One of the most common questions I get from new or unsure comic creators is, “Which method is better?” There’s always going to be one group going on about how digital is the wave of the future and always a counter-group claiming that digital is ruining the artistic process and that traditional hands-on work with pencil, paper and ink is the best. There’s also a group that utilize what works for them in both disciplines in a hybrid format. I fall into the latter category. I do all of my lettering and coloring digitally 100%. And currently 80% of my inking is digital while 80% of my pencils are still done traditionally with graphite on paper. The majority of my script writing, undoubtedly, has to be digital, but I do still scribble lots of notes and reminders for myself by hand in a notebook.
To answer the question about which approach is best, I will tell you this: None of them. There is no one-option that is always the best to be applied in every situation with every artist. That’s why I enjoy the flexibility of my hybrid approach where I use my digital skills or traditional skills as conveniently and as needed as I feel for the scene, the setting or the project. Some artists will do their best work traditionally, some will do it digitally. What’s more important is not “What is the best way to create your work?” but “What is the best way for you to create your work?” Experiment with all of the options available and find out what you prefer. What do you feel more comfortable doing? What feels more straightforward and easy to your work style? What’s more convenient? What is the best way for you to get work done? Telling you that the best way to draw is by drawing tight, detailed intricate pencils by hand with a pencil on Bristol board does nobody any good if you’re not comfortable or secure in your skills of creating art in that manner. If you’ve been using computer software since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, trying to force you to work in a traditional manner might be a waste of time. Meanwhile, if someone has been drawing and painting and getting their hands dirty for decades, the idea of trying to force a graphic tablet on them is essentially pointless. If you’re not sure, explore, practice and learn—see what you like. The best way to make comics is whatever way works best for you.
In his book The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics, Freddie E Williams II explains the different approaches in detail and several different types of hybrid workflows that could work very well for you. Freddie explains some approaches that he himself has used in his professional career with examples taken from his work on the Robin comic book series for DC Comics. There are a number of approaches that you can take. You can pencil traditionally and then digitally in the way I do or you can do digital pencils then print out and traditionally ink or some other different combination of traditional and digital art creation. The choice is really up to you. Go with whatever you’re most comfortable and have the easiest time working with. For more details check out Freddie’s book or go to his website: http://www.freddieart.com
I’ll let Freddie explain it better himself:
“When I was working in the traditional paper-and-pencil way, it would take me about seventeen hours to complete a page, from roughs to inks. Now, working digitally, it takes me eight or nine hours to go from rough to inks. That’s nearly half the time! I can’t guarantee that you will save that much time yourself, but I’m confident that once you get comfortable with working digitally—whether entirely digital or using one of the hybrid methods—you will save time. Just imagine: No more lightboxing and a tremendous reduction in time spent on cleanup and scanning.” —Freddie E Williams II, The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics.