Pgs 23 & 24 Processon May 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm
Because of the unusual amount of digital work I did to create the last two pages of Cleopatra in Space (and because I actually remembered to scan my pencils this time) I thought they might make another good glimpse at my process for creating this comic. Appropriately, it’s also Dialogue Free Comic Day! Click below for the stages.
Here are my thumbnails. I usually just take an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of computer paper, draw a line down the middle and then have at it. Maybe not the most accurate method, but it’s quick- and not drawing too small keeps me loose. You can see from the sixth panel on page 23 that sometimes I don’t even carry through with a clear idea. This is also the stage where I figure out my dialogue (although in this case there isn’t any) and any notes for these or future pages. (btw- you can click on any of these images for larger views)
With scribbly concepts out of the way, I can now move on to the main pencils. I draw Cleo fairly small, on 9×12 sheets of Bristol gridded our to 7×11. Like I mentioned in my last process, drawing with blue lead allows me to “knock out” my pencil stage when I scan in my inks. I also like the feel of the blue lead more than graphite. It’s softer, keeps me from erasing and doesn’t smudge.
You’ll notice I didn’t even bother drawing panel 4 on pg 24 since I knew I was just going to use the same drawing from panel 3. Likewise with the bottom of the platform my little robot is sitting on.
My pencils tend to be pretty tight, so inking ends up being more about clean up than anything. Cleo is inked with a Micron size 02, my weapon of choice nowadays. I tend to build my lines much like I pencil and, since I used a brush most of my ‘career’, there are times I kinda mimic that stroke a bit. That might be why I get a lot of comments where people think I use a brush. Sorry to destroy the magic.
Again, I didn’t even bother with that 4th panel on pg 24 and the remaining threads of the platform. I’ll copy those in the computer stage. I wait to do all my solid blacks in this stage too. No sense in creating more work for myself. Or wasting expensive ink.
And now we have something that’s starting to look like a finished comic! I’ve scanned my inks, knocked out all my pencils, and created my borders (I have a few giant Photoshop actions I’ve created for all of this so it never ends up taking more than a few seconds). I’ve taken the little bit I did draw of that platform and created the rest of it as well as copying that to the next panel. I’ve also switched out the robot body from the last panel to keep things accurate.
I want to add that I’m not a huge fan of copying subjects from one panel to the next. I think it can sometimes disrupt the naturalistic flow of a story. But I am finding more and more uses for it. Especially for comedic purposes. In this case though, everything I was copying was inorganic and I think would have hurt the storytelling if things looked a bit wonky or off from one panel to the next.
Next I fill in all my blacks. I “color” these on a separate layer underneath my linework (which is set to multiply). I color in gray so I can see what I’m filling in and then fill that gray with black once I’m done.
And then the exact same process on another layer under that for my grayscale. Only this time, obviously, I don’t fill them with black.
This is also a good place to address a lot of comments of why Cleo isn’t in color. The simple answer, besides time purposes, is I just don’t SEE it in color. I let the comic tell me how it needs to look, and because of the vintage sci-fi feel I want Cleo to have, I think it just reads better in b&w. One day I hope to put Cleo in print as well and color can be expensive.
Finally I add some stars, type out some sound effects and make any minor cleanups that need to be done. I originally planned on typing out the robot’s “vrrroooing” (which I actually did) but felt my unintended permanent hand-lettered sound effects gave the robot a more humanistic quality. I liked that so I kept them.
The stars are created on multiple layers with ten or so custom brushes that I’m also manipulating in my brush properties pallet. No doubt way more effort then they’re worth, but I like how they turn out.
And that’s that! I breezed though this, so if there’s any thing you wish I addressed more just ask me in the comments. Next process I promise to actually involve one with Cleo in it! And maybe some dialogue.