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The Process - Part Two!

0 Ish Good!

Note: Be sure to check out Part One of this series here.

Welcome to Part Deux of our comic-making process "tutorial".

Again, I stress that this is just how KS and I work - We've found that these materials work best for us through trial and error. However, although we may love these materials, you may think otherwise. So! Find what works best for you! As I always say, it's not the tool that makes the artist - but the artist themself.

Kitsy's Tools of the Trade
Kitsy's Tools of the Trade

As you can see, these are my basic drawing tools. I have 2 bottles of ink. I decanted my Higgins ink into the glass airbrush bottle for fear of tipping over the plastic bottle. The Speedball ink is KS's ink of choice. I usually have a couple erasers handy at all time (in addition to my electric eraser), multiple sharpened blue pencils for final undersketches, my Saji dip pen, and a mechanical pencil for my rough drafts. I also like to use erasable light blue mechanical pencil lead, but it seems to be in short supply everywhere outside of Japan. T_T

On to the process!

The Rough DraftsThrough much trial and tribulation, one thing I have learned about comics and continuity is making certain that everything is plotted out before drawing on the final paper. When KS and I first started nemu*nemu, we sort of drew things as ideas came up. It was good to just get ideas going, but it was not so good for continuity. Because 4-koma can be self-contained within the 4 panels or continue on a larger thought/theme, I got stuck numerous times with ideas that didn't make sense or didn't contribute to the overall story. This meant I would have to go back, fix dialogue, character positioning, or change the whole punchline all together. Backtracking = Not Good.

So to save myself the hassle, I jot down strip ideas in a notebook I carry with me almost always and plot out strips in sets of 12 (= 1 chapter/1 month) in a composition book - as pictured. This allows me to thinking about dialogue, the overall story and flow. Once I'm relatively comfortable with the thumbnails, I work on a larger paper to work out placement of dialogue, characters, and expression. Honestly, it does take more time to do, but the end result is much more satisfying to me. :D

The start of the final sheets I work on 14x17" Strathmore 2-ply vellum finish Bristol board - 3 strips on one page. One thing many people don't realize is that comics are next to *never* drawn at the size they are printed. Working larger allows me to draw much cleaner with more details (if needed). It also helps KS during the clean-up and toning.

Note: Be sure to read the kind of media the paper can handle! There are so many choices and they are not all the same. Some may cause the ink to bleed or not adhere. KS and I experimented with a different types of bristol board and found this type is the best. The vellum finish 2-ply boards may be a little more expensive, but for archival purposes, it stands the test of time.

I sketch in the panel boxes with a template we made earlier to save me time from measuring and drawing all the boxes. They also don't have to be "perfect" because we do a lot of adjustments on the computer.

The Blue Roughs
So, as you can see, the panels are all drawn with light blue lead so I can later ink over them. If I make noticeable mistakes, I usually redraw the panel or the entire strip. Tedious? Yes. Frustrating? Yes... but sucking it up for a better finished product makes the effort worthwhile! Thankfully, I have a handy-dandy lightbox for fix-up tracing. It has saved me a number of times already within the past month!

Oftentimes we draw our backgrounds (and sometimes effects) on seperate paper/bristol board so we can merge them into the panels via the computer- especially if they are repeated multiple times over or are complex/detailed.

Once done with inking in the characters and have a mock-up of the background, I pass the strips on to KS!

Part III: Clean up and Finishing Touches! Onward!

Share your thoughts

11 Replies

  • Sakuya

    This guide is becoming very helpful. :] It must be really efficient to have a helper you can depend on. I want one too. T_T By the way, what is that pink thing in the first picture?

  • KyubiKitsy

    That is a kadokeshi 28-corner eraser! I found it at Hakubundo a couple months ago~ It has lots of corners and edges for somewhat precision erasing. They are sold in packs of 2 (smaller pink and blue ones) and 1 larger version. ^^

    Hakubundo also sells lots of Mono erasers as well~ :D

    And yes! Having a reliable helper/assistant/partner like KS makes things soooo much easier!

  • bittenbefore

    OMG may i ask where u got the yotsuba toy?

  • kimonostereo

    Yotsuba was won in an auction about 2 years ago on Yahoo Auctions Japan. She isn't too hard to come by back then but probably is a little expensive now. I believe the figure was a mail away item for a select few who pre-ordered よつばと! first issue in Japan.

    Yotsuba isn't like normal gashapon as she has rotating and bendable limbs that allow her to site or pose just about anywhere! The figure came in a large brown box that says "Yotsuba In Action".

  • Sakuya

    Nice studio. Did you guys actually rented a studio or is it someone's room? :D So cool, you guys work very professionally so keep it up!

  • Sakuya

    Woops, I forgot to put just now: how exactly does an "electric eraser" work? ^^" I've never heard of one until now.

  • KyubiKitsy

    Our studio is actually KS's living room! We moved out all the other furniture that was taking up too much space and set up the twin desks.
    As for the electric eraser, it's just a small nub eraser that spins quickly so you can erase tiny areas without rubbing. I think they're used more in drafting-type jobs, like architects.

  • klaf

    ooo~ i'm working on the bases of a manga too but... its not on paper yets xD. I was wondering, though, what a lightbox was. Can you elaborate please? :)

  • kimonostereo

    Hey there! A lightbox is simply a box with a lightbulb of some type inside. The top of the box is usually glass or translucent plastic that allows you to shine light through multiple layers of paper to aid in tracing. Kitsy usually uses this just to get positioning from either a rough sketch or a repeating layout.

    They sell small cheap ones at local hobby and art stores. Take a look and you'll find um. I suggest getting the largest one you can afford. Too small and it makes it hard to trace larger drawings.

    Good luck on your manga too!

  • FurikakeH-A-P-P-Y

    I can't believe I'd find my favorite Manga character (besides Nemu-Nemu...) in your office!!!

  • nemu*nemu fan(:

    i <3 <3 <3 ur art! i am working on the bases of chibi style right now, and i was wondering where i could get erasable light blue mechanical pencil lead???