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Inks to print ready page

Process overview, including:

  • Thumbnails
  • Pencils/sketch/draft(s)
  • Inking
  • Scanning
  • Fixing my mistakes (aka photoshop surgery)
  • Transferring to the digital template page
  • Toning
  • Final page




Sometime I thumbnail, sometimes I won’t. I actually went through a few thumbnails before getting to the last one (right-most). I think that thumbnailing can be useful for a lot of things, such as

  • panel layouts
  • composition
  • figure placement
  • speech bubble placement.
  • spot any overused panel layouts
  • knowing if your page will be on the left or right hand spread of the final book



I am drawing on a piece of paper that is LARGER than the final printed size. This is because scaling your inks down also makes your inks look thinner and smoother! Drawing larger also lets you cram more detail in without using a 0.05mm pen.

First pass: I usually do this with non-photo/repro blue pencil. I outline all my margins first, and the rest fall into place by using the thumbnail as a guide.


Second pass: sometimes I do this with regular mechanical pencil (with black/gray HB lead) if I need to get more details down before inking. For this particular page I didn’t do a second pass (lazy).



I switch between all three tools. I haven’t used nib in a while, so I thought it would be nice to pick it up again. Just for the record, I am not particularly married to any of these materials.

This looks pretty scummy right now, haha. I try to sake ink by doing large areas of flat black digitally instead.


Raw inks straight on top of NPB pencil. Yes there are already some obvious extreme  fails, but I’ll fix those with the magic of ~ photoshop ~



  • Scanner (I have CanoScan LIDE100, I actually don’t like this scanner that much)
  • Photoshop (I’m on CS4)

My page is 9″ x 12″, and my scanner bed is only ~9″ x 11″, so I had to scan it in twice. Luckily there are discrete panels, so piecing it together will be EASY PIE.

Since I only used NPB pencil, I didn’t have to erase anything. Just stuck it in my scanner.

  • Open photoshop
  • Import – Select my scanner from the menu
  • Advanced settings/mode
  • Resolution: 600 dpi
  • Color mode:Bitmap

So here is the scan preview for the top part of the page


Then scan the bottom half of the page


I’m going to attach the two scans together at the gutter between the 2nd and 3rd panel.


Grab one of the scans

  • Image – Canvas size

Expand it to be the same as your physical paper (9″ x 12″)


Go to grayscale mode so I can use layers! I will COPY PASTAAA the two scans together, and shift the pasted layer around to match up. You can’t have layers in bitmap mode.


Ok, pasted!


Flatten the layers.

Now to shift things around so I’m not left with strange gaps. I’m trying to make the digital canvas look like the pre-existing physical canvas that I scanned.


After fixing, looks better:


Before editing: my brush settings


PENCIL tool! I rarely ever use brush tool unless I’m doing more hardcore digital painting (aka never).


My eraser acts like a white pencil


All of my fills, wands, and selections have pencil tool edges (no feather, no anti-alias, hard jagged pixel edge)

So any edits that I make to the comic hereafter will be in pure b/w pixels. So there will be no surprises or changes when you bitmap your file.

Fixing my terrible mistakes

I’m far from being a perfect drawer and person. I try to minimize the amount of post scanning editing I have to do, but sometime I just fail!

Thankfully, there’s ~ Photoshop ~ by Adobe.


The spears were tangent-ing with the word bubbles, so I extended the bubbles to overlap. There are other problems too, but I’m letting them stew.

BTW check out this great article by Chris Schweizer about tangents in comics.


I’m bad at filling in black.


Here are the fixes:


After fixing my inks at the original canvas size (9″ x 12″), it’s time to size down to PRINT size (which in my particular case is 5.25″ x 8″).

Transferring to the digital template page

Since the comic pages are going to be compiled digitally, we will be delivering a digital comic page.

So we create a “template” that we reuse for all our project. The template has guides set up that designate the bleed, crop and “safe” zone of the page.


Basically my page height (12″) should be the same height as the inner-most “safe” zone (7″).


Obviously the page is way to big when you paste it in at first.

  • Command/Control + T: free transform
  • Hold down Shift while dragging a corner to scale down proportionally
  • “Release” transformation when I’ve align the height of my page to match the “safe zone” guide



Check to make sure all important elements (such as text, required visuals) are within the “safe” zone of your template.


I didn’t bother measuring bleed space accurately, so you can see here that I’m off by a bit. I can chose to fill those gaps in, or just leave it, since they’ll probably be cut off in final-book-trimming later.


It wasn’t super difficult to fill these particular gaps, so I went ahead and extended my lines beyond the bleed line.


So my linework is set. No more editing! Let’s bitmap this baby, cause the process of “scaling” down gave my linework gray pixels!


This seems repetitive, but now I go back to grayscale so I can use layers.



Same as how I described it before.

I just make sure to keep my tones separate from my lines. I also put each “tone” on a different layer.


Play around with it. I try to not shade much, but this scene is at night, so I felt that it was appropriate to make things dark. I have a history of OVERTONING when it comes to dramatic night scenes…


Ok, so I have the flat grays set up… now to turn them into their respective B/W-pattern-dot equivalents.


Cmd/Ctrl + click selects all the pixel information in a particular layer. You have to click on the thumbnail for this to happen in Photoshop.


As mentioned before, I’m using the subset of royalty-free pattern tone brushes from Katsumi Michihara (thank you!).



What the “mid gray” dots look like at 100%


Repeat for the darker “gray” flat colour



What the “dark gray” dots look like at 100%


Example of both mid + dark gray “screen tones” in action


If there are small details, you can also use the pattern stamp tool


So that’s it. Now my file consists of multiple layers, but each layer only has B/W pixel information (no gray pixels).


Almost done!



After you bitmap, you may notice that it doesn’t look different at all.


Save the BITMAP version as a new file. Bitmap files are generally very small, which is another great perk (fyi my canvas size is 3150 x 4800 pixels).


01_bitmap.psd is now ready to be sent to the organizer to be compiled!

Here is the web view!


As always, this only represents my process, and there are probably many different (and more efficient!) ways to achieve the same results.

Thanks for looking! If you have any questions, just add your comment below!

Originally posted on tumblr.

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