A comic book illustrator is the creative force behind the words that make a comic book story come alive. The artistically drawn characters and events distinguish comic books from the rest of available reading choices. The illustrator makes the mind’s eye see what the writer is describing. These aspects normally include setting the scene, depicting action and giving the characters personality and spirit.
An illustrator in this profession commonly uses more than one instrument to sketch and draw images for comic books. These normally include ink pens, regular pencils and colored pencils. Paintbrushes and mechanical pencils are also common choices of an illustrator. A light blue colored pencil is frequently used for notes and comments as the blue disappears during the photocopying process.
Depending on the assignment, a comic book illustrator is usually required to either draw or color a story. In some instances, he is asked to perform both tasks. The comic book writer may provide a description of exactly how the character, scene and action should be drawn. Other writers may provide no guidance in these areas and leave the visual depiction of these items up to the illustrator.
Besides being a talented artist, the success of a comic book illustrator typically heavily relies on his ability to comprehend and accurately depict the vision of the writer. This may involve extensive interaction with the writer while the work is in progress. Another common way illustrators understand what a writer seeks in illustrations is by reviewing drawings in previously published works.
Oral and written communication skills are necessary to be a successful comic book illustrator. In addition to communicating with writers and editors on creative topics, a good rapport with them is an asset when discussing deadlines, pricing and promotion. Illustrators are frequently asked to appear with authors at comic book conventions and promotional events.
Analytical abilities are also valuable tools for an illustrator. Often the author’s concept for a comic book is vague and undeveloped. An illustrator can be instrumental in bringing that concept to fruition through analyzing the author’s purpose or reviewing past works to discern a particular theme or realize a recurring character’s personality traits.
Although demonstrated talent in illustration is the most important requirement for success in this position, a bachelor’s degree in art or illustration is highly desirable. Concentrations in particular areas of illustration are part of some art curricula. A portfolio that reflects excellence and diversity is an excellent promotional tool for aspiring comic book illustrators. Any professional experience in drawing or illustration is helpful.