The Making Of Page 13

One day I had some free time and a digital camera available. I decided to try documenting my drawing process just for the fun of it. It would be interesting to see a blank piece of paper being transformed into a page of comic. I’m interested in behind the scenes kind of thing so I thought that I would write a post on the making of page 13 of Sunset, Sunrise. I’m not a professional comic artist but I’ve tried drawing comics for a few years and tweaked the drawing processes to suit me. This is what works for me, although it might not be for everyone. I understand that other people might go about it differently.

Step 1: Screenplay

Screenplay

Before I do any actual comic drawing, I would come up with a rough draft of the page. It’s called the screenplay. Some people preferred to finish the screenplay for the whole story before drawing it out. The most thinking is done at this part. The process takes too long for me and I tend to lose momentum halfway. I had an idea of where it is all going and how was the story is going to end. It’s just that I had no patience to finish all the screenplay at one go. So I drafted out a few pages at a time, constantly checking with the previous pages to make sure that the story flowed smoothly. This method works well enough for me and I was able to keep my interest and motivation.

I reused the blank back of a used sheet of paper to do the screenplay. First, I folded the paper into half and then half again. Now I’ve got a piece of paper nicely divided into four quarters. I treat each quarter as one page of the comic. I liked to do my drafts in pencil as there’s lot of erasing and re-drawing at this point. I usually do just the script and the bare essentials, to give a feel how the story was told. My friends used to call my screenplay characters “fishballs” because I gave them big round circles for heads. They looked like ping pong balls on a stick 😀

I am able to get away with minimal details in my screenplay because I am working on my own. I have a pretty good idea of what is going on in the pages so there was no need for me to draw out every single detail. Half of the info is in my head. Ultimately, the screenplay serves as a guide rather than a blueprint. I’ve made changes on the fly when a better idea came up, which is why the screenplay and the actual page do not look exactly the same.

Step 2: Pencilling

Making of Page 13

I used A4 sized paper for drawing. I recently tried using 100gsm paper for drawing Sunset, Sunrise. It felt pretty good so I think I’ll keep to 100gsm paper. If you do not want to use 100gsm, which is a bit more expensive, make sure your paper is at least 80gsm. 80gsm paper is commonly used for inkjet printing. Anything below 80gsm is not recommended as the paper is too thin for artwork.

Making of Page 13

First I drew a border of 1cm from the edge of the paper. Then I drew out the cells, following the layout in the screenplay. Not fancy gadgets here, just normal pencil and ruler.

Making of Page 13

I outlined the cells with a 0.9 micron pen, 0.9 referring to the size of the nib. I hate having to redraw the cells after erasing so I figured that I would ink them first.

Making of Page 13

I started off by drawing a rough sketch of the character. It looked blocky because at this moment I just want to establish the positioning and posture. I used a mechanical pencil with 2B lead. Some people preferred using HB lead because it is lighter and will not smudge as much as 2B. I’m so used to 2B that I unconsciously applied greater pressure when I used HB, creating grooves in the paper, which is a big no-no. I had no problems with the smudging. The 2B pencil marks were easily taken care of by an eraser.

Making of Page 13

This is the page filled with pencil sketches. I added in the speech bubbles at this point so that I won’t forget to leave some space for them in the cells. I bought a stencil for many months before I remembered to used it for speech bubbles. Duh. But most of the time I had to draw the speech bubbles by hand because the size and shape I want wasn’t a conventional shape.

One last check of the drawings before I start adding in the details.

Making of Page 13

Above is a comparison of the before and after picture of the hand.

Step 3: Inking

Making of Page 13

I outlined my pencil drawings with a 0.1 micron pen. I preferred to start with the smallest nib. It’s easier to thicken the lines later on than to make them thinner. After the outline, I erased the pencil marks and started adding in line weights (also known as stroke power). It not just simply thickening the lines. As you can see in the picture on the right, not all lines are thickened evenly. Someone once said it gave the characters more life but I’ve seen it soon often that I’m immune to it. What do you think?

I drew in the background effects last of all. After everything was inked, I corrected the mistakes with a white pen.

Lastly, I added in the words. For page 13, I used Anime Ace fonts downloaded from Blambot. There many sites which provided free fonts for use. Here’s some of them:

Below is the completed page. Click on the pic to view the larger version.

Completed Page 13

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