Creating a Graphic Novel Part 2: Drawing!

Hello friends! This is part 2 of the 3-part series about creating my webcomic/graphic novel, Imaginarium. I hope you'll enjoy this little glimpse behind the scenes!

Part 2: Drawing

When you think about drawing a graphic novel, this is the part you probably think of first. But really, it turned out to be the easy step! Time-consuming, sure, but much less mental work that the planning/writing stage.

In March and April of last year I gave myself a goal of drawing something every single day, even if it was only a few lines. At the end of two months, I had all of the pages drawn, inked, and scanned.

This what 120 inked pages look like! Working from the thumbnails I had already figured out for each page, I first sketched the pages in pencil then went over the lines with ink.

Page Process: Thumbnail, Inks, Scan, Color!

If you want to see scans of all the original pages (seriously, all of them!) they're available at the "Honored Guest" tier on my Patreon!

Page Rules

To keep the layout of the panels and pages consistent throughout the project, I printed a page/panel guide and made myself stick to these lines and only allowed one panel to split vertically on each two-page spread. Working within these constraints made decisions so much simpler!

My drawing paper was thin enough the guide would show through easily, so breaking out the brush pen to draw the borders of the panels was always the first step.

Character Rules

In a series of story-telling illustrations, it's important that the characters look the same throughout--and while I'm still working on this, it was super helpful to simplify the features and determine what the important lines were.

For instance, the Warden uses a lot of straight lines--his nose, eyebrows, and mouth. Verity, on the other hand, has a small, pointed nose and chin. I tried to give each character distinctive, easily-replicable features.

Color Rules

Yes, I know, I'm just all about the rules today! Honestly, putting rules in place beforehand made the whole process so much simpler than trying to figure things out on the fly (though I did plenty of that, as well!)

Before I started mass-coloring pages, I experimented with a lot of different color schemes. Below is my very messy color palette! With a few exceptions, these are all of the colors I used throughout the whole story.

Coloring Process

I split the pages up into 8-12 page chunks and worked on one chunk at a time--each page gets the flat colors, then the shading & highlights, then the speech was still a really long process, but the assembly-line style did speed things up a bit!

Coloring Process: Flat color, Shadows, Highlights, Texture!

Just last month--almost exactly a year after I started drawing--I finished coloring the final pages--whew!

Next week look for part 3: getting the story ready to share and finding an audience! (Spoilers: it will involve a cover reveal and a book Kickstarter.) :)

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little more about my art process. Thanks so much for sticking with me, and I'll see you next week!


P.S. If you'd like to draw a graphic novel of your own, I created a handy storyboarding and thumbnailing sketchbook/planner that uses the same system I used in creating Imaginarium.