This deviation has been replaced by a much more detailed walkthough!
Please find it here and fav that instead: [link]
This is where my personal work process veers away from the conventional method. When I was starting out in comics, in pre-computer days, I laid them out on a large piece of paper, pencilled everything (a messy operation), then transferred the final lines using tracing paper to a sheet of watercolour paper where I had prepared a clean layout. I inked and then erased the pencil lines, and finally coloured it using artist's ink (Ecoline). It was constraining and forced me to take decisions early on and then stick to them. I now work as follows.
Once I have my synopsis, I duplicate the layout in Photoshop, using shapes. I also type in the text and can now see clearly how much space it will occupy. This happens to be a quiet scene that dosn't call for experimenting with panels, so the layout was relatively simple. In general though, this step is a real pain in the butt. This and the next shown above literally take hours of playing around until I have hit a layout that has the pace I want and is legible. One must also avoid falling into pitfalls such as having panels of the same size (unless deliberate), gutters on top of one another, monotony, panels where the text would leave no room for the drawing, etc. Even when this is done, it is still subject to change once the pencil is added.
Now that I have a close enough idea of my panel sizes, I start the "penciling" proper except it's not, because I use a ballpoint pen now. I pencil on my A3 sketchbook, bearing in mind the ratios of the panels, but not following the layout: I try, but once again I can't. When carried away by the energy of the illustration, the last thing you want to do is break your momentum by worrying about borders. This is the main reason why I dropped the traditional way of penciling a page.
If a pencil doesn't look good enough I just redo it. Once done, I scan all the pencils and insert them as separate layers (blend: Multiply) into my layout. The composition of each panel is refined by scaling and framing, and I often correct at this point things that went wrong while sketching, for instance a head I drew too large, or characters placed too far from each other. Notice I removed two panels as well, to introduce breathing space int he page. This is actually the stage where I take those final decisions and put everything in its final shape, including the text.
To the right you can see the final step in this: I masked all parts of the pencil that overstepped the panel frames (except the parts I want to keep for depth), then I stroked the panels in black on a single layer. Now I draw the speech bubbles using the pen tool. Much thought goes into this, but that's something I'll need to explain with separate diagrams. When they are done, I stroke them as well and mask anything that is behind them. Now the page is ready for finalising.
Next stage: Inking.