From correct composition to Superman’s pants, we get expert advice on digital comics from Freddie E.
In the brave new world of digital comics, it is still as important to learn the right way to draw as it was in the days of Kirby and co.
Then in 2006, after working for DC Comics for about a year, DC approached me with an exclusive contract.
So in November of 2006, after my excusive had kicked in, I went to New York for the first time, toured the DC offices, and brought along my laptop, to demo my digital work processes to John Morgan, the cool guy that ended up being my Editor for the book, as well as a good friend. FEW: The YouTube stuff came about because I love to share, and converse about these subjects, I wish I could devote more time to making videos, I have a long list of topics and questions that viewers have sent to me, that I’d like to address, but time is really short for me, and my comic book deadlines take priority. When developing the book did you find you got better as an artist as a result of having to focus in your craft?
Something that did change was – I learned some stuff about using 3D models during that time, which has greatly altered my digital workflow. While I was putting together the foundations of what would become The DC  Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics, I had read an interview with Joe Quesada, where he mentioned using Google Sketchup, I also saw an article written by Leinil Francis Yu, about his use of Those were flags to me, to look into using 3D models.
Do you think artists lose some of the key fundamentals when drawing digitally compared to working in pen and pencil? FEW:Working digitally is an ADDITIONAL skill set, not a replacement one, so if a digital artist is not disciplined enough to learn the fundamentals before or in addition to going digital, they can serious stunt their artistic ability by using the digital tools as a crutch. In short the artist needs to learn anatomy, storytelling, composition, depth with value – all of that in addition to the skillset to work digitally. You name check How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way as a key influence, do you think one day your book  will be viewed in the same way and what has been the most positive comment you have had about the book from readers or other artists? FEW: How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way is a book every comic artist should own, the lessons taught in the book (most of them anyway) are timeless, and invaluable.
The DC  Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics has received a lot of positive reviews both online and to me, in person, but it’s hard to imagine my book being able to compete with Stan Lee and John Buscema. Do you work exclusively digitally or do you still dust off a pen and pencil every now and again? What is your current set-up digitally – are you still using Wacom tablets and do you favour Photoshop over any of the other digital drawing apps?

Lastly, I favor Photoshop still, because it is the most powerful and versatile program I know of. Do you have a current favourite tip or shortcut for drawing or painting in Photoshop that you could share with my readers? FEW: Throughout the process of drawing a piece digitally (especially in the early rough stages), be sure to flip your composition to check your proportions, and symmetry.
You can do the same thing in real life, but holding up the art to a mirror, or looking at the piece from behind, seeing the art in reverse. What’re your thoughts on more interactive comics on the iPad such as Marvel’s Infinite Comics?
Do you think we are at a stage where a tablet like an iPad is a viable option for creating as well as consuming digital comics? When I am on the go I use an Asus tablet PC, which runs a full version of Windows 7, allowing it to run a full version of Adobe Photoshop, with a precise pressure sensitive stylus. Another tablet PC to keep an eye on is the Modbook Pro, which could be the ultimate in on the go digital art, only time will tell! With your YouTube videos and website, do you see yourself as becoming a full-time teacher of comic art in the future and do you have an plans to develop the online lessons? FEW: Joe Kubert is a giant, and I can never hope to fulfill or compete with his contributions….
I have a BIG How to idea in my head right now, but it’s still in those nebulous planning stages right now, if I bring it to fruition, I’ll let you know! If you were starting out today do you think you would embrace the self-publishing ideals that digital comics seem to being able to afford some people (for example Mark Waid’s Thrillbent website) or would you hope things worked out in the same vein as they did for you already? Telling me I was working in a fairly unique way, so I started developing notes, and a table of contents of how I would structure the book, if I every decided to follow through with it, but was not perusing it vigorously.
While I was discussing my exclusive with the legal department at DC Comics I brought up the how to book, just to double check with them, in case I found a publisher, I didn’t want it to create a conflict.
I feel (and hope) that I grew as an artist from natural growth, and having more experience in the craft of illustrating comic book over the two years it took me to write the book.
I had no time to learn that program, so I asked Kiki, my wife and personal assistant- I asked her to research the program, then after a few weeks of her learning it, she taught to me, only the things I needed to know as I needed it.
Having stated that, I think the goods of working digitally (namely fast editing and versatility in composition) far out weigh the potential negatives.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things Painter, Illustrator and Manga Studio can do better than Photoshop, but Photoshop still covers much wider ground.
It’s really handy and the presentation is impressive especially to family and friend unfamiliar with what comics are “now-a-days”. The iPad is great for reading comics- nothing beats reading real, actual comics, where you can hold it, and turn the pages, and smell the ink on the printed page (especially in those old comics, love that smell), but the speed and versatility and color range and ease of use to read digital comics, is outstanding! Do you think adding sound and animation adds to the medium or distracts and how much is too much? For example any plans to become the digital equivalent of the late great Joe Kubert and open a school? My goal has always been to draw super heroes comics for a living, and I want to do that in any format I can!
It took me over two years to write The DC  Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics working on it in-between all the overlapping deadlines of my regular monthly gigs. I traded in the ol’ intuos Wacom, for a simple, small Bamboo tablet – the smallest, simplest one I could find.
And Photoshop is what I’ve trained in and used the most, so I am the most comfortable with. It’s the lack of a reliable precise stylus, compounded by the lack of a fully versatile art program (we need a million layers, and easy to access tools) that is holding it back.
But I love the give and take of the learning process – I’ve given a lot of demos and presentations at Hallmark Cards, The Art Institutes of Kansas, Washington DC and Pittsburg, along with countless high schools and panels at conventions…I enjoy them all! With such an expert in all things digital out there and willing to share his knowledge with the world, we wanted to find out the secret to drawing great digital comics and who better to ask?!How did you got involved in The DC  Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics project and had you already started sharing your knowledge with fans before you started on the book? And after seeing some of the cool stuff those other programs do (looks of certain brushes for example) I’ve created some custom tool presets in Photoshop to closely approximate and duplicate some of those features. But all of that can be disruptive to my deadlines (all the prepping and traveling) but I enjoy the communication about these topics that I’m so passionate about – Comic Book art and technology!

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