someone on my tumblr
asked about my comics process and character design and then shingworks
suggested i post my super long answer here on DA, so here it is! get ready! >: D
"my process varies depending on the comic, but the one thing that stays the same in all of them is that i start with thumbnails done in pencil. for traditionally-drawn comics like Wet Moon, say, i blow up the thumbnails on a copy machine and then lightbox over them on bristol paper. for me this is super helpful, laying out the pages in small scale and figuring out where the figures go. i tend to make a lot of mistakes and change things and erase a lot, so having the thumbnail as a guide, having the page already blocked in even if i end up changing or moving things around, really helps me. here are some thumbnails from Shadoweyes vol. 1 if you're interested in what they look like: here
back when i used to ink (sumi ink + brush) interior pages i'd do pretty loose pencils and then most of the detail would come in during inking, but after having hand problems i reserved inking for only covers/illustrations and short comics, so since 2007 i've done Wet Moon straight in pencil.
then for greytones sometimes i've done digital and sometimes traditional. Wet Moon volume 1 had digital/Photoshop tones done with a mouse (haha) with a few marker panels here and there, and then Wet Moon 2 was a combo of both. Wet Moon 3 and Water Baby are my only totally traditional books (except for a couple of the night scenes in Water Baby, i'd throw a layer of grey on top in Photoshop). Wet Moon 3 i used a different process for, i did it in pencil and markers but used a kind of stupid method of markering on xeroxed copies because markers smudge the pencil. i never did that again but it was an interesting experiment. XD
i used to do traditionally-drawn, written lettering, i'd do the balloons on overlays and scan them separately but that got to be way too time-consuming and also tough with my hand issues, so now i draw word balloons digitally with a tablet and using a font made of my hand-lettering. i still prefer hand lettering but it's not do-able right now.
Shadoweyes is my only all-digital comic, but i still start with the traditional thumbnails. instead of the lighboxing step i scan the thumbs directly into Photoshop and then draw over them with a tablet using the pencil tool in Photoshop 6 (i'm a dinosaur!).
i don't really have a preference for traditional or digital, it changes, but for the past year or two i've been having a ton of fun with digital because it's so different from what i've been doing since i started drawing. it's like i'm learning to draw all over again and it forces me to loosen up.
hmm, character designs are tricky. they're mostly inspired by real people, people i know, people i've met, strangers i see while out and about, photos of people, people from various walks of life and cultures, etc. i rarely ever copy an entire outfit or single person, i always mix elements around and mix and match, that sort of thing, whatever fits the character i want to do. i also do make up things from scratch, like making up my own outfits and hairstyles or fashion ideas that i think would be cool in the real world but aren't as far as i know, particularly in Shadoweyes where the fashion trends aren't quite real-world.
sometimes i'm inspired by other people's work, like a lot of the stuff i grew up with like Alien and HR Giger and Ninja Turtles, but nothing beats seeing somebody with a cool pair of shoes or somebody with a face that would make a good character or somebody who presents themselves in a striking or unusual way. a couple people who inspire me as far as fashion goes are Fool's Gold and Batwoman artist Amy Reeder, she comes up with awesome, creative outfits and hairstyles, and ash-bunny
who designs great real, wearable clothes. it's not usually that i see an outfit or element they do and copy it, but it's the ideas they come up with and how they try different things with clothing that gets me thinking. one thing i did use directly was a hoodie design ash-bunny did that i used in Wet Moon 5, with her permission of course; she was supposed to get credited in the book but my publisher screwed up and left her out! d'oh.
other than fashion and hair, as far as faces and body types go, i guess that's also mostly inspired by real life. my stuff is cartoony but i try to take real features and distill them and stylize them to make each character distinct (to varying levels of success, i guess, heh).
even my fantastical characters like my mystic warrior designs i did for Exalted, or my new design for Glory, and even non-human-looking characters like Naga from Mountain Girl and Shadoweyes to some extent, are inspired by real people. not really in a literal way, but i'll get an idea for each character about how they hold themselves, if that makes sense, based on how i see people holding themselves in real life, like how they move and how they sound/talk, and that really informs the character. like Shadoweyes isn't just a mash-up of a Ninja Turtle and Mega Man and Giger's Alien, and while that is definitely part of her and i'm inspired by what i love about those other designs, most of her comes from awkward-but-powerful adolescents who haven't quite filled out yet and who have a strength, both physical and emotional, brimming inside them that you know if they were capable of unleashing they'd wreak havoc, and also inspired by people who the conveniences of modern society weren't designed for but exaggerated into a superhero-type character."