Learn precision from Steve Rolston.

Here is the first entry in the “How to make comics the Steve Rolston way” collection, a series of posts about what you could learn from Steve Rolston’s Introduction to Comic Book Production at VanArts.

I am going to do these in more or less a chronological order, so let’s start at the beginning.

On the first day of Steve’s class, I went in with this mantra, “Don’t worry, you can fix that in Photoshop.” It was something that I had internalized over the summer while putting together the first few pages of The Dawn Line.

Then I saw Steve’s original inks for this page in Pounded.

Steves Pounded pageIf you’ve never seen Steve Rolston’s work at full size (in this case 11 x 17 inch bristol pages), you are missing out. I think I stared at that top panel for 3o minutes, just mesmerized by the details in those cars.

Usually, the desire for printing books at digest size (8 x 5 1/2 inches), the size of the above page from Pounded, is that it tightens up the artwork. Yet, in Steve’s case, that precision is already there in his original pages.

If you want to get a sense of what I’m talking about, take a look at this splash page from Ghost Projekt.

Rolston ghost_inks_2_24

Steve drew most of Ghost Projekt at print size with freehand lines, and it’s still so clean. If he wanted, Steve could send these pages away without ever opening Photoshop. Having spent hours digitally touching up pages prior to the class, this was such a revelation for me.

What’s really crazy is that Steve’s like that throughout his entire process. In fact, if you got a look at his penciled thumbnail sketches, you’d think they were proofs of the finished pages. Even these 3×3 inch sketches he does for InkTober are tight.


A big advantage of having Steve teach this course is certainly this attention to detail. You could not have a better model for how to put down clean, readable lines in your own work.

So, the first thing I got out of Steve’s class was the realization that artists don’t need Photoshop to be awesome. Also, I got myself a new mantra: “Don’t rush the process.”

Here’s a link to the next post: “Learn discipline from Steve Rolston’s comic class.”

If you’re interested in Steve’s artwork, you should really check out his Etsy account. Next to hunting him down at a convention, this is the best way to pick up mini-comics, sketch books, and merchandise direct from the artist himself. There are even copies of Ghost Projekt, Emiko Superstar, One Bad Day, and Pounded still available on there, too. To top it off, if you asked nicely, Steve would probably sign whatever you bought. All-in-all, you are not going to find a better deal than this.

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3 Responses to Learn precision from Steve Rolston.

  1. Pingback: Why you should take Steve Rolston’s comic-making class. | Michael A. Weber

  2. Pingback: Learn discipline from Steve Rolston’s comic class. | Michael A. Weber

  3. Pingback: What it really means to “ink like the pros” | Michael A. Weber

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