Archive for June, 2013

How I Work Part One

Posted in The Creepers on June 16, 2013 by normandixon

As promised here is the first in this series. I’ll be giving you a glimpse into how I work. Which is pretty much like a traditional comic book artist. I know Photoshop and Manga Studio have made this type of work more streamlined but I only use Photoshop for coloring, though I have both programs, I work old school. No matter how hard I tried to be a convert, I just can’t make drawing on a digital tablet feel right to me. Even digital inking feels wrong. Maybe I’m too much of a dinosaur, but I love the feel of pen and brush in hand. I get a better sense of weight and depth and I work around mistakes instead of countless undo’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on that method of art, it’s just not me.

So, now that the first draft of book 2 is behind me, I started to think about the cover for it. Would it be Bobby, or Howard? Both share the protagonist role this time round. I did several Howard thumbnails but trashed them. Then it dawned on me, why not Moya, or at least a hint of Moya. You’ll find out who she is soon enough but a chance to have her as a teaser I couldn’t pass up. So after spending days pulling reference photos I started to work out the idea. As I just mentioned above that step is the thumbnail process. Quick, very loose sketches where I’m just testing layouts and ideas and positions. Here’s an example:

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They look a lot like blobs but look closer you can see a horse with a woman on it in various poses and there’s even a ruined cityscape. After much mental debate I settle on one and do a slightly more defined version with notes. In this next step I use a sharpie to spot blacks and test lighting angles. Here is that step:

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Now I have a better idea of where this cover is going. At this point I’m not settled on the position of the horde but I’m getting there. Ignore my random doodles sometimes my mind and hand wander off. My next step is to move into a slightly larger space and add more definition. Again I’m still not settled on the position of the zombies but I am settled on Moya. Check it out:

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Now it’s starting to look like a solid foundation which is what these steps are meant to be. Hand drawn animation is also done this way as is most digital work, but you get the idea. Constant refining and tweaking. No piece comes out of the box finished and ready to go. That goes for books as well as drawings. My next step is to lay down final pencils and again I’ll be moving to a larger space which instead of 8×11 printer paper will be 11×17 comic art board. I prefer one with a smooth finish for slick brushwork when I ink, but that’s another blog and it will be coming soon.

Keep creating.

Norm

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Hiatus

Posted in The Creepers on June 9, 2013 by normandixon

It has been almost two months since my last blog… Why does this feel like confession? Cue catholic school childhood memories. During that time I pretty much poured everything I had into book 2. I am very happy with the result. It just needed to get done. The story had hit that all consuming stage where you eat, sleep and dream it. I thought about it so much it was starting to affect my day job and my relationship with my wife. It’s so hard to stay focused when you have multiple characters vying for the podium inside your skull. A lot of days I was rendered to subhuman slop just barley drawing breath. This one took a lot out of me emotionally.

And by a lot I mean A LOT!

I really worked through some deep seated pain on this one. There were things I had made myself forget that came bubbling to the surface all of a sudden. Which was another reason for the mad blitz, but it was never rushed. I kept my pace of 500 words a night and chipped away. And after many sleepless nights I uncovered book 2 which, as you can tell, is still without a title. It comes in about 10k words less than its predecessor and it’s all business. I’m going to let it stew while I work on the book 1 edits and the cover.

I feel lighter now, so much lighter. It’s been said over and over to let it all out on the page and there are few things better in life than truly opening up. Sing it out, paint, draw, sculpt it out, or write it out, just get it out. I’ve seen too many friends fall to it over the years. Mask it, morph it, do whatever you have to but release it. I suppose that’s a major theme in book 2. I can’t wait to share it with all of you. Beta readers get ready because it’s coming.

In the meantime I’m going to try to be a better blogger and all around social media persona. Next up is a series of blogs on how I do cover work since I’ve been asked by quite a few of you. Some really cool artwork coming up.

Writers, keep writing.

Norm