The life of a panel

OK! This one goes out to the people who love process stuff. Here is a quick overview of the process I'm using to work on Petrograd.

a) After reading the script a million times, the first step in drawing a page is to figure out the staging and basic poses for each panel. I do this on post-it notes. I like using post-its because I can rearrange panels and replace them really easily without having to erase or cut out anything. At this stage, I'm really only worried about how I'm going to fit everything in the panel. It's pretty common for me to redraw a panel two or three times before I find something I like.

b) Once I have all post-its for a page done, I'll get a piece of copier paper and I'll do a breakdown of the whole page. The layout of the page is usually pretty easy because I've already worked out the requirements for each panel. And I can look at my post-its and understand how all the panels need to relate to one another. At this point I spend more time working out the pose and the composition of individual panels. Often I exaggerate facial expressions and poses because I want it to read clearly. I want anyone reading my breakdowns to be able to figure out what everyone is doing and how they are feeling without any words.

c) After that's all done, I blow up the breakdowns and transfer them to my Bristol Board with a light box and a non-photo blue pencil. I tighten up the drawing a bit with the blue pencil. Then I jump in with a mechanical pencil. At this point all the hard work is done. The page is all there in light blue and all I have to do is trace it and clean it up so that I get an idea of how I'm going to ink it. I try to keep it loose and fun and I try to bring out the really pretty lines and shapes as much as I can.

d) I ink the panel borders with a rapid-o-graph pen. And do my final ink drawing right over my pencil drawing using a nice Sable brush. This is my favorite part of the whole process. Inking with a brush is unbelievably fun. The lines go from tiny little tick marks to long slender swooshes to fat sloppy globs all with the same tool. And there is no "Ctrl + Z". It's all done with faith that each line find it's own way home. Once all the ink is dry, I erase the pencil lines that are still showing and I make corrections with some white gouache and a super sharp micron pen.

Then I go to bed.


Sharon A. said...

That is so cool. I have to try that post it idea when I finally get around to doing my comic.

I can tell you have a ball using a brush. I use a sable every once in a while but it's hard not to go overboard with the inking so I stick with my nibs.lol

Did you use a sable for the part b. too?

Mr. Crook said...

Thanks Sharon A!

For part B I use markers. Usually Flair markers for the fine lines and sharpie markers to fill in the blacks. I use markers because they are fast to use and fast to clean up. The breakdown phase already takes me too long, so I do everything I can to speed up the process.

I hope you get around to working on your own comic soon. Remember: the only good comics are the ones that actually get made!