Original Art Dimensions
The vast majority of comic artists draw larger than print size. All comic art gets reduced before it goes to press. 11"x17" sheets of heavy, high-quality art paper called bristol board, are used. These days you can spend a little extra money and buy pre-ruled comic boards, but back in the old days, they did it by hand! It only takes a few minutes, try it out!
Bristol board comes in two "tooths" (surface texture), plate (which is smoother) and vellum (which is rougher). Check them out and decide which is best for you. You can find bristol in your local art supply store typically in 14" x 17" pads. Just trim off the extra 3" with a T-square and an exacto knife. What brand you use is up to you. Most people swear by Strathmore. It's a nice high-quality name. It's a little more expensive, and it is very good. Utecht is another good brand if you can find a Utrecht store. It's almost identical in feel and costs a little less. You can often get name brand bristol pads cheaper at craft stores than at art supply stores.
Comic strip artists also use bristol board, but comic strip art is smaller than comic book art. 11"x14" pads work perfectly and let you fit two strips on one page.
You will also need a T-square. You can probably pick one up at the art store for $10-$15. It will save you loads of time when you're drawing 90 degree angles for not only your original art guides, but for panel borders as well. It's a must have. An 18" or larger T-square is recommended.
This should be obvious: When you're ruling off your original art...use a pencil. You're going to erase these lines once you've inked your panel borders.
Let's go over some definitions:
SAFE AREA - The innermost line on your bristol board. This is the line that your panel borders will butt against. (And all important lettering that you don't want to be trimmed off should go inside here!)
TRIM LINE - This is where the comic page will be cut by the printer after the art is reduced. If you draw anything outside this area, it will most likely be cut off.
FULL BLEED - Anything drawn up to this line will almost certainly be cut off.
Using your T-square and a pencil, use the measurements below to line your blank sheet of bristol:
And if you like to draw newspaper comic strips, below we have a typical comic strip template. This is the generic three or four panel strip you see in your newspaper. The goal is a little different here. You just want the panel border. Your original art size for strips is 4" x 13". With an 11" x 14" pad of bristol you can fit two strips on one sheet like you see here.