Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Word Balloons

As I digitize the latest round of inked pages I've noticed some things. I say this because as I was penciling AND inking...nothing appeared odd or awkward. I believe most artists and writers make a lot of decisions for their story on a subconscious level...but WORK despite the lack of mindful intent.  In my case it has been the placement of word balloons in certain panels.

For example: in this panel. I placed one balloon behind the other...then both behind the speakers heads. In the context of the story the words of this conversation aren't what's important...it's the interaction. It's merely to show two characters bickering, as usual. And what do people do when they argue? They talk over each other. They interrupt each other. And they don't really pay attention to the other person's opinion. Which is why I think the balloon placements really work in this panel! I also like how placing so much of the word balloon behind Chopper's head, making it almost impossible to read what he's saying, makes it seem like he's walking too fast for the balloon to keep up. His words are throw away. They are behind him...yet still dominating Glory's.

In this panel placing the word balloon behind both character's heads serves another purpose...secrecy. By being slightly obscured it offers the feeling of hushed voices, speaking behind someone's back...which works for this panel!

I'm not sure how many other times I've done this in my story. I'm suddenly conscious of the device and how it can appropriately and inappropriately be used in comics storytelling.

The Gang - Trading Cards

I've recently started creating trading card size (2.5" x 3.5") drawings of various characters...my own and characters that are not my own. The exercise of trying to capture the likeness of people/characters you've never drawn before is a bit of a challenge...not just in the facial features but the clothes, the expression, the attitude. It's a great way to flex the ol' drawing muscles. I think this going to be a trend I follow through 2011. More on that in the near future...as I've got several to share already.

But first...Here is the Ghosts of Pineville Gang: Hank, Chopper, Glory, Lucy, Doris, and J.T.

I like the way they are all looking at the same thing...and it must be horrifying.

Strathmore Bristol makes packs of 20 trading cards are that ridiculously cheap at DickBlick...and come in a variety of paper types. I've just been using the smooth Bristol...as it suits the pencil and ink fine and it's what I use on my normal comic pages. Eventually I would like to explore the watercolor paper...though I don't consider myself a painter. It could be fun! But like I said...more on this new little project in the near future.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I did it!

40 pages penciled and inked before the end of the year! The last 14 pages are shown below. Now only 40 more to go....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pencils and Environments

My goal is to finish 40 pages be the end of the year. That will be half of Book Two - finished. Am I there yet? No. But I'm close! I am currently penciling page 36. Those are just the pencils though...not the inking, the scanning, the halftoning, the lettering. The goal is a challenge. Even if I don't meet it...I know I tried as had as I could.

One of the reasons these latest pages are taking a little longer is...environment. I'm focusing on fleshing out the characters environments or the sets they live in. This is somewhat of a challenge for me...as I am much more interested in character interaction and expression. It's so easy to fill each panel with talking heads because it's fun to draw wild, emotional expressions. In these pages though I've included set designs for the Pineville garage/gas station, library and courtyard.

The library "set" was the most challenging. I knew going into these pages I would be using this environment in multiple points of the story. This is when I decided to utilize the program Google SketchUp. This program allows you to create 3D shapes and view them from any angle. So, I decided to create the basic shapes of my library in SketchUp allowing me to view it from any character's perspective, allowing me as the story's "director" to frame any panel with ease! I've been really thrilled and would highly recommend the tool and the resource.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Two!

The Ghost of Pineville Book One will be wrapping up at the end of 2010...and Book Two is ready to start updating right away! Beginning on Jan.10th pages of the second story will be posted, twice a week, on ghostsofpineville.com   

Here is the teaser image (as it is now) for the new story!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Character Sketches

As I am working on the pages of Book 2 I've been doing random character sketches that will work to separate the 3 parts of the story. These are the sketches I've done so far. I haven't decided if these will make the cut (I can only use 3 and I'm far from done) or not...but I like the character dynamics they explore!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Revised page

This sometimes happens...
After I've inked and digitized a page I'm just not happy with the panel layout. Perhaps it's the time spent staring at the page without concentrating on pencils, on structure, but purely the flow of story. It happened a few times in Book One. There were several pages I went back and redrew/added/subtracted panels. 

And it's already happened for Book Two. I was not happy with the first two panels of page 18, how they worked together, what they framed, and how they progressed the "chase" or "stake out".  

The new page is on top. The original below. I think the addition of the new panels adds more suspense and adventure to the page!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A few finished panels

Making good progress. I'd like to have the first half of Book 2 (40 pages) digitally finished by the end of the year. As of today I have:
26 pages penciled...
of those 21 are inked...
of those 17 are digitally halftoned, lettered and ready to go! Making good progress. 

Here are a few of the recently digitized panels. There are a couple of things that really excite me about the second book. 1. The kid's new clubhouse! Which they spend a lot of time. 2. The addition of Glory's older brother J.T. and Chopper's older sister Doris as regular characters to the story...strengthening the theme of family.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Early Work - 2002

I recently found the scans of my very first comic pages and character sketches for my comic File 49. I unfortunately did not make comics when I was a little kid...though I did draw. I was 25 years old when I discovered comics and severely out of practice when it came to illustrating...but this is how I started...

...oh man...i didn't even ink the panel borders...i don't know why.

After awhile I dropped the inks and wanted all my pages to be rendered only with pencil. Which this page was the first  layout I was pretty proud to show folks. Still no panel borders!?

A few months later...still using pencil and still no bloody panel borders! It's fun to see my early explorations of materials and aesthetics. I was not only trying to find my voice as a storyteller and illustrator, but trying to combine all the elements it takes to be a comics creator...and it took me awhile to find my stride.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Art Print

Created a new promo art print for The Ghosts of Pineville. It will be screenprinted...large...in the next few weeks!

5 color screen print
on 110 lb. whip cream cover
edition of 45
signed and numbered
16" x 20"

These are now available in our ETSY store!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Finished pencils for Part One!

A little less than a third into my story!

And a few little, funny panels. Apparently the storm-cloud-over-the-head is making multiple appearances!

Inks to come! Happy with the progress and momentum!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Revisions & some Finished Pages!

While penciling Part One of the story I'm also scanning, halftoning and lettering the Intro. I made the mistake with the first book to wait until all the pages were inked to start halftoning...and man, that was too much halftoning at one go. 60 pages at once? No thanks. This time around, I'm going to intermingle halftoning with other steps of the process so it won't be so cumbersome at the end. Here are a few panels that are ready for the book! (I know, no words. You have to wait for that.)

Tools: Epson Scanner Photo 1660, Adobe Photoshop, & Adobe Illustrator

Another inevitable step of the comic-making process...the editing! As I'm coming to pages of the written script to thumbnail and pencil...I'm discovering things that I want to change; things that I think will strengthen the theme of the story. This is my rewrite. It occurs on the page, as hand-written notes and dialogue. As the tangible script is what I'll use to letter the pages...not the digital Word document.

I'm moving right along with with the pencils of Part One...currently penciling page 16!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beginnings of Part One

A couple of things I've done...
I just returned from SPX early this week...and it was a blast! The Ghosts of Pineville and the associated mini comic The Cherished Collection of Emily VanWart were both well received! Great crowd. Outstanding creators. I'm sold on the convention. Good, good time.
I also had my second meeting with Megan who has completed her script and is now thumbnailing her pages! The conversation with her combined with the remaining high from this weekend's convention totally geared me up to keep working on the second GOP book!!

Penciled the first couple pages of Part I of the book! Doris is introduced!

Using the script (of course) and some preliminary sketches of the kid's new hangout!

AND...I finally inked the first panel (on the first page) of the Pineville city scape! I'll be adding more dimension once I enter the half-toning phase on the computer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First batch of inked pages

Moving right along...

I've managed to ink 7 of the 9 intro pages. Haven't had the guts to ink the first page yet. The panel of the entire town scares me. I will tackle it next week before penciling anymore pages though. At least I have some significant progress to show Megan next week!

Tools: Super-fine and Fine Zebra brush pens 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This week - 8 years ago

It was this very week, 8 years ago, that I declared I wanted to make comics!

I remember because it was the week after my 2nd wedding anniversary. We had spent the weekend in Washington DC doing the tourist thing, but it was the long, 10 hour drive that solidified the decision. I spent 20 hours looking at passing scenery and mentally writing the story that would be my first comic: File 49. At the end of our drive I said aloud, to a very surprised husband, that I wanted to draw a comic. Up to this point I was not an illustrator. I did not draw or sketch and had never (before this) expressed interest in drawing. And...I didn't read comics. This is perhaps the reason my husband's first response to my declaration was "Why?". At the time I was offended by his reaction, but looking back I understand. I graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts a couple years before this...from a university where comics and cartoon illustration weren't considered "high art". This is why I was met with similar reactions from artist friends when I shared (what I thought) was very exciting news. 

I've started drawing a comic!

What kind of comic?

Science-Fiction, Drama, Adventure!!


All I knew was that I wanted to tell stories...and comics suddenly felt like the puzzle piece I had been missing for so long. The entire week after our trip (this week 8 years ago) I did nothing but DRAW (And listen to Interpol's - Turn on the Bright Lights...which listening to that album now still fills me with the same excitement I felt then). It was amazing...and challenging...and I was surprisingly horrible. I didn't know what I was doing, what tools to use, how to set up a page, letter, ink...Not to mention I had no drawing skills. So, my style was nonexistent! But by the end of the week I had 5 finished pages (that I redrew a year later).

The point being...I'm still doing comics! I still love it. I mean...LOVE IT! And today what seemed to be an awkward & sudden declaration doesn't seem so strange because I meant every word. I want to make comics!

ps. I don't think it's a coincidence that Interpol's 4th album was released today. A small reminder of how exciting things can be.

Intro Penciled

Totally inspired by meeting with fellow, local comic artist Megan, I've managed to pencil my entire intro for the second book...all 9 pages! It felt good. I felt focused. And I'm really pleased with how they came out.

Over the last couple years I've written all my stories in 3 parts: the Set-up, the Climax, the Resolution. Pretty standard stuff. Plus, it helps me organize story flow from synopsis to final script. For the Ghosts of Pineville stories I've started to include short intros. Their jobs being to place the characters situation and environment...and subtly touch on their upcoming struggles.

I think I will go ahead and ink this batch of pencils before moving on to pencil Part 1 of the story. I will update the post with inks when they are finished.

Along with perspective work on the first page being a struggle for me...I've thrown in some other elements that are out of my normal, comfort zone to draw......for the intro it was a pack of dogs. But again, I'm pleased with how their appearance turned out.

Super jazzed. Super motivated to continue making progress!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Script to First Pencils

I was able to start penciling the Ghosts of Pineville today! I had been procrastinating this inaugural event because the very first panel, on the very first page is a 3 point perspective of the town of Pineville. Which didn't sound so bad while I was just typing the script. Though, I'm glad I didn't bail on the idea once I began to draw...which is so easy to do sometimes. I took on the challenge and kicked it in the face! No. But really...It did take longer to pencil but I am happy with the results. Perspective doesn't always have to be scary...and extra time can sometimes = success, I suppose. 

I was able to fit in the town theater, gas station, courthouse, library, police station, hardware store, church, diner, park, and some other little places!

Tools: Blue lead pencil (for first lines), graphite pencil (for final lines), eraser, 18" ruler, and a pad of smooth 11"x14" Strathmore bristol.

During the production of the first Ghosts of Pineville book I began inking my pages in batches (as opposed to directly after the page was penciled). So, the final inks for these pages won't be done until the first third of the comic is drawn. It will have to wait.

I pencil my pages from a script I've typed in Word. Before I put pencil to page I have written my entire script, breaking it down comic page to comic page, including full dialogue and basic panel descriptions (when I visualize them). I know it's not how a lot of comic artists write, but I'm not a fan of thumb-nailing. If I'm going to draw something it might as well be the usable page, in my opinion. I spend about 2 seconds on each thumbnail. They're basic scribbles to symbolize shapes, shapes to signify people, places and things. I sketch these directly before I start penciling that page as not to forget what the shapes signify. 

Another Note: My scripts are very basic. Each bullet = a panel. I've been doing comics long enough to know how much I can personally fit on each page. This dictates the page's pacing. I don't spell check my scripts. I don't proof them for grammar mistakes. They are merely a template for future pages, a guide to help direct the story.

Getting Started...

So, I've decided to start a Blogger page to share the steps of creating my next comic - The Ghosts of Pineville - Book 2. As of now I have the complete script written. I know it will be 80 pages. I want to have it finished by April 2011. This blog will be my kick in the pants to get the art started. 

If you want to read the first Ghosts of Pineville you may do at Ghosts of Pineville!