Blue-Line Pencils:

Pencils with a specific shade of light blue that is very hard to reproduce, which makes them ideal for sketching out layouts on a page as they will not need to be erased before the page is handed in for reproduction. Also known as non-repro blue pencils, non-photo pencils.

Blueline Coloring:

A pre-digital production process for painted coloring where the line art is transferred to a clear acetate film and printed in light blue on an artboard This way traditional coloring can be painted beneath the clean line art offering good reproduction of both.


Often on scrap paper or a notepad at a size much smaller than the finished artwork, artists will often sketch out extremely roughly how to layout a page, working out panel size/placement and how to stage the action within the panel.


A particular type of drawing paper known for it’s ability to take India ink very well, it’s become the standard for comic book art.

Brush Inking:

Comic artists have been appropriating watercolor brushes for their inking for quite some time. Capable of creating both thinner and thicker lines than a dip pen, as well as holding more ink at once, the major drawback to inking with a brush is that they take more time to master. Common brands include the Winsor Newton Series 7 sable brushes as well as the Raphael 8408 sable brushes.


A particular product made by Wacom, the cintiq looks like a computer monitor but has the pen stylus input of it’s tablet brothers, allowing an artist to draw directly on the monitor more like they would with a piece of paper.

Crack N’ Peel:

Similar to an uncut sheet of blank stickers, crack n’ peel allowed letterers to work on the sheet then cut out the word balloons and stcik them onto the inked artboard.


A technique of creating gray values in line art using a series of overlapping parrallel lines.

Crow Quill Dipping Pens:

Made of steel these pens have a small reservoir for ink that fills when dipped. They are capable of making both thin and thick lines which can describe the contour and weight of an object. As far as inking tools go dip pens are generally easier to start using than brushes, and have gained popularity for their fine tips used in detail work and the distinctive look they add to cross-hatching. Common brands include the Hunt, Gillott and Tachikawa.

Dry Brush:

An inking technique where a brush is used when it does not have much ink left, leaving an uneven mark over the contours of the rough surface of the paper.


A technique of creating gray values in line art by creating a series of parrallel lines that uniformly go from think to thick.

Four Plate Printing:

The main technique of printing comic books which involves separating out the image into four colors, cyan, magenta, yellow and black, which are each printed separately onto a single piece of paper creating a single image.

French Curve:

Essentially a curved ruler without the distance markings, these template allow artists to make long elegant curved lines that would be otherwise difficult to draw freehand.


Standing for “File Transfer Protocol”, FTP is a standard for sending files from one host to another over the internet, allowing for substantial file sizes.


Occurring most often when an artist is running late on deadlines, “ghosting” is when another artist comes in to help finish the job, appropriating the original artist’s style to make the artwork consistent and their contribution unseen.

Graphic Novel:

A long form story, most often self-contained, released not as a periodical.


The empty spaces between the panel borders.

India Ink:

A type of drawing ink known for its ability to dry on paper waterproof and lightfast which has made it ideal for reproduction. Common brands are Higgins Black Magic, Speedball and Pelikan. Can be used with both crow-quill dip pens and sable brushes.


The term for Japanese made comics, manga are often produced in black & white and published in short installments in large anthologies.

Photo Reference:

Photographs to inform their drawings to maintain accuracy on such things as architecture, props, anatomy and clothing.

Shading Film:

Using patterns such as uniform dots, lines or textures, shading film was used to create shades of gray over line art. Particularly popular in japanese Manga, which was typically printed in black and white, shading film has seen a rapid decline in production and is hard to find. With the advent of computer coloring in the US shading film was no longer seen as neccisary as gradients were easily achieved on the computer. Shading film techniques can be replicated using a computer and indeed many artists will use scans of shading film, or programs such as Manga Studio will have patterns available. Common brands were Zip-a-tone and Chartpak.

The Silver Age:

From approximately 1956 through 1970 comics saw a significant period of growth, in particular the superhero genre, where such iconic characters as Spiderman, The X-Men and The Fantastic Four were created among others. This marks the beginning of the dominance of superheroes in American comics.


A common term for a single periodical issue of a typical American format 22 page comic.

Speed Lines:

A very common technique in manga, speed lines are a series of tightly spaced parallel lines that give the reader the sensation of speed by approximating a background or a figure moving so fast as to blur.

Technical Pens:

(Tech Pens) Specialized pens that hold a reservoir of lightfast ink with fixed width metal nibs that give a consistent line. Popular brands include Koh-i-noor’s line of Rapidograph pens.

Trade Paperback:

(Trade or TPB) A collection of previously released material, most often collecting a particular story arc that was released as single issues.


A type of translucent drawing paper that takes pigment fairly well, allowing an artist to trace something underneath. Was used very often for inking samples before digital blue-line printing was easy and affordable for home use, though vellum will buckle when heavy drawing ink is applied.

Wacom Tablet:

Wacom is a manufacturer of pen tablets, a specialized compueter peripheral that translates natural movements with a pen stylus to input on a computer allowing artists to use programs like Adobe Photoshop and Manga Studio to create their artwork.


Self-published in the truest and most basic meaning, often on photocopiers and stapled by hand by the authors themselves. Print runs will be miniscule and distribution limited.


Assistant Editor:

Background artist:

For some teams a specialized artist is brought in to work solely on the backgrounds of the drawings, adding detail and polished perspective.


Responsible for adding color to a black & white line drawing, the colorist will focus on adding mood, special effects, textures and shading.


Responsible for taking a pencil drawing, which can be difficult to reproduce on the printed page, and turning it into a black & white piece that is easy to reproduce. Inkers often apply shadow, texture and line weight that add three dimensionaility to the drawing.


Editor In Chief:

Layout artist:

Also called “breakdown artist”, these artists will deal solely with how the panels are laid out and figures are placed on a page without drawing shading or applying an artistic style. Indeed often the penciller or inker that gets these pages will draw in their own style.


Letterers are responsible for taking the written script and applying any text on the page. They decide the font and style of the letters, how the word balloons look and placement on the page.


Responsible for creating a drawing that communicates the written story most effectively, translating the script into drawings. Some pencillers put less work into shading and detail than others, but all pencillers decide how to lay out the panels and figure placement within the panels.


Responsible for crafting the plot, dialogue and overall story of any given book and taking that and presenting it in a script that can be easily represented as a two dimensional static drawing by the artist.