by Caleb Goellner

How a Comic Book Cover Gets Made

Ever wonder how comics are made? Well you're in luck because we're working with some of the raddest talent in the business to release one! It's a 32-page anthology called Pressure/Sensitivity with stories from Meredith Gran, Ming Doyle, Giannis Milonogiannis and one more artist to-be-announced. While the creators are hard at work on their pages for the comic's January 2015 release, we've put together a special tutorial showing you how pros generally get from point A to point Z on a comic cover. In other words, we made Pressure/Sensitivity cover artist Ulises Farinas (Gamma, Judge Dredd: Mega City Two) and colorist Ryan Hill (Terrible Lizard, Stumptown) pose for a bunch of photos.

Here we go!

 

1. Get Your Assignment

Our intrepid artist begins his day by not only checking his e-mail, but also responding to it (Note: Editors LOVE that)! Here, he's been tasked with illustrating a comic book cover. After a little negotiating and art direction, he's set to start work.

 

2. Thumbnail Some Ideas

Before he begins working to breathe his masterpiece into life, Ulises sketches out some composition ideas at a smaller "thumbnail" scale. This helps him work through early ideas and get his best image possible. Ulises usually prefers to just get things right the first time, though.

 

3. Pencils

Once he's planned a design, Ulises gets to work penciling his page. He starts off by cutting a piece of Bristol board to size and then breaks out a ruler or two and goes to town with a standard pencil.

 

4. Inks

Using a steel nib pen and ink, Ulises goes over his pencils for fully-rendered linework. He keeps his pen clear with water and a towel. He keeps his mind clear with episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix.

 

5. Scan it in

Once Ulises wraps up his inks, he places his completed artwork on a flatbed scanner. From his laptop, he summons the pixelated version of his art.

 

6. Make Corrections

With his art freshly digitized, uses his Cintiq to make corrections to his inked art in Adobe Photoshop. At this stage he can erase stray marks, add details he'd forgotten or outright replace portions of his work with digital lines if needed.

 

7. Send it to your Collaborators

Some comic book artists handle every aspect of a page -- everything from pencils to inks, and colors to lettering. Here, Ulises is handing off his inked cover to Ryan to make it pop with his brand of vivid colorization. Since it's a digital file, he could just e-mail it or a cloud service, but he's chosen to zap it from his Cintiq to Ryan's Cintiq Companion via magic. We think.

 

8. Flatting

Ryan begins his coloring process by separating Ulises' linework from its white background. After that step, he begins coloring his page with basic -- or flat -- colors. It's the digital equivalent of what most people think of when they think of "coloring," and essentially means filling all inked figures and backgrounds with one shade of a color. Just be sure to color underneath those black lines! In most cases, each color is saved in a different layer so it can be adjusted on the fly. Sometimes the colorist works with another colorist who specializes in this task called a "flatter," to save time and focus on the more detailed or time-consuming aspect of the work...

 

9. More Colors

With flat color in place highlights, shadows, color holds and other more sophisticated layers of color get added to the mix. Sometimes it's as simple as adding one or two more layers of flat color. Other times an artist recolors the linework itself and adds color effects for things like lasers and auras. Coloring is different from project to project, but a talent like Ryan works with his artist collaborators to reach a page's full potential.

 

10. Editor Comes and Nods Approvingly

Here Caleb nods approvingly at the awesome work done by this fine creative team. Few have captured it on film, but it is the industry standard gesture for approval. If artists beat their deadline, they may get two approving nods. Blowing a deadline results in no nods, but rather a blank stare broken up by a blink or two.

 

11. HIGH FIVE!

Oh yeah! We're done! Good work! Let's go play kickball or something! No? Okay, how about ice cream?

 

Keep watching the #wacomics hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram or risk missing out on more sick high fives.