comic book tools

Comic Book Tools: 10 Essential Tools for Comic Book Artists

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

June 5, 2024

Looking for which comic book tools you should use? Writing and illustrating a comic book requires the creative vision to tell a thrilling story, one with words and a story and one with pictures. But to morph a story concept into a gorgeous illustration that faithfully depicts both the idea and the style of comic, comic book artists need to use a host of specific tools.

Bringing the writer’s vision to life requires a handful of necessary items, from paper to writing instruments to the small but critical tools that make rendering a design by hand easier. Artists should have these 10 comic book tools ready to use during the illustration process so they can focus on the art of transforming the story into beautifully illustrated panels that the author and readers will love.

1. Comic Book Tools — Bristol Paper

Choosing the right paper to use is critical for an illustrator because the properties of this humble tool can make or break the artwork it holds. The most commonly used paper by comic book artists is Bristol paper because it looks professional and is widely praised for its smooth quality that allows illustrations to look their best. With the variety of inking processes often used in comic book creation, Bristol paper holds up beautifully. This paper is a comic book tool that illustrators cannot do without.

2. Comic Book Tools — Brushes

Artists who craft comic book illustrations utilize more than one type of utensil to create the unique visual style of comic book art. Brushes create depth and shading and add dimensional texture to comic book art. Having a handful of brushes in different sizes and shapes on hand is essential for artists developing designs for a self-published comic book.

3. Comic Book Tools — Digital Drawing Tablet

Modern illustration is not completed completely by hand, although hand-drawn and hand-colored comic book art is still the gold standard. However, the digital drawing tablet is now an essential tool for comic book artists because many artists now use some digital tools in their creative process.

Digital formats allow artists to instantly correct or change a design, which can be problematic in hand-drawn artistry, adding additional time to what can be an already lengthy process. The use of a digital drawing tablet also provides artists with a wide variety of drawing tools, like different widths of brushes and fine-tuning of color choices, making comic illustration accessible for even those new to comic book artistry. Using a digital format during the drawing process can also create a seamless workflow, allowing artists to move from sketching the initial design to inking to colorizing a design quickly.

4. Comic Book Tools — Erasers

No artist’s tool kit is complete without erasers that will work for every step of the creative process. The initial sketching phase is usually full of trial and error, so a quality kneaded eraser that preserves the surface of the paper will save artists time and money. And when larger ink or graphite areas need to be removed, vinyl erasers will do the trick. Since comic book art is full of precision and straight lines, keeping a few erasers for every situation on hand is a basic necessity to keep the creative flow going smoothly.

5. Comic Book Tools — Light Table or Light Box

Using a backlight is critical for the iterative process of comic book creation. A light table or a light box assists in copying artwork from one panel to another, allowing the artist to easily reproduce specific scenes, characters or locations from one panel to another. This iterative style of drawing is much more complicated than a traditional illustration, so using a light table or light box helps artists get all of the details right with ease.

6. Comic Book Tools — Markers

When artwork reaches the coloring stage, many comic book artists choose to use high-quality markers to add color to their designs. These versatile tools are relatively new to the comic book art world, but they are gaining popularity due to their simplicity and ease of use. Markers of varying widths and shapes allow artists to add dimension and shade to an illustration as well as deposit the necessary color to a design. An array of well-chosen colors and marker styles is an excellent tool that will assist artists in creating beautiful designs to bring comic book characters and stories to vivid life for the reader.

7. Comic Book Tools — Pencils

One of the most basic comic book tools is the humble pencil. Used during the initial sketching phase, roughing out designs as well as adding details to planned designs, pencils play a huge role in a comic artist’s work. In addition to traditional graphite pencils, non-photo blue pencils are an excellent tool that can specifically assist comic book artists. These pencils use a non-reflective blue ink that is not picked up by cameras or scanners. Artists often use blue ink pencils to create sketch lines that won’t need to be erased, saving time and preserving the integrity of the paper when the final drawings are photographed for printing.

8. Comic Book Tools — Pens and Inks

Every comic book artist uses pens and inks to outline, polish, and define a design once it has gone through the initial sketching process. Inking a design is the first step in defining an illustration, so keeping an arsenal of pens and inks ready to use is something all comic book artists must do. Fountain pens, refillable brush pens, and fine-nib pens are all economical, sound choices and can get the job done effectively. But traditional dip brushes and pens filled with India ink are the most popular options as they have been used in comic book inking for decades and provide artists with the most authentic inking experience.

9. Comic Book Tools — Reference Materials

Every artist should have a library of reference materials to use during the ideation, sketching, and illustration finalizing process.

  • Anatomy books are a good resource to help with form and style, assisting artists with anatomically correct proportions and authentic details in drawing human or animal forms.
  • Perspective guides can help artists learn how to draw a character or other element from different vantage points.
  • Tutorial guides are a great resource to help artists create beautiful effects. Tutorials on shading, inking, creating depth, and understanding artistic elements like the use of negative space all can help budding or experienced artists create designs that fulfill the comic book author’s vision.
  • The work of other comic book artists can provide an illustrator with a valuable resource to look to for inspiration. Illustrators of all experience levels often keep a compilation of work from other talented artists they admire to use as a jumping-off point when needed.

10. Comic Book Tools — Working Set Up

Our last essential comic book tool is simply having a well-stocked location to create your designs. Whether it is a dedicated workspace or a spot you can utilize in rotation with other work, your working setup should include some necessities that all comic book artists will use regularly.

  • Compasses or protractors will help you draw perfect circles or arcs.
  • Drawing boards or tray-style drawing boards can be used to keep papers smooth and neat when a dedicated professional drawing table is not available.
  • Rulers offer crisp lines and help you align text, characters, or other elements and make measuring a snap.

Printing Your Comic Book

Using the right comic book tools can help you transform your characters and story into a great-looking set of illustrations, ready for printing. Once your comic book art is ready for publication, Publishing Xpress is ready to help you turn your manuscript into a gorgeous comic book you and your readers will love.

From assisting you with a comic book cover that will attract the attention of the readers who will love your story to ensure that each page of your comic looks fantastic, working with an experienced printer like Publishing Xpress means you can bring your comic book dreams to life.

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