Art tutorial questions answered:
Q: What programs do you use to color?
A: Personally I like to use Adobe Photoshop to color all my work. Although there are plenty of other software packages out there that people swear by like Painter or Art Rage, I just use the program I feel most comfortable with and I have been using Photoshop for so long that it has become second nature in my art pipeline.
Q: Digital inking or traditional inking pens?
A: Both styles of inking have their pluses and minuses. When I first started drawing and I wasn't very computer savvy I loved to use traditional inking pens. You can do some great things with inking pens, cross hatching, varying line width mid stroke, speed lines, all sorts of fun stuff. That's not to say you can't do these things with digital inking, it just takes a little getting used to. When I started experimenting with digital inking it was hard getting the kind of control you could get with inking pens, that was until I found the power of the 'pen tool' and vector lines in Illustrator and Photoshop.
However I would recommend going with whichever style you feel most comfortable with, but definitely try dabbling with both if you get the chance!
Q: How do you get such thin fine clean lines in your work?
A: That is all the power of the pen tool in Photoshop (Or illustrator). With it you can easily set your line width and get precise curves using the vector handles. I know a lot of people don't like the pen tool (personally I hated it for the longest time ) but it's a really handy tool if you take the time to learn it, and if you don't own a set of inking pens, digital inking using the pen tool is a great alternative.
Q: What kind of scanner should I get?
A: I have found as long as your scanner has basic resolution setting options and can scan in color as well as black and white, you should be good to go. I don't believe you need a thousand dollar scanner to get a great scan, you just need to know how to set up your scan properly (check out my image preparation tutorial for tips). If you want to know what scanner I use, its a Canoscan 650U, which is a 9 1/2 x 14 flatbed scanner. It's nothing fancy and you can actually get the same exact one used for 35$ on amazon (be warned it is not supported past Window's XP).
Q: Do you use any special comic paper to draw on?
A: There are all sorts of varying paper in different shapes, sizes and thicknesses and everyone has their ideal type of paper to draw on. Personally I just use plain old white copy paper (8.5x11 or 11x17) you can pick up in any office supply store (Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, etc). You can pick it up for cheap in bulk. Sometimes if I can find some comic 11x17 boards cheap, I will pick up a dozen or so pieces of blue line pro boards, but I don't do it often because they are not widely available where I am at. However it does really depend on whether you use traditional inking pens in which case you may want to use thicker paper so the pens don't bleed through and mess up your drawing table. But if you are just using pencils that might not be a big deal for you. I also have several 8.5 x 11 mead sketch books (Again you can find these at any generic office supply store) that I keep around at all times so I have something to jot down quick sketches or character design and story ideas.
Q: What's a best working plan for learning to draw? How did you learn?
A: Most of what I know for drawing comes from practice and trial and error. I have been drawing since I was 5 years old and have been learning ever since. When I was young I started doing comic style of art by studying my favorite comic book artists (Jim Lee at the time) and copying their art. I would constantly try and replicate my favorite comic book covers and see how close I could get to the original (of course most of my art was pretty terrible ). But I just kept at it and learned from my mistakes over time and got better little by little. I took art classes during high school and practiced more traditional styles of art, still life, photography, painting etc. When I got into college I took 3 years of human figure drawing, as well as several courses in mechanical drafting and advertising illustration. It was around this time I started to watching anime and got into Japanese manga. I fell in love in the way the Japanese could tell stories and really flesh out their characters and worlds, and I have been interested in it ever since . In my 3rd year of college I switched my focus over to digital new media, learning graphic design, computer illustration and drafting, as well as learning 3D and 2D animation programs such as flash and after effects. Not every one gets the opportunity to attend college and I am very grateful to have been given the chance, but I believe as long as someone has the drive to learn and get better, then they can do so regardless of whether they have formal school training or not. However if I were to recommend one thing for aspiring artists to learn it would be to draw from real life as much as possible, take human figure drawing classes if possible, and even if you can't then sit on a bench out doors and just quickly sketch people you see walking by. If you can accurately draw objects from real life, then turning them into comic form will be MUCH easier.
The biggest thing I can recommend to others would be to practice, practice, practice! Never be complacent about your skill level, and keep learning and getting better no matter how much training you have had. The mantra I like to always tell myself is that (there is ALWAYS someone better than me), and that keeps my drive going for practicing and learning as much as I can at all times. I am usually never happy with the work I produce and will always try and one up my most recent art work with whatever I am doing next.
Q: What type of drawing tools and materials do you use?
A: I have already covered the paper I use. I use mechanical pencils for most of my sketching and drawing, I will pretty much use any mechanic pencil and lead I can find. I just picked up a Bic set of 5 mechanical disposable pencils with .5 mm lead at Staples so that should give you an idea of what I use on a regular basis. When I do traditional inking, my favorite pens are Staedtler pigment liner pens ranging from .1 mm to .7 mm in tip size (again you should be able to find or be able to order these in your local office supply store). I also use a pen eraser, which is basically just a long eraser that you can extend and retract just like a pen. I also will have on hand a simple see through plastic ruler and some french curves if I want to get precise curves on swords and stuff. For most of the work I do I draw on a drafting table I bought at an art store for about $200 dollars, its about 5 feet x 6 feet in size and I can adjust it's tilt when needed. Most of my coloring is done with a 4x5 wacom pen tablet, it's VERY old, like 8 years I think and still works perfectly ( I don't even know if they make it anymore ).
Q. Can you recommend any good tutorials for computer inking, coloring and FX?
A: Aside from my own tutorials (shameless plug ) I would recommend PolyKarbon ([link]), they were one of the best and first sites out there to offer comprehensive comic and manga tutorials. There are plenty of great tutorials on Deviant Art if you just put in "Coloring tutorial" or "Manga tutorial" in the search bar. Same thing goes for youtube, there have been tons of great manga, comic, and coloring tutorials in youtube if you just do simple searches for them. If I could recommend 1 book for comic book or manga artists, or just any artist in general to get it would be "Dynamic Anatomy" by Burne Hogarth ([link]) it's an excellent book for learning about human anatomy and I use it constantly for muscle reference.
Q: What is your normal process from pencils to finished art?
A: I usually start all my artwork with a simple thumbnail sketch, I will draw a tiny box (no larger than 1 inch) which is representative of the paper scale I am using, then quickly sketch in the poses for my characters and the general layout. I will usually do about 5-6 of these little sketches till I find something I like. Then I will get out my paper and do REALY quick gesture lines (just quick swipes with my hand) with my pencil, trying to follow the thumbnail I chose while doing this. This will help me get the form of the characters I am putting on paper. After that I will start to do basic shapes for the head, torso, limbs, hands and feet, so I get a general sense of how they character will fit on paper while at the same time making sure all my pencil lines are REALLY light so they can be easily erased or edited. Once I have down all the shapes for the body I will go in and draw in some basic details for clothing, hair, shoes, and weapons the character may be holding. Once this is done I will do a quick eraser pass and get rid of all the gesture lines, then I will go in and start adding really minute details like clothing folds, buttons, zippers, tears in the clothing, as well as work on facial expressions. Once the detail phase is done I will do one more quick eraser pass and darken all the final lines of the drawing.
I will then scan in the image into photoshop and (using my handy image preparation tutorial steps ) get it ready for digital inking. Then I use the pen tool to quickly ink over the entire drawing using the thinnest line possible, it's during this step that I will fix any glaring issues or details I missed during the pencil phase. Once this is done I can hide the original pencil scan and just color (saving FREQUENTLY!!) in using the new clean digital ink lines as a guide (again you can check out my coloring tutorial for coloring details ). After its all done and colored I will save off the final PSD and also save off a flattened resized JPG version that I upload to deviant art.
Q. How do you keep motivated when drawing and learning?
A. Simple, I check out all the awesome artists on Deviant Art . Every time I see awesome art, or read a great manga or comic bok, watch an awesome anime, or play a great video game I get motivated to get back to my drawing table and get to work. If I see something I like it will motivate me to work harder. Like I said I am always learning and still consider myself a novice in so many areas of art that it keeps me striving to get better at everything I do. Another really great inspiration for me is music (especially anime and movie OST's), I am always listening to music when I do my work and it never fails to get me inspired to draw and color. As long as I have some great music to listen to I will happily draw and color nonstop till the wee hours of the night with no sleep. And of course one of my biggest motivators to keep working are all my awesome visitors who come to my deviant art page and the support they provide. Whether my visitors are complimenting my work, or giving me harsh critiques, or just stopping by to say "Hi" it always motivates me to get back to the drawing table and work harder on my art.
I hope this answers some of the questions you guys sent in, and again if there is anything you want to know that you don't think I covered, feel free to send me a note and I will do my best to answer .