Leah Powell

I'm Leah Powell, and I'm a Writing student, webcomic artist, and part time demonologist.

I've previously studied art and animation, and I've been working on my current webcomic for about three years. My goal isn't to teach you how to write or draw, but to share with you some of the tips I've learned and am still learning as I continue working toward my dream.

Scary Monsters
and Super Freaks

A beginner web comic artist reveals the method to her madness.


Pages: The Final Part, and the Real Hard Work

This is it, the end of all your hard work - pages. And of course, this is the part of the process that takes the longest. Depending on how many pages you have to do. I'm going to take you step - by - step and show you how I make my comics pages.

Remember your thumbnails and script? Well, this is where they are used. With those beside me, I start the pencils. I use Bristol board for my pages, I'm not sure about brand names, and I usually buy it at either the school store or Wal-mart. Try different kinds and find what's right for you. I cut it myself, I prefer to work at a simple 8 1/2 by 11, so it fits in my scanner. But, lots of comic artists like to work big, so they can fit more details into their panels. There's no for sure size, so do what feels right.
Some artists just use straight lead/graphite pencils, some use non-photo blue pencils, and some use col-erase pencils. I've experimented with all of these, and I've found I like to use either the np blue (like I've shown here, in these examples) or just straight mechanical pencils. Because I ink over my pencils instead of tracing, my scanner picks up the np blue, and it messes up my black, white and grey comics. So, as of MGD 1, I just use mechanical pencils, and save the np blue for sketches. I personally don't like col-erase at all. It's never as erasable as it says it is! Wouldn't recommend. Find out what works for you.

Next part is inks. I ink directly over my pencils - which isn't always a good idea. It means you have to do twice the inking and be very careful with how you draw in the first place so no pencils get left over when you erase them. Many artists use tracing paper, or light boxes to do their inks, or they use computers. I personally can't stand tracing paper, so I do things the hard way.
I use sharpies for panel boarders and black spots, and art pens like staedtlers and microns (usually a mix of the two, although I prefer microns and would recommend, they can be expensive and hard to find.) for everything else. I also use gel pens for some lines - they work for me and they're the only ones I can find in a .7 nib size. I use a variety of nib sizes for different parts - usually a .07 for most things, .05 for background stuff, .03 for character details, .01 for small stuff like faces, and .08 for outlines and word balloons. For lettering I use a .005.

Finally, markers. I use prismacolour greys art markers. I prefer the cool grey set, but in a pinch I've had to use the warm greys too. There is a difference, it may not look like it at the store but trust me you'll see it on the paper. The example I'm showing you here was done all in cool greys, but some of the later pages of MGD you can really see the difference, much to my frustration.
Deciding what greys to use where helps a lot if you know what colours they would be translating to, which is the reason why I do colour pictures of all my characters when I'm designing them. Art markers require layering and time to dry to get different shades and effects. I only use different markers for the darkest shades; if something is light I just layer the same marker over it.

A lot of art stores are marketing supplies like paper, pens and markers specifically for "comic or manga art." I've never used any of these products, and I've never heard of any professional artists using them either. I've taken a look a them, and personally I think the only difference between them and any of the products I'm recommending here is a price tag. Try different stuff out and find out what works for you, never buy something because some fancy label said its what you need to be using.

 The final thing I do when making my comics is the covers. The process I use for them is pretty much the same as the one I use for pages - pencils, inks, and markers, but I also use pencil crayons and coloured pens for details. Doing covers is a lot of fun; it's really the crowning touch on the comic you've worked really hard on. Unfortunately I don't have any step-by-step covers to show you, but I do have the final Ogopogo cover.

I hope you've enjoyed my little not quite sort of how-to guide for how I make my comics. As of today I've completely finished Book 1 of MGD, and I'm in the middle of designing Book 2. I've learned some lessons; I'll be doing some things differently, and trying to remember to document how I do things so I can learn more in the future. As always, thank you for reading, and thanks for liking my stuff!


Feature: Interview with Lana Hicks, Tattoo Artist

Lana Hicks is a tattoo artist based out of my home town of St.Thomas, from her very own studio, Lady Unlucky Tattoo. I first experienced Lana's work when I saw it on my friends - she came highly recommended. St.Thomas is a town with at least four tattoo studios (the last time I checked, and that I know of.) I knew when I planned on getting my first tattoo I wanted a place close to home, with an artist I could get to know and trust. I needed to be able to contact my artist before and after my tattoo, and someone who could deal with me being a nervous Nelly and possibly bothering them with thousands of questions.

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Fiction: Red Spiders

They tell you not to write about dreams because dreams rarely make sense, and that's very true, but stories don't always make sense either. I've gotten inspiration from my dreams before, an image or a phrase, usually just a simple idea. This is the first time I've ever felt the need to document an entire dream, every non-sensical bit of it, without some kind of story or filter.

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Designing - Your Characters, Your Locations, Your Life.

Designing is some of the most fun you can have making a comic. It's where a lot of the creativity comes out. Where all of your hard work gathering reference and ideas come together to make something original. I break my designs up into these categories: Characters, locations, objects, and SFX/ extras. I like to take my time being as detailed as possible with my designs, since I essentially use them as home-made reference material. The more complicated something is, the more I'll look at it when I'm drawing. So Ill go through each of these categories in detail to give you an idea of how I do things.

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Review: You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not a Gadget looks at the changing culture of technology and the internet and its effect on humanity and personhood. In particular it is a criticism of how certain internet services, such as social networking, go about forming a person’s online identity. He also looks at how the internet has affected music and the sharing of art and writing. Lanier has a lot of criticisms and deconstructions, and a few ideas and solutions. He also spends quite a bit of time waxing philosophical about identity and personhood, and provides insight into how technologists and programmers create new gadgets and their ideas for a new wired world.

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