BalkanMagazin :: How comics are made (11): Pencil and ink

After completing the preparatory work, the author can dedicate himself to drawing the board. First of all, the shots are drawn, and then the approximate places for the “bubbles” are provided, and we move on to probably the most important drawing part – setting up and sketching the composition with a pencil.

“I am a self-taught draftsman and at first I believed that showering was the most important thing for a good drawing,” says Thierry Ted Benoit, a French author.

Pencil drawing

The author will spend time drawing the board, which depends on his abilities, the number of people in the staff, the complexity of the decor and the complexity of the plan in general. Some authors just sketch the compositions, only to develop them in the shower. Jean Giraud, for example, takes steps in pencil, and taking a shower is just a confirmation of thoughts. Others make a complete and detailed drawing in pencil, so that the shower is just drawing the same lines, as is the case with the old French master Marcel Goltlib.

Two boards in pencil in different stages, with more or less details (RM Gera, “Howard Blake 1”)

William Vance draws everything with a pencil, without erasing anything, and only after the shower is over, he erases all traces of graffiti with an eraser. Harvey Kurzman, an American cartoonist and one of the founders of “Mad” magazine, did not use a pencil, but immediately took a shower, leaving all unnecessary lines. Then he would cover all the superfluous lines with white gouache, so that the final result would be, as we all know, perfect.

Occasionally, cartoonists work in teams, as witnessed by French comic book artist Christian Rossi:

“For the ‘Compagnie des glaces’ comic, I work out the storyboard first, and then one artist works on the main characters, another on the supporting characters, a third on the decor, and a fourth on the landscapes.”

The great French author Andre Gijard has a very special approach to putting the composition into frames: “I’m not a comic book artist by nature. It’s hard for me to stay between the four edges of a vignette. That’s why I draw a lot of sketches with a pencil. to stand within the limits imposed by each vignette. ” In the continuation, Žijar placed his drawings with a pencil on the cloudy glass illuminated from below, and then put a hammer over them and showered on it in the counter light.

However, not all authors use a pencil, but start their work directly in ink on paper, as evidenced by the Croatian comic master Danijel Žeželj:

“I set the basic layout, very rough. I stain the white paper with black ink. Then I correct with white ink and black ink, then dig, saw and sand until I get closer to what I want. I draw on thick paper, which must be patient and durable, like a marathoner. “

Brush, pen …

After drawing with a pencil, you start taking a shower – at the same time the most important and most difficult part of the job. Each artist takes a shower in his own way: in order, frame by frame; only main and thicker lines; large dark masses…

“There are two large families of artists: those who” process “their line with forethought and precision, and those who” throw “it, who base their graphic art on (…) uncontrollability,” said Jean Giraud Mobius.

Igor Kordej, a Croatian master, explains which stages are present in his approach to drawing comics:

“I mostly draw the whole episode in pencil, but sketched so it looks like a storyboard. Then I do the first phase of defining, a complete linear shower with a pen or rapidograph. Then (sugar comes at the end) I do the final brush shower. In that last phase I define the details , texture, atmosphere and I do a lot of corrections with white topcoat.I’m not a purist, but the end result is important to me.I work on quick graphic refinements and stylization.Therefore my works sometimes look sloppy, but I don’t have much time or desire to look back. go on! “


The composition of the frames and boards in pencil, without too much detail, is completely designed during the shower (Igor Kordej, “Diosamante 2”)

For showering, the artist often uses pens and brushes of various thicknesses, depending on the needs of the drawing itself. Thicker lines and large dark areas will be done with a brush, while finer lines and smaller details will be drawn with a pen. For example, Filip Kaza used Rotring rapidographs to draw silhouettes, while Erman Ipen used rapidographs, rabbit hair brushes and Japanese brushes.

Jean Giraud worked on the “Blueberry” series with a brush, and comics signed under the pseudonym Mobius were mostly done with a pen. “Looking over Zize’s shoulder, I realized that in addition to knowledge and a good eye, you need to have a skilled hand to draw in the shower. There are finger positions and a certain control of movement that is acquired only through practice. Giro Mobius.

Those who have not yet acquired the skill in showering, come in other ways. The French author of Fuser Ing – Sera, dissatisfied with the results of his own shower, photocopied his drawings in pencil for years and used them instead of the shower drawing.

… rapidograph, felt-tip pen …

Even the greatest masters occasionally had trouble showering, because the technique did not allow them what they wanted. For a long time, I used one extremely soft pen, intended for writing, with which I could go in all directions – said the legendary Belgian author Raymond Mashero – then those pens were no more, so I had to get used to the other. It seems to me that with the new pen, my graphic skills have diminished and the flexibility, wildness and vibration have disappeared from them. I tried the brush, but I didn’t succeed, because I’m clumsy with it. “

Mashero’s observation is confirmed by Belgrade comic master Zeljko Pahek: “My favorite tool that I met and worked with the most from the very beginning of comics is the brush. The tougher, the better. The brush always manages to reflect the subtlest movement of a quick hand, while on the other hand it allows for wide, expressive strokes where the composition of the frame is solved in the mass. The brush itself will tell you that. “

There are also good and successful comic book authors who don’t like working with pens and brushes at all, so they opt for less conventional means, as Slovenian master Tomaž Lavrič TBC does: “I do my gags with anything I can get my hands on, while serious comics I work with a pen and a brush, although I still haven’t found my ideal tool. My pens don’t glide well, and I have a hand that is too heavy for fine brushes. the originals may fade or flood in a few years. But I have come to terms with the fact that nothing is eternal. “


The drawing done with lines of different thicknesses and fats was dramatized with large black masses (Tomaž Lavrič TBC, “Bosnian Fables”)

Drawing organized by line

When creating a comic, the author can opt for one of the many styles of work or a mixed technique that best suits his abilities, the needs of the narrative and the genre of the comic itself.

Clean line: the drawing was made without any modeling and does not correspond to printing in black and white. The picture is quite pale and the plans are difficult to distinguish, so it is necessary to either maneuver or color the drawing. The color has a dynamic similar to the drawing itself – white spaces bordered by a line are usually filled with fields of one color or color with degradations. At the same time, the lines must have different thickness and fat depending on the choice of brush or pen, the pressure and the speed of the hand. It should be remembered that reducing the original boards when printing with thin lines gives the appearance of threads, while some completely disappear.

Drawing with a line with large black masses is very good for an expressive and authorial comic in which there are dramatic elements. However, it requires a lot of knowledge and skill, because there are no transitional tones, which makes it very difficult to compose shots.


Drawing with large black masses is very expressive and requires great knowledge and skill (Danijel Žeželj, “Invitation à la Danse”; left / Darko Perović, “Brek”; right)

Drawing modeled by a line: the drawing is done by a line, and the shadows and volumes are evoked by a series of shorter or longer lines, parallel or crossed, of different densities in relation to the necessary depiction of relief. This technique corresponds to black and white drawing, as well as color, and is mostly used for realistic comics.

In the case of a lighter drawing, shading is done with parallel lines at different distances to avoid an overly cold look. Shorter lines and dots are used when it is necessary to give a warmer and livelier image, not on the entire surface, but only on what stands out, leaving one larger white surface to facilitate the drawing. This technique is often combined with the previous one.


Shading and modeling with parallel lines and points (Nikola Štiklica; left) and crossed lines (Zoran Janjetov, “Mladost Bernara Panasonika”; right)

Cross-line modeling is directly inspired by etching and allows for many nuances. This way of drawing, due to its sophistication, suits only more serious themes and realistic comics.

Rasters of different densities that are glued directly to the paper can also be interesting, but provided that they are used skillfully. Without degradation, they can revive larger areas by giving them a halftone look and speed up hatching work. They are not intended for color, because they have an unpleasant optical effect.


Rasters stick directly to the paper and, if used skillfully, can bring to life larger areas (RM Gera)

“Painting” methods

Painting style: the drawing is partly done with a line, but the surfaces are modeled by playing with large and small black surfaces, similar to painting methods. This technique has great expressiveness and corresponds to the dramatic atmosphere of realistic comics where contrasts between white and black masses are necessary. “Objects and forms come out of the shadows into the light. Gradations between black and white serve that. It’s a baroque painting approach to form, surfaces of darkness and light instead of linearity. Old technique,” says Danijel Žeželj.

It is also possible to get midtones through a certain pointillism and the use of lines, which increases the overall expressiveness of the comic. In case it is necessary to color such a drawing, which is otherwise intended to remain black and white, you should opt for lighter and warmer colors so that the drawing is legible.

hyper-perform, similar to the painting style, tries to get as close as possible to reality. However, his drawing is not organized by a line, but a line is only one of the possible elements. Modeling is done by maneuvering or airbrushing, a rather difficult technique, which allows obtaining shades. This technique, the end result of which is a dramatic atmosphere, not only resembles photography, but is very common and is drawn according to photographs.

Maneuvering is a great method for getting halftones of black and white comics. The ink or ink is dissolved in water, depending on the need for the intensity of the gray color, and then applied with a brush or pen.

After finishing the board, in order to check the accuracy of the execution, it is not bad to use an old painting trick and place the board in front of a mirror. By looking closely at the mirror image, one can easily spot errors that would otherwise have gone unnoticed during a routine check.

Source: Balkan Magazin – Aktuelnosti by

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