The illustration of Caroline Parkinson

Illustration, caricatures, sketches, and comics

Making a comic page: The Emperor’s Exorcists


I’m in Barcelona this week, so have a process post!

Here’s how I make a comic page.

I don’t script pages formally. I use storyboards and thumbnails instead.  I write a basic outline and notes on theme. Here’s  what I wrote for these first two pages:

Chapter One: The Exorcism .

  1. Establishing shot of temple.(it’s in Japan…a historical setting…traditional Heian spring)

I thumbnail the entire chapter- working out how many panels go into each page, compositions, and layout. I may make some changes if I decide the pacing’s not right.

The maximum amount of panels I use on one page is 5.  I read an interview with Fiona Staples about her work on Saga, and she has a theory that keeping pages as simple as possible makes comics more accessible for readers. What a great idea! More room for art!

You can see a sample from the first chapter below:










I break each thumbnail down into A5 sized pages in a sketchbook, add more detail, and add text on the computer, because my writing is hideously messy.

This lets me read the whole chapter through and see if it works.It also means I don’t spend hours putting details into part of the panel that will be covered by speech bubbles.  At this stage, I’ll send it to my beta reader, who checks it to see if it makes sense to people who don’t regularly read comics, and/or a whole load of Heian era history.








I draw the pages out in pencil first and then use a lightbox for inking on the reverse side of the paper with a Pentel brush pen. This keeps the line quality nice and fluid and stops me from adding too much detail. I use cheap A3 printer paper so I can use as much of it as I like without worrying about cost. Drawing on the reverse side of the paper means that any mistakes are easier to spot and I don’t have to worry about erasing pencil lines from finished artwork.  Sometimes pages just work, other times it’s like pulling teeth, and I have to redraw a page or a panel five or six times.


Below are the finished pages, coloured in Photoshop. The restricted colour scheme is borrowed from The Hokusai Manga– light brown, dark brown, beige and pink. It’s pretty versatile, and there’s no way I could manage to keep a regular update schedule if I was using full colour.


This is obviously not the only way to make a webcomic!  Below are some links to other webcomics which inspire me.

Kill Six Billion DemonsThe Phoenix RequiemHark! A Vgrant

Suihira, City of WaterPhobos and DeimosDelilah Dirk



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