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Hand drawn or CGI?

That's the question. Which are more ideal for webcomics, or is a mix good?

I submit my own work, where I have a hand-drawn strip but is scanned in such a way that the linework is gray-ish. I built a color scheme off of that, basically.

So which do you think is preferable? Or is there a valid preference at all?


Hand-drawn feels much warmer to me. But I'll give anything a shot.

Steve Ince's picture

I hand draw all my strips because I enjoy physically drawing the characters - it's fun. I use a brush and pens for inking and then scan it into photoshop. I letter using the computer, but I use a font that matches my drawing style and looks hand-lettered. The overall effect is one of unity which is what I'm after.

dunk's picture

I draw a lot, and I use a lot of different materials. Personally, I love bristol for things I intend to print, and I keep a pack squirreled away just in case, but I do all my webcomic stuff on the computer wit a drawing program and a tablet.

I used to watch my brother go through hour upon hour to pencil, ink, scan and clean up his drawings, and it seemed like too much work [yep... I'm lazy].

The main advantage of working the way that I do is that everything I draw can be in color, and I can print it at virtually any dpi if the feeling moves me (which it rarely does).

The main drawback is that if I were to decide to print some of my comics I'm not sure they would reproduce very well without some major tweaking (I'm not sure the photocopier could give me the kind of sharp greys I would want).

I like it fine, but it's not for everyone.[/img]

dunk's picture

I still do a lot of hand-drawn sketching, but to be honest all of my webcomics drawings are done digitally. It's a very different process, and it forces me to work in a different way, but I wouldn't say that it was inferior.

I do my initial pencils on vellum, working out the problems then lightbox the pencils (tightly) onto 11" x 17" 2-ply bristol board. With tight, clean pencils in place, I ink it up, primarily using a Winsor/Newton Series 7 brush (a number 1 or 2), and using Micron Pigma markers for stuff that needs to be ruled. From there, I scan it in and send it off to ace colorist Chad Fidler who works his Photoshop magic on the pages. Then it comes back to me for lettering (I use ComiCraft's "Wild-N-Crazy" font for text, and create my own sound effects).

We end up with stuff like this:

The final product is a mix of traditional and computer generated. Quality work can be entirely hand-drawn as is Ron Fortier & Gary Kato's wonderful "Mr. Jigsaw." Joe Zabel's amazing serial "Fear Mongers" is completely CG.

Mr Jigsaw:

The Fear Mongers:

It's really up to you: where your interests and strengths lie. If it looks like you're enjoying what you're doing, chances are, the readers will enjoy it too.


Bryan Prindiville's picture

Valid Pref: what makes you happy!

If you don't like the darkness of your lines, 2 tricks: 1. scan your work as a bitmap (1-bit or B&W not greyscale or RGB) at a higher dpi than you need (this works best if you use solid black areas or line art not soft shading); 2. or you can alter your "levels" at scanning or in photoshop after scanning, brinning the black triangle on the left in to increase blacks (or the white triangle on the right to increase white, I highly recommend not messing with the grey triangle in the middle) generally speaking you want to move the triangles so they are just under the start of the black lines (signifying the presence of actual data)

hope that helps


I use a combo of both, though traditional materials takes precedence over digital. Most of the time, it depends on what mood I'm in. I can work like ten times faster traditionally than digitally, but sometimes I can't seem to get the right "feel" for some things traditionally. So I augment the traditional with Photoshop and Illustrator.

I think the preferred medium depends on the style of the comic. If I were to do a medieval-themed comic, I could do CGI, but it would be a neater thing if (for example) I did it in a style that looked as if I'd inked it with a quill. A science fiction comic might be better off CGI'd. But I think the best thing for most of us is to color in the computer for one simple reason: Undo.

Personally, Seth, I draw mine on bristol paper and scan it. I try to get the lines as dark as possible and then do touch up and color in Photoshop. There's always something "real" about hand drawn. Mind you, if I could get my skill up enough, I'd be drawing in photoshop too, so I don't suppose I see there being a preference.

Extremely. So thick it's almost cardboard. It's about ten bucks for pack of twenty. I'm gonna go broke doing this one day! Don't start using it or you'll never go back.

Clint Hollingsworth's picture

I've stuck with very traditional methods, blue penciling and then inking (thouugh the brush has prettymuch gone by the wayside for some of the new brushpens).

I tried working on digitally inking one of my pencil drawing and decided I could ink in real space a heck of a lot faster, scan it into Photoshop and make corrections long before I could get a stylus to work for me. :idea:

Clint Hollingsworth

The Wandering Ones Webcomic

[quote:c4b75ac445="Kendra"]I trust my hands a lot more than I trust my computer. =/

Agreed in full. That and I can draw on paper anywhere. Which is a big help since I draw my comic on my lunch hour at work everyday.

[quote:c4b75ac445="Kendra"]But as for viewing, I don't have a preference. I love some of the things that people talented in cg are capable of, too.

I agree on this too. Truely talented cg artists are a treasure to behold. I just don't have a reason to try for it at the moment. As I've said, I'd like to give it a shot some day and see how I do.

Amen, Levk. Glad to see someone else who uses Photoshop as an augmentation.

Bristol paper, what's that? I use ordinary copy paper for my work, since the galleys (preprinted templates) are printed in a laserprinter.

That sounds like it might be higher-quality paper.


I draw mine of plain paper with blue pencil, then I ink (making sure the lines are as dark as possible.) I scan them in, adjust the levels and contrast in photoshop and then the fun begins with CG colouring it.

I'm not really talented enough to do it all on the computer. Hell, I dunno what the heck I've been doing NOW. XD
Basically, I just do the strip by hand, and then I just do the fix-ups and the colouration on the computer. I like doing soft shading with gradiation, thanks to the dodge and burn tools.

Right now I draw by hand, scan, and color in Photoshop elements. I trust my hands a lot more than I trust my computer. =/ But as for viewing, I don't have a preference. I love some of the things that people talented in cg are capable of, too.

Al Schroeder's picture

I hand draw and ink mine, but scan and color by computer. But I see good examples on both sides, and I don't think either can be considered "better" on a webcomic.---Al

 Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out? Think there are no new superhero ideas? Think again.

More and more I'm creating Oddly Normal in the computer, using my Wacom Tablet and pen and Photoshop. In fact, I don't think I had to scan anything for the latest page.


I say hand drawn, but its just a preference thing. The only thing I use a computer for is text and adjusting the tones on the image since the paper I use doesn't accept ink well(sketch book paper. I use my good paper purely for illustrations). If I needed to color, I'd bust out the watercolors.

<a xhref="" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

Personally I do only CGI. There's a remarkably sensible and logical reason for this: I have no scanner.

I use vectors or 3D rendering for all my stuff, I don't like Bitmapped Graphics as much though I do have to make them bitmaps for display on the web. I'm the only person I know who can draw a precise line with a mouse.

Ilike hand drawn because I want to be able to continue when they pull out the plug.

I just draw by hand and color it in Photoshop and do the rest tehir as well, lettering and all that neat stuff.

I draw in analog and color and add text in digital. I recently picked up illustrator, though, and really want to go to all digital.

I'm yet one of those people who like hand drawn my comic. Almost everything is done by hand except for the lettering and the occassional coloring. I love the feel of the pencil/pen/marker on paper and I have a lot more control using traditional media then using a tablet or mouse.

I do all mine now in Flash Http:// I use a Wacom 12x12. I use flash because it gives me the closest feel to brushed line quality, but I can skip the pencil step and go directly to ink. I also heavily use layers e.g. 1 for text, 1 for borders,forground inks, background inks etc. I also really like to be able to scale my stuff without pixelating the lines. At this point I find photoshop to be too much work so I never leave Flash- but I am also horribly lazy!

All of my work is done digitally, using the common Wacom 4x3 tablet. Unlike anyone I've ever met, I use Macromedia Flash though as a primary tool. I like the control and smoothing it gives me throughout the stroke.

Honestly, it's harder for me to draw in real space than it is on the computer now that I've been using the tablet for a couple of years. I keep wanting ot hit Control-Z on paper.

I've been drawing in Photoshop for so long that I have the same problem when it comes to hand drawing on paper. Seems like the only time I do it intentionally is when I need to plan out a background or I'm having problems visualizing what I'm drawing on the computer.

I draw in a hard-leaded pencil on Bristol, ink, depending on my mood, with anything from pitt pen to dip pen, and then erase the pencil lines. My lettering is done by hand too. I use the computer for touch-up, coloring/gradients on the rare occasion that I do that, and publication to the web.

Starscream's Revenge and Monsters in the Closet are examples of work that was pencilled and inked by hand then digitally painted using Painter Classic.

Bunny & the Cantelope is 100% digital - pencilled in Painter Classic, inked and lettered in Photoshop, then back to Painter Classic for colouring.

I'm finding myself drawn more to working digitally. With my trusty Wack-um tablet, I find I'm able to get the same spontenaety of line as with a pencil. My only problem comes with the inking. I've yet to get a digitally inked line that's as nice as what I can do with a hunt 102 crowquill. Perhaps when I finally shell out the bucks to upgrade to Painter 8, their will be some decent inking tools.

[quote:8d34cf1db8="KidEgo"]All of my work is done digitally, using the common Wacom 4x3 tablet. Unlike anyone I've ever met, I use Macromedia Flash though as a primary tool. I like the control and smoothing it gives me throughout the stroke.

Honestly, it's harder for me to draw in real space than it is on the computer now that I've been using the tablet for a couple of years. I keep wanting ot hit Control-Z on paper.

Orneryboy uses all flash.

Also, I totally know what you mean with the ctrl-z thing. I want to do that with life sometimes. And seriously, I will almost reach over and press it, just in doing everyday things. Going through the motions. It's sad.

I learned how to draw using ink and paper, and if it was good enough fer me, then it's good enough fer the web, gol' darnnit!

computer - mouse drawn illustration: here
hand drawn pencil illustration: here

If I could find an art program that lets me do art like an oekaki board, I'd probably try and do a comic completely with my mouse on computer. But when I load up PSP or any other computer programs, I have problems with simple things like "putting in text" or "erasing". It really sucks. I took a course on computer art and aced it too, but all I did in there was scan in paintings and modify them a bit. =\