Posts Tagged ‘greek myth’

Today through Friday, tune in each day for a new Gods & Undergrads page!


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My messy l'il workspace

Here we go on to Part 2 of my comics making process – pencilling! So now I move into my office, and set up shop at my drawing desk. Yes, it’s a little old and filthy and apparently I work best when surrounded by clutter … shh! Don’t tell anyone!

I’ve got my coffee and my pig pencil case, so I’m ready. Here are a few of the supplies I use — paper. Strathmore’s smooth Bristol, 11×14, has been my preferred paper for years now.

I use blue pencil, and with a mechanical pencil housing blue lead, I’m able to get a much thinner, sketchier line than I would with a regular pencil. The only problem? I tend to press down really hard when I pencil, so I break the tips off when I draw like nobody’s business.

My eraser’s pretty standard. It does its job.

So I take my 11×14 sheet of Bristol and tape it down to my drawing table. That way, it doesn’t slip out of the way when I’m aggressively sketching and breaking off lead and whatnot. Now here’s the part where I do a little math: My paper is 11″ wide x 14″ long, and my final end product will be printed on paper that’s 5.5″ wide x 7.75″ long – standard page size for a manga-sized book. I’ve figured out that this gives me about a 4.33″ wide x 6.933″ long space to fit all my art in, with no risk of bleeding out in to margin space. I’m definitely not the best at properly adjusting my pages in order to take advantage of bleed space in printed pages, but at least I have a rough guess for how much room I’ll be allowed to work with for my comic page. So when I compare 11″x14″ (paper size) with 4.33″x6.933″ (drawing space), I discover that I have to slim down my paper width area a wee bit in order to match the ratio I want to end up with. So my drawing area becomes 8.74″ wide x 14″ long. So I simply measure 1.14″ off of each side, draw a little line, and know that these are my boundaries to draw within.

Then I measure out the page into thirds, since my thumbnail sketch told me that I wanted 3 rows of panels on this page. Again, I do a little math to measure out the page into my panel areas, but you’re free to do this as anally or as sketchily as you please.

Now that the page is divided up into spaces for the panels, I mark out the panel lines themselves, leaving a little bit of room between panels for the gutters.

Then, finally, I can begin sketching! I’ve got my boundaries, I’ve got my thumbnails, so this should be the easy part, right? Wellll … it depends on how detailed your thumbnails are, and how skilled you are at things like perspective and environment drawing (and I am not). So this part can take me a little while as I slowly build panel …

… by panel …

… being careful to write out all of my dialogue, so I can have room for it when I put it in on the computer in the final stage (stay tuned for that exciting installment!).


Sometimes I’ll tape up previous pages as reference (shown at the right is the inked version of this page, which I put up to remember certain details about how I drew the characters the last time).

Until – voila! I’m all done.

The page is now all pencilled and ready to be inked, which is Part 3 of my Comics Process … stay tuned!

My Comics Process Part 1: Thumbnailing


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Today I want to give you a peek into my comic process. Here, I’m going to use the next page of Gods & Undergrads as an example – as I’m updating it, I’ll post the steps I go through in order to update that particular comic, page by page.

So, first, I lay out my supplies:

My comic-makin' supplies

Here I’ve got my notebook, my pig pencil case (awesome), my phone (for research), iPod (for background), pencils, and lastly, my Gods & Undergrads binder. For all of my comics, I print out all of the pages I’ve done so far and slide them into a 3-ring binder so I can easily flip through and reference what I’ve already done.

In the pockets of the binder, I’ve got some of my storyboarding aids:

Storyboard for the Whole Book

I like to visualize the whole book I’m going to create, even if I’m not exactly sure what will go on each and every page. Seeing the whole thing all at once helps me structure what I want to happen, and when. And yes – I tend to wrinkle this storyboard aid and spill coffee on it constantly. I’ll scribble out general plot movements or ideas I have on this page.

So I’m on Page 35, and as you can see I haven’t really written any notes yet:

Page 35!

I also check my notebook to see if I’ve scribbled down anything I want to have happen on that page:

(I’ve blurred out any bits that might give away what I have planned for the future of the story) – no peeking!

Next, I get out one of my templates for planning out the details for each individual page:

Page by Page Storyboards

Depending on how I feel, I’ll use just one or a couple of these boxes to plan out an entire comic book page. For this particular page, I want to work out the dialogue first.

I plot out the basics of the conversation – one character speaks, then the other. There are no details about environment, facial expressions, camera angles, nothing. Pure dialogue. A lot of the time, just getting a version of the dialogue down first and knowing what I want said on a page helps me to visually plan it out.

My handwriting is messy

Next, I plot out the panels of the page and generally (very, very sketchily) what’s going to go in them:

I’ll include parts of the dialogue, but depending on how much space it’s taking up, I’ll tend to abbreviate it. I use the panels to break up the text to match with different shots. I’ve also added in more dialogue to what I wrote below. As well as one, lonely design note: Neil: Peacoat.

Gods & Undergrads has always been a very boxy comic. I don’t tend to experiment much with page layout or elaborate backgrounds – it’s primarily dialogue-driven. I think it’s because back when I started it, I was still terrified of drawing backgrounds, and pretty inexperienced in general, so I relied on box-box-box grid layouts and minimal environments. (Aw, who am I kidding – I’m still terrified of drawing backgrounds!)

Ta daaaa! There you have it, my page 35 is all planned out. Stay tuned for the next installment: pencilling!

Thumbnailing Complete!

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Until I get some new Gods & Undergrads pages up, here are a couple faces … which, incidentally, are my favoritest thing to draw!

Lelaina Face

Simon Face

Hermes Face

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