I'll just barf art at you until you think it's pleasant.
In order to improve my craft, every week day the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to sleep is paint a little sketch of whatever comes to mind.
This Tumblr is dedicated exclusively to publishing those sketches.
The BONEBREAKERS (pg. 94-94)
I’ve gotten several emails asking about how the comic is made, and seeing that today is the day our book is complete I’d share a bit of the artistic process involved in creating a page like last Monday’s.
Keep in mind, however, that what is shown here is just a small part of the whole process. The actual thing starts many months in advance when both Dern and me sit down and plan the overall story arc. We discuss characters, plot, twists and the general direction of the comic. Since these discussions are long and benefit from sidetracking, distractions and laughter, we normally have them during my few visits to the US, while drinking a can of Soda Shaq.
Knowing what direction we want to take everything, it’s Dern’s job to distribute everything into pages, script it out and share it with me so I can start thumbnailing the pages. Those pages are then reviewed and discussed by both of us and final decisions are made.
So finally, as Dern works on the final dialogues and scripts, the page starts getting made.
First, I sketch out some really rough possibilities. I try to make at least 3 or 4, even when I’ve already decided on one. Forcing yourself to at least explore and consider other possibilities won’t just give you options, but can fee the option you already know you like.
In this case, since it’s the end of the book and I want to give the sensation that they’re going away, leaving. This means they have to be travelling from left to right. Option one isn’t the best angle, so I discard that one early. #2 shows promise, and #3 is pretty much the same thing. #4 is my favorite at first, but then I consider that the Brachdra ship starts in water and then floats through the air, after inflating its back-sacks. Another thing to consider is that they’re going deeper underground. Option #2 is the one that gathers all my requirements for what I want to show, so I go with that one.
I continue with a rough sketch, and decided to change the angle of the scene, as a lower camera will make things look taller. I do this sketch with a gray and white simple brush, and still work at thumbnail size.
I make a 3rd sketch, now at actual size, and define things a bit more. I like to sketch with both dark and light so I can consider volume and a very rough approximation to lighting from the very beginning. I still use a pretty large and simple brush, though.
I add the Brachdra.
Up until now things have been going fairly quickly. None of these sketches take more than a few minutes at the most, so I can afford to sketch as many times as I like. However, now I feel that I can go for my pencil sketch, and lay down my perspective grid. In this part I draw in a bit more details, adjust shapes and angles.
I add an adjustment layer for some quick lighting effects, pretty much trying to get a feel for the overall volumes of the image as a whole. This is very quick lighting, without any details and it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Up until now, we’ve been working for about an hour.
I add the Brachdra again.
I add a very rough layer with the water.
Now comes the final pencils. I use a brush that simulates a pencil in Photoshop, and simply sit down with patience and draw the whole thing. As a general rule, I never draw or paint over a white background (it distorts your perception of the image’s values) but I exported the image on a white background so you could see the pencils better.
I separate the most important parts of the image according to depth. Depending on your composition, you can separate an image in different ways, or not separate it at all. It varies from image to image. In this case, though, it would help a bit with the lighting and the values, plus it helps me understand my own image.
Again, I add the Brachdra.
I add the basic lighting, which is just light and shadow.
I take a while and work on the water. This also includes water dripping from the Brachdra and water clouds emerging from the waterfalls. Now the image starts to look more like I envisioned.
I go for basic coloring. Since colors are only possible through light, I normally pay a lot more attention to lighting than coloring, and would rather make very complex lighting with few colors. The viewer will perceive the lights and the insinuations of color and their own brain will take care of the rest. In this case, it’s just a touch of grays, purples and greens. I also add some fog effects, to enhance the sense of depth. For this, having separated the different parts of the image in step 10 results especially useful.
I color the Brachdra, and pay special attention to its inflated back-sacks. Since this is the new addition to the situation, and what allows the scene itself to be possible, I go with a bright, luminous yellow for them. This will contrast with the somewhat purple-ish and gray and become a focal point, making sure people notice it.
Finally, I add a few layers of color filters and play around with colors and such for a while. I leave it alone, then look at it again, flip it around and finally decide if it’s done or not. I’m a firm believer in the quote that says “Art is never finished, only abandoned” (frequently attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, although I don’t trust wikis enough to not doubt the source at least a tiny bit), and the time finally comes for me to decide to add speech bubbles and page numbering. The dialogues are hand written by myself, and the page numbers are a simple font. Then I export the image and upload it to the website.
For easy-viewing, here’s an animate gif I made of the entire process.
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step description of what goes into making a comic page. Of course, the process varies from page to page, since each one is unique and has its own requirements. But as far as the artwork goes, this is more or less how it goes for the entire comic.
Check out the comic itself, over at www.thebonebreakers.com