Monday, December 22, 2014

Entry 258: Low-fi comics

I've titled this entry "Low-fi comics". This entry is about my process for creating a page of Amnia Cycle. I often think of Amnia as being "low-fi." The term implies something raw, unpolished, and flawed. I find thinking of Amnia in this way frees me from becoming to self conscious about it. It keeps me from putting to much pressure on myself to do a good job. The pressure to do a good job can often become debilitating. Of course, I do want to do a good job, but telling myself that this can be flawed-- I find it helpful.

I draw all my Amnia Cycle pages in a sketchbook. You can see it pictured above. It's not an especially big sketchbook, there is nothing particularly fancy about it. Just a sketch book. 

Most of the time comic book pages are drawn on nice big 11x17 thick bristol board. It's expensive paper. Right out of the gate the pressure is on to not screw things up. Obviously drawing in the sketchbook alleviates that concern. Psychologically, drawing in a sketchbook shifts the focus from presentation to ideas, and that's what I want-- a focus on ideas.

I usually start by writing a rough draft of the script for the scene on the back of the previous page. I write it in blue so that it doesn't smudge up the right facing page.

Once I have a rough script I break the script up into sections. Each section will be a separate shot. Then I start sketching the page.

As you can see, I sketch it all in blue pencil. I can easily remove all the blue drawing once I've scanned the page.

You can see I've already started to draw my panel boarders in the photo above.

After I pencil in the panel boarders I get to drawing.

I will normally tighten things up a little more in blue before I start pencilling. Once I start pencilling, that's it. I don't do any erasing. Whatever lines I put down stay.

The image you see above is a finished page ready for scanning and coloring. I don't ink it.

Here it after scanning. You can see that I digitally erase the panel boards that run through the gutters.

In the next stage I create a dark tone and a medium tone by creating two layers. The tones are actually black but the layer opacities are turned down to make them appear grey.
After this I start laying in all the shadows using another low opacity layer.
The dark layer is at 43%, the medium is 20%, and the shadow layer is 24%.
This is actually a series of layer that are all adding white. And with that, I've got the whole image done. All that is left is to colorize it.
First I slap a hue and saturation layer over everything.
Next I add two more hue and saturation layers, one for the orange tones and one for the blue. I use my shadow layer to select the aria that I will mask out of the orange layer.

And the last step is adding a photo-filter layer that will give everything a unified warm look.
 I did mask out the photo-filter where ever there was sky because I wanted the sky to retain it's blue. Otherwise this is all done.

After this I start lettering. While I'm lettering I'm usually rewriting at the same time. Lettering is all done in Photoshop. Once I've lettered it I let my buddy Ben Bates read it to make sure it reads okay.

I wanted to write a lot more about my ideas and philosophy with doing the art this way, but when I spend to much time writing a blog post I start to feel incredibly guilty for not getting real work done. So, though I hate writing a post that is essentially "I do this, then this, and then done," that's just what I've done. But oh well.

No time to go back and do it over now. Gotta keep moving forward.

Thanks for reading and being interested in Amnia Cycle.

Blogged and Blogged.

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