My process on a comic project – part 2

I talked briefly about my traditional drawing process in this post (My process on a comic project – part 1). The following are some thoughts about how I tried out a digital workflow.

Digital inking
Mid-way in the comics project I’ve been doing, I started doing the inking digitally. This happened while working on the fourth four-page comic. I had discovered Kyle’s brushes, and I have since invested in a vast collection of his digital brushes. The brushes are capable of imitating a wide selection of traditional media, and it has been a lot of fun to try them out.

Side1-5-sketch2Side1-5-finished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would still start with a pencil drawing, and then scan it at a very high dpi. At the time, I thought that working with a high dpi (somewhere between 340-350 dpi) would make the art look good. But the result was probably the opposite, as I had a tendency to zoom in a lot and add details that would be too small to make sense in print.

This is one of a few things I learned about digital inking. I also found out that what worked best for me was to find two brushes that work well together, and stick with only those two. In the end, I worked with one called Clean Comics on the characters and foreground, which in my opinion needed clean edges and a reasonable amount of line variation. I tried to draw most of the background with a less “flexible” brush named Comics Tech Pen 12px (Clean Comics and Comics Tech Pen 12px are both Kyle T. Webster’s brushes).

Now, there are a few stylistic differences between my first comic and the final comic I did. Doing this project has been a learning process for me, and I can’t deny that my drawing style has evolved a bit while working on the comics. Just look at these panels, the first one from the first comic and the second from the seventh.

side01-01Side01-07

(Side note: The first panel of the comics usually had this gang of kids walking along the street, setting the season and the mood of the weather.)

Let me just say that I like working hands-on with the traditional process I mentioned in the previous post. I also have to mention that I personally feel it’s easier to draw and sketch loosely with a pencil and paper. And last, but not least, a pretty detailed pencil drawing was required for me to have something to work with when inking digitally. But all in all, I think I saved some time by eliminating the traditional inking step. Also, I could easily listen to a podcast or have an episode of a TV-show running in the background while working on my big iMac screen… Which in turn made the tedious task a bit easier.

Raptus 2014 – Sunday

My «report» from Raptus – Bergen International Comics Festival 2014. (read part 1 here).

Sunday 21st
Another day, another stack of comics. The haul I brought home today was a bit heavier than yesterday’s, and I don’t dare to think about the amount of money I spent. I can’t complain though, as I got to meet and get books signed by both Lene Ask and Thierry Capezzone. Here’s the latter, pictured together with yours truly.

Capezzone and me

As a side note, Capezzone was very friendly and interesting to chat with. He asked me about what I do for a living, and he even gave me some drawing tips when I told him that I dabble in comics. What a great guy! (Also, thank you to the Outland employee who took the photo).

I also completed my set of «Dadaph Serraph» comic books made by Bård Lilleøien, and I bought an anthology from Überpress called «Überwestern». I look forward to reading them all soon.

One of the things I attended today was Lene Ask’s presentation about her new book called «Kjære Richard». The story takes place in the late 19th century, as a young boy is left to live in Norway while his father leaves to work as a missionary in Madagascar .

Lene Ask 3

Ask tells the story through a real correspondence of letters between father and son. The collection of old letters she has used exists today in an archive in Stavanger, a city which Ask during her presentation called «the missionary capital of Norway». She also read excerpts from the book with great feeling.

Lene Ask

Later in the afternoon, I went to a panel discussion about comics as documentaries. I had been looking forward to hearing about the topic, and I was hoping for a large turn up. Sadly, there were only 7-8 people in the audience. However, I don’t think the low attendance affected the quality of the discussion.

Documentary Comics panel

Expert moderator Kristian Hellesund (right) had (from left) Ingebjørg Jensen, Lene Ask and Øystein Vågnes on stage, and they talked at length about autobiographical comics and the journalistic quality of documentary comics.

Last, but not least, was the big show, which also marked the end of the festival. The remaining audience could witness drawing battles between some of the guests.

Drawing battle - Potato man

They drew live on stage, using suggestions from the audience for superhero/sidekick combos. I think the people in the audience must’ve been kind of hungry, because there were suggestions like «Potato Man», «French Fries» and «Banana Woman». There was also «Apple Woman», which Mike Collins redubbed «Apple-Lass» and drew a spoof of the infamous Spiderwoman cover by Milos Manara.

That’s it for this year. Next year will be the festival’s 20th anniversary. The dates are already set; Raptus 2015 will be held on September 18th to 20th. Raptus.no should also update soon, so be sure to check it out.

Raptus 2014 – Friday and Saturday

I’ve made a habit out of visiting Raptus – Bergen International Comics Festival every year. And every time, I write a little log like this about what I saw and heard. This year, Raptus is happening from Friday 19th (which was yesterday) to Sunday 21st of September.

Friday – September 19th
Similar to last year’s festival, Raptus 2014 is being held at Litteraturhuset i Bergen. The only thing I had time to do yesterday was to go to Thierry Capezzone’s talk about his newest work, «Daisy». Capezzone has visited Raptus many times before, and it’s always a joy to hear him talk about comics.

He has an excellent stage presence and tells a lot of little jokes, so there were bursts of laughter among the audience as he went on to tell us about his process. Capezzone’s enthusiasm for comics is infectious, and I left the venue feeling very upbeat and happy that I had the chance to attend.

Saturday – September 21st
Bergen was in a grey, typical rainy Autumn day kind of mood today, as I went on my way to the festival venue just before one p.m. The first thing I did was go to Børge Lund’s talk about his popular comic strip, «Lunch». I had suspected that a lot of people would show up, since «Lunch» is one of the most popular comic strips around at the moment.

Lund

It’s currently running in 80+ newspapers in 9 countries, and is being translated to seven languages. Both Børge Lund and his editor were on stage in front of a nearly filled auditorium, and they talked about how Lund had started making his comic. They also talked about how the strip has evolved and his process for coming up with ideas for strips.

Lund - Silhouettes

Lund pointed out the importance of being able to see who the characters are just by looking at their silhouette. After the presentation, I bought a copy of the newly released Lunch comic book («Sykt travelt»), and got it signed by the artist himself.

Afterward, I stopped by these guys to buy their comic.

Håvard Heggenhougen and Eddie Jensen are the writer/artist duo behind «Grapple Seed», a comic I had read online and been blown away by the overall quality. The style and concept is impressive, and so is their use of vibrant colors. I’m really looking forward to follow along with the story (they hinted that they soon will resume updating the comic on a regular basis).

CrowdI walked around looking at stuff for a little while after that. There were a lot of comic fans and cosplayers around, so it was a challenge to move between the shops and artist’s tables. As I mentioned in one of last year’s posts, the venue does feels a bit cramped when there are a lot of people in one place at the same time.

Next up was a well attended presentation of «Krüger & Krogh» by Bjarte Agdestein (not present), Endre Skandfer and Ronald Kabíček. Joining Kabíček (right) and Skandfer (middle) on stage was their editor, Iselin Røsjø Evensen.

Krüger & Krogh

«Krüger & Krogh: Brennpunkt Oslo», a special agent story set to the capital of Norway in the sixties, has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the Norwegian comics scene. The team has rightfully been praised for their style, thorough research and detailed presentation of Oslo in the sixties. It’s a tremendous body of work, albeit not perfect, as readers have sent letters to the authors pointing out chronological errors. I guess this shows that it’s near impossible to recreate everything perfect through drawing (and with such a high level of detail, it would be pretty impressive indeed).

The guys also talked about how their idea to make a detective story had been conceived a long time ago, and that it had been a lot of hard work these past three years to make it into a real thing. Skandfer mentioned feeling pretty great about seeing a huge amount of Krüger & Krogh comic books on display in the window of the most comics-focused book stores in Oslo.

Kabíček and Skandfer

After the presentation, I bought a copy of the book and got it signed. I also secured a pretty nice signature and sketch in my Moleskine of awesomeness (or ongoing collection of signatures from comic artists, if you will).

That’s it for now! Here are my write-ups from the previous years, just in case you’re interested: Raptus 2011, Raptus 2012 and Raptus 2013 (part 1, part 2).

My process on a comic project – part 1

A few weeks ago, I finished the seventh and last story in a series of comics I’ve been working on since Autumn of 2013. The comics, most of them four pages long, have been run as a series in a Christian children’s magazine. Below are a few sample panels, and a brief explanation of how I went about drawing the comics. In part 2, I’ll explain a bit about how I switched to working more digitally.

Traditional inking
I went for the traditional approach when I drew the first three stories. Two of the stories were made as comics, and the third was presented as an illustrated short story. I should mention that I didn’t do any of the actual writing on this project, but I had a lot of freedom in how I wanted to illustrate the manuscript that was delivered to me.

Print

I almost always placed the text and dialogue in panels in either InDesign or Illustrator first (pictured left, speech bubbles left empty), so that I could pace the story and size the panels appropriately. I would then print small versions of the pages and draw loose sketches of the characters and environment within the panels. I usually used cheap copy paper for this. When I was more or less happy about how it looked, I went on to draw a more detailed and refined version on bristol board (Daler Rowney Bristol Board). I would then ink the lines with a couple of Micron Pigma pens in various sizes (02, 03 and 04). From there, I would scan the comic pages at a ridiculously high DPI, add a threshold filter in Photoshop to get crisp, 100% black lines, and start coloring. Below is an example of the aforementioned steps. The last image is the finished full page width panel (without speech bubbles).

regular-lines

crisp-lines

panel-colored

Here are a few sample images that I produced using this procedure. I might also mention that the last step in my process was to import the comic into a template in Illustrator, in which I added word balloons and lettered the comic.

big-illustration-sample

chicken-dog-and-girl

The animated gif below shows how I usually colored the comic panels/illustrations.

coloring

Now I didn’t plan to make this post when I made the comics, so it’s not possible to show the real “step by step” procedure. However, I hope you get the gist of how I tend to work when making comics. In part 2 I will write about how I started using digital inking brushes in Photoshop (and saved some time in the process).

Ghibli Jam 2014

Just a quick update for now. This past week, from the 3rd to the 9th of March, a lot of artists have contributed their Ghibli-related artwork to The Ghibli Jam tumblr. I decided to join in, partly because I couldn’t find much love for one of my favorite movies of all time – My Neighbors the Yamadas. So I drew the whole family! Well, almost… I realize now that I forgot the dog! Here’s a link to the Tumblr post.

My Neighbor the Yamadas

If you haven’t watched the movie, here’s a semi-long review I wrote some time ago, just in case if you’re interested in my thoughts about it (no spoilers).

Cat doodles

Simon's Cat fanart

Last week, I watched this video from the Simon’s Cat channel on YouTube. Even though it was late at night, I decided to have a go at drawing a generic tabby cat. It went so well that I decided to try drawing a few more characters. To be more specific, I drew The Kitten and a hedgehog from the series of short films about Simon’s Cat.

For all of the little drawings above, I used the Sexy Sumi-E brush from Kyle T. Webster. I highly recommend trying out his brushes. They’ve definitely altered the way I go about drawing digitally in Photoshop.