BOYTOONS MAGAZINE #22 – STEP BY STEP!

Today, I thought I might do a little something different. A few of you have expressed an interest in how I conceptualize a comic page. Soooo, I enlisted the help of Cam, Locus and Felicia in order to put together a little demonstration for you, using a page from “The Gift”, which appeared in the Camili-Cat 20th Anniversary Special!

STEP #0 – THE SCRIPT:

Obviously, the script is a very good place to start! But it might interest you to know that I don’t always have a script before I put pencil to paper. Sometimes I see a story in my brain, and am just compelled to draw what I am imagining. 99% of the time those images translate into pencils and I just continue on from there, making the story up as I go. Some characters are okay with that, like Locus for example, and even Cam from time to time… but with characters like Naked Justice of the Callboys of the SG Corp., I prefer to map out my ideas in script format before I start drawing.

My scripts tend to be pretty loose if I am drawing the story myself. If I am writing for another artist, then I like to “direct” a bit more, and give a general idea of what I am seeing and how the action should flow and be laid out. However, a good scripter should be willing to let his artist breathe and have the chance to be creative. It is important that the person creating the art have the opportunity to give it their own flavor.

STEP #1 – THE CONCEPT SKETCH:

…also known as “those shitty little thumbnails!” LOL!!! These little guys are never very big, nor are they very detailed, nor are they even remotely pretty to look at. But they are a road map of sorts to help the artist on his or her way to the pencils.

Again, I don’t always draw these little guys as it all depends on whether I skip the script page or not. But I have found that these sketches can be very helpful, and are a great place to start an illustration. So much has to go into a single page of sequential art. These sketches help to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

I don’t always respect the angles or the flow of the action the way I initially sketch it out. Once I start on pencils, I sometimes realize that things work better when done somewhat differently. It really all depends on the mood I am in, and the story I am working on.

When I script for other artists, I will occasionally provide concept sketches, so that they may get a better idea of what I am envisioning.

STEP #2 – THE PENCILS:

I love penciling. So much life, spontaneity and fluidity comes through in the pencils, and sometimes you can lose that a little in the inks. That’s why as a rule, I try to make high resolution scans of all my penciled art, since once it is inked over, the pencils are gone for good.

My pencils can be really tight, or really loose. Since I ink my own work, and mostly because I have never found an inker to my satisfaction (I don’t mean to sound snotty here… I am just very particular and like really clean and smooth inks!) I often opt to put in the major details in the inks stage. The pencils then feel more like the “skeletons” of the final art, and the inks embellish and evolve overtop.

For example, I almost NEVER pencil Cam’s stripes on his body. I always just ink them in. It’s little tricks like that, that once you are comfortable with, can save you a great deal of time in the penciling stage. And trust me… if you are working on several projects at once, a few healthy shortcuts are a good thing…providing they do not adversely affect your art work!

STEP #3 – THE INKS:

Inking is a necessity for me, given the sometimes looseness of my pencils. Today, you can find comics in which the art has not been inked, but colors have simply been added overtop the pencils. It’s a very nice look, but I guess I am just too old fashioned and set in my ways to do that on my stuff. Besides, inks can be a real joy!

I find it important to take breaks between panels. Inking is a very precise task, and I find my wrist, hand and arm can get very sore if I don’t break things up a bit.

I don’t use brushes, never have. I favor drafting pens like the Micron or Pigma series, mostly because they are so precise and handle very well. Believe it or not, Sharpies are great to fill in thick solids and shadows and stuff.

The inks on this page were fairly light, but because of this had to be very precise and clean. I added a lot more cum in the inks stage in order to give the impression that Cam had been shooting for a good long while. As I mentioned above, I inked Cam’s stripes directly into the image, and did not pencil them in first. Since my background was also pretty simple, I inked that in directly as well, no pencils.

I love the look of the final inks. They seem more “comic book art” than any penciled of colored page to me for some reason. Maybe it’s because they are really the point where a project starts to come together. Either way, a finished inked page of sequential art always leaves me feeling very satisfied…like I’ve actually accomplished something in my day.
I don’t get that when I pencil, because in my mind it is an unfinished stage. Inks can stand up on their own.

STEP #4 – THE COLORS:

I used to color a whole lot more stuff, but nowadays at Class, there are so many projects going on at once, we have had to hire professional colorists to take some of the load off. It was a great move on our part I think, and we have been very lucky to find such talented folks to color for us.

This page was colored by Pete Ramsey. When making color notes for the colorists, there are two things I try to insist on. The first is that the characters always be colored according to their official color palette, and the second that the pages flow and have good color continuity. I like to give only minimal direction, indicating if there is a precise light source in the scene, or if a character is wearing a garment of a specific color (although since most of my characters are usually naked, I don’t get to give directions on that very often! LOL!).

When I color something myself, I always use PhotoShop, as it is just an amazing program that has so many wonderful tools. I don’t really color stuff by hand anymore, as computer coloring is just so much more flexible and versatile.

STEP #5 – LETTERING AND PRE-PRESS:

Once your page is fully colored, you are ready to finish it off. Fraser does all the lettering here at Class, and does it mostly in PhotoShop.

Once everything has been layered, the comics are then laid out in PageMaker or InDesign, at which point they are ready to be handed over to the Printers.

So, when looking at a comic book, one can glance over a page pretty quickly, but it always amazes me just how much work and effort, not to mention LOVE that actually goes into creating it. Personally, I can think of nothing else on Earth that I would rather be doing.

Comments

  1. Hello Patrick,

    thank You soooo very much: You posted something as highly interesting as incredibly sexy: My favorite Cam-page to this day =D

    I think it’s awesome not only to see how You turn a concept into a “real” comic page but also how much You stay true to Your initial idea. I know there are artists who change their concepts and ideas while “fleshing” them out (hahaha, pun intended!).

    It is extremely interesting to see Your workflow and I am eternally thankful for that, Patrick.

    Cam rocks and will always be No. 1 (with Lanor!) in my book! Thanks for being awesome again!! =D

  2. Charvolth says

    Thanks for the insight to the creative process. I’m always inpressed with the color work.
    Was there any real training to use photoshop for coloring, I’m curious and was thinking of getting it myself, granted I need to deal with a slew of ‘slight’ technical issues first, like backround design and, shading (LOL).
    Thanks also for the cover, i was curious about that pic of Cam since you used it on the sidebar of your website.

  3. Thanks for the post! Definitely something really interesting and different to check out. It’s just kinda nice to see how it all comes together.

  4. Asmodeus says

    Oh my god! You’re here! The Patrick Fillion! I can’t believe it!

    To be honest my fan boy screaming is actually quite premature, since I never completely read even one of your comic issues; partly because I’m based in the Philippines; mostly because I don’t have a credit card. Yes, sad truth it is. But still, you’re awesome. You’re like my idol. Hahaha! :)

    Since, you’re here, time to come clean, I just want to tell you that I borrowed two of your character bios and posted them here in my blog. I made this other blog (still quite new) to link the best yaoi and gay artists in the web, and to post some of my works as well. Yeah, your link’s there. I hope you’re not mad about the two pictures.

    Anyway, its really nice you’re here. Interesting guide you’ve got. And I love the wallpapers. Especially the Heroes In Peril wallpaper series. I change mine everyday. Haha! Good luck on your next issues, and more power. (Not that you need it. I mean you’re quite big already. You’ve reached the other side of the world!)

    PS: About the step on coloring – I’ve been meaning to ask you. How do you color smoothly in Adobe? Sorry, I don’t have a manual. I do everything by trial and error.

  5. I opened each step in different tabs in my browser after reading the article and clicking back and forth from the pencils to the inks is really fun.

    It’s always great to see an artist’s process. I’m really amazed at your inks step– since it seems like that’s where most of your style comes through. Before u showed us this, I was almost certain you used a program to make such smooth, precise inks– something like Adobe Streamline or Illustrator. Now I see that it’s just that u have an incredibly steady hand. Microns are a friggin’ godsend.

    BTW, Felicia is so beautiful nude! And I love the way you draw her hair!

  6. MJR Charlie says

    I love your step by step for comic creations Patrick.
    I always find in comics and any drawing, the pencil stage is the moment when it truely comes to life, because the draft stage is transfering your ideas to paper just as a means to see what it will look like.

    Also your right about other artists not using the inking stage like they used to. Its a classic comic tool and its what gives a drawing that comic book look.
    Well I do think computers can give comics a new look with thinks you could never do before, I use my p.c tools to colour and shade all mine drawings in, its a shame they use it for every detail.

    I have to admit, it does feel better seeing your work in colour, adding depth to the artwork. Still, I’d buy your comics even if you didn’t have an art team to draw them, its not about the colour, its the characters I love most.

  7. Good Morning Fellas…

    Thanks so much for the awesome comments. I was a bit afraid that this post might be a bit boring compared to some of my previous ones, so I am really pleased to see you all enjoyed it so much! :oD

    Phrog… I’m glad I could chose one of your favorite Cam pages as my little example! I love this page too, and I think it’s Cam’s butt that does it for me! HA! HA! HA! As I mentioned before, that is one of my favorite poses to draw, and I was really happy with how it turned out here. Plus Pete did such a great job coloring it! Glad liked the post… I’ll be sure to have some Lanor stuff for you to enjoy here very soon!

    Charvolth… Pleased you liked the cover image of Cam. There’s actually a great deal more to that particular drawing, but it is for a possible up-coming Cam project…so I am gonna be a big tease and only share this one tiny piece of it for now! LOL!!!

    Meanwhile, PhotoShop is a great tool! I personally never had any formal training, but I took a couple of crash lessons with my friend Isabelle, who is a WICKED graphic Designer. It wouldn’t hurt just to learn the basics from someone who know s the program well. Then, have at it and just play around and experiment! That’s how I evolved my technique.

    You can also check out a book recently published by Publishers Watson-Guptil called “The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics”. It’s a great book that has tons of tricks and techniques.

    TJ… Glad you liked seeing the steps involved in creating a page. Thanks for taking the time to write, you sweetie! :)

    Asmodeus, welcome to my little Blog! And thanks for taking the time to write. I would love to check your Blog out, but can’t seem to access it from your profile. If you get the chance, maybe you could post a link to it here in the comments section.

    As long as you have credited me for my work, I am okay with a few items being posted on your Blog. It sounds like you’ve put a really cool thing together, so I’d love to take a look…as I’m sure a lot of the people who read BTM would!

    On the PhotoShop advice, I mentioned to Charvolth up above a few tricks and a book that might help you out in learning the program. I found them quite useful myself. Check it out and see if helps! Thanks again for taking the time to write.

    JC… Glad you liked the post! You did what Fraser and I call magic… when we click from one image to the next and see the progression come to life! HA! HA! HA! It’s always really fun!

    I am very flattered that you find my inks so smooth. I have always really enjoyed inking as a necessity and an art-form, but I have to admit there are times I wish I had a way around it. I’ve never tried the programs you mentioned, but would be curious to take a look at them at some point. It might really help to save time.

    Glad you like Felicia. She’s a big-time favorite of mine, and I ADORE drawing her…ESPECIALLY her hair! I’ll try to have more of her to show you here in the next little while!

    Charlie, thanks for the really sweet words! I am glad you enjoyed this posting and had fun seeing the progression of a page. I have to confess, having gone to color on the books, I’d have a really hard time going back. It just makes them so alive. If only the printing of color weren’t so BLOODY expensive! HA! HA! HA! Still, some things are worth it!

    I also agree with you that computers can do some really cool stuff, but in the end it’s the human talent that makes all the difference. An artist still ahs to have talent in order to make a computer do beautiful thinks… but I too will always prefer the “silver age” look of comics, coupled with great new coloring techniques.

    These days a lot of artists seem to rely on the colorists to make their work look great, so they seem to cheap out in the detail department. That is a real shame, because I think that art should be able to carry the stories, and colorists should have the opportunity to underline the art with their work.

    Ah well, I guess I just need to evolve with the rest of the world! LOL!!!

    Thank you all for your comments! Big Hugz and Kisses to each and every one of you!
    Patrick XOXOXO

  8. Thank you Patrick for your little demo. One of these days, when I have the time, I’d like to show folks how I draw images, too… since all of my work is done on the computer, from concept to pencil to ink and coloring, and often a little bit of help from my 3D-models that I’ve built. When I ink on paper, I most often use nibs and brushes, I have a very steady hand! But the software ComicWorks (English version Manga Studio, US $299) works VERY well with the Wacom tablet to straighten your lines and make your work very “clean” in preparation for coloring. Photoshop is probably my least favorite program for coloring (although I am very good with it); I prefer to color in Flash or ComicWorks, which gives a more sharply defined shadow. Of course, it’s all personal preference; no two artists do everything the same way, and I think that helps emphasize the point that the ends justify the means. There really is no “wrong” way to do it!

  9. Patrick,
    Thank you for your amazing blog. It is one of my first stops every morning. Want to thank you especially for your insights into your creative process’. It really is great to see how it goes from idea, through concept to finished article. And f…… sexy finished article at that!!!!!!.
    Tim

  10. Hiya Spubba…

    I would LOVE to see how you create your amazing art! I suck so bad at computers for the most-part, it is hard for me to imagine ever comprehending a program enough to create art as wonderful as you do! I consider you a true master (as you know! Hee-Hee-Hee!!!) and am completely fascinated by your technique.

    You manage such an “organic” feeling to your work that you rarely see in comic art today. It is a proud thing for me indeed to get to scream at the top of my lungs “SPUBBA HAS JOINED CLASS COMICS!!!!” HA! HA! HA!

    It was also very cool to read about the tools of your trade. And as you said, there is no right or wrong way of doing things at all, and it really should be all about what works for the individual artist!

    Thanks for taking the time to share all of this with us. You are THE BEST!!!!

    Your eternal Fanboy,
    Patrick XOXOX

  11. Hiya Timldn…

    Great to hear form you! I am so pleased you enjoy my little Blog and that I can help you “get up” in the morning! LOL!!! It is really wonderful to see that I am doing this for a good reason, and that you guys are really into it all!

    Glad you liked my little step by step demo. It was fun to put together! I just love drawing Cam in that pose, and it’s great to know his assets are well appreciated! HA! HA! HA!

    Thanks again for the kind words and for taking the time to write, my friend!

    All the best,
    Patrick XOXO

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