Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Process, Part 2- Pencils Mean Never Having To Say You're Sorry

So our thumbnails are done and we're ready to, you know, draw the fucking thing.

I want to preface this by saying I spent a year of college, and numerous times during my furniture building career, trying to figure out some kind of shortcut to combine the penciling and thumbnailing process. Artographs. Scanning and printing. Drawing the panels on separate sheets of paper and putting them together in Photoshop. I wanted to beat the system. I was so damn smart wasn't I? No. No I most certainly wasn't. I have a secret for you. Here it is.

The best penciling process is to take a sheet, mark it out 10 x 15, and draw it right the first time. Thats it. The best process is not sucking. My process is working towards that.


Penciling is the only step I give myself an entire day to do, because it takes a different frame of mind. One of the things I discovered doing administrative work was that I'm not much of a multi-tasker. I work much better focused, I suspect I'm not the only one, and I do wish actually paying attention to what's being done and getting it finished sounded better in job interviews.

When drawing, if my focus is on the story and the best way to convey it, that extra thought will come through on the page. Comics is a lot more about drawing how you feel about whats going on than it is just showing whats happening.

I like to pencil when I'm feeling like I'm at the top of my game. I sleep in as late as I need to and get up when I feel rested. I make coffee and open up all the reference and "mood board" kind of stuff I have set aside to look over while I have breakfast. I stretch, work out, take my shower, and make sure I'm feeling good. Then I put on music and draw all day. I don't text/e-mail/Facebook/Twitter and with very few exceptions, I don't answer my phone or check voicemail. I break to eat, and sometimes I'll catch something on Hulu over dinner. These are good days.


I have four magnetic boards on my wall. I can fit four pages on each one- but I usually do 11-12 pages at a time. I touched on the volume subject early in this project, and it's a good system. Also, I like having the board behind the computer open for any reference (usually pages from previous issues) as well as my To-Do list and random stuff.

When penciling a set of pages like this, I tend to bounce around once my panel borders are sketched in, usually depending on whether I feel like drawing backgrounds or people. Sometimes if I want a page in particular done and over with, I'll set a timer and finish the page before it goes off. I personally find a timer to be one of my most useful tools if I'm getting distracted or having trouble figuring out a panel.

My pencils on Benthic have been reasonably loose since I'm inking everything myself. If something gets to be messy and I don't feel confident inking it, I pull out the lines I want with a darker pencil. I draw in 2H, so even an HB can be pretty effective for seeing something I may miss at a later step.

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