Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

How do the comic pros use tracing paper?
JillyFoo at 11:49AM, June 24, 2008
posts: 627
joined: 1-2-2006
I got this Fanboy Comic-Manga Trace and Drawing pad from the craft store.
I use the paper part for drawing comic pages, but… I don't have any use for the tracing paper.
I've seen videos of traditional cartoonists using tracing paper, but I'm not sure of the actual process.

Help me out here. Does anyone use tracing paper and in what way do you use it?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:08PM
Skullbie at 3:31PM, June 24, 2008
posts: 4,805
joined: 12-9-2007
In todays world of quick computer editing- it's completely useless.

But it's used for artists who make really hairy pencil drafts- they put it over the original sketch on a light table then ink from that, no erasing or whatnot needed.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:46PM
lba at 8:18AM, June 25, 2008
posts: 2,688
joined: 5-29-2007
I occasionally use it to transfer things from reference photos that I just want to quickly add in or check for accuracy. I'll lay a piece of tracing paper and mark out things like my horizon and perspective lines so I can compare it to what I've drawn. It's also great for trying out different ideas. For instance, if you've got a character nailed down where you want them but you're playing with the way their jewelry is hanging, it's a lot easier to lay a piece of tracing paper over the drawing and work on that instead of erasing or constantly having to hit undo multiple times on the computer.

Other times I'll use it when I want a character or object in mostly the same position with the exception of something like their arm being in a different angle. from my experience, this is the way a lot of traditional cartoonists have used it. Just to save time rather than drawing out each and every panel where the artwork was similar. Copy a previous panel, make what alterations you need then rub graphite on the back of it and transfer the drawing to the panel you want it in, is my method.

I've seen a couple instances where an artist used it as a mask to blur and defocus a panel when they scanned their work. The photoshop and other program filters don't quite match the same quality you can get that way without a lot of extra work.

It's not entirely useless, but it's definitely a tool of those of us who do more of our work traditionally. Just like any other piece of media, there are things that the tracing paper can do a lot quicker and more efficiently for the results than it would in photoshop. Just as photoshop can produce better results with some things colour-related than a coloured pencil can.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
mattchee at 11:51AM, June 25, 2008
posts: 347
joined: 1-18-2008
There's a lot of ways you could use it… Tranferring stuff you don't want to re-draw being the main one. I used a light box when i worked with traditional media, so I never really got into tracing paper, but if i was still using traditional media today (and boy that itch never goes away… its just the time to scratch it that's the problem), I probably WOULD use it to adapt reference material, perspectives, etc… but then transfer it to bristol via the light box.

For what its worth, here was my old process:

layout panels on bristol
draw rough constructions on copy paper
resize artwork on copy machine if necessary (usually not, but somtimes i'd draw at a smaller scale)
transfer as clean pencils on bristol (light box)

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
Jabali at 1:58PM, July 8, 2008
posts: 81
joined: 3-28-2008
Tracing still have a space in the world of digital. Yo can check in my jabali comic I still combine both worlds using tracing paper and digital. I got nothing against computers but I feel that the computers are a bit constricted. It's funny because advertising agencies are using artwork that combine everything from pictures, drawings and digital media while mainstream comics are shifting to a complete digital media.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
mattchee at 8:40AM, July 9, 2008
posts: 347
joined: 1-18-2008
You do a great job with Jabali, I'd love to see a break down of your process sometime.

I work totally digitally now for the sake of time, and getting two pages out every week. I still miss doing things the traditional way… I'm trying to find an excuse or reason to do something traditional! heh!

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
Puff_Of_Smoke at 4:17PM, July 12, 2008
posts: 3,510
joined: 5-28-2007
I only use tracing paper when I'm having trouble picturing it in my mind.

As said before, with today's computer drawing programs, who needs paper?

EDIT: Not that I'm a pro, or course…
I have a gun. It's really powerful. Especially against living things.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:55PM

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