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Two school students decide to give themselves the ultimate assignment: get away with murder.
Two school students decide to give themselves the ultimate assignment: get away with murder.
Two school students decide to give themselves the ultimate assignment: get away with murder.
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The progress of a page

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Hello everyone!

    Today's update is to show you the progress of a single page of The Murder Club from initial sketch to final inked and toned work. I will be using the very first page of the graphic novel, so you won't need to worry about spoilers!

    There were only a handful of panels and pages I actually sketched out on paper - most were drawn straight into Manga Studio. The ones I did sketch by hand were either the most important or scenes I wanted to visualise clearly. Obviously, the very first page is one you want to get right, hence the pencil sketch. Once this was done, I scanned it in and scaled it up to actual page size:

Page 1 - initial pencil sketch
Page 1 - initial pencil sketch

    Next came the "blue pencil" roughs on top, to delineate things mroe clearly and start to add in the level of detail I would need. FYI they don't actually need to be blue, it's just a reference to using a non-photocopy blue pencil on paper so that artists can draw and ink over them on the same sheet without worrying that the rough drawing will show up.

Page 1 - blue pencil roughs
Page 1 - blue pencil roughs

    As you can see, it is starting to look like a proper page now. Oh and you'll notice I changed the round insert panel contents from the laptop screen to the smartphone screen. This was mainly to avoid having to create a detailed original arty drawing on the screen, but also so I could show a social media message in there to add extra background to the scene.

    Next up - inks and word balloon placement!

Page 1 - line inks
Page 1 - line inks

     I've kept the roughs visible so you can see the contrast. Here, I've gone through and picked out more details, as well as sorting out where the dialogue boxes go and finalising the panel borders. I also kept the foreground and background in separate layers so I didn't need to fuss over destroying overlapping lines when deleting and redrawing stuff.

    I don't tend to do heavy black inks or use large chunks of black shadowing unless it's a scene set at night. I prefer to use tone and graded blacks to emphasise light in my art. But first, I've actually got to lay the tone down...

Page 1 - laying down tone
Page 1 - laying down tone

     Not every panel had this many tones (25 layers!) but this is a complex scene with lots of different items with different textures. Yes, it took me a while...

    The final stage is shadows and highlights. Lots of subtle passes of black gradients built up to create convincing large/general shadows, with harder shadows created with a flat mid-grey tone. Lastly a layer of white to highlight reflections and fill in that annoying circle panel gutter.

page 1 - shadows and light
page 1 - shadows and light

     And that's the art done! For one page. Out of a total of 114 pages for both parts :(  But you never get anywhere without a bit of work, and I know it will be worth it in the end.

    Currently, all of Part 1 is art complete, and all of Part 2 is at blue pencil stage, with 10 of those pages being inked. I'll be sharing some more roughs and sketches and the like as the campaign goes on, so do follow me to make sure you get them. And feel free to share around - the more people that know about this project, the more likely we'll hit the goal!

    Thanks, Tony.

R. C ooper and Daniel Miller like this update.

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