Laying out the base

I wont go into much detail concerning the scriptwriting, at least yet, since… well… it feels rather awkward talking about scripting a book you guys haven’t even read yet. Or actually WE haven’t even read yet. Nevertheless I’ll focus on the other stages, starting with storyboarding, sketching and inking.

Working with Perkeros actually differs quite a bit from my usual jobs. Firstly, we needed to slap together the script with KP in a visual, legible format, so that publishers would get a sense of what we’re actually planning. For my basic strips or shortstories, I usually plan the dialogue, pacing and layout by doing very rough thumbnails, like 2 x 4 cm in size. It’s fast and efficient, as you get a vague idea of what’ll fit the page, how many panels you need for the scene and how to pace it, so that transitions go smoothly etc. For example, I prefer jumping from scene to another with a turn of a page, not in the middle of it. After I’m done with the thumbnails, I sketch the pages.

>> An example of a normal thumbnailed spread. Planning the dialogue goes hand in hand with planning the flow of panels and composition. Super clear, yes?

However, with a project as big as this, I tried not to waste time sketching pages which might or might not end up in the story. I still did the thumbnails, though, but decided to trim down the sketch size (A6). It was indeed faster, and despite the smaller size, the sketches were detailed enough for the publisher to read and get a proper understanding of what we’re aiming at. When working on the script and storyboard (January to March), I still wasn’t sure whether or not I’d ink by hand or computer. My initial plan was to print the storyboard in A4 or A3 size with only magenta, and ink on top of that. I did a couple of tests around May and decided it best to ink digitally, to differentiate the look from my other comics a little.

>> The sketched pages are way more detailed than what I’d normally do just for myself. 

So, in a way I’m sticking to my initial plan: using the storyboard as my sketch and inking on top of that. I’m doing this in Photoshop, although Manga Studio would’ve provided better brushes (but considering the hectic schedule and other issues, I decided to stick to what I’m most familiar with). I’m inking the pages in grayscale, 1200 dpi and straight in the final size + bleeds, of course. The sprayed effects are made with a self-made brush: I sprayed some Indian ink on paper with a toothbrush, scanned it in and turned the outcome into a Photoshop brush. I used to shade my comics analogically like this as a teen, so in a way this feels like going back to my roots. ;) Of course, back then I’d use paper and tape to mask out the areas I didn’t want the scattered ink to mess up.

>> After tampering with the first panel, I realized I needed to flip the other panels too, to get the page flowing nicely. Sometimes it’s a pain, when you need to find good spots to place the speech bubbles.

I ink on multiple layers (front, middle, background, etc.) and merge the ones I’m happy with, if needed. This serves as a safety net, so in case I screw something up badly, I can just quickly delete a character from the background and re-draw, without having to mask/select etc. Yes, the approach is a bit surgical, but I have other projects I can be more loose and artsyfartsy with. Plus the outlook supports the storyline, or so I believe. You’ll see. :)

Summing things up: after I’m done with the inks, I flatten the image, tweak it with threshold (to sharpen the linework) and save it as a bitmap for later.

That’s all for now, I guess. I’ll give you guys a walk-through the colouring later on, as well. Let me know if you’re interested in something more in-depth. Just trying to keep the blogging from cluttering my work-schedule. ;)

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