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Things to Keep in Mind When Penciling Your Comic

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

After a brief respite from working on my webcomic, the time has come. I've started penciling the next chapter of Tujec, my visual story/webcomic.

Sneak peek of penciled page one, Tujec

A teeny sneaky peeky at page one.

However, as I've begun to dip my toes in the water, I've remembered rather suddenly that this is my least favorite part of the process. I'm sure some people can pull comic pages out of thin air like they were born to do it.

I, however, am not one of these people. In my quest to make this process as simple as possible, I have journeyed to the You of the Tube archive to consult with the masters of this practice and perhaps glean some of their wisdom. I am but a novice, but I will share with you some of the techniques which I have found to be the most useful this week.

Other Artists' Process

Mark Crilley, Children's Manga Author and Illustrator

Mostly, I spent my time familiarizing myself with other artists' processes. I watched videos created by digital artists and by traditional artists. Mark Crilley's process is the one I clicked the most with.

I actually hate creating a million thumbnails. So his process that consists of script, really rough sketch, slightly less rough sketch, and then clean pencil work on intended paper really appeals to me.

He also talks about laying out narration bubbles in a way that leads the viewer's eye through the layout of the page.

Richard Bennett Lamas, Penciled and Inked the Cyberad Series for Continuity Comics

This guy is a true magician. He just starts roughing out his page from the get go. His process seems to be mostly fueled by years of practice creating comic art. He off-the-cuffs it in this video. Though, perhaps there was some planning off-screen?

He demonstrates how design elements in each each frame should flow into the next, naturally leading the comic reader's eye through the page.

He also speaks about the importance of font in creating sound in the reader's head, i.e. a robot dialogue bubble using a Harsher font compared to the regular dialogue.

Ursula Gray, Comic Artist

I had to include my favorite comic-creating guru. This woman has all of the words of wisdom and encouragement to share on the YouTube channel she manages with her co-creator/writer Bones McKay. She discusses the importance of making dialogue-heavy panels more interesting and visually compelling.

Her top tip? Bring the drama to the frame with dynamic paneling and emotive, gesticulating characters.

My Process

After consulting the archives of the You of the Tube, I started scripting and planning panels at the same time. I knew what was going to happen in the next chapter and I knew that I wanted my page layouts to be a little cleaner than the prologue I just completed.

With that in mind, I revisited this book.

DragonAge, Magekiller

I like the panel composition in this book. So, I studied some of the pages and used them for inspiration as I planned the layout of my next chapter. When I felt adequately inspired, I pulled out my notebook and planned out how many panels I wanted on each page. Then, it was time to consult the book again.

For example, the page pictured at the top of this blog has four panels. I flipped through the Dragon Age book, found a page layout with four panels that I thought might be effective, and then recreated the frame layout on my own page.

I'm new at this. That means I'm limited. I love storytelling and I love artmaking; however, comics aren't something that I grew up reading or studying. So, I kind of feel like I'm making up for lost time while also trying to create regularly.

I hope sharing my experience and my process with you helps you in your own journey of creation.

As always, I'm available to answer any of your art-related questions on Instagram @msrmcgaughey.

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