How I Work Part One

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:

20130615-205410.jpg

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:

20130615-205649.jpg

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:

20130615-210006.jpg

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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