Frequently Asked Questions
Digital Drawing Tools For Comic Artists
Question #1: What Exactly Are These Blank Comics Templates?
Templates are a version of a Digital Graphic Workstation file for Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint, Corel Draw, etc. These blank comic book templates are designed for professional comics production in American, British, and Manga comic books, as well as graphic novels. Upon opening the file you see your pages laid out in a single, triple, or nine grid format.
Each grid has lines for Safe Zone, Bleed, Covers, and Double Page Spreads, as well as 26 levels of suggested panel dimensions. They come premade with both a white and grey background (the grey is for compositional purpose and to reduce eye strain). Included in the layers are grids for thumbnails and rough draft designs.
Question #2: How Do Your Digital Templates Work?
To work in comcis digitally you’ve got to pick a DGW (Digital Graphic Workstation), and you might as well pick one now, and if you have to pick one now, you might as well start with a good DGW that you can try for free.
Technically all the major programs are “free” for the first month, since you can be refunded after 30 days. However two options come to mind, Clip Studio Paint and GIMP 2.10. Gimp 2.10 is a Linux based DGW, so it is always free. And Clip Studio Paint is specifically made for comics and they have a generous free trial so new artists might want to start there.
Once you’ve made your choice in a DGW, our templates are made to work with each specific program. Templates are a version of a DGW file that opens into the specs you need to start with in comics, and the file is also set up for graphic illustration planning and production.
Question #3: Which programs should I use for drawing comics?
As stated above once you’re ready to start making comics the first thing you need to choose is a Digital Graphic Workstation like Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint, CorelDRAW, or GIMP 2.10.
If you’re a new digital artist there are good reasons to choose Clip Studio Paint (aka Manga Studio), or GIMP 2.10, or CorelDRAW. Gimp 2.10 is a robust and free Linux product. Clip Studio Pro has a generous free trial and was specifically designed for making comics in Japan. CorelDRAW is also a good choice (and for that matter frankly so are the Adobe Products, which I use for many projects).
If we absolutely had to name one program to recommend for beginners, we’d say Clip Studio Paint. Because you can buy Clip Studio Paint for one lifetime purchase, and since Clip Studio Paint is extremely affordable, you should want to have it no matter which other programs you use anyway.
Question #4: Does it really matter if I'm using industry standard programs like Adobe?
The first thing you should know is that most of these programs work similarly and there’s very little you can do with one that you can’t do with the next.
Adobe is the industry standard, but most artists (and graphic designers in particular) will tell you they use as many programs as they can find a good use for.
Does it matter to be working in the same file format as your co-contributors on a project? Yes, but at that point somebody is selling something well enough to pay for whichever program you’ll decide to use.
Guess what else? Getting good with one of these is basically all you’re going to need to transfer pretty seamlessly to the next program. Eventually, you will want to be fluent with all the graphics products.
Question #5: Which software should I use for writing comics?
Our criteria for comics writing applications are stability, function, and features. If you always have access to the internet and don’t want to spend anything at all, Google Docs is a great way to go. None of your files are dependent on your phone or your computer, and they’re backed up instantly by one of the biggest companies in the world.
Microsoft Word is the global word processing standard and not much needs to be said about the reliability and function of this program. Millions of documents are produced in Microsoft Word every day, and you can also use your One Note cloud drive for rock solid data storage. However Microsoft word comes at a price.
The Comics Page strongly recommends lifetime purchase options over monthly subscriptions. As long as you make sure to save your license key, you never risk losing access to your Word account, which includes support for many languages, as well as access to the Office Suite, which comes in handy dealing with the professional world.
Final Draft is another great option for script writers because this software will teach you a lot of what you need to learn about the format of writing scripts for comics, plays, radio, television, and movies. Final draft also includes a Beat Board for organizing your ideas, creating a timeline and outline, creating your story arc, and then writing it out.
We’d also suggest Notepad++ as a sort of free, techy alternative to the word processing programs (and Notepad++ is not a word processing application). Notepad++ is not at all for everyone, but it’s great for those who like to organize their projects like a web application. It’s designed for coders but the good thing about the program is it saves everything you’ve written in the AppData folder — whether you save it or not it’s still there, and unlike the standard Windows Notepad program, Notepad++ uses tabs for each separate file, so whatever you’re working on is just always there. Most of the beginnings of every project some of us do here, are done on Notepad++.
Question #6: What are the basic steps for starting and finishing a comics page for artists?
- Referencing Shots & Images
- Rough Drafts
- Finished pages
1. Read your script for each page, then plan what’s going to be on it.
2. Go over your page plan, then start thumnailing (doodling) out your panels (frames).
3. As you thumbnail, start referencing your shot list for the kind of scene you want the “camera” to show in each panel.
4. Reference your thumbnails, shot list, and images of items you may need to draw for each scene, then begin your rough draft (which will be a full size version of your final thumbnails.
5. Use your rough draft to completely plan out your word balloons and captions and sound effects, so you will understand intuitively how these are supposed to fit into the finished art.
6. Reference your completed rough drafts and lettering to begin your finished page, which will be either penciled and inked digitally or with traditional art tools.
7. Take at least a few hours away from your finished page and then come back with fresh eyes, preferrably after getting some feedback from other artists. Then, use the feedback and your rested perspective to complete any revisions that need to be made.
The Comics Page temlates have layers and settings for each stage of this process.
Question #7: What other ways can I get ahead at making comics and publishing?
Before I learned graphic design and illustration I talked to as many designers as I could. One person who really opened up my eyes told me he uses not just the usual Digital Graphic Workstations, but also uses 3D and animation programs like Google Sketchup.
One clothing designer that I’ve talked to mentioned that he used a popular 3D modeling program to design mockups for his portfolio to create products that weren’t even physically possible to make. All that mattered in getting the job was making that first impression.
You never know where you are going to find your edge in the arts, but you need to always be looking for it.