In my previous post,“Putting a Graphic Novel Together Pt. 1“ I focused on the process of writing, and how important it is to have a plan when you’re creating your graphic novel.
Without a sense of direction for your work, it’s very easy to get trapped, and when you’ve painted yourself into a corner, your first inclination will be to pack up shop and disappear. Don’t be one of those guys.
You want to succeed, so prepare yourself mentally and physically by getting your stuff together. So many authors storm out of the gate, completely inspired with great stories to tell, only to run out of steam because they encounter problems and flaws they could have easily overcome if they had ironed out the wrinkles in a poorly written script.
One additional thing I forgot to mention in the first part of this series was peer editing.
Definitely get someone to review your script in order to find the problems or parts that don’t make sense to an objective viewer. You’ll hate yourself if you find out halfway through the production of your artwork that there is a plot hole so big you could drive a truck through it. Going back and rewriting something that big absolutely sucks. Don’t let it happen to you.
So now, I want to show you the drawing portion of how I make my graphic novel(s). Generally, I’ll start off with some quick sketches that are done with a Micron. They are the basic page flow and show off some panel breaks.
You’ll notice all the notes on the edges of the page. Typically I will do that in order to remind myself to do something specific for that panel when I render it in a larger format.
Once I’m happy with the page flow and the concept drawings, I’ll scan them in and blow them up to proper page size.
SIDE NOTE: When I first started El Cuervo, the plan was for it to be a printed graphic novel. Then I switched over to the wonderful world of webcomics, which wasn’t so wonderful to the work I was trying to produce, so I went back to the traditional graphic novel format again. You’ll see my process flip from the traditional graphic novel page to the 6 panel page from time to time. Don’t be confused – I make my way back to the original format in due time.
If you have any questions, just holla and I’ll try and explain better. 🙂
Based on the script and the look of the thumbnails, I will scour Google Images and stock photography websites to find suitable reference pics for the actions taking place in the panels/pages. I’ve yet to be stumped completely, but there are times when it is difficult to find imagery that is completely original – so sometimes you have to get creative. I’ve done the following:
• Take personal photos in the required poses
• Position dolls in the required poses
Sounds dumb, but it works in a pinch. I’ve used GI Joes to get the basic proportion and body angles down, and I’ve taken photos of my ugly mug to get the proper expressions I’ve been looking for. You can take photos of your hands, feet, etc. You need that visual reference in order to properly draw the form for your comic.
SIDE NOTE: There’s a notion that an artist must be able to draw everything well from memory – but the opposite is true. Even if you’ve had a lot practice drawing the same thing over and over again, drawing something realistically from memory is an exercise in failure. It’s scientific – your brain meats give you your representation of the object/person from your memory, but fails to attach certain details.
Unless you have an eidetic memory (photographic memory) you will not be able to reproduce a lifelike drawing without making a lot of critical mistakes – therefore, use photo reference! And don’t feel like you’re cheating!
Here’s a sample of six images I put together for a page. What do a police officer, a crying child, a man in a bowler hat shushing you, a hand holding rope, a man being duct taped to a chair and a gagged little girl have in common?
Nothing other than positions and frames of reference for proportion.
From these six images, I produced this:
This is from the first meeting between Paloma and Eddie, where he ties her up before he figures out what to do next. Compare it to the above image and you can see all of the similarities, but also all the differences too.
I did the line art in Illustrator, and then I move on to the spot blacks. You want noir? Here it comes…
Now compare the above image to the original and you can see a HUGE difference. The rendered piece actually looks like a proper set of sequential images. That’s the power of photo reference.
In the next post, I’ll show you how I take these panels and format them in a standard vertical page format to give them more life than this 6 panel grid can offer.
See you then.
Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is an illustrator, author, and podcast personality. In addition to creating the comic book series ‘El Cuervo – the Latin Assassin,’ he provides WA readers with periodic articles (like this one) to help improve their comic process and their production.