Hey everyone, this week has been pretty successful for Air-Heart. Thanks to some generous contributions, we're now at 32% funded! There's still quite a long ways to go however, so keep sharing the link with your friends! As promised, this week features a behind the scenes look at my process for making the book, so let's check it out!
1. Scripting - Well, it’s gotta start somewhere. First I get some silly
idea rattling around in my head that I think would make for a good Air-Heart
adventure. Then, I sit down at the computer and type it out, nothing too
specific, just a rough outline of the story from beginning to end. My entire
script is usually one page long, and sometimes as short as three paragraphs! But,
it focuses my idea, and gives me a scope of the whole story. This helps to give
me a direction to shoot for, but at the same time, I try not to get too married
to any of my ideas. A lot can change when I get to the next stage, so in the
script I just focus on the key people, places, and ideas.
2. Thumbnails - This is where the real magic happens in my opinion. Once
I have the story idea locked in place, it’s time to start sketching. I do my
thumbnails fairly small, at about 1.5” x 3” or something like that. I use a
pre-printed grid so that I have the right page size, and so that when I’m done
I can blow up the sketches, and use them as a basis for the final drawing. This
stage is where I work everything out, perspective, gestures, action, and
pacing. Essentially this is where I decide on how the scenes will be “filmed”.
I work my way in order from the beginning of the story to the end. I don’t work
with a specific page count in mind; I just try to communicate the story as
effectively as possible without wasting time on non-essentials. Once the story
ends, that’s how I figure out how long it is. I find out the most during this
stage, oftentimes the story can take a complete turn and wind up gaining a life
of its own that wasn’t in the actual script.
3. Inking - One of the longest steps in the process, this is where
the real drawing happens. The fully finished stuff. I take the thumbnails that
I drew for each page, and blow them up in photoshop to full working size. For
me, that’s close to 6”x 9” ish. Then, I print off the page in “blueline”, which
takes all of my thumbnail sketch lines and makes them a soft blue color that I
can drop out later. I then tighten my sketches and make any changes over the
top lightlty in pencil. Once I have that knocked out, I break out my ballpoint
pens (nothing special, just straight up fine tip Bic’s) and start inking. I don’t bother to do fully finished
pencils, because I find it’s not necessary. By the time I get to inking, I have
my mind pretty much made up about how the final drawing will look.
4. Flatting - This
is a time consuming part of the process, but extremely crucial to the look and
feel of the finished work. I take the finished inked page, and transfer it to
photoshop. There, I tighten up my panel borders, and erase any ugly lines or
ink marks. Once the page is clean enough for my tastes, I start filling in areas
with my gray colors. I have two key tasks for my “graying”. I’m looking to break
up the space visually to ensure clear storytelling, and to make the characters
stand out. Recurring characters, like Amelia and Joey, already have a specific
gray pattern that I worked out in their original concept sketches way back
when. When I sketch designs for any new characters, I determine how their grays
will work before drawing the pages.
5. Shades - This is probably my favorite part of the entire process.
This is where the shapes on the page get their volume and solidity. Using a
specific technique (sorry, tricks of the trade and all that), I
shade each panel, once again with an eye on readability and making key things
stand out. I have a formula for building my night scenes and underwater scenes
differently from those that take place during the day.
6. Lettering - You can’t have a story without any words can you? Ok, you
can… sometimes really awesome ones… but mine have words. So, the last step of
the process is the lettering. This is where I finally have to commit to exactly
what each line is and what every character is saying. This is the last chance I
have to add or modify the flavor of the story. With all of the art already laid
in, I have to stay within a certain framework, but it still leaves quite a lot
of room for last minute creativity. I try my best to get in some fun gags, and
some thematic stuff too.
At long last, we have a finished page! I repeat the process for each chapter of the book, and then before you
know it, the book is complete! Ultimately it’s the organic nature of my process
that I like the most, and what I think leads to the most creative innovation along
the way. Let me know what you think! And as always stop back next week for
another update, who knows what I’ll be yammering on about by then! =D=