I have just started production on the artwork for my graphic novel. So I am off and running doing the pencil work at the moment. I just wanted to post a small bit on paper. When considering paper to use for your comic/graphic novel, or illustrations for that matter, the most common paper is Bristol board. Bristol board is a paper that is widely used for various graphic applications. And in the comic book industry it’s the main go to paper. Bristol board comes in a couple different grammage or weights noted as gsm. This denotes the the thickness or strength of the paper. The higher the number the thicker and stronger the paper will be, simply put. Bristol board is commonly at 220-250 gsm. Where as normal printer paper is about 80-100gsm. This provides a strong durable paper to do the art work on. It comes normally as a brilliant white. Surfaces are either smooth or plate, and vellum. when doing comics, artist usually prefer the smooth/plate surface. This would be as smooth as glass. The vellum surface has a bite or texture to it. Vellum would be more utilized for artwork consisting of mediums such as charcoals, pastels, etc. The smooth or plate surface is ideal for pen and ink, watercolor, etc. Also many Bristol boards are very forgiving when it comes to rubbing out pencil marks and or ink.
If you are developing web based comics, then Bristol board isn’t a necessity. Any paper will do and print margins are not required. I would however use a heavier weight paper anyway due to durability and compatibility of tools. I use for my “Douchebag Confessions” web comic a A4 printer paper at 150gsm. I find this is perfect for inking and rubbing out pencils without degrading the paper. But anything would really be suitable and really is up to the artist. Some artists will even use a brown paper bag for their work and this adds an aesthetic to the finished product.
Living in Ireland, I have found that procuring Bristol board somewhat of a challenge. Not many suppliers carry Bristol, and ordering off of Amazon can be overly expensive due to shipping costs. In searching, I have found a supplier that has adequate supply of Winsor & Newton Bristol board. This wasn’t my first choice, but is the best I could find and to be honest I am quite pleased with it at this point. Other notable brands and manufactures are Canson, which has unlined and the Fanboy series of Bristol. The Fanboy series is pre-lined with the safe, trim and full bleed lines. I will discuss this in another post. But basically they are the guideline margins for printers of your book. Another brand is Strathmore and the also have a pre-lined or sequential board made for comic book artists, as well as unlined Bristol.
Like I mentioned above, the W&N board I bought from a supplier in Limerick city, Art Mad, is completely acceptable for my work. So far, I find it a pleasure to work on. Now I have only started penciling, but will post something regarding the board when I start inking. The board is 250gsm and smooth. It comes in a pad of 20 A3 sheets. And for €22.00 it works out at just over a euro a board. Having to put in the guideline margins isn’t a big deal for me as I am enjoying the process of learning as I go. I would almost recommend this to anyone starting out as I think you get a deeper appreciation for the entire process of the production of you work.
So, like I said just a quick post, any comments or feedback is fully welcomed and appreciated. I will be posting a small tutorial on the lining of your board soon, but until then, have a good one.