Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paper Tales

Boy walking in bubble

How to Become a Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Artist

Tools of the Trade

22. PAPER - Three-ply bristol board with a kid finish is the best to use. A kid finish has enough tooth (roughness) in the paper for the pencil and is smooth enough to lay down india ink. Plate finish is too smooth for pencil work. A rough paper needs a fast, fluid ink. A smooth plate paper requires a slow ink.

While three-ply is the best; for economic reasons two-ply is used by most companies. But you can still be economical and use the best paper. Bristol board is available in large sheets. Buy it this way and cut it down to size. The art store may cut the paper to size for you in the store; if you are nice and say pretty please. This is the cheapest way to buy paper and get more bang for your buck.

Nowadays there are pre-cut, pre-lined prefabricated comic boards for sale. You can still beat these prices and get better quality paper even if you only buy the 14" x 17" pad and cut it down to size. If the art store won't cut it for you, then you can do it at an office supply store.

Comic books and graphic novels are usually drawn on two-ply bristol board. A rough finish may make some pen nibs catch on the tooth if you apply pressure. Ink takes longer to dry on the smooth plate finish, so be careful not to touch it. 

There is a difference between different brands of paper. Cheaper brands are less relaible.


Comic book art pages used to be twice the size of the finished product. Now both have shrunk in size due to rising paper and oil costs.

Now the live art area is 10"x 15". The paper size is 11" x 17". You can draw any size as long as it's in the correct proportions to the comic book. Graphic novels give you more freedom to draw at any size and print at any size. I know an artist who draws on a paper size that fits his scanner.

Comic strip live art area is 13.25" x 4.25".  The same rule apples concerning the correct proportions. A half-inch border on every side is good to have.

Single panel comic strips live area is 3.5" x 4" high. You can use any size if you keep the proportions correct.

23. VELLUM - A translucent material not related to the bristol board finish. Vellum paper is like tracing paper but is smooth, durable, better quality and costs more. This is great for artists who erase a lot and wear the paper surface away.  But remember, I've given you ways avoid erasing. So this shouldn't be an issue.

You can ink on this very well. Vellum is more delicate than bristol board, so tearing it is a major concern. Mount the vellum on a piece of white board when you are done.

to be continued...

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copyright 2012 H. Simpson