HOW I MAKE SUPER SIDEKICKS!

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown on how I create a page of Super Sidekicks.

STEP 1: STORYBOARD & SCRIPT

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Ok, the hardest part of the whole process is this one, writing the script and storyboarding the entire book. Although I’ll be showing you page 52, the left hand page, I always storyboard two pages together as a spread. This allows me to balance the spread as a whole. I always write the script and storyboard at the same time, but I think storyboarding is the more important step. Since comics are a visual medium, the images, pacing and balance are very important. The goal is for the reader to know what is happening even with no words or dialogue. This step is difficult because it’s like figuring out one massive jigsaw panel - which panel needs to go where, how many panels do I need, which character needs to be standing in a certain position, ending the page on the right panel so it leaves the reader in suspense and eager to turn the page. Lots of decisions are being made.

You can also see I’m already figuring out where the speech balloons need to go. They are an important design element in comics and should be treated as such. Having a balloon in the wrong place can break the flow of a reader’s concentration and pull them out of the story. We don’t want that!

Once the whole book is done like this, I send it to my editor for approval. In the case of Book 1, there were minimal changes suggested, which is always nice.

STEP 2: PENCILING

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Now the fun can begin! Once the script is approved I can start drawing. I draw the page just on regular photo copy paper at A4 size using a 2H pencil lead. I try to pencil loose and fast and not worry too much about mistakes. I’m aiming for funny expressions, lots of movement, action and energy!

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Once the pencils are done, I scan the drawing into my computer. Next I use Adobe InDesign to place the words on the page (this is the not fun part!). The circles and ovals are just a guide, as I will hand draw the balloons and tails during the next part of the process. Again, once the whole book is done in this way, I send it to my editor again for another round of approval.

STEP 3: INKING

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Once the pencil stage is approved I can move on to the next stage: Inking! I do this the traditional way, good ol’ pen and paper. So what I do first is I turn the pencils and words into a light blue colour using Adobe Photoshop. Then I print that on some nice drawing paper. That gives me a nice light blue guide that I can ink over. Before inking with pen I usually go in and tighten most of the drawing with pencil. What I mean by “tightening” is just fine-tuning the drawing. For instance, I changed Captain Perfect’s cape in the second panel.

Ok, once I’m happy with the drawing, then I can finally ink it, meaning going over the pencil with pen. I use Pigma Micron pens and a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. This is the longest part of the process.

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Once the inking is done, I erase any pencils and then scan the page. The rest of the page will be completed digitally. I scan the image on the text/bitmap setting at 600dpi.

I open up the image in Photoshop and clean up the page if there are any mistakes or wobbly balloons that I’m not happy with.

STEP 4: COLOUR

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Well, not really colouring, in the Super Sidekicks case, it’s just some grey tones :) This is all done in Adobe Photoshop, see my tutorial on digital colouring for a more in-depth look at this process.

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And that’s pretty much it! I place the Photoshop image into the Indesign file that had all the words in it before sending to my editor again. You can see what we changed the font to a more traditional serif font. Yay, one page done, another 136 to go!