Thursday, July 17, 2008

Page Process

Captain America #40 went on sale this week, and instead of my usual lame generic post announcing the fact, I've decided to show a little of the process involved in drawing the book.

After printing out the script, I'll usually go through and do thumbnails directly on the script pages as I'm reading it. These are generally quick impressions, and are subject to change (to put it mildly). Here's the thumbnail for page 11-

(click images to enlarge)

The next step is the actual pencilling. I really prefer drawing with pens and markers instead of pencil, so "pencilling" may not be the right term. I only use pencils to roughly block in the figures and then draw everything with whatever pen I have laying around, using a Sharpie for the big solid blacks. Usually on this step, I'll lay out everything a little more carefully than you see here, but since this page required no establishing shots or busy environments, I could just concentrate on getting the figures on the page-

This then gets scanned into Photoshop to tweak the placement and composition, completing the "pencils" part of the process-

This rough is then printed out on 11x17 paper and then taped to the back of an art board supplied by Marvel. My drawing table has a lightbox and I go straight to inks from this stage. There may be some incidental pencilling as I go, particularly if I'm working on something very specific, like a certain building or type of car. Faces and hands also are subject to being refined before the inks go down . Here's the final inked page-

Finally, it's uploaded to the folks at Marvel, who then pass it on to the one and only Frank D'Armata for coloring-

- and that's that.

I don't follow these steps exactly for every page, but for the most part this is how it's done. I'm constantly trying to tweak this process and eliminate steps in an attempt to increase speed and production, so this is all subject to change.


rory said...

Wow! Thanks for posting, it's always interesting to see the stages and processes artists go through. Really enjoy your work on the book, I hope you and Bru are around for a very long time!

Doug Dabbs said...

Man, this really great stuff. I think by looking at different artist's process, you get the most of their decision making. This is very educational and fun to look at. Thanks for posting this.

IADW said...

Wow this is pretty cool to see. I love the camera angles you choose, that's an art in itself!

Fabio D'Auria said...

Great squad!
(you and Frank)

Paul Neal said...

Really interesting. Sounds like every page has two originals. I dare say this varies but how many hours go into a page (On average?)

I'm guessing the covers are more time consuming.

S.H.I.E.L.D boy said...

Mr. Epting, your art is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Steve, thanks for taking us through your process -- this was really interestng and informative. I'm a total sucker for "how-to" pieces like this one. Beautiful stuff!

Alan said...

This is what a blog should be. Your pencils are so lively. Excellent post!

Steve Epting said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Paul - the amount of time per page varies wildly, depending on what the script calls for. Ideally, it's a page a day. You are correct that the covers take longer, but only because I'm doing the color as well. They generally run 2 - 3 days each.

Anonymous said...

wow.. cool!!

tnxs for posting some of Ur tips and steps in illustration..

Mike Thompson said...

Marvel should take a risk and publish Captain America strictly from your black and white pages. Absolutely no color. Sometimes the digital coloring is a bit strong and the linework loses something, but only a little bit. I'm more a purist and want to see the artist's work in its original form. Heck, it's not like Cap wouldn't sell if it were in b&w, right?

And thanks for sharing your process. The development of great works is often just as exciting as the final product. This is no exception.

Famac said...

I'll also chime in that I think the colorist is hurting your work. You are already adding so much of the rendering yourself, the colorist should only be allowed to flat your work with some mild effects. He's putting waaaay to much shine and glitter on everything. Ask you colorist to imitate the guy who is doing All-Star Superman.

Unknown said...

Guys,I would like to voice my opinion in that I believe Frank D'Armata is one of the best colorists and/or inkers in the industry at the moment.

On another note, this post was awesome to see. Keep up the great work, Steve!

Fabio D'Auria said...

Penciler and colorists are a team.
In the (superhero) comicbook the color is fundamental, it can destroy a penciler or to improve it.

D'Armata is a good colorist, you must know that it's not easy to color well when a penciler uses the grey tone.

I know why I'm a colorist, and I love the Frank's works

Sorry for my badenglish but I'm italian :)

Anonymous said...


Paolo Rivera said...

Hey, Steve, thanks for the insight into your process. I'm actually doing a Cap story right now, so I've been looking at a lot of your artwork.

I do have a question, though. When you do a gray wash over your inks, what kind of file are you sending your colorist? Still a bit map (possibly with a dot screen) or are you going with a grayscale image? I'm always tempted to do a wash, but haven't tried it yet.

Steve Epting said...

Thanks Paulo.

The files are uploaded (and sent to the colorist) as grayscale files. A bit map with dot screen would work too, but would look different. The grayscale file is much larger as you might guess, but it will show the washes in all their glory, rather than as dot screen.

I've had to go through a lot of trial and error with the washes - learning how dark to go (or not go) to work with the colorist. You've been coloring your own work I believe, so you will be able to figure it out easily, but I've had to make adjustments along the way to see what worked with my colorist, who tends to start with fairly dark flats and then builds up the highlights. There's nothing wrong with that, and I tend to paint the same way (sort of), but it tended to make even light washes very dark, and make darker washes simply go black. I'm working with a different colorist on the new project I'm doing so I'll have another learning curve, but I think I'll be able to do more rendering with grays than I've done in Cap.

Hope this helped some.

Paolo Rivera said...

Thanks, Steve. That helped. I've been coloring myself lately, so I figured if I was ever going to do it, now's the time. I've been looking at a lot of Noel Sickles and Milton Caniff lately, and they do so much with just 3 values.

Fabio D'Auria said...

Hi Paolo,
when you coloring over greytone you need to use color without "black".
Into the software (photoshop I suppose) you charge the publisher's "color Setting" and when you select a color into the panel the K must be 0.

In cmyk, the blacks in the color go on the film (layer of print) of the black (K) making to become the darkest colors of as you see them to monitor.

Steve, Excuse me for the intervention and all excuse my English.
(Paolo I am the Italian boy that has come to make you the compliments to the comicon of NY)