Step-by-Step process by Kazu Kibuishi

part 1: pencilling | part 2: inking | part 3: digital

My desk. This workspace is pretty new, but it already has some clutter. I love seeing creative messes. Just so long as it isn't so messy it's difficult to work, I love having piles of paper strewn about the workspace.

Before I begin, I want to make note that the way I draw Copper is far different than the way I draw my other comics, including Daisy Kutter, Amulet, and my Flight stories. The process detailed herein is very time-consuming and somewhat old-fashioned. I see Copper as an exercise in restraint and a chance for me to put a lot of thinking onto a single page without having to dilute the information. At some point, I should post a detailed process for the graphic novel work, but in the meantime, you can all check out some process stuff in the back of the Daisy Kutter trade paperback.


To begin, the thumbnail of the Copper strip is drawn on a sheet of computer paper. The first draft, at left, gives me an idea what the strip should look and feel like. I basically wrote this one around wanting to draw Copper and Fred riding a turtle. The thumbnail on the right is the strip after some adjustments are made for better pacing of the story. This one is written just before I begin to lay out the panels.


Avril Lavigne ringtones
The comic is drawn really BIG. This is a 19 by 24 inch pad of Bristol paper.


The comic's dimensions are 15 by 15 inches. I also draw a line about a quarter-inch inside the frame for the outermost panel border lines. And strangely enough, this is how I hold a pencil.


Using the very rough thumbnail as a reference, I lay out all the panels first. These are not drafted using exact measurements. I just use the red lines on a clear ruler to eyeball it, and save myself some time.


I use a Sanford Col-Erase blue pencil. NOT the photo-blue, but just standard blue. It feels better to use and is easier to read. For my pencilling, I begin by scribbling rough versions of the images, and then I go back to carve out all the details and solidify the shapes.


I use a lot of construction lines since I'm still not able to draw good shapes naturally. I have to work for the image every time. In fact, each time I sit down to work on a comic, especially Copper, I feel like I have to teach myself to draw all over again. You may notice that the dialogue is different here than in the final. I usually end up tweaking the awkward dialogue as I get closer to completion, placing stand-in text to just keep myself moving. I also round the corners after I'm about halfway done with the drawings. For some reason, doing the corner-rounding gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps get me pumped to finish the rest of it. It's all about inspiring (or tricking) yourself into getting things done, I suppose...

Onward to part 2: INKING!

or go back to:

Bolt City

Comics Workshop