Light And Shadow in Comics

You might have seen a lot of Artists, in particular, Mike Mignola and myself, use a method of adding pyramid like shapes at the edges of our hard blacks and probably have wondered, why do they do that or, what the heck is that? If you’re a pro comic artist then you’ll pretty much know what it is, but if you’re just starting out in comics and getting familiar with inking, it might confuse you a bit. Well, fear not, I’m here to explain the simplicity of it all. And believe me, it’s not complicated at all.

First, just to make sure we’re clear on the subject, let me show you a few examples of what I mean in my own work

At first glance it may seem like a stylistic thing, something we do to make the art look “cool”. I admittedly do it because it looks cool, however, it’s not the main reason. Those lines, pyramids, sharp things, points, feathers, whatever you want to call them (the correct term is feathering), are there for a very specific and valid reason, they are there to show the transition from light to shadow or, shadow to light.

Let’s take a look at the illustration below. I’ve drawn a simple sphere and separated the light (everything that’s white within the sphere) and shadows (everything that’s solid black within the sphere). But you’ll notice that between the light and shadow, where they meet, I’ve added those “cool” pointy things. This is meant to break up the point of contact between the light and shadow, so instead of having one solid line dividing both, we have what’s called a transition. In reality, we don’t get hard transitions from light to shadow or shadow to light. There’s always a transition of shading that occurs at the point where light and shadow meet.

Let’s look at a smoother more realistic shaded sphere to see what I mean

You don’t necessarily have to do this in your work. It’s something Artists like Mike Mignola are known for. Me, I do it occasionally when the style I’m using calls for it as in this Batman image I recently did.

Mike Mignola usually uses a mixture of both, going from hard solid transitions to using feathering as seen in the image below.

Frank Miller, on the other hand, preferred to do heavy solid transitions during his famous Sin City style as seen in the image below.

So now you know and knowing is half the…

Ok, ok. I couldn’t resist. But like I said, you don’t have to do this in your own work, but it’s good knowledge to have especially when starting out. When creating this feathering effect, I tend to do it in 1 of 2 ways depending on the look I’m going for, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Till then, thanks for reading!

The Tools I Use to Conquer The World

The title of this blog is obviously an exaggeration. I’m not really trying to conquer the World… I’m trying to destroy it! Bwahahahahahahaha! No really, all joking aside, it’s meant to capture your attention and if you’re reading this far, It’s accomplished it’s goal. Now, since we’ve established what this post is not about, let’s talk about what it is about. The tools I use to create my comics and illustrations.

I’m writing this post because I often get asked, what tablet am I using and what app am I using. So this will not only inform you but also give me a way to point people towards the answer without having to repeat myself every single time. Let’s begin with the tablet.

I used to use a 12” Wacom Cintiq tablet connected to my iMac Apple computer. The Cintiq was my first encounter with a tablet with a screen and it was amazing. I did two 150 page graphic novels on that thing. For software, I was running a program called Manga Studio. That program has since been renamed to Clip Studio Paint. I also had an iPad and on occasions I’d dabble with drawing on it but, it wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t as fun. Until the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil arrived. Then, everything changed!

I got the 1st generation iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and immediately loaded an app called Procreate on it. The rest, as they say, is history. Since then, however, I have used different apps. But the tablet has and continues to remain the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

As for apps, I’ve used a lot (I have a YouTube channel and I’ve reviewed a few of these apps). But if I had to pick my main apps I go back to each and every time, I’d have to say, Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, Affinity Photo and ComicDraw. Of all of these, Procreate is my go to for everything, but if I had to illustrate a comic for myself or a client with as minimal effort as possible, I’d probably go with Clip Studio Paint since it’s basically made for creating comics.

Affinity Photo I use the same way I used to use Photoshop. As a matter of fact, it was the main reason why I dumped Photoshop. And basically that’s just to batch export images or fix things up here or there. I do, on occasions, sketch and ink in it, but mainly I use it for minor things. And ComicDraw, like Clip Studio Paint, is specifically made for creating comics on the iPad. However, if you’re looking for power, I’d go with Clip Studio, yet if you’re looking for simplicity, I’d go with ComicDraw.

And that’s it. Those are the digital tools I use to create comics and illustrations on the iPad Pro. On occasions, I also do traditional art and I have another set of tools I use for that, but I’ll leave that for another post in the future.

Thanks for reading!

New Year, New Blog

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It’s been years since I’ve had a blog or for that matter, blogged at all. The advent of social media and services like Twitter and Instagram made it too alluring to continue blogging. But I’ve been contemplating a return to the good old ways of yesteryears for some time now and, finally, I’ve decided to go full steam ahead.

as with my previous blogs, I plan on sharing art, comics and process stuff on this blog as well as your occasional tutorial. If you’re just dropping in from a Twitter announcement feel free to book mark the blog or just keep following me on Twitter because, predictably, I will announce there every time there’s a new post here.

thanks.