drawing a page of
The Spirit: The New
the pictures on the page
prep all the final art boards at the same time. I make a stack of
Strathmore 500 series five ply smooth board cut to 12.5" x 18,"
and I rule an image size of 10" x 15" on each. I use a template
to notch blue panel gutters, so I'll know where to subdivide my
tiers. Then I prepare to pencil. I pencil the entire story, then
ink the entire story after all pages are penciled. Then I apply
all the whiteout, then all the color. This is fastest for me, and
leads to the most consistency.
don't like to decide too many things when inking (fig 5). I
want it all figured out. Sometimes getting a panel right requires
working out the design on tracing paper, then tracing the image on
the reverse side in soft graphite, flipping it over, positioning it
on the page, and tracing it once more on the front side to leave a
transferred impression on the art page. I would lightbox it but my
thick paper is too opaque.
3 of the Spirit story is penciled. thoroughly in blue,
based on the layout in fig 4. The close-up of
the Spirit's face required redrawing with tracing paper,
as discussed in the accompanying text.
The Spirit was my first time penciling in blue instead of regular
graphite. The advantage of graphite is it erases more easily if you
need to revise the drawing. Graphite also looks more similar to the
printed black image. The advantages of blue are more numerous. Erasing
obliterates ink along with pencil. Because cameras don't perceive
pale blue, you don't have to erase after you ink over blue. Blue line
also leads to fleshier inks. You have more of a feeling of actually
"drawing" in ink, since there is no black image. Since you instinctively
adjust a page for darkness, black pencil gives you the impression
that a page is already darker so as a result you tend to ink lighter.
Then you erase the pencils to find your page is too pale ("Bruce Berry
Syndrome"). Since blue lines mean the first black you lay down is
ink, you tend to improvise the black more and lay it on thicker.
I've tried every kind of blue pencil and I swear by the Staedtler
Non-Photo Blue 108-30. It's the only kind that is erasable (with an
electric eraser), draws on non-toothy paper (I use "smooth" finish),
and doesn't repel india ink. It costs three times as much as the other
brands. Someone at Staedtler figured out how to cash in on the rich
comic book artists.
I asked my friend Rick Altergott to letter this story because he has
nice Wally Wood-style lettering that suits the Spirit perfectly. He
did a beautiful job. The lettering takes place after the pencils but
before the inks.
I ink with a Windsor-Newton Series 7 #3. I notice they now make a
stubbier version to preserve the sable population. I tried one and
it was awful. Lately I've been fiddling with a reloadable Kaimei brush
pen and I'm thinking about using it to ink except the blue pencil
seems to repel the cartridge ink.
Ink is tricky. They just don't make it black anymore in this age of
environmental vogue. I guess real india ink is too "toxic." Some kid
must have gone and drank a bunch and croaked, ruining it for everybody
else. I still use old bottles of Higgins Black Magic, but my supply
is running out. People tell me Dr. Martin makes a good black ink,
but I tried it and it, too, seemed anemic to me.
The inked page
I pencil the entire story and then ink
the entire story, I start with an inside
page for both tasks so shaky starts
and inconsistencies aren't obvious to
the casual observer.
The art is cleaned up in the inking
phase, and additional blacks are placed
to balance the page. After inking, whiteout
is used to further polish the line art.
I color a page in Photoshop at 300 dpi,
process that I'll elaborate on in a
future Process chapter.
Referring to a guide book showing printed
colors is necessary because colors look
completely different on a computer monitor
than they look when printed.
It's best to limit your palette. It
ties the page together and makes it
easier on the eyes.
submit separate color and black art to the printer so
the black prints as a separate plate, usually over a
muddy blue-ish copy of the black art that lies under
the black line and punches up the blackness. The black
art is 1200 dpi, much higher resolution than the 300
dpi color art, because imperfections in black are more
and line art are combined
Fig 8 is how the art looks when color and black
are combined on the press.