worth it. In the end you will have less material supplies, it takes up less space, and mistakes are very easily corrected with the undo command.

The great thing about the world we live in today, is that there are so many tools available for us to choose from when creating. We can mix and match however we’d like to arrive at a style that we can use to express ourselves and our characters in unique and memorable ways.

Happy creating!