Even if you’re publishing a print comic book, not a digital comic, your work still has to be processed digitally in order to be printed.
Plenty of comic creators still draw comics in the traditional way on paper, then scan their work and continue the rest of the process on a computer, because getting the pages onto a printing press requires digital processing.
If you’re publishing your comic book yourself, your print facility will expect to receive a digital file that’s been prepared using the correct settings for their presses. Find out more about comic book production here.
Hardware and software to create a comic digitally
Obviously, this is the most important tool.
Your computer is home to all the writing, drawing, coloring and pre-press software necessary to get your comic book ready for the public’s eyes.
Although Macs have been regarded as the industry standard for years, most comic book software is available in both Mac and PC formats and the platforms have developed to a point where it’s almost seamless jumping from one platform to the next.
Most modern computers have more than enough speed and disc space to handle large graphics, but software requirements seem to grow along with the increased computer capacity, so it’s wise to double check the software specs just to be sure. This is especially important if you’re using an older computer.
- Access to reference materials. Comic book artists of past decades could only dream of the resources available today. A quick search can find information and images for just about any subject you need to make your work read or look more authentic.
- Uploads/Downloads. When your work is complete, you can send your file to the next person in the chain to work on it (ie: the letterer, colorist, etc.) and then finally upload the finished book to your website, printer, or store. Cloud storage or FTP services help handle bigger files.
Drawing tablets are the digital equivalent of a pencil and paper. While early versions of were clunky and limited, there are now a number of extremely advanced tablets available which allow you to draw directly into your computer. The pen tool has changeable nibs, sensitivity adjustments and you can control your line width and strokes through the drawing software.
It requires a bit of handling before you get used to it and there’s a learning curve on how to make your drawing look more ‘organic’ but with practice today’s tablets can come passably close to looking like hand done illustrations. One particular benefit has been that the artist can do his/her own ‘inking’ process by adjusting the lines weights and darkness. This saves a step if your book has a tight deadline to meet.
WACOM has established itself as a leader in the field and the ‘Cintiq 21″ Display’ is regarded highly as a tablet of choice among illustrator and animators who work digitally.
You’ll probably need a printer at least from time to time to test out how your lines and artwork will actually reproduce on a printed page. Most printers double as a scanner which is useful for scanning reference files or hand-drawn artwork into your computer. If it’s within your price range, a large format scanner (11″ X 17″ or 13″ X 19″) is extremely useful as you won’t have to scan large scale art in two pieces and unite them in Photoshop or some other software.
Comic Book related software can get a little bit pricey, so before purchasing, do your research. If there’s a trial version of the software, test it. How hard is it to learn? Does it have everything you need to complete your project?
At first, you might not be able to afford industry standard software and might have to use less expensive alternatives. If you can afford them, though, here a few software packages that are popular because they are so effective.
This program has been long considered essential in the field of graphics for almost two decades. Its use in scanning, coloring, and adjusting files is nearly unparalleled. It’s the workhorse for most graphics professionals.
Adobe Illustrator | InDesign
Along with Photoshop, these applications are part of Adobe Creative Suite. They are useful for creating logos, designing word balloons and effects and making industry standard PDF files of your final work.
Comic Studio | Manga Studio | SketchBook Pro
These are very popular drawing and coloring packages for creating your comic pages from start to finish. These programs allow you to import and work with 3D images and vector graphics.
This is free downloadable ‘environment building’ software.
Within this program you can open, download or design any kind of background environment you may require as reference. The greatest benefit of this program is that the environments that you create can be rotated, moved, and zoomed in and out, so that you can keep you background consistent from panel to panel on your page.
While every computer comes with a limited number of fonts, you’ll quickly find that they aren’t quite satisfying your comic book needs. Font packages specific for comic books and strips are available. The more typeface choices you have, the more interesting you can make the lettering of your comic book.