In this guest post, Copic-loving artist Alex Heizer explains how to use a range of Multiliners in various nib sizes to create patterns, texture and tone in your comics. Check it out!
Recently, reading a collection of popular Japanese ghost stories called Kwaidan inspired me to create a comic based on the work. Since these stories were collected and translated over a century ago, I wanted to use traditional illustration techniques and media to honor its rich history.
With the help of Copic Multiliners, the lettering, background textures and shading tones have all been hand rendered using pointillism and hatching. By mixing simple techniques and rendering them using multiple pen sizes in the same element, I’ve added greater levels of depth and subtlety to these pages while keeping the style personal and unique.
COPICS Used: Multiliners of the following sizes: 0.05, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0 and Brush-M
To begin my project, I create a storyboard on standard copy paper folded into a half-size booklet (4.25″ x 11″). This allows me to read it like a ﬁnished comic. I can see how things ﬂow and make changes before spending too much time working on the details.
From there, I sketch rough pencils on Bristol board at 1.5x the ﬁnished printed size. I work them until they’re ready to be inked. For this step, I prefer hot press (sometimes called “plate ﬁnish”) Bristol board due to its smooth surface, heavy weight and durability when erasing and inking.
I use non-photo blue guidelines to mark the comic’s live area and trim guides. Turquoise colored Multiliners are perfect for creating guidelines when preparing your own custom boards. These blue lines will disappear when scanned, leaving only the black ink ready to be printed.
Figure: For basic line-work, I use the 0.05 Multiliner SP due to its precise nib that gives me really ﬁne detail which stays razor-sharp at the reduced, ﬁnal comic size. Before adding shading or texture, I complete all of the ﬁgures on the page. Once the outlines are ﬁnished, I move on to the shading and texturing of the ﬁgures.
Background Basics: At this stage, I only add basic texture and shading to the backgrounds. Leaving the backgrounds until after all of the ﬁgures have been ﬁnished lets you shade and texture them appropriately so they don’t overpower the characters.
Fabric: By combining pointillism and hatching, I create a smooth base shading with only 0.05 on areas like this kimono, followed by pointillism layers using 0.3 and 0.5 to create shadows and folds in the fabric. This is a great low-tech way to do your own shading screens (screen tones) directly on your artwork. By varying your lines and point density, you can simulate different materials, indicate the draping of fabric and create the illusion of volume through light and shadow.
Backgrounds, leaves: Once the ﬁgures are shaded, move to the backgrounds. I did the leaves using the Brush-M because its ﬂexible tapered brush nib allows me to create that classic leaf shape with just a gentle press on the board. For each leaf, I held the pen at an angle and dabbed at the paper lightly, compressing the brush tip only hard enough to leave as large a mark as needed. To get a more realistic look to the leaves, I rotated the direction of the pen so the leaves weren’t all pointing in the same direction and varied the brush angle and pressure to vary the size or shape. The shallower the angle, the longer the leaves. I also created perspective by making the leaves smaller on trees that were farther in the background.
Grass: I rendered the grass with three sizes of pens, beginning with 0.05. By pressing the pen to the paper vertically and quickly ﬂicking the pen upwards by rotating my hand backwards, I created random tapered lines. By ﬂicking the pen, it caused the tip of the pen to lift in an arc from the paper, naturally tapering the tip of the line. For a more natural, grass-like look, I added in 0.3, 0.5 and 1.0, especially when creating the shadowy area and repeated the process a few (thousand) times! To get a smooth texture on this stone wall background, I used 0.05 for crosshatching.
Crosshatching: This is one technique that Multiliners excel at because of their consistent line thickness and ink density which is why I recommend them for anyone wanting to achieve this style of shading. By ﬁlling an area with an even layer of parallel hatches, the shading looks smooth. To create different shades or a gradient, I hatched in one direction and then again at a ninety degree angle. I repeated this in a third direction, or as many as I needed to achieve the darkness level I was looking for. For the textured surface of earth and rocks at the base of the wall, I used 0.05, 0.3 and 0.8 to create multiple layers of pointillism with a random placement of points. By intentionally building up 0.3 and 0.8 points in certain areas, I was able to simulate peaks and valleys which either caught the moonlight or were in shadow.
Lettering: Even though this page has no standard lettering on it, I wanted to show an example of lettering using Multiliners from a different page. Drawn at 1.5 times the ﬁnished comic size, I laid down parallel nonphoto blue lines 3mm apart for the lettering and 2mm apart for the leading (the vertical space between each line of lettering). Since I was going for a clean, mono-weight lettering style, I simply drew out the letters using a 0.3 for standard text and a 0.5 for bold. In this case, the Multiliners beat a traditional nibstyle pen and ink’s varied lines.
As you can see below in the ﬁnished page, basic illustration techniques can be taken to the next level simply by using a variety of Copic Multiliners. By switching between pens, you can add as much depth as you need to set the mood for your piece.
What Multiliner techniques do you use? Let us know in the comments, below.
For more from Alex, visit him online. Enjoyed this post? Feel free to let him know.