This page still under construction.

Before continuing be aware this page presumes you've read the "Digital Art" section of the tutorials page. It will also help greatly if you've read the "Layers & Masks" page of the Graphic Design section as that goes into more detail about various kinds of masks.

Binary Line Work

The way that you use any given digital art program for comic book styles is not that different than the way you'd execute a more "painterly" project. By "comic book styles" we refer to a visual style based around obvious, hard outlines around objects and characters. And also to a less detailed, more flat shading style.

The tools are the same, but the way we use them can help in the effeciency of creating such images, which can be important if you're dealing with multiple frames and pages.

One of the first things you'll learn will save you time when working with comic images is to create "binary" line art.

Setting Up Layers & Masks

The way you use layers and masks might also change to accomodate a different style.

Since most comic styles make use of clearly dividing lines and broad areas of flat color we will want to set up "islands" of surfaces that we can draw upon without worrying about the areas next to them. In fact this is an approach that will help with any form of painting (that has clearly defined perimeters to surface areas).

So the basic order of operations to setting up such a document will be like so... (Using Adobe Photoshop terminology)

  1. Select a new / blank layer.
  2. Use the Magic Wand tool (with "All Layers" turned on) to select major areas of the image.
  3. Use Selection > Modify > Expand to select areas underneath your linework.
  4. Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection will add a raster mask to the current layer. (After this you may need to click on the image icon again since you don't want to edit the mask itself)
  5. Use the Paint Bucket (with "All Layers" turned off) to fill in flat colors (The "flats") on the selected layer.
  6. Repeat for as many layers (groups of painted areas) as you wish.

After this you should be able to copy/paste the mask layer onto other new layers to create the highlight and shadowing layers (or use clipping masks if supported by the program).

Colored Line Work

Use of this approach is completely dependent on taste - and is pretty obvious. But one thing many people who start out drawing comics don't immediately realize at first is just how many comics actually use linework that is *not* completely black.

The actual process is incredibely simple, it typically just involves using a "clipping" mask on top of the linework layer, but can be very effective.

Highlight & Shadow Layers

This is the step of setting up a more comic style image that is probably closest to how you would do things in a traditionally painted image. Highlights and Shadows are rarely done by most artists on the same layer as the surface color of an image.

You won't be able to blend obvious brush strokes by separating these layers, but comic styles have a way of being more forgiving about this, people expect a certain division between color and light.

Of course what colors are actually appropriate is something discussed later in the lighting section.