For this week, I am – with some trepidation – posting some ancient Simon & Finn doodles involving a visit with the mysterious queen of the art world herself, no less… As will become apparent, I was operating on very little sleep at the time. Caveat emptor!
So, a friend had asked me about the process involved with creating a graphic novel/illustrated book/whatever you would like to call it. As I’ve been in the midst of such a project with a deadline to present some work to the Toronto Writer’s Cooperative tonight, I thought this week’s post could be about that very thing!
First, I draw out the story in thumbnail format. This part is the most fun, as you can just get creative with the story and yet not invest too much time.
The size, style, degree of ‘finish’ of thumbnails can be anything you like. For me, I prefer to work on 8.5 x 11 and roughly to the same size and layout as how I see the end product looking.
After drawing out and settling on a certain direction for the overall story, I then “pin it down” – which basically means converting the thumbnailed pages into something more closely resembling a finished product. I try to leave this part until the end in order to ensure that the overall story is relatively complete and I’m satisfied that the pages that are produced will actually be used. This is pretty important given the amount of time a page can take to properly finish.
To finish a page, I first draw out all the panel sizes and shapes for each page. The ruler (and eraser) is critical.Next I draw in the panels with pencils.. choose word balloon placement.. add text… and then once that is done, go over all of it with ink. There’s many different ways to add ink to a page. Some people ‘ink’ directly in the computer, others are master inkers using sable brush and the like. I prefer the luddite route whereby I do as much as I can by hand and some extremely basic inking using a micron pen, and then I scan it into the computer and clean it up, add colour, etc. (if you’re curious, an example of a finished page can be seen in a prior post).
Now, I should say that this process takes a LONG time, at least 3/4 to a full day per page depending on the detail – and for people that ink professionally I’m sure it could take even longer. And that’s not even including the time spent cleaning it up on the computer and colouring (another post topic)!
I don’t know any other medium which takes hours just to tell one little joke, so you really gotta love it. So there you have it.. the secret sauce.
As I’ve been focusing lately on longer story projects, here’s the draft first page from Dark Horse Rising. I won’t be putting the whole project on line (at least at this point) but have been playing around with colour with mixed results. The page below is a variation on grayscale with a fairly limited palette (black, white, gray, and a blueish gray). As the overall mood is a bit sombre, I’m not sure I’ll stick with this exact palette just yet. Below is the same page with some colour added (the peach colour is possibly hideous).
And don’t get me started on my tribulations with word balloon placement… 🙂