Digital Techniques: Video Tutorial #5

Many people have asked me how I create Zorphbert and Fred. Well, it’s been along winding process over the years, and I am always one to embrace the latest fad in technology (must be that gene passed down from my mom and grandfather). Currently, I am 100% digital, from sketch to finish. But it didn’t start out that way. You can read though an overview I wrote HERE, to get an idea of the full evolution. In this series I plan to take you through my evolution step by step, from fountain pens to my Tablet PC.  No matter where you are in the spectrum of digitally creating comics, these tutorials may be able to help you find a process that works for you!

Episode #5: Coloring in Illustrator

  • setting up calligraphy brushes
  • pen pressure and sentivity
  • staging a comic using layers
  • brush preference: Tolerance and smoothness
  • how to lay in colors easily utilizing pressure sensitivity
  • using gradients in the backgrounds

***music by Sendelica (“Spacehopper Blues”)- creative commons license

Posted in Drawing, Featured News, Tech, Tutorials and tagged , , , .


  1. This video doesn’t have any sound. When I went to YouTube to check, there was this notice:

    “NOTICE This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled.”

    Would you pick some “pod-safe” music (maybe with a Creative Commons license) and repost?

    • Ah, seems the old fart music guy didn’t teach my fellow Alliance members NOT to use copyrighted music in a video. Yep, they don’t like that and will strip it out. Especially if you *advertise* the song in there. Doesn’t make them any happier.

      I’ll have Dawn fix this up and remove the music. These youngsters…

    • d’oh! Yah, the other videos I’ve done with music seemed to get by the youtube police without issue. I’ll have to go back in tonight and re-edit. My apologies, people! Just hang tight!

  2. I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad tablet after hearing you talking about them on an earlier podcast. I wanted a Cintiq, but didn’t want to be chained to a desktop. The tablet is groovy, and our comic is 100% digital now (despite some folks thinking we couldn’t pull off detailed art digitally… hogwash!)

    • Nice! Always fun to get a new toy. I used to have an HP Pavilion, and like all HP product, it died on me 1 month after the warranty was over.

      What model number of Lenovo did you get?

      • I got a refurb’d x200 for just under $700. The x201 was around $1,200. Came loaded with Windows 7 — works great with Adobe CS3 (all I’ve run on it so far.)

        I had heard complaints about the pen driver and pressure sensitivity, but no issues so far. HUGE timesaver for us. Draw directly on the screen — BOOM — pass it off to my wife to immediately start coloring. No scanning. Plus it’s portable and we will be taking it to shows next year.

          • I was drawing with a Wacom Bamboo, but there’s so much of a disconnect between your hand and the drawing being up on the screen… I found it too hard. Fine for coloring, but too hard to draw with.

          • I just found out that I had a very nice corporate discount at Lenovo from my employers!!!!

            I can buy a brand new x201 for $1250 CAD instead of $1600!!!

            Looks like I’m about to make a big expense…

          • oh yeah, I could never sketch with my wacom. I trained myself to ink, but that’s my favorite part and the disconnect was taking all the fun out of it! This should be FUN more than anything… so I switched to a Tablet PC.
            Mine is a Gateway 14″, got it when they were on clearance for $950 back in 2008. I believe Gateway was then bought by Acer.

            Totally sucks that your tablet died on you Antoine. One month after the warranty expired too, UGH!

    • very cool to hear someone else is on the Tablet Laptop bandwagon. I love love LOVE mine. I can see how it’s less sensitive than those fancy Cintiqs… but #1 my comic isn’t high detail/painterly, it’s pretty flat, and #2, I’ll take the portability over that anyway!

      Good to hear that someone with a detailed style likes it as well!
      Man, once they combine the iPad with a tablet lapop, I’ll be in hog heaven.

  3. I have a question about the tablet laptop.

    I have an hp TouchSmart and I love it for the most part. However, after going from a desktop with a keyboard and tablet, I’m finding it hard to make the transition from having a keyboard to not having one. In short, I really miss my keyboard shortcuts.

    In your experiences, have you come up with any useful ways to get around the lack of keyboard? Not having my ctrl+z or my zoom or my brush sizing tools at my fingertips feels like it’s really slowing me down. I would love to hear any tips you might have found.

    • Hi Micah! This is an excellent question, and my biggest pet peeve when I first converted. I am a shortcut junkie, have memorized every corresponding letter key for each toolbar item in PS and AI, and MAN did I miss that at first.
      First of all, I ONLY keep my laptop in tablet mode when I’m drawing. Once it comes time to add balloons and text, I flip it back. I HATE typing on the touch-screen keyboard with my pen, though it comes in handy for little things.
      I only have 2 buttons to work with once in tablet mode. The one on the pen stylus, and there’s an extra customizable button on the lower area of the screen. I set the custom button to be “delete”, and I do use that a ton. I set the button on the stylus to be the same as right-clicking a mouse. In Illustrator this works out great, as right clicking gives you the “undo” option, plus others like “zoom” and grouping, clipping mask, etc. You may notice in my sped-up videos that you’ll see the right click box flash here and there– that’s me undo-ing whatever line I just drew, LOL. If I am drawing in Photoshop (a rarity anymore), that “undo” option is not available in right-clicking.. so I miss it then.

      I hope that helps. As with anything it takes some adjustments and a learning curve. But I found just those 2 commands are what I use most when sketching, inking or coloring. I think the only shortcuts I miss now are the “b” (brush) and “v” (selection tool).. to more easily switch between them. But honestly, very minor negative on a huge lists of positives for my Tablet PC.
      Good luck!

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