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Tools of the Trade

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, July 27, 2018

Webcomics can take many forms and with every story comes a unique and creative style. We have talked about naming your comics, the themes one can incorporate and how you developed your own style over time. This week, we’re getting technical. This week we break out the tools!

Back in the days of old (and by that I mean when I started my first webcomic at 13), the process usually involved busting out my pencils and pens and drawing everything on paper. I have an entire sketch book packed away that was full of pages for an old webcomic of mine, Puppets and Strings, each done by hand and entirely with a 2B mechanical pencil. It suited the comic really well as it left it with a weighty sense of suspense, each page heavy and dark.

These pages were then scanned in, cleaned up and typeset before being released online and at the time, this was the general process many creators used.

I also played with good, ole paint; gouache to be exact as it was thicker and more vibrant than watercolour, (honestly my colouring style has changed a little over the years but it’s clear I like my colour blindingly stark). It’s lost now, but one of my other projects, Flirtatious, was done entirely in ink and gouache. But my experimentation didn’t end there!

During this time I also managed to wrangle myself a graphics tablet and a bootleg copy of Photoshop and it was here that the game really changed. This has become my preferred way to producing comics these days. I moved through three graphics tablets before finally landing on the one I had lusted over since my university days; the Cintiq! Oh Cintiq! How I love thee. It is all the tactile benefits of drawing straight onto paper but on the screen! Talking about speeding up my workflow!

What tools do you use to create your webcomics? Are you a pen and paper traditionalist or are you comic page slinging digital master? Let us know in the comments below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST) where we’ll be talking about this topic!

Till next week lovelies!



NicAndBen at 7:15PM, July 31, 2018

The tools were actually a big barrier to me doing web comics for a long time. I was always dissatisfied with the process of working physically and then trying to get it in to the computer in any meaningful way. The amount of time I spent cleaning the scans up just never seemed worth it. I also always hated trying to draw directly in Photoshop; it always just felt really artificial to me. I eventually discovered Krita, which beats the pants off of everything else as a drawing program. Then I got a Microsoft Surface which integrates with Krita flawlessly. Now I actually prefer working digitally to physically.

DannyBoyUltra at 2:19PM, July 28, 2018

I go 100% digital even if I sometimes miss the 'feel' of drawing on paper... But I wonder if graphical tablets with screens are better than regular Wacom Tablets? Thoughts?

usedbooks at 4:04PM, July 27, 2018

I use Corel Paint Shop Pro and my Lenovo Yoga (2-in-one) with an active pen. The traditional tools I use are a very heavy-bodied digital pencil, a clear plastic ruler, printer paper, and a clear plastic clipboard (it basically turns my computer paper into tracing paper, so I can trace my final version over a draft).

usedbooks at 4:01PM, July 27, 2018

I draw in pencil and then do everything else digitally (clean-up/"ink," letter, colors, effects...). I have wasted a ton of money on traditional (non-digital) media over the years, and I am really clumsy and pathetic with it all. I trust only what I can erase (and later fix digitally). Digital coloring is a godsend to not have to buy each color and mix and fail at mixing colors and try different color schemes... I am useless without it. It's also why it takes me SOOOO long to make a page of Used Books. (In Strange Creatures, my side project, I am forcing myself to draw without drafts or edits. It's good practice and also liberating -- the results are super rough, but so be it.)

Avart at 9:28AM, July 27, 2018

BTW, I use Clip Studio Paint EX with a lot of customized tools. During a certain period of time I was also using Poser3D, but it demands so much resources from my laptop so I don't use it anymore. As PaulEberhardt says, I like the imperfection of the hand drawing, and don't rely too much un some tools. Like i.e, you draw an eye and simply mirror it and you got a perfect pair of eyes... I don't like that.

PaulEberhardt at 9:09AM, July 27, 2018

Fun fact: I once drew a small comic with charcoal on a piece of birch bark (I'll try and find it so I can post it). Can you get more traditionalist than that? ;) For everything else I use the tools I showed off here: So I'm a staunch hand-drawing traditionalist, although I do use Gimp and XnView for various smaller tasks like fixing drawings with different sound effects for different languages and stuff. Else, I'm too much at odds with computers in general, and enjoy the variety of the old-fashioned ways too much to force a tablet upon myself. I actually think it helps me make the drawings look more alive, too. A lot of comics on the web tend to look rather streamlined if not sterile to me and I'm glad if mine is the opposite of that, even if it makes me look a bit anachronistic. I'll rather put up with less clear lines, small mistakes, and an overall more unpolished look, as long the right organic vibes are in there.

Tantz_Aerine at 8:19AM, July 27, 2018

Fully digital for me- I'm too blind for anything that isn't on 400% zoom. I use GIMP!

Avart at 7:39AM, July 27, 2018

For the first chapters I used traditional media, paper, pencil, ink, scanner and wasted a lot of time cleaning the page. A friend lend me a Wacom Intuos 2 and everything changed. My work is 100% digital.

Ironscarf at 6:19AM, July 27, 2018

I still draw on paper a lot but my comic pages are usually scanned from the most basic little thumbnails. Most of the work is done with my old wacom intuos in Clip Studio, using Frenden brushes. I'd love to get my hands on a cintiq but just can't afford it. All lettering and panel borders are done in a seperate vector program because Clip is not great for text. I use Inkscape because it's free, but Illustrator is the industry standard I think.

mks_monsters at 5:13AM, July 27, 2018

I sketch and ink by hand all the way. I sometimes do cleanup on the computer, but for the most part, it's all by hand. I use a red sketch pen so when I adjust the threshold, it all disappears.

KAM at 4:52AM, July 27, 2018

I like the idea of drawing tablets, but I can't seem to make them work right. I've also used computer mice and, ugh, trackballs to create art on the computer. My first computer art program was... MacPaint. I still use SuperPaint 2 for some stuff. Mostly I use Photoshop, although I'm trying to use MediBang which... is not working out like I hoped. It has some good points, but also missing things that should be basic to any art program. Never had any luck with vector programs.

KAM at 4:44AM, July 27, 2018

Usually I go with pencils and inking pens scanned into the computer. While I think my pencils are better without ink, they don't scan well. I used to love working in colored pencils, but they scan terrible. Just a generic inking pen. Could never use the old inking nibs (rips the paper and blobs ink out), and never could make brushes work right for me and while I can see the benefit of using different width pens for one picture, it's usually one width start to finish.

KAM at 4:37AM, July 27, 2018

I can see what this Sunday's Quackchat will be about. (You didn't think anyone would notice the questions matching a previous week's newspost?)

bravo1102 at 4:25AM, July 27, 2018

And lots and lots of multi layered compositions in Photoshop.

bravo1102 at 4:23AM, July 27, 2018

I mix and match media to get the effects I want. Always experimenting and looking at new things. So people tell me what I do is all my own. Some kind of mixed media digital fumetti thing. Or some naysayers just call it photos of dolls.

IronHorseComics at 4:09AM, July 27, 2018

I tried to make Fluffy 500 mixed media, but the scanners kept screwing it up, causing delays so I decided to just go fully digital.

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