Creating a strip

Because people occasionally ask me about it, I thought I would give you all a behind the scenes look at what my comic writing/drawing process is like.

My desk setup.
My wonderful desk setup (yes the Dragonball Heroes cards are part of the process)

Writing/Thumbing

When it comes to writing, I’m not a big fan of fully writing out all the specifics at the beginning. I usually write in tiny thumbnail sketches of the pages without actually writing in the dialogue. I just draw in little speech bubbles for which character is talking and leave the actual script in my head. For the thumbs, I have a journal that I carry around with me everywhere. I just draw in some a page full of thumbnail boxes every now and then.

One of the thumbnail pages scattered throughout my journal

This may seem like a good way to forget what the dialogue was supposed to be and it kinda is. That’s what I wan’t. I know I’ll remember what is going on and what the characters are talking about. Not writing it down stops me from getting attached to any specific lines. When it comes to do the layouts my subconscious has had time to rework the original dialogue a bunch and I’ve also written at least a few pages ahead in the story so I’m able to rework it to better fit with what’s coming. If I’m working on Other Tales, I will actually write out the script for the whole chapter just before starting work on the layouts but for Bridgedflickered I just throw it in as I lay out each page.

Layouts

Layouts with rough dialogue written in

I draw the layouts in something called a “Thumbnail Note”. One of the wonderful things about Japan is that there is such a huge industry built around manga that there is a tonne of purpose made stationary for it. I use a B5 sized note with each page split into a two page spread. The more confident I am about how the final page will look, the looser the layouts will be. I find that if I’m struggling with something I spend a lot of time figuring it out in the layouts and they end up almost looking like finished panels.

Digital finish

I used to blow the layouts up to B4 size at this stage and tape it to a lightbox. Unfortunately my hands are a little too shaky to do traditional inking these days. (This is why I’ve pretty much only been putting out Bridgedflickerd for a while)

How the page looks in Clip Studio, ready for the final inking

So now I transition the page to digital and finish up in Clip Studio Paint. For each page file I work in a few layers. A blue sketch layer, Inks, Panel boxes and speech ballons, Text and the website branding. Often with Bridgedflckered though, I’ll have a large splash panel that goes under the other panels. To preserve this big splash panel so I can post the full image to my Patreon supporters I add in a few extra layers to split the two parts of the page.

And that’s basically it. By the way if you haven’t seen the final of the page I was working on in this post you can read it here¬†or read the Bridgedflickered story from the start here.

My process