3D elements for comics illustration

Having established a hatching style for a series of underground comics, I wanted to explore how I could include some CG imagery for background elements. I developed a method of shading in discrete greyscale tones that could then be replaced with my own hand-drawn pen-and-ink crosshatching patterns.

CG elements can either be cel shaded in discrete tones, as in this example of one character’s homemade giraffe robot…


…or a virtual set can be constructed using full-color shaded 3D models. The rendered image can then desaturated and posterized in photo editing software to the required number of discrete shading tones to be replaced by the hand-drawn crosshatch patterns. That’s how I approached this image for the site’s welcome/splash page.


In the process of developing this technique, I’ve learned many of its advantages and limitations. Tiny details will be completely lost to the “resolution” of the crosshatching. Some assets that would normally be naturally shaded in dark colors will not be visible, and it will be necessary to shade them in white or other light colors so they pop in the resulting image (e.g., utility poles).

Like most CG, this approach has a heavy pre-production time investment, but for use in projects that have the same setting (in this case, multiple pages of a comic that occur in the same place), it ultimately speeds up the process, fits decently with my established style, and saves my hand, wrist and arm a lot of crosshatching fatigue.

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