Thursday, August 13, 2015

Basic Comic Supply List

    When I was just a wee little middle school girl, I decided I wanted to make comics for a living, and set about accomplishing that task the best way that I could.  All I really knew about comics is that they could be color or black and white, that the story was told sequentially using pictures, word balloons and captions were used liberally, and that I needed to ink my pages.  When I first started drawing, I had very limited access to the internet, and back then, free online resources were pretty limited away, so I often just winged it.  My first supplies were a Papermate mechanical pencil (the sort that mimic real pencils, and are persnickety to draw with), ballpoint pens for inking, and Crayola's brief flirtation with fineliners for color.  This was all drawn on bottom of the line printer paper, because that's what we had. 
    In the upcoming weeks, I'm going to review art supplies from Walmart, Target, and the Dollar Tree, in an effort to find affordable, accessible supplies that any kid can get their hands on.  When I walked through these stores, I walked with a certain basic supply list in mind- essentials I absolutely had to buy, because these are things every comic artist will use at some point.

    For a basic comic drawing setup, you'll need:
  • 2 pencils- one for graphite, one for a colored lead (if you can't get non photo blue, go for red)
  • Pencil bag or case to keep everything handy.
  • Sketchbook, any kind, so long as you like drawing on the paper and the paper doesn't shred when you erase
  • Rulers- 12", 24", yardstick.  The 12" should preferably be clear, the 24" and yardstick made of metal.
  • Eraser- White vinyl is my favorite, but you should experiment to find one that works best for you
  • Inking pens
  • Heavier smooth paper that you enjoy drawing on, can take repeated erasing, and will take ink- cardstock isn't the worst start, high quality bristol or even watercolor paper are good steps up.
  • Correction fluid- white out, white gel pens, ect
  • Pencils or pens you enjoy just sketching with, for practice in your sketchbook
  • White masking tape- to tape down additional pages when you're creating perspective grids.
  • A designated hard surface- your kitchen table, a clipboard, or a piece of masonite.
These tools will help you generate basic black and white comic pages.  Color complicates things quite a bit, and may add several additional steps to your page making process, but the basics for adding color are:

  • Some media you feel comfortable using- color pencils are very affordable, and a great first step for many artists.  Watercolors are also affordable, and you can search this blog for several recommendations on types (pan, tube, marker, watercolor pencil) that are affordable and versatile.  Keep in mind that with ANY waterbased media, including waterbased markers like Crayola, you need to use a waterproof ink, and let it dry overnight.
  • Paper with the structural integrity to handle the media you're using.  Pencil likes a paper with a bit of a tooth, so cardstock isn't the best option.  Watercolor needs heavier paper, especially for detailed work, so a good 140lb pad is a good starting place (Canson's Biggie paper is a good student grade watercolor paper that's commonly available at non-art specific shops like Walmart and Michaels)
  • A LOT OF PATIENCE because as you're learning a new media, you're going to make mistakes.  Mistakes are an important part of learning, so try not to get frustrated with yourself.
You can also add spot color here and there for emphasis, accent, or toning- you'll need a much smaller; range if you just use spot color.

If you want to share your work online, you'll need at least three things

  • A scanner- For scanning your finished pages
  • A camera or camera phone- if you wish to post in progress work to Instagram or Tumblr
  • Access to a computer
  • Scanning software (often comes with the scanner, but you can also use Gimp, Photoshop, ect)
Going entirely digital may be the easiest route for those just getting started.  Basic tablet are becoming increasingly inexpensive- these allow you to draw directly on the surface of your computer.  Drawing tablets like those made by Monoprice and Wacom, are also becoming much more affordable.  If you're interested in either of these options, I recommend reading Frenden's reviews before committing to anything.

Regardless of how you decide to make comics, careful research ahead of time will save you A LOT of money.  Googling around and watching Youtube reviews before you commit to any significant art investment will help you save money and make the money you do spend go farther.