|Previews of each grOw/stOry, with illustration and text page.|
It's been a few weeks since the release of the last grOw/stOry, (#18 "OutgrOwing Denise"), and things have been quite around here on this blog. However, that's not to say it's been quite for me on the grOw front.
Since the day after the release of "Denise", I have continued working on the next project, which will be a full 6-issue, grOw/cOmic series. I say "continued" as work had already been started months ago, when the authors were finalizing the last two grOw/stOries. The most recent work for me on this new cOmic series has been building the set in my 3D program in full detail, flushing out the last 2 chapters in the script, gathering reference materials in preparation for drawing, and, of course, beginning the actual pencil drawings themselves.
My recent computer failure (and subsequent replacement) had some interesting side effects. For one, I was required to upgrade a few pieces of software that no longer worked with the current operating system on the new machine. (For Mac users, I was required to upgrade from Snow Leopard 10.6.8 to Mavericks 10.9.5.) The version of Shade 3D — which I've been using to create backgrounds for the last 5 years — was not longer supported. I had to spend the money to upgrade. However, this was nothing but good in the end. After enjoying a more than 50% discount sale on upgrades they were having at the time, I was thoroughly impressed and excited about the interface improvements in the latest version over what I had been using. To put this in perspective, even if you've never used the software, I went from version 8 to version 14. Huge jump. I think I built the set to the latest grOw/cOmic in about a third the time it would have taken me in the older version.
The script is not complete yet (with most of the undone part in the last chapter) but I have worked out all the kinks and solidified the plot. The explosive final chapter does have a definitive end already cemented in place, but the way in which it arrives to that point, I am still mulling over (and getting me more excited as I do). Since I have quite a few months of work before that time, I am not pushing myself now, but will allow this final issue to age like a fine wine — refining its flavor and working on its body — inside my brain until it is time to bottle it.
Before drawing could begin, I had to layout the issue and typeset the script. I needed to know how much room, and where word bubbles and narration could be placed, so that they would work well within the pages' compositions. I had set text as an afterthought in the first grOw/cOmic and I paid the price.
Then, there is the drawing. Regardless of my heavy use of my Wacom Cintiq for inking and painting, there is nothing more satisfying than pencil on paper for the initial sketches and drawings. The rough edge of the pencil on the tooth of the paper allows for much more powerful feedback to my hand and brain. Of course, the power of digital inking and coloring, in a natural pencil-in-hand way, is the Cintiq's forte.
I had gathered numerous photos of real people I will be using for reference to draw the characters (and, by the way, not necessarily copying the photos verbatim, but using them to influence the characters by studying real-life expressions, angles, and facial structure). This will be crucial in keeping six characters looking consistent.
I have also begun to draw issue 1, and it has been a very detailed start. The first page introduces almost all of the characters immediately, so this was a challenge to begin drawing characters I hadn't tackled before. Plus, having to draw six different faces and full sets of clothing (as well as a second frame of three of those faces in close-up) was a daunting task for the first foray into a brand new series. To be honest, I avoided it for a few days, focusing on the technical stuff instead (text layout).
However, I was extremely pleased with the results. So much so, I am showing the original "raw" drawing of page 1, as well as the final digital composite that I will be using as a template for the ink and paint stage. [See original raw drawing ] [ See cleaned-up template drawing ]
You will see the blue pencil roughs under the final graphite lines in the rough version. You will also see the 6 figures of frame one, with their enlarged heads above them. These enlarged heads are NOT the final frame, but allowed me to tackle this first page challenge. In the first panel, the heads of the figures are about the size of my thumbnail. (This drawing is done withing an 11"x 15" (28x38cm) rectangle on a 14" x 20" sheet of paper). This is small enough that a line out of place by the width of a pencil point is enough to change their looks, and makes pencil control extremely difficult (if not impossible). I used to try to draw these frames in actual size, resulting in hours of frustration. Here, I did it by using a "digital technique" for real life. On a computer, you would simply zoom in until the thumbnail-size head was the size of your screen. Since that can't be done in real life, I did the next best thing — draw the heads large, and then after scanning in the page, shrink them down to fit the bodies (within Photoshop).
I won't say I will use this technique for all frames of this nature, but seeing as it was the very first frame, introducing characters for the very first time, I deemed it necessary. And the necessity was for the audience as well as for me, since it allowed me to really delve into the faces of these new characters.
I will be taking next week off, traveling out of state to visit family. But once I return, it's back to the drawing of grOw/cOmic#6 (which, as of yet, does not have a definitive title... though I think I have one).