This looks like it might come in handy:

Artists! Gain incredible superpowers…with the help of your computer! The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics shows how to give up pencil, pen, and paper and start drawing dynamic, exciting comics art entirely on the computer. Author Freddie E Williams II is one of DC Comics’ hottest artists and a leader in digital penciling and inking—and here, in clear, step-by-step directions, he guides readers through every part of the digital process, from turning on the computer to finishing a digital file of fully inked comic art, ready for print. Creating a template, sketching on the computer, pencilling, and finally inking digitally are all covered in depth, along with bold, time saving shortcuts created by Williams, tested by years of trial and error. Step into the digital age, streamline the drawing process, and leap over the limitations of mere physical drawing materials with The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics.

On my Facebook page, Dean Olson wonders why I can’t just digitally ink my pencils and save lots of time. There is a function called Live Trace, and if Live Trace can trace, can’t it just trace my pencils and save me the hassle of inking?


I don’t do full pencils anymore and haven’t since sometime in 2003. I only do full pencils when I am inked by other artists and I don’t let other artists ink me anymore.

There’s a term “think in ink” which refers to people like me who draw directly in ink without tight pencils.

Not only is Live Trace kind of dicey for getting a clean, finished line suitable for using in a comic, but there would be nothing of my pencils to trace. I sketch in perspective lines and loose figure drawings, and that is about it. On a very complicated page, I may do a portion of architectural rendering, allowing the lines of the buildings on one half of the drawing to sit in for the perspective grid on the other half. Since some of the paper I use is opaque, I can’t sit my paper on a light table over a perspective grid. So, I have to make sure my perspective lines are solid early on in the process.

I could scan some of my doodles and pop them up here and say “I ink directly from that”, but then you might not believe me anyway.

It takes longer to do an architectural rendering in pencil tight enough to be suitable for the live trace feature than it would for me to just do the drawing in ink in the first place.

Sometimes as I go along on a page, I realize I need more guidelines and do some more sketching before final inking. But I conceptualize most things in my head. Composition is taken care of in the thumbnails.

I work with Deleter Neo-Piko Line2 markers, which are lightfast and waterproof, and started using the Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen about two weeks ago, which uses real India Ink. The Faber Castell pens have a slight chisel point which I don’t like quite as much, but if the ever come out with a very fine point to match the Neo-Piko Line2 .03, I will dump Deleter. They are hard to get, expensive and wear out fairly quickly. I buy out the inventory of every supplier I find.

Some Faber Castell pens also come with a brush tip. Since that is India Ink in there, you can travel with your work and leave the jars of ink at home.

I used to use nothing but crowquills. But there is no advantage to them, as they are messier and harder to handle, and don’t travel well. Sealed, brand new jars of ink leak while on planes, and my favorite pen tips are no longer being manufactured. The Japanese tips are OK, but there was a Hunt point I preferred I can’t find anymore.

I doubt I will ever completely switch to computer inking, and not all things computer are better. No original art, obviously. And I don’t find inking figures on a computer is any faster than by hand.

I have never seen anyone pull off the inking technique on computer I am using on Gone to Amerikay. The A Distant Soil technique has less fine rendering, so that’s something I could do on computer if I wanted, but no. There’s too much value in the original art, and those sales finance the book.

Backgrounds are easier on computer, but I haven’t mastered them yet. I don’t think a lot of other people using the computer have mastered them either: generic and characterless.

A simple computer drawing aid that can’t be beat: perspective lines.

I use my computer to make grids. I print them out as needed and save the ones I have already used for other shots. I plop them on a lightbox and start drawing right on top of them. It’s wonderful to not have draw orthogonal lines, or to suss out the spacing and worry about my cone of vision. I can choose an angle, manipulate it a bit, print it out, and there it is. I don’t even have to worry about my page slipping and losing my vanishing point, which is often somewhere on the other side of the drawing table.

Even if I eventually learn to do everything on computer with ease, I will not give up original art entirely.

I spoke with a very well known illustrator the other day who mentioned that cheap computer art has driven down the rates paid to many artists. The only real money she makes now is on the sale of her spectacular originals. But a bad economy has scared away many of her collectors. I have one of her drawings, but can’t afford her paintings. Her oil glazing technique is magical.

All these how-to posts have brought several publishers to my door, wanting more how-to books from me. That’s nice. But not now. And they really need to add another zero to that check. Just sayin’.

Also, my art auctions continue on ebay. Sandman, Tori Amos, A Distant Soil, more. I will continue to sell art for a few more weeks, and then it’s back to the vaults.