Freakangels Linework Process

I’ve already posted up a colouring guide for a Freakangels interlude a while back, and it’s still up, here. I thought it’d be cool to go over the linework process as well though, since I’ve never really shown that before.

This is a page with both background and figures to show how the two are normally integrated. The first step is to read the script and get a good idea of what sort of camera angles I want to go for. Then I very roughly block in how the rooms/streets etc are going to take up space on the page.

Next I use this rough as a template to lay down some perspective lines, and create the right depth of field for each image. I have a file (basically just a large image consisting of radial lines) that I move and stretch into place to form 1, 2 or 3 point perspective grids as needed. Occasionally, if the page includes major locations that will be revisited, I’ll construct a 3D model that I can render out from virtual camera angles here to save time.

Next I use the line and brush tool to put in all the major elements of the background in reasonable detail, keeping the perspective grids on low transparency to act as guides.

Once these are finished, I’ll use the brush tool (I use a Wacom Intuos 3 A5 Wide) to draw rough figures, being careful to make them the right size within the image. The perspective grid and visual cues such as doors or tables are used to double check the size of the figures in the scene.

Having now completed the rough, I print out a very light-magenta copy of the figures and the backgrounds on separate pieces of paper. The printouts are used as a rough over which I draw my neat linework using a 0.5 HB mechanical pencil.

These are then scanned back in to photoshop, and the magenta lines are removed using the Hue/Saturation tool, and the remaining pencils are strengthened by duplicating the base layer and setting the duplicates to multiply (this stops the linework from loosing its texture and getting pixellated or broken up by the contrast tool which is another way of making linework darker). The curves tool is then used carefully on each layer to remove noise from the scan, and all layers are collapsed into one when I’m happy with the look of the pencils.

The figures are treated the same way, and moved into place over the background.
I then make a white mask below the figures so the linework of the background behind the figures doesn’t show through, but the layers remain separate for editing or re-use of a background.

Finally, the background is made visible, with the figures hovering over the top. I don’t always separate the two in this manner, but it often helps to have an archive of these separate backgrounds to dig into.

And we’re finished. On to the colouring!


  1. Mark says:

    Wonderful stuff, I always enjoy seeing such a clear behind the scenes guide.

    If you don’t mind: how long do these different stages take? There seems to be a massive amount of work going into each page, let alone 6 a week!

  2. Sam Mooney says:

    Wow, thanks for posting this.

    This is similar to my own process, but much more streamlined and efficient.

    Great stuff.

  3. @Mark
    About 4 hours a page I’d guess! It depends on the amount of detail and number of figures in frame, but that’s a pretty reliable average.

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