Erin: I get a lot of questions about how exactly I make the comics, so here’s the step-by-step breakdown, using this Sunday Edition as an example. Next to each step I’ve shown the last panel (reduced to half the size at which I work with it); the times given are for the whole strip.
[Wearing my glasses so as to look professional. Wearing the cat ears for no very good reason.]
Step 1: Sketch/Layout (17:43)
I draw the panels in the arrangement that they’re going to be in, and sketch out their content. The text gets jotted in wherever it will fit (sometimes outside the panels).
Step 2: Lineart (31:47)
The lineart needs to be clean so that it can be colored neatly. I like mechanical pencils (0.7 mm lead); they give nice, even lines that the computer handles well.
Step 3: Scanning/Cleanup (8:45)
The scanned comic is reduced to black and white, then I erase any specks and extra lines. I also make the borders straight and even; this will help any strip immensely.
Step 4: Coloring (9:53)
With the text out of the way and the lineart clean, coloring is easy. All the colors I use are in a little image for easy reference. (By the way, this is all done with Paint Shop Pro 7.)
Step 5: Shading (24:41)
A very time-consuming step, which is why I’ve stopped doing it with the daily strips. The shading colors are also in that reference image.
Step 6: Text (17:47)
I type the text in Microsoft Excel, and create the speech bubbles on a new layer, above the artwork. This makes them easy to organize without disrupting the coloring.
Erin: The total time for this strip was about 110:36 (that’s an hour, 50 minutes, and 36 seconds). That’s typical.
Daily strips take maybe half that (less now that I don’t shade ’em).
There are exceptions, of course. When I do a strip that doesn’t need as much coloring, like December’s sketchy Christmas special, it goes very quickly, since I don’t have to worry about cleanup. HellSING! strips are entirely mouse-drawn. But this is how I usually work.
Okay, that’s it for the meta-comics. Back to the comedy!