I know that my blog posts here have been a little less than consistent even though I do regular postings to my other sites. The reason for that is that I am trying to maintain a certain level of connection between what I post here and my projects that pertain to what I do (or at least try to do) every day for a living. While I am posting regularly two to three times a week on my other site (www.amazingracecanwithgordandwayne.weebly.com) I tend to only get back here about once a month because I'm not as busy working on projects as I am trying to get those projects. In the meantime I've been putting in the hours to bring this story to life and I hope that those of you who have been reading about the growth of this project are enjoying the journey.
That said, it has been a bit of a slow start but I have discovered a number of things while working on the first page. One of those things is that you can get a lot more done if you'd just stop taking breaks. I didn't actually time the work on this page so I have no idea how many hours I've put into it but I do know that there were more hours put into defining the layout and scale at the beginning. Once I hafd that figured out I could adjust my initial pencil work to match and the pages have been flowing smoothly ever since . . . on paper.
Taking the initial pencil work from the page to the screen is another thing all together and required a little bit of time to figure out the best options. If you've read my earlier posts on this project then you already know the learning curve that's been developed and how I've come to where I am now. I've been doing all of this artwork with a keyboard and mouse so far but I think it may be time to invest in a Wacom tablet. Most professional digital illustrators use some form of tablet for their work, not all of course, but many. The theory is that you get a more pencil-like feel while you're working and can draw more intuitively. Since I haven't worked with one since the first one came out over 20 years ago I have no idea. All I can say is that the first ones did not work intuitively, nor did they give you a pencil-like feel. It was something more akin to driving a tank through an Ikea. Apparently things have changed.
Okay, so below you can see the graphic evolution of the first page. When you're done taking a look at that you can continue this post below and I'll explain how things progressed a little more clearly than the one line of text accompanying the images.
In the first image you can see the cleaned up pencils without any added inks or colors. This looks a lot different from the first pencil roughs I sketched out and a little different from the second layout for the page which I've posted previously. I didn't feel that the second rendition opened the scene strongly enough and redrew the opening to what you now see before you.Notice that I didn't bother cleaning up the pencils for the brickwork as I figured I'd do that while inking.
In the second image you can see the progress of the first two panels. That brickwork in the background looks pretty cool under the flare from the light don't you think? Still working on the shading especially around the face and trying to get the blend of colors right for future reproduction. The bruising around the eye isn't pronounced enough and may need to be darkened but overall the colours are working nicely.
In the third image we can see the third panel where I've added in that back wall of the room with all of it's bricks and shadows and a door and . . . who the hell puts all this work into a single panel for a graphic novel? Apparently I do and I'm beginning to wonder about that. I'm a fairly detail oriented person and that may be my downfall when it comes to designing these pages. At least I haven't added any spray painted graffiti to the walls, . . . yet. I did however add the thug in the background of the second panel. Nice tie.
In the fourth image I've begun working on the characters in the third panel, primarily our thug and the poor guy tied to the chair. You can almost count the threads in that rope. Love the way the lamp is lighting up the scene but has anyone wondered who's talking behind all those word balloons?
That would be the guy I added in the fifrth image. You may have also noticed that poor guy hanging around along the fourth panel's edge. He's got a nice tie too, but I think his may be a little too tight. I've also added in some light from the window in the door and an old russian style phone from the 60's.
That russian style phone gets it's own work in the sixth image. The one thing I like best about those old phones is that they gave you a wide assortment of colour choices as long as your choice was black. I don't recall when the first coloured phones started to appear but it was probably sometime in the sixties and it probably began with everybody's favourite color . . . cream. Russian phones did not come in cream, they probably still don't.
The seventh image doesn't really change too much from before aside from adding a transitional phone. You can see the slight blend of designs from the first phone to the second as the sides begin to slide in and the buttons and lights merge with the black plastic below. Added in the numbers and letters on the dial here and tweaked a few shadows.
Which leads us to the eighth image where we can see an american style phone about to be answered by a ghost hand. I suppose I should get around to colouring that pretty soon. I'm not entirely sure about the bright yellow for the ringing text of the phones but I wanted something as blaring as a ringing phone and yellow seemed to work here. Those free-floating phones were starting to get to me so I decided to ground them with the desktop and papers.
In the end, the ninth image shows the finished page as it will more or less appear in the final product. At least that's the plan for now. The yellow works well against the dark background, but I'm thinking that I may need to darken the hand a bit more for reason which you will understand when you see page two progressing. Anyone who can read the russian text on the paperwork is putting in as much attention to details as I am so kudos to them. No I'm not going to tell you what it says, that would take away all the fun. I'm not even sure I'll tell Wayne. I will probably add a line of translation for each of the word balloons but I haven't decided that yet. Something to discuss over beers and chicken wings at a future date.
So there you have it, the evolution of the first page. It's taken some time to get here but we've finally arrived. As this is a labour of love at the moment and not something either Wayne or I are getting paid for we are moving forward slower than we probably would be if an agent were to jump on it and say "here's a huge advance, let's see the rest." Positive feedback in the comments would certainly help to keep our motivation moving forward and to get the next pages done faster. Even without that we shall continue to work on this story behind the scenes of our paying projects.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who's interested in the process and wants to chat or criticize. I've been doing this a long time so my skin is pretty thick and I can probably take even negative criticism. Most artists tend to be a little touchy when you attack their work but I've never been one of them. Be forewarned of course that I can dish itout as well as I can take it so . . . fire away. And if you're an agent for a big graphic novel publisher and you're looking for the next great writing and drawing team, and you've got loads of dollars to throw our way . . . call.