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Illustrators share the art of making comics in Apple workshop series

From the forthcoming book Baby’s First Bank Heist, illustrated by Stephen Collins.
From the forthcoming book Baby’s First Bank Heist, illustrated by Stephen Collins.

Ever wondered what exactly goes through the weird and wonderful mind of a comic illustrator? Throughout April, visitors to Apple’s Regent Street flagship in London can explore a new theme in comic book illustration, from storyboarding, to character creation, lettering and composition.

During the Comic Art Series sessions, participants will have the chance to lay a three-frame strip of their own, using an iPad Pro and Pencil. The sessions have so far been led by illustrators Sam Taylor, Dan Woodger, and Stephen Collins, while Ruby Elliot will guide the final session, taking place on Monday 30 April (free registration here).

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The comic illustration workshops are part of Today at Apple, an initiative of free educational sessions offered in all 502 Apple stores across the globe, including photography, video, art and design, music, coding, and more. The hands-on sessions are led by experts and highly-trained team members, covering everything from the basics to professional-level programmes.

We caught up with illustrator Stephen Collins to find out more about his creative process and approach to digital creation...

W*: How long have you been involved in design?
SC: I’ve been an illustrator for 15 years and making comics for about 10.

W*: What does the iPad Pro allow you to do that traditional tools didn’t allow?
SC: Weirdly it’s actually a kind of return to more traditional techniques – typically in recent years most illustrators have performed at least part of their process by drawing on a Wacom tablet on a desk, while keeping their eyes fixed on a screen above the tablet. That’s always been quite an unnatural drawing experience, whereas integrated tablet computers are much more like drawing on paper, because you see the lines appear beneath the pen as you draw.    

Grandkids, by Stephen Collins

W*: How does iPad Pro help your practice?
SC: It’s a very useful addition to my workflow - it can’t quite replace full Photoshop on a desktop yet but I use it to add finish details once I’ve tamed the layers down a bit. It’s also very handy for doing the detail work on the graphic novel I’m working on. 

W*: Any tips or tricks for creating comic book design or characters on iPad Pro?
SC: You need to just play around with it to find how you can do your own thing on one of these devices. You’ll probably want to think small at first rather than just decide to do a big graphic novel on it, but once you’ve got the hang of how it can work for you it can be a really useful tool.

W*: Any favourite apps to help creation?
SC: I mostly use Procreate to do finishing details on the artwork, but I’ve just got the Clip Studio app – more familiarly known by its old name Manga Studio – and that seems very good. It’s designed to make comics on the iPad Pro alone, without recourse to a larger computer, so it’s the closest thing you have to a full-scale desktop app.

Illustration: Sam Taylor

Illustration: Dan Woodger

Illustration: Ruby Elliot

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