Thursday, June 4, 2015

working things out.

Much of comic booking is problem solving.  You are looking for creative ways to solve a puzzle.  When you get to the art part you are trying to figure out the puzzle presented by the writer.  The writer had to problem solve their way through the script or story or plot before the art part even starts.

Right now much of what I am doing is going through the script, trying to understand the characters, and  decide how to break each page into panels.  There is no absolute way of drawing comics, everyone should problem solve in their own creative, individual, way.  But there are some points to keep in mind that will kind of keep you on the right path.  Ideally I want to have at least one wide-shot and one close-up on each page.  The wide-shot tells the reader where the characters are, or location, who is in the scene, and gives feeling and context to the other panels.  The close-up lets the reader get close and really enter into the story, to feel what a character may be feeling or to see certain necessary details or props.  As you get to know people better you get physically closer and closer, you don't stay on the other side of the room while they are talking.  You enter into the room and walk closer.  And then of course you have lots of different shots and angles in-between or around the wide-shot and the close-up.  Ideally I want to lead the readers' eye through the page and have them stop on things I feel are important and encourage them to turn page after page until they get to the end of the story.

There are a lot of things to think about, which is why much of this is problem solving, but problem solving and puzzles are fun… that's why we love to play Professor Layton games.  :)

full sized Draco At War rough
So this is a full size "rough" from the script.  Basically I thumb-nailed out the panel breakdown for this page in my sketchbook, and then I worked out the layout full-size, on 11x17 copy paper,  using blue and red pencils until I more or less had the panels and figures where I wanted them.  And then I tightened up those figures by placing a piece of tracing paper over the full size blue and red pencil scribbles and drew some more ink-like lines with a wooden pencil.  And this is what I ended up with.

This is not what the final pencils or inks will look like, this is still more or less a rough.  It's tighter than most of the roughs I normally do, but I want to make sure it's readable and that I have the information I need before I go to the next step.  In the fourth panel I need to shrink the size of the figures more or at the very least move them down and to the right.  Finn's head is way too close to the top of the panel.  I noticed that when I stood up and got further away from the board.   But again this is just a rough so it's easy to change.  What I'll do next is take this rough and transfer it to bristol board, the final good paper, using a light box, in order to get ready for finished pencils and inks.

The "rough" above is not exactly what was presented in the script.  But not only am I looking for a variety of camera zoom-ins and zoom-outs, as well as movements, I am also keeping in mind the flow of dialogue and how easy that dialogue is to read as it is laid out in the panels.  The page design is a blend of words and drawings to tell a story.  The story needs to be clear enough to read through drawing and action that you don't need words, but the words offer more depth and insight and detail… and ultimately become "part of" the art.

Another thing I have to keep in mind is character design and presentation.  The characters appear again and again and again, panel after panel as the story is acted out.  So the characters have to be recognizable and consistent.  Their silhouettes should differ from one another so that even if there is no rendering detail we should know who is who based on size and shape and posture.  Plus, they need to look interesting.  Because of that I am always playing with sketches and scribbles of the characters in an attempt to get to know them better.  I need to know the way the look from every angle and I need to understand their expressions and gestures and their history so I know why they do and say the things they do… understanding that their actions may contradict their words.

Finn study done in watercolor
It's all a process of layering.  You build on what was before, adding and adding until you get to the end product.

I'm trying to get six full process, full color, pages done by the end of the month.

Check back for details and updates on Draco At War.