Good day, and welcome to the first of what I hope to be many tutorials I can help provide for those budding graphic artists and comic creators that want to learn how to make and share good-looking comics.

First off, I'd like to say that I wouldn't be the obscure but capable webcomic creator I am if it weren't for a whole slew of artists before me. My comic, HOSERS: The Comic Strip was inspired by my personal faves of the early greats of webcomicdom, primarily GOATS: The Comic Strip, GPF Comics, College Roomies From Hell!!!, and Nukees!. Thank you, Jon, Jeff, Maritza and Gav. As always I must tip my hat to you and your dedication to the art.

Second, anyone really interested in creating comics should pick up and read two or three of Scott McCloud's books: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics. All are available from Amazon.com or you local bookstore. McCloud is very astute and has great suggestions on putting together a comic. If you read only two, you can omit "Reinventing Comics" -- but really, you should read all three. Also for good practice on framing comic strip panels, try out Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work.

UPDATE: In addition to the books and sites above, you should also purchase and read the excellent How to Make Webcomics by Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurz, and Kris Straub. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

Anyway, this instructable will deal with the useful mechanics of webcomics production, in my opinion: how to sketch and ink your comic on paper. I plan a future instructable about how to make it into a nice-looking image for web - and possibly print - presentation. (Coming Soon!)

The process I use cribs parts from a dozen other webcomic processes, and of course doesn't apply to work drawn entirely on the computer, say using a tablet. I do that also, and will create a separate instructable for my fully-digital production methods if someone would like to see one.

So let's get started! For this tutorial, I am going to draw a comic strip. Well, don't act so surprised....

Step 1: Drawing the Comic: Supplies

I use Strathmore paper when preparing my images. I have a sketchbook I use to plan all of my comics, and the final images are drawn on Bristol Smooth paper, 9"x12". The Bristol board really holds the ink well.

(Note: some artists just us printer paper, and if this works for you, that's fine. However I have comics drawn on printer paper and with sharpie markers that have noticeably not withstood the test of time over the past 8 years, while images made with the Strathmore paper and the pens noted below are still as clear as the day they were drawn.)

I have a full compliment of artist's pencils but most of my sketching is done with .5mm and .7mm mechanical pencils or a #2 yellow pencil. I erase the lines anyway. Many artists use non-repro blue pencils so they don't have to erase. I've tried this, too, but I don't buy non-repro blue pencils because they're expensive. There's really no "official" color known as "non-repro blue" to my knowledge. Any hard-lead light-blue colored pencil does the same job, for much less. Modern scanners and software are pretty good at ignoring the pale blue lineart regardless what instrument was used to draw them. You can also use light green or yellow.

My eraser of choice is a white plastic Staedtler eraser. It does a great job lifting the pencil from the paper without removing any ink at all. For detail erasing I use a Pentel ClicEraser, it also uses the white plastic type of eraser material. I know people who swear by kneaded erasers. Personally, I don't like them. Pink erasers are too rough on the paper and can cause the paper to fray, and then have trouble holding ink properly later on.

My pens of choice are a set of Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph technical pens. They're anywhere from a little pricey to exorbitant depending on where you buy them and if they're on sale... and the really fine-line pens need to be used often or drained out, otherwise the ink dries in them and turns them into expensive darts. Many webcomic artists prefer a nice set of disposable Pigma Micron pens or Staedtler Pigment Liner pens, which have archival-quality ink in them and so shouldn't fade even after many years. I started with these, and occasionally use them when I travel (I don't travel with the Rapidographs). For coloring by hand (which I'm not covering here) you have dozens of options. Colored pencils, watercolors, and markers seem to be the most popular choices, but this is really a personal decision. Try them all and pick what you like. I usually color digitally, which will be covered in an upcoming tutorial.

(Note: as I mentioned above, I've seen people use sharpie markers to do the artwork. I've done this myself. Sharpies however are not archival quality ink, and do not stand up to the ravages of age. I also find that even on high-quality paper, the lines they leave behind look sloppy. If you want your images to last a long time and look crisp, use a pen that contains archival ink. They're not much more expensive than sharpies, and they'll look better.)

I don't use white-out or white liners to fix mistakes, because I can do that on the computer. When I work with all of my artist pencils, erasers fix mistakes. When I use charcoal, kneaded erasers are actually useful here. When I use colored pencils... well, try not to make mistakes. I haven't found anything good for that yet.
Thanks for this information mate, has really helped me with my web comic project. <br>I think I will be looking at getting some rapidograph pens. Very thorough instructable. Great Job.
though it is good to buy recycled sketch paper, it really is not the best.Normal, un recycled sketch paper is much better in terms of pencil drawing that is,not so much pen.this comment may have been pointless but it's a heads up for artists that use sketch pencils.
&nbsp;at amazon a set like you'rs, i found costs about $100.00.<br /> <br /> do normal pens work? i want to try this out without hurting my wallet, any ideas??<br />
Depends what you want to try.&nbsp; If you just want to try drawing, go to an art supply store and get a set of disposable pens, like pigma microns or staedtler pigment liners.&nbsp; They're much less expensive at $3 or $4 a pen individually, and a little cheaper per if you buy a set (usually they come in sets of 4 or 6 different widths).&nbsp; These are really convenient too as there's no cleaning or refilling, and you can't really damage them unless you just press too hard when you draw.<br /> <br /> Enjoy!<br />
And $100 sounds about right for that particular set of Rapidographs, even at a retail art store.&nbsp; Shop around or get coupons from the Sunday newspaper.<br />
if you take the nibs and get a jewelry "cleaner" i get mine resale for about 2 bucks they basically vibrate, put the nib in it with water or cleaning solution let it soak and vibrate alternately sometimes you can rescue them, it takes patience though.
Try out an Ames Lettering Guide. The decent art supplies stores usually have them. It's a little piece of plastic, costs about five bucks. All it does is help you put in the guidelines for lettering -- but it does so very well.
I do a lot of ink and wash work with fountain pens and rapidograph pens. Get yourself a sonic jewelry cleaner and some ammonia. I've soaked nibs for as long as 35 minutes if they're totally jammed (picked up a set at a flea market for $1). Just don't try to force them. Rinse very very well and dry very very well. I vastly prefer Platinum Carbon Black and a Manga nib on an Ackerman Pump pen these days--but I still pull out the rapidograph pens for the really super fine lines.
Cool, will have to try this. Thanks for the comment!
Another trick to avoid the 'ink trap' is putting masking tape over the edge of the ruler.
If you like this, check out my forum topic with some of my doodles/cartoons, scanned and imported, then vectorised &amp; coloured using inkscape. Hope you like them. <a href="http://www.instructables.com/community/Cartoons/">http://www.instructables.com/community/Cartoons/</a><br/>Thanks<br/>
Very nice! My next instructable will have more detailed info on scanning, cleaning and coloring images using a bitmap image program, but soon as I learn more about vectoring artwork I'll do an instructable on that. With both XaraLX and Inkscape it doesn't seem too difficult.
Thanks! I'm glad you like them. Yes, please do. Vectorising drawings is very good way to increase the quality and is very easy once you know the process. Do you use XaraLX/Inkscape? I use inscape but i am unfamiliar with XaraLX. How fo they compare?
I just had to say that I appreciate the "Chasing Amy" reference (I'm not a TRACER). I enjoyed the tutorial, very well done.
When your drawing and the ink is still wet, do you find sometimes its gets smudged by your pinkie? It happens all the time to me cos my left hand rubs over the fresh ink when im writing
It would if I drew left to right. Knowing that the ink will smudge, I draw from right to left across the page so I never have to move my hand across a wet ink line. I sometimes have to rotate the pad to get around wet spots if I miss something. The one exception is lettering. I'll letter frames bottom to top, right to left but I write text in the normal direction so I letter slowly and in chunks so that the ink dries before my hand crosses over. Generally I smudge the pencil a lot worse than ink.
Your guide has helped me immensely as I pursue my dream of creating my own manga! I understand not having enough time in a day, but I am still eagerly awaiting your scanning guide! Best of luck.
I have created a fairly easy to use online comic script. I would be happy to share it. It is basically an instant comic site. There is a plain black and white layout that can be customised with a little html knloedge. What do you think?
If you mean a script to build the website for a web comic, it sounds neat. There are any number of scripts like this from the simple to the insane, popular ones are KeenLite, or the very successful ComicPress theme for WordPress. I hadn't thought about a tutorial after the second part to address setting up a website, but I suppose I could address those concepts as well. Thanks!
Not a problem. The one I made was aimed at managing the content rather then creating the site. The image info (title, caption, filename, ect.) are stored in a file. The main page reads this and decided on the image to show.<br/><br/>I have a basic sample set up here: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://col-test.100webcustomers.com/comic.php">http://col-test.100webcustomers.com/comic.php</a><br/><br/>That has no layout it is just the base program.<br/>
Thanks for this. I just joined Instructables so I could favorite this. Looking forward to the scanning and coloring.
Well thanks, I'm honored! I am looking forward to the scanning and coloring too, I wonder when the author will get aro.... Oh, right. Say, has anyone figured out how to fit 26 hours in a day? :)
awesome comics :D
Great Instructable. I've always wanted to make a comic. Even a very basic one just to help improve my poor drawing skills. Maybe later I'll sit down and start designing characters. Cheers

About This Instructable


120 favorites


Bio: I am a graphic art hobbyist, web cartoonist, and wannabe electronics hobbyist. Other hobbies: cooking, baking, exercise, computers, video games, trivia, and some more I ... More »
More by technosapien: 3D Clips For Prescription Glasses Home-made Kale Chips Create a PDF (from ANYTHING!)
Add instructable to: