Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kerslash: Behind the Scenes

People seem to be interested in the process I use for producing comic pages. So using page 43 of Kerslash as an example, I thought I'd provide some insight into my process:

kerslash is strange in the sense that it's kind of unscripted. I know what's going to happen in my head, but before I start drawing anything, I take a second to organize what exactly's going to be happening from panel to panel. I do a really quick "bare bones" outline of all the action and dialog that's going to happen. This page won't have any dialog so it's all just action. Nothing is written in stone, and at this stage anything can change depending on how I feel about it. Next I number the panel breaks and doodle little thumbnails of the panels. I also add any additional notes that are relevant to the layout of the page. The final step is to do a thumbnail of my layout, with corresponding numbered panels.

Once I've come to a decision of how to do my layout, I grab a ruler and start drawing my panels. I use 2 kinds of paper when drawing Kerslash. More often than not I use a sheet of 11x17 printer paper that I got from Office Depot a while back. I like this paper because it's cheap(500 sheets for $10) and it works great for spotting blacks with a sharpie.
If I'm in a big rush, or trying to make up for missing updates, then I'll use a sheet of 8.5x11(I cut it to size) Borden & Riley "Bleedproof paper for pens". This helps because it fits in my scanner without me having to scan it in peices and stitch it back together, and allows me to ink with a brush which I can do faster than using a sharpie. Even though it's a cheap bristol board alternative, it's still kind of expensive and they only give you 40 sheets in a book/bundel.

Next, I go through and ink over all my lines using an "S" Faber-Castell PITT pen. I like to ink my panels first because they tend to get smudged while I'm drawing inside them. Also, I highly recommend using a big clear plastic ruler with the guidelines printed in them. It's much faster than using a T-square and triangle, and having it be see-through is a big help for when you are drawing speed lines.

After that, I'll use a sharpie to make my gutters black. Honestly, it's faster to just add the black later in photoshop, but their is something very satisfying about doing it by hand.

The next step is to start roughing in the pencils. I use a red cole-erase pencil because I have a hard time seeing the non-photo blue ones. One thing that's nice about penciling in color is that you can just remove it digitally later without having to worry about going back over your inked lines with an eraser. Even though it's probably a better idea to rough out all the pencils first and then go back and ink the entire page, I prefer to ink each panel as I go, just because I like for the page to be finished in one pass.

Remember when I said that nothing is written in stone? It's at this stage that most of my major changes are made. For instance, you'll notice that my outline called for a close up of Paige stabbing her sword into the ground. Midway through the page I decided that that panel was unneccessary, so instead, I added a close up of Reggie reacting to loosing his sword.

The last things I do to finish up a page before scanning include adding speedlines(the least fun thing to do) and thickening up some outlines around characters and sound fx. At this point I either find a copy machine and shrink my page down to fit my scanner or just scan it in peices and stitch it back together. After that it's on to tones and lettering...

Maybe I'll go into scanning and cleaning up the pencils and all that good stuff next time. Until then, here's a final shot of the stuff I used to draw this page (and most of my artwork)

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