Laying down the master lines!
I will have a more formal content to post here including notes and tips on Penciling later, but for now I wanted to post at least this, a playlist of YouTube posts of my penciling, in both pencil and with pens as well.
The main point of “penciling” is to create a clean, preparatory drawing to ink over.
Some of the finest examples of clear clean refined “Pencil” art for inking in the classic western comics style are the first two pages in this gallery, by Goran Parlov. From a T3 comic I worked with him on. I had the pleasure of inking this work, you can see more of that posted here on my site.
Next are pages of pencils from my last book Dream Life, in this case a mix of techniques as is my usual habit. Some are in pencil, some in colour-erase pencils, but made B&W, some are done in ink, and a few I collaged together digitally out of scans of separate drawings on scrap paper. All of it gets scanned for editing before printing blues to ink it finally. Those first four examples, represent to my mind the heights to aspire too. when I can this is my ideal standard for the level of finish I work for before Inking when I can.
Some people, including myself, will pencil a lot looser than this when pressed for time. When pressed things get more pragmatic. I work looser, and often with things like ball point pens. The Dracula Son of the Dragon pages, and Ghostbusters work, both are representative of the kind of standards I keep while under the gun. When I’ve been working a lot, i’ll leave more of the final line finding, to the inks, but go for nailing down key things about the shots. I can get passable results this way but it results in a different version of whatever style i’m working on. One less well refined, edited.
Footnote: Schedule impacts style! If you want to work quickly, keep the art simpler, cleaner. If you try to do more realistic or detailed work fast, expect less consistent levels of refinement if time is finite.
Next I think, one of the best ways to learn is to watch. I’m bad with demo’s in class, but record a lot of my work! So here’s a playlist focusing on penciling. I’ll be adding new clips regularly, so if you have questions feel free to post them in the comments here! The first clip in the list comes with me giving some explanations at various points so I think it will be a good short lesson as well.
We can have messy thumbnails, and roughs in my opinion. I like to keep a loose line in general. But before doing the finishing, be it in ink or other mediums, it’s a good idea to mostly finalize and work out the structural kinks in the art. That’s what penciling is ultimately. An intermediary clean up and development stage of the comics page.
Remember to think about where you’re lettering is going to go as well, how the page will read with it, and if you letter directly on the art, to take a moment to rough in the text and draw your balloons! If you do letter on the art there’s no reason to spend a lot of time finishing the parts of the drawings where they will cover it, so block those in first! If you letter on layers in a program like I usually do, still it’s a good idea to plan out the balloons and text before you get too committed with the art. You may want to make some changes once you decide on your dialog!
Once we have completed the pencils, we can then scan the art, and make new clean blues to do the final inking/finishing over.
If you are working in Manga Studio or a program to draw, all the same is still true, and instead of scanning and printing, you’ll just be using layers to work over your rougher versions of the art.