I really don’t know what I’m doing, but I think that the lady from Lackadaisy Cats has the best “how to draw a comic” sort of tutorial that I’ve seen. Especially step four, which is vital and should never be skipped.

Using Scripts

I don’t use scripts too often, but John writes out scripts for Vagus Street, so I’ll use him as an example. His goal with Vagus Street is to confine an entire horror story into five compact pages. He wanted to keep the layout incredibly simple, almost understated, with six similar-sized panels per page, creating a sort of understated and unrelenting feel to the stories. Or at least, that’s what I’d always thought.

John actually (I just now asked him) said that he did it for his own benefit. He says keeping the stories short, with a set number of panels on every page keeps him from writing too long of a story. He likes to spend time on back story and little details, and when he does so he says that it makes it harder for him to finish the story, much less finish it with a tight and smooth pacing. He says he feels that the stories have suffered somewhat from this formula, but that he also feels that they’ve benefited more than they’ve suffered.

I thought the stories worked out nicely (except for some of the art), which just goes to show that everyone’s their own worst critic.

Sample first page from Vagus Street Project – Family Visit:

First I copy all the text into the proper panels in photoshop. I have a template of where the guides and panels will be, so that’s already inked in:

Then I begin to pencil in things, and delete the scene text that isn’t narration, sound effects, or dialogue. Sometimes I need to move art around so that it works well with text, so I’ll do all the text stuff before I start to ink.

Then I ink in:

I don’t usually colour All the Growing Things, but Vagus Street has a grayscale shading to it that John liked, so I almost never do straight black and white. I’ll do this after I get the inks in:

Later I’ll do a tutorial on colouring and shading. That’s for later though.

This page also happened to have a special effect of having “chalk drawings” where the kids were drawing, and since I didn’t want to do any hard black lines for that, I drew it all in white on it’s own layer, and then added some layer effects to it to get gradients:

Then I go through the saving, flattening, resizing, uploading-to-comicpress steps from the settings tutorial.

Working without a Script

This is my normal method when working on All the Growing Things. I usually start out with a vague idea of what it is that I want to draw. I know I want to have Texy give some sort of monologue while looking down over the town, something to the effect of “What have I done?!” I start by drawing him in the top panel, talking:

Then I realise, nope, I don’t want him by himself, so I change the panel and add Maude into the background, looking at Texy with a disbelieving/confused sort of expression. She doesn’t know what’s going on with Texy, and she certainly didn’t believe Matilda’s explanations from the previous pages.

I also wanted to add in a dramatic panel at the bottom of the page, where Texy drops some sort of verbal bomb.

But that bottom panel looks terrible, so I grab that terrible face and move it out of the way, so that I can see what NOT to do while I draw in the dramatic panel. I decide to make the face MUCH larger:

I erase the terrible face. I know I want this dramatic monologue to concern the town of Howardston, and we’re leading up to WHY Texy burned it down in the first place, so I start drawing in boxes to show the “town.” I’m not too worried about perspective, so I’m using an “intuitive perspective” rather than any sort of one-point or two-point perspective. (I just tried finding a wiki entry for various perspectives, and I couldn’t find it. I’ll do a short tutorial on perspectives in a bit…)

Now that I have the art mostly in, I start to add text. Like I said, I know I want a monologue, and a lot of foreshadowing, so I decide to go with Texy just venting his thoughts on “what happened” after he blew up the bank, without actually having him go into any details.

After I get the text in, I move the pencils around to make sure they all fit well. (I moved Maude to the right in the upper panel.)

After that, it’s just a matter of inking and finishing everything up.