Category Archives: Making the Comic

A Dog and His Padawans.

The foster pups have moved on to their new homes, somewhere in Maine. Luther did a fine job getting them ready. Sophie is still not speaking to me.

A new Conjurers Webcomic Page

Still trying to get two pages up a week. It would serve the story better to keep things moving instead of falling into the rhythm of a weekly cliffhanger. Mostly it comes down to spending spare moments scratching at the plot and scripting out a few pages at a time. The art side of things is getting faster. Hopefully not too fast that it comes off as sloppy. 

The Conjurers Comic Strip on GoComics.com

 

Hints of Houdini in this weeks Conjurers Comic

Head on over to gocomics.com to read the latest episode of the Conjurers comic. I’m trying to get another page up by Friday. There’s a lot going on in this sequence and I’d rather not make everyone wait a week between scenes. So, I’ll kick in a little over drive and pump out some pages. It’ll help me get a better handle on this “quick” style. It’s odd attempting to produce pages rapidly and still make them look cool. 

The Conjurers Comic Strip on GoComics.com

Comic Process, page 43

 

painting comics

painting comics

Here’s a quick shot of page 43 in progress. This entire comic has been an experiment in process. I knew going in that it had to be fast. I’m used to tightening my pencils with a vice grip before inking. For the Conjurers comic, I’m slowly refining the speed approach. After thumbnailing the page I rough it out with blue lead, focusing on shape and placement. It’s hard to shut off the detail side of the brain, but it’s getting easier. After that I go right in with inks. These days, I’m having fun trying different ballpoint pens. Avoiding my brushes and technical pens keeps my from tumbling into the pit of over wrought crosshatching and stippling.

The magic happens when subtle, sloppy watercolors are sloshed on. This has been the hardest lesson. Go lightly into the night with a soaked brush and diluted pigment. Less is more on the first pass. I brush in light shadows, again, focusing on defining shapes and light. After that, I break out a shredded sponge and dabble on some texture with an eye for how hit spotlights the important bits.

After this, it gets tossed into photoshop for finishes and lettering.

Working without panels

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Quick peek at some art from page 40 of the webcomic. For this project I have to work fast and small. Usually on letter size paper. And fast. Did I mention fast?

One draw back: after a time, I tend to suffocate my work under those constraints. Panels become flat, emotionless. So, to break out of that, I draw the shots and scenes on larger paper. Let my hand move further, wilder. That lets me work fast and punch in some emotion.

After the shots are drawn, I’ll composite them in photoshop in their letter sized pixel cell.

Testing Colors and Techniques

comic book covers

color test for comic book cover

Testing out some techniques and color guides for the cover. Trying to keep things bright. This is close to the color schemes I want to use on the artwork for the novels. But I think the art for the book covers needs to be tighter and a bit more realistic.

Pencilling the next page.

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Here we go on the start of the next page. Script is done, and you can see some of the thumbnails in the sketchbook. Thumb nailing from the script is always another rewrite.

As you can see I’m going long form again with this page. In fact, I think, from here on out, all pages will be this size. Cuts down on speed but makes a lot more room for storytelling. And I’m continuing to evolve the style. On this page, my main focus will be form and value. Cutting waaaay back on the heavy atmospheres. Only when necessary. I’ll post more steps along the way.

Character concepts – the 13th circle

Aaaand here’s a look at members of the 13th circle, the governing body in the Conjurian. They’re making an appearance in the comic next week. Of course they also play large roles in the novel, so this is just a quick meet and greet.

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Painted page before scanning

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Here’s a page before I scan it in. I try to keep everything loose. Almost like an under painting. Then I can shape it and paint some more layers over it in photoshop. The main focus is on value. Something I need to work on. Always reminding myself to not jump ahead and just get the lights and shadows to a place where I like them. Then I add in details. Subtle stuff goes a long way. That’s another hard lesson for me.

Making the Comic

Since I’m a bit more comfortable with how I’m making this comic, thought I’d share my process. And it is now a process. A changing one, but far from the muddled series of penciling and ink wash methods it started out as. Right, here a pic of the scanned in art:

Comic process

Comic process

Now the original page is actually a piece of heavy bond, gray printer paper. Kind of starts you off with a nice tone. On top of that I pencil in the art. Smudge some of the pencil. Add some watercolor washes on top to build up some volume. Sometimes I add ink to some parts, usually things I want to have stand out. I’ll do some finishes with white paint or a few more texture washes. Then I scan the whole mess in. Truthfully, I am forcing myself to stay loose and keep it messy.

Once I have it scanned in, I duplicate the original art. This new layer becomes my smudge painting. In essence, via the magic of photoshop, I use the pencil, ink and watercolors as an underpainting. And after smushing things about I get this:

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And that’s where I am on this page right now. I’ll post the next few steps once I get them done.