Drawing Tips: John Epple

Layered Drawing By John Epple, Penciler and Inker for Exodus Z



As a traditional comic artist, my process involves multiple steps to create intricate and engaging drawings. I work primarily with risqué and grotesque subjects, with zombies being a recent focus. Zombies are inherently gory and cool, presenting a fun challenge. Here’s my approach to layered drawing:

Step 1: Plan and Rough Sketch

I start with a plan or at least a general idea of what I want to draw. I brainstorm how I want the final piece to look from the reader’s perspective. Then, I take pencil to paper and lay down basic shapes to build the image. This step is kept rough, focusing on general proportions and body language. Each character should have a unique posture, even at this stage. I use colored pencil leads that don’t show up on scanned images to keep my work clean.

Step 2: Detail and Shading

Once the basic shapes are laid out, I switch to a darker pencil lead and add more detail. This step involves focusing on clothing, hands, facial expressions, and any significant objects in the scene. I continue using simple shapes to maintain a clear structure. As I progress, I switch to a regular pencil to finalize the drawing, adding shading and texture to bring the artwork to life. Shading is crucial for creating depth and defining the mood. To achieve realistic shading, I visualize a light source shining on the subject or use a physical model with a light setup.

Step 3: Inking and Final Touches

With the drawing fully realized, I add extra details with pencil to ensure I can erase as needed. Once satisfied with the additional elements, I begin inking the final piece, carefully tracing over the pencil lines. Inking adds definition and clarity to the drawing, emphasizing important features and textures. This is especially important for zombies, as it showcases the various stages of decomposition and adds a gruesome yet intriguing aesthetic.

Following these steps allows me to create layered drawings that are visually compelling and rich in detail. I hope this breakdown helps you understand my approach to traditional comic art and inspires you to create your own layered drawings. Enjoy the process, and remember to have fun with it!

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