Category Archives: Comics
He will most certainly steal your gifts.
When it comes to freelancing, sometimes it rains, and sometimes it drizzles. And sometimes, the weather’s just really, really pleasant.
These past few months have definitely been the last one. Some good freelance opportunities have come down the pike lately, and Christin and I have been in a great place to balance those, the day job, our marriage, and adjusting to our new home.
Here, then, is a sampler of some projects I’ve been dabbling in since the summer:
First, a former employer of mine is expanding its facilities (and it’s a wise move for them). As they were assembling informational material, they contacted me to turn a series of 3D architectural renderings into 2D perspective drawings. Here’s one of a new outdoor building they’re putting up:
Later, it was decided to focus attention solely on the building, so the people were removed. Then, their graphic designer, Andrea, added some eye-popping color.
Here’s the final product:
In the meantime, I’ve been working with an author from my hometown (Brownwood) on a children’s book pitch. She’s written a really clever story about a boy who counts sheep at night, and I’m in the process of roughing out the pages. Here’s a preliminary sketch of the boy and his uncle:
And a sketch of the kind of sheep I’m drawing:
Finally, I’ve mentioned the graphic novel that I’ve been working on with Houston-based author, Kirk Blackard (see some behind the scenes material here and an interview about the process here, starting on pg. 106). I shot him some fresh layouts yesterday; seeing them, you can get a sense of how rough the pages look before they get inked:
Sadly, it’s going to get worse for our protagonist before it gets better. But there’s light at the end of his tunnel.
Which is still many chapters away.
I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been doing some video work for the day job. Here’s some evidence: a storyboard!
Perfected by Walt Disney’s studio in the 30’s, these are essentially giant comics that animators use to “previsualize” the cartoons they’re working on. They’re super-handy because they let you change things around and fix mistakes before you get deep into the time-consuming processes of drawing and filming. Pixar still works mostly from storyboards, and most live action films now use the technique as well. Ridley Scott famously storyboarded scenes from Alien himself (which got him an increase in the film’s budget), and storyboard artists like Darwin Cooke, Bruce Timm, and Gabriel Hardman have crossed over the other way into mainstream comics. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the coolest jobs in Hollywood.
So why storyboard for a church? We do a lot of videos, frankly. This one in particular is for a project about when asking for big things from God looks futile. It’s meant to be relatively silent, except for some sound effects and a music track, so reading the storyboard should be a complete experience in and of itself!
Behold (and click for larger versions):
I’ll post the finished video once it’s completed!
Update: 11/7/2011. The video… was cancelled. Sadly. But it was done in lieu of another project which you can find out about… in the next post!
Besides working at the day job and noodling around on odd comics, I’ve got a big side project in the pipeline– my first graphic novel!
I’m working with an author from Houston named Kirk Blackard on a story tentatively titled Makin It. It deals with a young man who grows up on the streets, makes some tough choices, and lands in juvie. Along the way, he meets Christ and learns (with a little help from a mentor) how to break the cycle of violence in his life.
(Just coming off a year teaching high school English, this subject hits close to home– I’d be lying if my time with the kids didn’t inform how I’m depicting the protagonist and his world.)
We’ve got a piece on the book with an interview and some page previews coming up in the next issue of BLEEP Magazine, and I’ll post the link soon. Until then, I figured I’d show you a peak at the process of how we take things from script to page.
The Making of a Page:
We start with Kirk’s script. He writes in a unique two-column format. One side contains the protagonist’s narration:
We all stayed with my grandmother.
She seemed like my mother and my mother seemed like a sister.
I called my grandmother “Mama Ruth” and my mother by her name, “Mary.”
Mama Ruth was gone a lot. She worked very hard for long hours. Drove the metro and school busses. Sometimes she worked as a maid.
The other column contains action descriptions for the page, usually matched with a piece of narration listed in the first column. What we needed to depict on this page included
Perhaps picture of two of them (Grandma and Mother)
Buses, actually doing work
Working grandmother—tired look
After Kirk sends me the script, I break it down in really loose pencils and send it back to him for revisions and suggestions.
In this case, we were pretty much in sync (and usually are– it’s been a good match!), so I started blackening in panel borders and putting ink on figures. That way it looks clean and scans well.
(The above is actually an experiment in inking on my iPad. I thought the lines were too pixelated, however, so I ultimately stayed with traditional pen and ink.)
Finally, after all the ink is finished, I scan the page and type the captions and dialogue in Photoshop. For this book, we used WildAndCrazy, which is a font you can get at Comicraft for pretty cheap.
And that does it!
At this point, the first chapter is finished and polished, and we’re shopping it around to different publishers and agents. We feel pretty optimistic that we’ll be able to get it to market, so be on the lookout for updates!
I mocked this up over my lunch break. (Do I smell a boast? Yes, that’s my boast.)
My goodness, I love Photoshop.
The process started on Saturday night when I drew this picture of Spidey for a kid at the church. I snapped it with a super low-res camera phone:
After opening it in Photoshop, I fiddled with the levels and started filling in spots with color to take out some of the dark splotch on his left foot. After seeing the picture in red-and-blue, I really wanted a background. A Google Images search for “New York Skyline” (no restriction on rights) got me this:
Which I used “posterize” to turn into this:
and then layered the final image on top of. Using the “Stroke” function from the “Layer Style” menu gave Spidey a nice white outline, and the result is what you see above.
I’m telling you. Photoshop is MAGIC.