Before you get ready to produce a piece of art, try to remember that, the tools, materials you use make a difference and your work space should be a nice and happy place where you’ll be inspired to create! In addition to this, you should also have most of your tools and equipment close by, as they will help you maintain an evenly balanced outlook while you’re doing your work. Seriously, this point is very important, since this is the type of job where you could be seated for about 8 to 18 hours per day (yes, you read that correctly, sometimes up to 18 hours), so you should choose your table, chair, and other pieces of equipment very-very carefully. After all, you have to make sure that you’re comfortable with your basic layout, otherwise your health will be at stake, and trust me, you wouldn’t want that to happen.
Now, as to the actual equipment you will need, well, there’s so much stuff out there it’s pretty hard to say what is right and what is wrong. At the end of the day I suppose it all depends on your own personal preferences, so I’ll just tell you what I use instead. Here goes…
Materials, traditional vs digital: on the Traditional side we have:
Pencils and mechanical pencils: Where pencils are concerned, from H to B, there is a numerical scale that grades the graphites inside them from hard to soft. You can choose the hardest graphite of 9H, all the way down to the softest graphite of 9B.
What I like to do is to start my commissioned work with a hard graphite first; because with a very light hand, I can make an almost invisible line on the paper, just to create the structure of the image.
Then I can move on to a softer graphite pencil in order to make the drawing more visible. Lastly, I can finish off my work by using the mechanical pencils(with soft graphite) so I can create the details and hachure of the drawing.
Brushes: There’s a large variety of brushes on the market, and each one serves a specific purpose and result. This includes brushes like: Flat, Round, Script, etc, yet more often than not, I mainly use the Round and Script ones myself.
Other types of brushes can be used to create different textures and so on, but I’ll leave that up to you to sort out what’s the best fit.
Pens: Personally I like to use Technical Pens to ink my work, especially when I’m not using Photoshop.
Obviously there are many different sizes for you to choose from, so you don’t need to constantly dip them into ink, like with the “Nibs and Handles” type of pens.
Erasers: Normally I try to find an eraser that doesn’t dirt or damage the paper, while keeping in mind that every time I use one, the paper can actually change texture and affect the drawing.
That’s why I like to regularly use the Light Box to “clean up” my work.
Rules: If you ever need to draw a straight or curved line, then it’s best that you use a ruler.
They range from T rules, Triangles, and Bolometer, etc, and they come in real handy whenever you need to draw a building, a car, or a mechanical piece of equipment.
Paper: Before you start your drawing please consider the type of canvas you’ll be using. There are many different textures available so you have to use your own judgement in order to select the right one.
For example, when I want to create a realistic portrait, I like to use a texturized piece of paper with a soft 2B pencil, as they will help me create some shadows and I like the effect. But, if I want to ink my work, I normally use a smooth piece of paper because I need to make sure my inked lines are as smooth and clean as possible.
The Light Box: This is a piece of tracing equipment that I use to clean up my sketches. If you check out my Batman Video you’ll notice that I used one to trace the drawing I’ve done digitally so I can make it a brand new piece.
Materials, traditional vs digital: on the Digital Side we have:
I’m currently using a MacOS Desktop Computer, which should be more than enough to handle any high quality comic book page.
The specs for this piece of kit include a 2.7 Ghz Intel Core i5 Processor, 8 GB 1600 Mhz DDR3, 1 Terabyte Hard Drive, a Samsung S22D300HY 21.5 inch LED HDMI Monitor, and the Wacom CINTIQ 22 HDinteractive pen display (which in my opinion is one of the best tools to use when creating a digital environment).
I’ve also set up Adobe Bridge to manage some of the projects I’m currently working on. Here, check out the software I use in conjunction with my computer, just so you can have a better understanding of the entire system as a whole:
Adobe Photoshop CS6: This is a great software package and it really does help you create great comics. It may take you a bit of time to get used to, but when you do, trust me, it’s well worth the wait and will save you a lot of time.
Clip Studio Paint Ex: Like Photoshop, this digital studio can help you create stunning pieces of artwork, but only once you’ve learnt the basics.
It is a bit different from Adobe though, and much-much cheaper, yet very good to use all the same.
Brother MFC-J6710DW: Simply the GREATEST printer I’ve ever had! Nuff said.
Please remember, Materials, traditional vs digital: whatever tools you end up using, try to keep in mind that they won’t be able to help you draw better or understand the basic rules of drawing.
After all, they are the tools and you are the tool master, and like a Samurai with his sword, it won’t make much difference if you don’t know how to handle them!
With that said, tools and materials DO MAKE a difference in your work!! They are important!! Have you ever tried to ink a page with a chocolate bar? Well, there you go. Never believe anyone who says tools don’t matter, they do!
NEXT: The Basic Three Elements You Need to Tame
This article was brought to you by Brazilian born, Rod Rodollfo from Alpha Brain Art Studio. Please feel free to download the Master Page Template used by Rod on many Published Comic Books by clicking here! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow him on his website, twitter, and facebook pages.
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