Pencils, pencils, pencils

I haven’t posted too much in the past week and there’s a very good reason for that… I’ve been busy penciling “chapter zero” of the story. I did eleven pages last week and finished off the final page last night. So basically my first twelve pages are penciled/drawn and ready to be completed in ink.

Now eleven pages in a week might seem quick and it probably is. So how did I get that much done? A couple of insights:

1. Keep in mind that I’ve already done all the thumbnails prior to any penciling. When I do thumbnails, I try to figure out stuff like how many panels there are, pacing, shot angles, etc. So when I sit down and actually draw out the full page, I really get to focus on anatomy, perspective, lighting, expressions, backgrounds, etc. Basically the parts that make it look like an interesting drawing. All the hard thinking and planning is done in the thumbs. I did spend some time searching for reference photos last week, but I’m so used to doing for my other design and illustration work that it’s pretty quick.

2. I’m actually drawing smaller than the print size. There’s a reason for this… I actually find I draw better this way (I even do this for my illustration/painting work where most of my drawings are no more than two inches tall). I talked about this in my workflow post, but I’m drawing all the pages smaller, I’ll scan that, enlarge it and the put that down on paper for inking. As I transfer the drawings I’ll tighten stuff up and add in details where I think I might need some. So why does this work for me? Basically I think it boils down to being able to see the whole drawing and page easily. Something that fits on 8.5 x 11 let’s me do this (and it fits nicely on my scanner).

3. The final reason for penciling like this is that I need to draw on something other than the gessoed watercolor paper because it’s not very pencil friendly and erasing is next to impossible. So drawing separately and transferring it for the inking is the way I’m working. I know this is not the norm in comics, but it’s how I’ve always worked with my illustrations so I’m comfortable with it.

As it stands now, I’m really happy with how the pages have turned out. It was an incredible drawing exercise. My goal for the twelve pages was to really get comfortable with drawing Hannah and get a feel for how I wanted to draw and I’ve basically done that. I think I ended up drawing Hannah about 50 times in 12 pages from all different angles with different expressions, clothes, whatever. Below are the first two pages if you’re interested.

About jason

Illustrator and graphic designer. When not working full time as a Senior Graphic Designer, I am usually working on the graphic novel On the Verge: the Arrow of Time. Artist on Andrew Jackson in Space and The Sisters.

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