By Alina Bradford
It takes more than one illustrator to create a completed comic book. The penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer are all important to the process.
Many people don’t realize how many different kinds of illustrators it takes to create a comic book. After the writer is done writing the story, breaking down the pages and panels, and deciding the dialog, the script is handed down to the first in a line of artists, each with a special talent that is specifically used in comics.
A penciler is the first illustrator the script comes to. This illustrator’s job is to take the writer’s directions and form them into pencil drawings.
First, the penciler does preliminary sketches to decide how the scenes will look in each panel. These sketches are very loose and are not meant to be a permanent part of the finished comic.
Next, the penciler does what is called “pencils.” The comic characters are penciled into the panels, given details, and basically are brought to life.
Last, lines are cleaned up and ‘X’s are added to areas where the penciler wants the inker to make a section completely black.
The script and pencil drawings are then passed on to the inker. The inker is responsible for adding ink to the drawings. They go over the drawn lines done by the penciler and add shadows, texture, and bold lines by using creative inking techniques. This is usually done with fountain pens and pots of India ink. Corrections are done with white inks.
After the inker is done with the comic, it will go to the next illustrator, which is a colorist. Up until this point, the comic has been black and white. The colorist adds color to the comic.
Traditionally, all color was added with markers, watercolor, and colored inks. Today, a colorist can scan the black and white comic into a computer and add color with programs such as Photoshop.
The last illustrator that the comic will go to is the letterer. The letterer adds speech balloons, captions, and sound effects. These three types of lettering are very important to the feel and look of the comic.
Speech balloons are the words spoken by the characters that are encased by balloon shapes.
Captions are little boxes of text that set the scene for the reader.
Sound effects are words such as “boom,” “bam,” or “zap” that are used to show sound in a scene. Many times the words are illustrated to look the way they sound. For example, a “zap” may be drawn with zigzagging, lightning-like letters.
Lettering once was done by hand, but, much like coloring, many artists do lettering with a computer program, today.
All of these illustrators work together to create the illustrations one sees on a comic book page. This process can take three to four month, sometimes longer, but it ends up being a unique collaboration that is rarely seen in the art world.