Friday, June 30, 2017

Intro to Comic Craft: Scanning Your Blueline Roughs

Intro to Comic Craft: Scanning Your Comic Roughs

Scanner used in this demonstration: Epson Expression 10000XL

Note: You don't need a large format scanner to scan your roughs- just about any scanner will work just fine.  If you're looking for a recommendation on a good quality small format scanner, the Canoscan 9000F MK II will not only scan your roughs and pencils, but also small watercolor pieces quite adequately. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Converting Your Roughs to Digital Bluelines and Printing Your Bluelines: Intro to Comic Craft

Love comics?  Check out 7" Kara, now a webcomic!

Now that our roughs are finished and scanned, we can progress onto the next stage- printing out another set of bluelines.  For this tutorial I'm assuming you're working with traditional media- inks, watercolor, color pencils, ect.

We've discussed converting graphite to bluelines a few times in the past- and the method for converting your roughs to bluelines, and then printing your bluelines on paper isn't significantly different from the methods covered in the Converting Thumbnails to Roughs post.

If you're new to bluelines, check out this post.

A friendly reminder for converting graphite to bluelines:

File should be in grayscale with contrast bumped up.

Go to Mode- Duotone.

If you haven't set up a bluelines present yet, these are the settings you want to aim for:

C: 24 or lower
M: 0
Y: 3 or lower
K: 0

Your finished bluelines will look like this.

After you've converted your files to bluelines, the process for printing your pages on artist quality paper doesn't differ too much from most at-home printing processes.

This post was brought to you thanks to Ink Drop Cafe, the Creator's Collective.
If you enjoy webcomics or comic resources, please check out Ink Drop Cafe.

Setting Up Your File:


Make sure you resize your page before you hit print!  Go to Image-Image Size

And select something suitable for your paper.  Since we're printing on 11x17 paper, I opted to change the width to 10", leaving a .5" border around the page. 

Keep in mind most printers can't handle true borderless printing, so don't expand your image to the very edges.

You can also make your image the same size as the paper, and select the Size to Media option in your print settings.

You will need a printer that can handle large paper sizes, and thicker papers.  I use a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk II, which can handle Strathmore 500 series Bristol (plate, smooth, and vellum) as well as Canson Montval watercolor paper.  This printer is a bit of an investment, but one well worth making- I've had mine since 2012, and it has printed hundreds of 7" Kara pages, and dozens of anthology entries.

This printer can handle large formats (up to 16"x14" I believe) as well as heavier papers like illustration board, making it a great printer for an artist interested in utilizing printed bluelines in their art.  The ink is dye based and water-soluble

In this tutorial, I'm using Photoshop to handle formatting and printing.  I am sure other art programs, such as Sai, Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint, and GIMP can handle resizing and printing as well.

Popular paper sizes for printing comic originals are:

  • 11"x17" (sequential art size, may be difficult to find this size outside of Strathmore's sequential art series)
  • 11"x14" (closest you can come w/o cutting watercolor paper)
Recommended Papers:

For inking:
Strathmore 500 Series 11x17 Plate, Smooth, Vellum Bristol

For watercolor:
Canson XL 140lb 11x15
Canson Montval 140lb 10x15 (used for 7" Kara)

Note: when buying watercolor papers, go for tape bound, not blocks, if you intend to print through a printer.

These are just recommendations for comic papers- affordable, easy to find, runs through the printer, behaves consistently.  There are many wonderful papers on the market that I have yet to try, and many fantastic watercolor papers that while highly recommended in my Watercolor Basics series, are not cost effective for comic work.  Deleter paper, as well as Canson Fanboy paper should run through this printer in the format demonstrated further below, being the same weight as Bristol, but I have not experimented with that yet.


You want to set your paper to plain paper, which gives you the option of Fast under print quality (this will put less ink onto the paper, which makes it easier to remove with water or digitally).  If you don't see your paper size in the dropdown menu, there's a Custom option at the very bottom, and if you're printing on paper that's heavier than cardstock, you should change your Paper Source to front, which allows for flat loading.

Intro to Comic Craft Printing Cicada Summer Bluelines

For this video, I printed on Strathmore 500 series Plate Bristol, at 11"x7". 

If you plan on using traditional coloring media, such as colored pencils, gouache, watercolor, or alcohol markers:

1. In an upcoming tutorial, I'll demonstrate how stretching rehydrates the waterbased dyes used in most home printer inks, which can be lifted up.
2. Alcohol inks are transparent, and will not cover your bluelines, so make sure you adjust the Cyan to an even lighter shade.
3. Color pencil, which is an opaque medium, should cover the bluelines fairly well.

If you're looking for a waterproof/alcohol marker proof printing ink, I recommend printing with a toner based printer.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Finish On Your Comic: Intro to Comic Craft

Love comics?  Don't forget to check out 7" Kara, now available as a webcomic!

Now that our roughs are finished, it's time to talk about the last stages of comic production- pencils, inks, colors, lettering.  Before we determine which media to use, there are several considerations.  To be honest, these are factors that should have been considered from the earliest stages, and should be an integral part of planning and executing your comic, but they are most pressing at this stage.  Below is a brief outline of considerations- it is no means in depth.


How do you wish to publish and distribute your comic?

Web publication
  • Where do you plan on hosting? 
    • Some platforms prioritize certain formats, like Tapas and Webtoons prioritize scrolling comics, and comics should be designed for this layout ahead of time.
  • Color tends to fare better than black and white for popularity on the web
  • Traditional media can be quite time consuming, and may require a significant buffer
  • Web publication tends to be
    • Daily
    • Multiple times a week
    • Weekly
    • Bi Weekly
    • Monthly- in batch

Print publication
  • Color is more expensive to print than black and white
  • Color tends to appeal to younger audiences, older audiences may be open to black and white
  • Color makes for an enticing display
  • Printing generally requires at least one round of proofs

A combination?  Over the years, Nattosoup Studio Art and Process Blog has hosted many Kickstarter promotions that focus on bringing a webcomic to print. Check out our Intro to Comic Craft hub page to see how those artists handle the challenges of printing and publishing.

Do you plan on self publishing, or trying to pitch your comic to a publisher?

  • Some companies prefer not to handle traditional media
  • Having a short comic as proof of concept, rather than a massive comic, may be an easier pitch

Self Publishing:
  • Need some capitol to publish your book
  • Need to develop an audience beforehand
  • Need venues to sell your comic

Print on Demand:
  • More expensive per book than bulk printing, but can order small batches
  • Less margin for profit/repayment on your time investment

Bulk Printing:
  • Need somewhere to store your books
  • Need capitol to purchase books
This post was brought to you thanks to Ink Drop Cafe, the Creators Collective.
Love webcomics and art assets?  Then check out Ink Drop Cafe today!

Once you've decided how you want to distribute your comic, and the accommodations you'll need to make, it's time to decide on whether you want to work with traditional materials, digital hardware, or a combination.

Traditional Media
7" Kara, Chapter 6.  Watercolor.

Cicada Summer pitch.  Brushpens and fude pens on plate bristol.

  • Some people genuinely prefer working with traditional materials, and find them easier to use.
  • Beautiful colors and techniques
  • Teaches you to make peace with imperfection
  • Imperfections can often be corrected digitally

  • If you make a huge mistake, you may have to restart/reprint your page
  • Requires some skill and practice ahead of time
  • Require scanning
  • Sometimes underappreciated

Digital Media

Digital flats for Cicada Summer pitch

  • Can make corrections almost ad infinitum
  • Do not require scanning
  • If working for web, work in RGB.  If working for print, work in CYMK.

  • No finished 'original' to own, display, or sell
  • Caters to perfectionism- may make it difficult to just get pages finished
  • Inking can be frustrating
  • Recreating traditional materials can be a timesink- may be faster to just work in those materials

Traditional Media:

Traditional Inks:
Technical Pens
Fude Pens
Brush Pens
Dip Nibs
or a combination

Color Media:
Color Pencils
or a combination

Digital Media:

Digital Inks
Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint

Digital Flats
Paint Tool Sai
Manga Studio/ Clip Studio Paint

Digital Shading
Paint Tool Sai
Manga Studio

For other affordable options, check out this post by Kabocha.

You can also work in mixed media- digital sketches-traditional watercolor-digital lettering.  The goal is to find a technique you are comfortable with that delivers the results you desire.

In the upcoming weeks, we'll cover quite a few of these methods in individual posts.  There will be some overlap with the Watercolor Basics series, as that series is designed to teach and encourage comic artists to render their comics in watercolor.

Stages we will cover from here on:

  • Converting your roughs to digital bluelines
  • Printing out your bluelines for traditional media finish
  • Scanning your finished inks
  • Scanning your finished traditional media work
  • Digital corrections for traditional media
  • Digital Inking
  • Digital Lettering
  • Digital Flats
  • Digital Shading

If these topics sound interesting or useful to you, make sure you keep an eye on this blog in the upcoming weeks, and please don't hesitate to share this post with a friend.

If you enjoy Intro to Comic Craft, you can help support my efforts here and on the channel by joining the Artnerd community on Patreon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jam and Jelly: Recent Kidlit Illustrations

Although I've considered my comic work to be primarily all ages or kid-lit, it wasn't until last fall that I started creating work specifically to cater to kidlit and children's book illustration.

For me, this means a significant style shift away from the watercolor comic pages of 7" Kara, which means generating a new body of work, both traditional and digital.  This results in multiple bodies of work that don't quite seem to correspond or serve one another.  Since I'm looking for additional paying freelance work to help pay the bills, this means working double time to fill the new portfolios.

Spot Color and Ink:

Materials Used:
Pentel Red Brush Pen+Pentel Red Colored Lead+Sakura Pigma Pro Brushpen

Spot Color Fountain Pen Inks:

Materials Used:
J Herbin Bleu Pervenche (in a waterbrush), washi tape, Noodler's Habernero, Apache Sunset, Diamine Marigold (all in waterbrushes), Diamine Sparkling Seas (in waterbrush), Pentel Red brushpen, Parker Quink (in a waterbrush)

Brusho Watercolor Illustrations:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ink Drop Cafe Promotional Watercolor

Medium: Watercolor
Paper Used: Canson Moulin du Roy, a mould made cold press watercolor paper.  This is no longer available, but Canson Heritage in cold press is an alternative, as is Arches cold press.
Paints used: Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith, SoHo, and Holbein

You guys might recognize the process shown here from the Easy Blends and Fades tutorial in my Watercolor Basics series.  Rather than go in depth here, I encourage you guys to read that post if you're interested in blending and fading.

This piece was painted to celebrate the launch of Ink Drop Cafe, and my webcomic, 7" Kara, membership status.  Ink Drop Cafe is more than just a comic collective, we have a growing list of fantastic affiliates that provide resources and services for artists and comic creators.

Stretched and Penciled Illustration:

All over wash of water+ alizarin crimson 'glow'.

Painting the marble counter top.

Blocking in color.

Building Up Same Color Tones

Adding Shadow and Detail.

Final Scan.

If you'd like to learn more about my watercolor process, or are interested in learning how to watercolor yourself, make sure you check out my Watercolor Basics series.  I teach you everything I know, from selecting papers, paints, and brushes, to the techniques I use for illustration and comic art.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Teaching Services Available

I'm a Nashville area comic artist and watercolor illustrator with a bachelors in Hypermedia (digital art) from the University of New Orleans, and a MFA in Sequential Art from SCAD.  I enjoy teaching a variety of age ranges, and am passionate about comics and affordable art education.

For years, I've offered my services as an art educator to conventions, schools, and libraries in my local area and on my convention circuit.  I've presented workshops and panels along the Gulf Coast and throughout the South, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Savannah, Georgia, to Nashville, Tennessee.

I offer two class options:

In Person: I'm available for in person workshops and panels at schools, conventions, libraries, and to with small, self organized groups.  I'm willing to travel to you if you're in the Nashville area, and willing to negotiate travel expenses if not.

Private Lessons:  Private lessons are great for homeschool groups, or individuals interested in one on one art lessons.  Private lessons can be held in a library meeting room, or a space can be rented to accommodate the event.  Private lessons involve one on one instruction in a relaxed, low pressure setting.

Workshops: Workshops are ideal for smaller groups (up to 20 people) and include a short presentation, a demonstration portion, and then hands on exploration of the materials.

Panels: Are for large groups (20+) and are presented from a focal point.  Panels begin with a presentation and end with a Q+A to allow for custom help.
  • Can provide a list of recommended materials to suite a variety of budgets
  • Additional notes and resource links will be made available to the students at the end of panel or workshop
  • If budget is provided, can purchase supplies for class use
  • Presentation can be recorded and uploaded for later access
  • Can work with groups in a variety of sizes, from very small personal groups (that allow for one on one education) to school auditoriums
Rate: $50 per hour

Online:  Outside of the Nashville area?  I'm available to teach workshops and lead panels through Skype and Google Hangouts.  Have a large group?  I can offer panels via Livestream and Youtube.

  • Can provide a list of recommended materials so students can follow along
  • Additional resource links and notes will be made available to the students ahead of time
  • Presentation can be recorded upon request and uploaded for later access.
Rate: $25 per hour

Topics I can teach:

Comic Topics:
  • Brainstorming and Planning a Longform Comic
  • Creating Thumbnails and Roughs as a Blueprint for Your Comic
  • How to Make a Mini Comic
  • Watercolor for illustration and comics
  • Inking for comics- pens, nibs, or brushes
  • Anatomy for Comics
  • Basic Perspective for Comics
  • Comics as a career

Other Art Topics:
  • Introduction to Watercolor
  • Introduction to Art Markers (waterbased, watercolor, and alcohol based)
  • Alcohol marker (Copic) illustration
  • Artist Alley 101
  • Portfolio building for art school applications
  • Digital Art Techniques
  • Portfolio review
Email me to discuss what I can do for your group!

My Experience

Teaching Experience:

Comics in the Curriculum, Fall 2009, Fall 2010: Volunteer program spearheaded by SCAD Sequential Art Program to teach and encourage literacy and creativity through making comics.  5th-8th graders

East Broad Elementary School 3rd-6th: Spring 2011, student taught under Katrina Schaeffer
Esther F. Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts: 5th-8th: Spring 2011, student taught under Katrina Schaeffer
After school tutorials and portfolio prep Spring 2011: Garrison- 8th graders

Self Promotion and Publishing: teacher assisted SCAD 400 level course under Anthony Fisher, Summer 2012

Panels Presented at SCAD:
The Dapper Cartoonist; Spring 2012, Presented at SCAD- presentation available here
The Con Funk; Spring 2012, Presented at SCAD- presentation available here
Preparing for Cons; Spring 2013,Presented at SCAD


Anime South East:
Basic Human Anatomy; Presented at Anime South East,2012
Garage Printing; Presented at Anime South East,2012

Anime Weekend Atlanta:
Basic Human Anatomy; Presented at AWA,2012
Artist Trading Cards; Presented at AWA 2012, 2 sessions held on different days
Drink n Draw; Hosted at AWA, 2013
Business Practices in Art; AWA 2013

Artist Alley 101; Presented at Hamacon 2014
 Materials and Techniques Part 1; Presented at Hamacon 2014- presentation available here
Materials and Techniques Part 2; Presented at Hamacon 2014- presentation available here

Artist Alley 101; Presented at LouisiANIME 2014
Self Publishing; Presented at LouisiANIME 2014- presentation available here
Watercolors 101; Presented at LouisiANIME 2014- presentation available here

Introduction to Watercolor; Presented at Mechacon 2014- video of panel here
Introduction to the Artist Alley; Presented at Mechacon 2014- video of panel here:
Introduction to Copic Markers; Presented at Mechacon 2014- presentation uploaded here

Artist Alley 101- Presented at MTAC 2015
Introduction to Watercolor- Presented at MTAC 2015

Introduction to Inking- Fall 2016

Libraries and Schools:

St. Charles Parish Public Library:

Draw Together Workshop 2015- video of workshop here.

Nashville Public Library

Let’s Draw a Mini Comic!- Summer 2016- presentation uploaded here:
Test presentation
Live presentation

Chibi Drawing Workshop- Spring 2017

Private Sessions:

Introduction to Watercolor- Summer 2016. Mixed group of students, ages 12-15. Teacher: Lori Dixon

Friday, June 16, 2017

Feed Readers for Organizing Webcomics, Resources

Want to keep all your comics, blogs, Youtube channels, and more in one handy place?  Want to just open ONE APP on your computer or phone and be able to get caught up on everything that happened in the week?

Well, my friend, you should check out FEED READERS.

Feed readers are a great way to stay up to date on your favorite comics, and to follow blogs, resources, and inspiration that you enjoy!  Many readers come with a mobile version, so if you prefer to do your reading while on the go, feed readers can help keep updates at your finger tips.  Feed readers beat bookmarking, since you can access your favorite reads from any computer or device that allows you to log in an updated stream.

Almost all updates for Ink Drop Cafe, listed in one place for easy catch up.

Years ago, I wrote about using Google Reader to organize your blogs and comics into a handy, easy to read list.  Unfortunately, Google Reader has been abandoned (RIP), but feed readers are seeing a resurgence amongst webcomic fans, especially as sites such as Tapastic are coming under fire for recent TOS changes.

Most feed reader services offer similar features, and all should allow you to:
  • Add most webcomics to your feed reader for easy updates, and easy binge reading
  • Add blogs to your feed reader so you can stay up to date with comic news, tutorials, resources, and job opportunities
  • Add Youtube channels to your feed reader- don't rely on Youtube's faulty notification system to let you know when your favorite creators have updated
Things you probably can't add to your RSS feed (without jumping through hoops):
  • Twitter accounts or Lists
  • Instagram accounts
What if you want to follow a site that doesn't have an RSS feed? There are RSS feed creators which work decently.

Webcomic artists looking to shift your audience away from Tapastic: Please feel free to share this post with your audience, especially if you'd like to facilitate mobile browsing of your comic.

Today we're going to demonstrate two of the many feed readers available, Feedly and Newsblur.  Both have mobile apps that allow you to read on the go, as well as browser based apps which allow you to read at any computer. 

This post was sponsored by Ink Drop Cafe, the creator's collective.  Check us out, sample our fantastic selection of webcomics and our wonderful affiliate resources.  To keep up to date, I've linked the OPML file that contains most member and affiliate projects at the bottom of this post.


Interface for new Feedly Account:

Adding new seeds:

You can just type the URL in, and Feedly will search for an RSS feed.

Creating a Collection:

To help keep your comics and blogs organized. 

Possible organization styles:
By genre
By Collective
By use
By artist

Adding feeds to a collection:

Adding blogs:

Adding Youtube channels:

Adding comics:

Exporting your OPML file (the aggregate file of all your feeds) to share with friends or on another feed reader service.

  • Super easy to use
  • Can use a Feedly account, your Google account, or your FB account
  • Can follow blogs, comics, websites, Youtube channels
  • Only need to search the URL, don't even need the RSS link

  • Has become extremely limited now that they have paid options like Pro and Team
  • A bit convoluted


Newsblur is a fantastically simple feed reader built and maintained by developer/designer Samuel Clay. I have a paid account, because I want to support development, but the free tier is only restricting by updating feeds every 2 hours or so. Otherwise sites are polled depending on the average rate of their updates.

The majority of my internet usage is through RSS feeds—so finding a functional, available RSS reader was tantamount after Google Reader was deprecated. I personally prefer Newsblur, but people have different needs. Newsblur may not be the best reader for image or audio-based updates for instance.

The split view is default. It allows you to scroll through a list of updates, of either all your feeds, a folder of feeds, or an individual feed without having to see the entire update. You can choose to display all feeds or only entries you haven't read. The sidebar lists the number of unread updates per site and the entire application can be navigated via keyboard shortcuts. The layout is intuitive, simple, responsive, and customizable.

Adding a feed is as simple as right clicking on a folder, selecting add site, then either typing the name or pasting the RSS/Atom feed url.

Newsblur also has a training option which allows you to treat your RSS feeds a bit like a social network. If you're subscribed to more feeds than you have time to read, spending time to train on a good update will help Newsblur show you more like it. I don't personally use this feature since the majority of my reading is from a dozen or so sites.

Speaking of social network features, Newsblur has commenting and personal-blog features. My first reaction to this was that I didn't want yet another social network; but as I read some comments, and maybe it's just the sites I follow, I found the community was like-minded, interesting, and courteous. It's convenient to comment directly in the RSS reader rather than going to the site, signing in, and completing a CAPTCHA to comment there. The audience is different between the two strangely enough.

All-in-all, I think Samuel Clay, through his design decisions and possibly marketing, has built a community worth interacting with. I encourage anyone using the service to read comments and to comment themselves.

A simple list-based alternate view to split.
Original content alternate view to split, depending on the complexity of the site, this doesn't always work right, but may provide a better experience if RSS feeds are restricted to just titles or truncated content.

A text-based view for sites which have ads overflowing their RSS feeds. You probably won't need this.
A tile-based view similar to Pinterest. Great for image-based content.
By far, the app I use on my phone the most is my RSS Reader. I got a smartphone eight years ago so I could have an RSS reader on-the-go (though GPS and tethering were reasons enough). The app is free and works well on even older Android devices; I assume it works even better on iOS since Clay is more of an Apple guy.

I didn't feel like screen shotting my phone, so this is courteous of the Google Play store.
Finally, and certainly unique to Newsblur, Clay hand-crafts wooden bluetooth remotes which are compatible with Apple products and Newsblur as well as many other applications. I personally wanted to get one of these beautiful remotes, but lack of support for Windows or Linux would make it virtually useless for me other than as an ornament.

Image courteous of Samuel Clay, the remote runs around $70 and works with a variety of applications.
  • Simple interface.
  • Allows multiple views of content saved per site.
  • Free tier of site and app is ad-free.
  • Can import/export OPML files to migrate between services.
  • Good social features.
  • Hosted in multiple locations through Amazon Web Services, so it has phenomenal up-time.
  • Creator responsive to bugs and technology advances.
  • Nifty remote for simple navigation.

  • Have to pay for premium tier for near-real time RSS feeds such as shopping websites. (is this really a con?)
  • If connection is lost, sidebar can sometimes desync; and if there are no updates, but the sidebar believes there are, it will scan through the entire RSS history forever and consume a ridiculous amount of clock cycles. I believe I've submitted a bug report for this, but I can't recall and likely won't happen if you don't leave Newsblur open 24/7.


Here's the RSS link for this blog:
Here's the RSS link for 7" Kara:

Here's the in progress Ink Drop Cafe OPML file (a list of RSS links, packaged so you can easily load it into your reader), including our wonderful affiliated blogs!

RSS 2.0 and Atom for the purposes of a general user are the same thing.

In addition to web comics, RSS feeds are great for tracking time sensitive things:
  • Shopping sale info: eBay search results, Craigslist search results, and Slickdeals.
  • Local events: Eventbrite, Facebook groups, Songkick, Meetup, local venues, and government-sponsored events.
  • Job sites: Monster, indeed, Craigslist, Dice, and Freelancer.