Digital Comic Cover Process in Six Steps

Hey, YOU! (With apologies to Chuck the Security Guard).

I haven’t really posted anything textual in a while and I thought you might like to see how the issue one cover was made.

I was trained in classical animation and had the chance to go into what they called “3D Animation” at the time, but being the luddite I once was, I said, “Ha! Those computers are just a fad. I will NEVER draw on one, that’s for damn sure.”

(Hats don’t really taste all that bad if you put a lot of ketchup on them, by the way.)

Anyway, eventually, I got into the online world of design and advertising and here I am doing the entire first issue of Chicken Outfit on my Mac. I didn’t think I’d like it – or perhaps this machine would somehow compromise the sketchy, rough style and ink spatters I’ve grown accustomed to. I am humbled to say there are many applications and techniques that deliver on the promise of saving time and I am quite happy with the results. In fact, the art is barely indistinguishable from my paper work. I am even going to go as far to say that my work is somewhat enhanced by the tools I now use. (chomp, chomp…gulp).

So, here’s the first cover and of course, there were many steps in between the four I’ve shown, but I’ll give a brief description of the tools and process behind putting the first issue image together. I’ve only put the six steps in and yes, it looks kind of like those “how to draw” sheets where panel one is a box and by panel three it’s a fully developed hot-rod, but hope you enjoy regardless.

1. First I sketch out everything in ArtRage, a great drawing app that has versions for iOS, Desktop Macs and even PowerPC (which is what I am still using for this project). It’s a really great program and I’ve tried most of the drawing apps out there; this one does comics justice, in my opinion.

2. Once I’m happy with the layout, I begin to “ink” it.

3. After the final inking is complete, I fix up any errors and sometimes redraw things I’m not happy with to ready it for export.

4. I know ArtRage has many great tools for painting, but thanks to my PowerPC (speed concerns) and my time and patience for learning new major apps, I prefer to export and paint in Photoshop instead. I have more experience with it anyway.

I’ll try out the masthead and various other elements to make sure everything fits and is pleasing to the eye before commencing.

5. I’ll then start to paint each layered element, under the ink line layer, tweaking as I go along by moving each element I’ve pre-planned to fit with the title and text. (Like the wee “bat-phone” in the top left.

6. Finally, we have a finished cover. I won’t bore you with the details of DPI, measurements, bleeds and the like, I just thought I’d post this as it is quite involved and not as messy and rough as paper and pen. I’m definitely a convert for creating comics digitally. I do sometimes miss the old ways, but find this to be more exciting and am convinced that I haven’t compromised anything in the process.

Last thing; I had the misfortune once of overwriting a finished panel once and if you don’t want to tear your hair out and lose your mind, I suggest you back-up multiple times.

Thanks for visiting.