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Amazing Projects! Super Savings! Not All Super Heroes Come from Hollywood.

Give the super heroes in your life an adventure everyone will love.

We all like pictures that tell us a story. Even better, are stories we can tell using pictures. Use your family, friends or even pets for inspiration and come up with a funny, zany, action-pack adventure you can capture in your own comic strip! Pick some of your favorite photos or snap some new ones and see how easy it is to create your own amazing comic creation with Corel® software.

Use Corel Painter X to take your narrative idea and create stunning comic book art!

One of the most compelling uses for imagery is to tell a story. The concept behind "Super Hero Versus Super Villain" was to create a series of pictures depicting one of the earliest stories in the archive of human lore: the eternal struggle between good and evil, in this case as portrayed by fighting men in spandex.

In this article, I will show you how to take an idea for a narrative and create it, one panel at a time, using the traditional methods of penciling, inking, and coloring in the digital art studio of Corel Painter X.

What you'll need:

  • Corel Painter X

Step 1: Concept and Design

First, working from my initial concept, I created a series of small thumbnail sketches detailing how the action sequence would play out panel by panel. Then, I worked out the designs of each character.

Like storyboards for a movie, each thumbnail sketch tells a portion of the action.

A rough draft of the Super Villain and Super Hero's character designs.

Rough sketch of the Super Villain in his introductory panel.

I wanted my Super Villain to have a look that epitomized evil (e.g. big, dark, and menacing), so that viewers can instantly identify this character as the "bad guy". I bulked up his anatomy to give him somewhat larger-than-life proportions. His mask is meant to resemble a ram's skull, a fitting symbol for a villain threatening to rain pestilence down on an innocent city.

Rough sketch of the Super Hero in his introductory panel.

For the Super Hero, I wanted a spiky-haired heroic male with a hint of late teen angst. Like many superheroes, he's wearing a sleek skintight outfit that shows off his definition, but rather than going with the traditional full-body spandex and cape, I decided to twist conventions and personalize the look with pants and a flowing overcoat with cape-like qualities.

Step 2: Penciling

Once the look of the characters was determined, my next step involved working out the composition of each panel and refining them.

I opened a new document in Corel Painter X. I kept my work area small, no larger than a thousand pixels in any dimension, the idea being to work out the general composition, and fill out the details later.

Using my thumbnail sketches as a roadmap, I sketched out each individual panel using a custom 2B Pencil variant of the Pencils.

To create the custom 2B Sketcher, start with the standard 2B Pencil. Increase the Brush Opacity to 100% and change the Expression to Pressure. Put the Grain to 50%, and change the Expression to None. Choose the Pointed Profile for the tip, set the minimum brush size to 25%, and change the size expression to Pressure. I switched between a size of 6 pixels for detail work and 12 pixels for broader strokes.

Using the thumbnail as a guide, the character's poses are sketched in.

Once the basic composition was blocked in, I doubled the size of the document to define the scene in greater detail. When the pencil art is particularly rough, as in this case, I do my second pass on a new layer.

For ease of visibility, I change the color of my rough pencil layer to blue using Effects > Surface Control > Apply Screen. On the Apply Screen menu, I selected white, sky-blue, and a dark sky-blue as my three colors, changed Paper to Image Luminance, and set the first threshold to 150%, and the second threshold to 50%. Depending on your image, you need to vary the percentages on the slide bars for best results.

Afterwards, I decreased the intensity of the colorized sketch. The simplest way to do this is to lower the layer opacity to around 40%. Then I created a new layer for inking.

The rough pencil layer is turned blue using Effects > Surface Control > Apply Screen.

Step 3: Inking with Scratchboard Tool in Corel Painter X

There are several objectives I look to accomplish when inking comic art, including clarifying and weighting lines, and correcting and finalizing the art. In essence, the purpose of inking is to "finish" the pencils, and prepare it for color.

Before inking, it's helpful to colorize and lighten the sketch so that it doesn't compete with the black inks. As before with the penciling step, I changed the color of the underlying pencil layer Effects > Surface Control > Apply Screen, and lowered the layer opacity to around 40%.

To clearly see the overlying inked lines, the pencil lines are turned blue.

Preloaded in Corel Painter X are a number of brush tools, listed under the Pens category, which are excellent for digital inking. For the majority of my ink work, I utilized the Scratchboard Tool.

The Scratchboard Tool, with the minimum brush stroke size set to 0%, is perfect for creating smooth, flowing contour lines. I use it for general-purpose line work, including character art, backgrounds, objects, line effects, and hatching. For most tasks, I keep the pen size small, around 2.5-4.5 pixels.

Inking demands careful reinterpretation of the original sketch. Like tracing, inks are done on a layer overtop of the original sketch work. As I inked, I worked through the drawing with slow deliberation, taking time to draw smooth lines, and fixing any remaining problems in the line work.

Progression of the inks, taking special care to keep the lines clean.

The completed line art, ready for coloring.

Step 4: Coloring with the New Simple Water Color brush in Corel Painter X

Adding color is the final step in the process. Corel Painter X comes equipped with many different brushes to choose from. To achieve a smoothly blended painted look, I primarily utilized the New Simple Water Color variant of Digital Watercolor.

To set up your brush, start with the following settings. On the General menu, set the Dab Type to Circular, the Stroke Type to Single, the Method to Digital Wet, the subcategory to Grainy Digital Wet Abrasive, the opacity to 100%, and the Grain to 0%. Next, on Size, set the brush type to 1-Pixel Edge, the Size to around 27 pixels, the Min Size to 100%, and the Size Step to 1%.

On Well, set Resaturation to 90%, Bleed to 57%, and Dryout to around 7000. These final few options will affect your how the colors blend. Don't be afraid to experiment with these settings. I continue to adjust these, as well as the pixel size, throughout the entire process.

The basic colors are blocked in using the New Simple Water Color brush.

For best results, the colors are applied on the canvas layer, beneath the line art. I started with a base background color. From there, I take a moment to pick some colors to use throughout the picture.

The colors I select can be dappled directly onto the canvas, or placed in the Mixer pad. Since I return to my base color selections frequently as I work through a picture, it's helpful to keep my color palette in a safe and easily accessible place.

Despite the Mixer Palette's functionality for mixing and blending colors, when working with Digital Water Colors, I basically use it as a convent scratchpad for color selections, opting instead to mix and blend the colors directly on the canvas. When I'm happy with my color selections, I save Mixer pad data, so I can refer back to it if necessary.

The main light source is coming from below the character, but he's also outside in lots of natural light from the moon. Starting with a dark blue gray and a pale blue gray, I used a big brush to start picking out the light areas using circular strokes or a cross-hatching technique on each part. I always paint dark to light.

Additional colors are worked in, and shadows and highlights are built up.

I used a medium-sized brush to add definition to the cloth folds, shapes of muscles under his shirt and sleeves, and the contours of his face and where harsher shadows will fall.

To make each part of his outfit feel different, I varied the amount of shadow. Switching between a large and small brush, I used circular and cross-hatching motions with varying levels of pressure to define each part. The cape should feel light and flow around him, but the border seems heavy so I made the shadow rounder. To make him appear more three-dimensional, I added light along the edge of his right side (our left).

The gold is the same color of his hair. I like to use the main color palette all over on small things to keep the colors balanced. I also introduced some teal as second light source to the top as an interesting touch.

Blue is integrated into the costume, and highlights are applied where the light source is strongest, finishing the character art.

I added blue to the border of his cape, pants and pockets, and boots for some variation and a very pale blue, almost white, to the edges of his body where the light source is strongest. There's lots of touching up around his cape and other small parts and I brought out the white of his outfit more.

The background colors are blocked in and refined.

The scene is at night and above a city, so I tried to capture the atmosphere of being high up above a well-lit area. There's motion so I left the clouds loose and flowing, using the many of the same colors I used on the character with a large, medium, and small brush in long wispy strokes.

For the city lights, I needed them to feel far away but bright so I used a small brush and scattered it all over using the same gold on the character, and let the colors bleed into each other.

To achieve the affect of the wind swirling around the character's legs, I first created a new layer above the line art, and checked the box for Pickup Underlying Color on the layers palette. Then I used the Blenders > Just Add Water tool, and ran it over the desired area to pick up and blend colors without disturbing underlying layers.

Finishing touches to suggest a city and a starlit sky are applied to complete the picture.

Finally, to complete the image, I added stars to the sky and more spots and streaks of lines to the city and a pale blue glow around the character to make him pop.

Now what?

Here's what else you can for the Super Heroes in your life!

Here's what else you can do for the super heroes in your life!

If you don't own all of these products, don't worry. All Corel products come with a "Buy It & Try It" no-risk 30 Day Money-back Guarantee!

Plus you can try any Corel product through our Free Trial Download program. It' s a great way to see just what you can do with Corel software.

Artist Bios:

Jared Hodges is a freelance artist based in Florida who has worked on illustrations, character designs, comics, and more.

Along with Lindsay Cibos, Hodges is the co-artist and co-author of Peach Fuzz, a comedic manga series published by Tokyopop about a young girl and her pet ferret.

He is also the co-author and artist of Digital Manga Workshop, a how-to handbook on digital art covering Corel Painter and Photoshop, as well as a participant in the how-to book, Mangaka America, both published by Collins Design.

You can see more of his work at

Ms. Shatia Hamilton contributed the coloring portion of the tutorial. Hamilton's comics and illustrations have been published in volume 2 of Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga, as well as Mangaka America.

She's currently working on Fungus Grotto, her online comic located at

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