Step #7: Create Page Roughs for Your Comic Book – 8-Page Challenge #2

Header for Pencil Roughs Step

Hello, fellow creators. If you’re hanging with us in Step #7, you are hitting your stride right now. Your comic is coming together at this point. It’s actually starting to look like a comic, right? Right!

In Step 1, we reviewed how to plan your story concept for an 8-Page Story. In Step 2, we learned how to break down your story into a plot. In Step 3, we revised the plot. In Step 4, our artists started creating character sheets. In Step #5, you wrote our script in “full script” format.

In Step 7, you will be roughing out your comic pages. This is your last opportunity to make creative changes to the layout of your panels and your complete story breakdown.

Many experienced pros (like Ron Lim in our example Avengers story) will skip over thumbnails and go directly into these roughs. These steps are referenced many things, including breakdowns.

To participate in the 8-Page Challenge #2 and be published in our upcoming anthology, you must register for the message boards and place your page roughs in the Step 7 – Page Roughs Message Board.

Tips for Creating Page Roughs for Your Comic Book

You need to remember a few things in this stage.

Leave Room for Balloons

The dialogue needs to go somewhere. If you fill the entire panel with detail, some of it will get covered by the word balloons. At this point, you should look at the amount of dialogue to determine how much space you need to leave for the letterer to place balloons.

If you go back to Step #5, you’ll see that I wrote most of the dialogue into the script. The words may change a bit later, but the dialogue indicates how much space I will need for word balloons. This is a great way to communicate with the artist to leave enough open space for those balloons.

In the above video, comic book writer/artist Jamal Igle explains how to leave room for lettering. He also details how to plan for speaking order. This is a must-watch explanation that you don’t want to miss!


Speaking Order

We read left to right. It is helpful to put the character that speaks first on the left, if there are multiple characters in the panel. That’s because the tails (or pointers) on word balloons look better when they are not crossing over.

This is helpful, but certainly not required. Sketch the panel to have the maximum impact. Sometimes, you can work with the writer and letterer to adjust portions of the story. As the artist, you may be able to find a better or more impactful way of telling the story visually. Share your ideas in your sketches and get feedback.


Roughs Now, Tight Pencils Later

Like the thumbnails, the roughs should not take you a long time. This is your opportunity to hone your story. This is not the time to render tight pencils. Keep it loose.


Roughs By Ron Lim

In this example, we are working from a script that I wrote for Avengers Assemble. It was illustrated by comic artist Ron Lim, a highly experienced and respected penciler. Ron provided these roughs to show how he worked through the script, which you can find here in Step 3: Writing the Plot.


Your Turn

Okay, so now it’s your turn. If you are participating in the 8 Page Challenge #2, you should post your rough comic book pages in the Step #7 forum in the Create@ComicBookSchool forums. Also, please provide feedback for the other participants to help them improve their work.

Previous Steps

Read Step 1: How to Create a Story Idea

Read Step 2: How to Break Down the Plot for Your Story

Read Step 3: How to Revise Your Plot

Read Step 4: Character Design

Read: Step 5: Scripting

Read: Step 6: Thumbnails

Read the announcement for the 8-Page Challenge and fill out the startup form

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