Sunday, April 29, 2007
As I mentioned in my last post, a couple days ago Wolfbro, one of the 9th Wonders forum moderators contacted me about an issue that I had been contemplating myself.
As I mentioned, the last page of my second comic features a spoiler featuring all the cliffhangers from the season finale. I did the math and realised that if the first part was posted next week, then we're going to see the cliffhanger page well before the final episode goes to air.
So I asked my editor for confirmation as to when my comic goes up.
There's good news and there's bad news.
The good news is that the second of my comics will be uploaded the day after the season finale.
The bad news is that the first part doesn't come out til the 14th of May.
Oh man! What am I going to do for 2 weeks! I'm dying here! I just want to show everyone everything that I've done. Ack!
So the webcomics are going to be spoiler safe... but I have to wait 2 weeks to talk to you guys about it all.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Apologies that there was no post yesterday. I had more important things on my mind. What could be more important than keeping you whacky kids up to date? Well, all last week I had been uploading artwork. Now even though I'm on ADSL my upload is much slower than my download. Each of the artfiles is between 60MB to 90MB and would take anywhere up to 5 hours to upload.
Now Heroes in Australia is about up to episode 12. I have to download the episodes to stay up to date. We have been waiting weeks for 0.7% and I had to wait an extra week cos my internet was all tied up uploading art. It was driving me crazy. So last night I realised that if I left my computer on all night I should have 0.7% downloaded by the morning. The problem is that Blogger craps itself when this fileshare software is running.
So it was a tough decision: Heroes or Blog.
Sorry, but you guys got the short end of the stick on that one.
But I FINALLY got to see it! Almost a week late. Man, I had fun. Even knowing the end, my brain's in knots trying to figure out how they get there. I was also really disapointed to see that Ted was shaven. In my comic he's still wooly. No one told me that he was clean shaven! That really annoyed me. I'm going to ask to see if I can redo those panels. If I can't you will have to forgive me.
One of the moderators of the 9th Wonders forums (Wolfbro) contacted me regarding an issue that I had been foremost on my mind also. I will chat about it more tomorrow when I have more information. Wolf: I've asked my editor what's going on.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Well, saying I know the ending has generated some kerfuffle*. Here's the thing. You all don't want to know. All I'm going to say is that it's Heroes doing what it does best... A MEGA cliffhanger. You know they're already set for a second season, so really I'm just voicing what you already knew. But I will not say more than that. Seriously. Stop asking. SSSSSH!!!! You don't want to know. Well... not until you actually see it yourself.
The funny thing is that I'm actually a bit of a loose end. I have signed nothing assuring my silence. No non-disclosure agreements. Nothing. A bit weird. But there's no way I'm spoiling an experience as fun, complete and solid as Heroes. Too few things come along in this life that are this much fun, pure and enjoyable.
I can't wait for you all to see what I've been working on. I just think it's such an exciting visual step for me. I've just started the second story and it's daunting. I get to draw Niki and Micah, so I'm pretty excited about that (oh yeah, as well as everybody else on the splash page). But the rest of the story is well... epic. I don't know how or if they're going to refer to this in the series. It's just so unusually... big.
I get to also draw Hana as a kid, and I reckon I just drew the cutest 9 year old kid ever. That's right. Ever. No, the deadline, lack of sleep and pressure hasn't affected me at all. I'm the same humble artist who began this project. But I just drew the cutest kid. Ever. That's right. Warn Wikipedia and Google, cos when you search "cute kid" it's going right to this picture.
Anyway, enough ranting and procrastinating. I gotta throw this kid off a roof.
* kerfuffle: commotiony sorta noise-like action.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I don't know why I even call these "HANA preview" anymore. I mean, even though it's the artwork, it's under an 80% white transparency and a bunch of text. It's hardly a preview. Hell, it's barely a tease.
Ah well. Old habits die hard.
I just got the script for part 2. It's a bit of a monster (ie. a lot of work). It also embodies the part of the job that I hate the most. The final page is a huge splash-page montage of the season finale. Which means I now know what happens to everyone. I know for a fact who the exploding man is and how they deal with him. I know what happens to Claire, Parkman, Suresh, HRG, Niki, DL, Sylar and Hiro (twice!). And while it's kinda nice knowing, I'm a big believer in learning this information in the best way possible... by watching the show! To read it as part of a comic script is kinda... well... underwhelming.
I'm going to try and take as much time on that page as I can. I think it will be worth it.
I just booked my ticket to New York, San Diego and Las Vegas this week. So I'm pretty excited. I will be in the US from about the 18th of July to the 7th of August. It would be nice to catch up with people. =)
Monday, April 23, 2007
Well, the good news is that I was able to salvage the page. It's printable and usable, but doesn't have anywhere near the level of detail indicative of the effort that I put into it.
I had to go in and clean some stuff up, but that was a small price to pay.
I guess I didn't have to totally redraw it.
Thanks also to everyone who posted their similar stories. While it didn't bring the page back, it did give me the strength, ingenuity and emotional resources to solve the situation to the best of my ability. A huge thanks to you all.
I'm onto page 10 (another splash page). Almost there! I'm hoping to have them both done by tomorrow morning. A day ahead of schedule. Not bad, 11 pages in 10 days while working full-time. I still haven't got the next script! I hope it comes soon. I'm hanging to see how it ends. You will see what I mean. As soon as you read the title... I showed my friend the title over coffee and we were in two minds as to whether it was literal, figurative or just provocative. Sorry... mysterious section done. You will see what I mean.
Sitting back and looking what I've done, I couldn't be prouder. The first few pages are a bit rough, but I really hit my stride somewhere around page 4 or 5. The best thing about it is it's just such a fast process. And there's so much bang for your buck, too! I mean there's so much for the eye to take in, but it takes me very little time at all (comparatively) to do. I'm also getting much better at Hana's likeness. I'm smashing some really good ones out.
I'm sorry these posts are so devoid of any real art or information. I promise I will re-upload these after the story has been uploaded. Not that a promise like that does you any good... But at least it will give you some context and get you to look at some at my favourite panels.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
I'm actually going to cry.
My anger is wound up in my belly like a coiled snake writhing in fury.
Here's the story...
I read a lot of the comments on 9th Wonders about Staz Johnson's effort on the final War Buddies. One comment that really got me was the badly filtered photo effort of the Pentagon. Someone remarked that panel really hurt after appreciating all the detail in my stuff.
I got all fired up and said to myself, "Well they ain't seen nothing yet!"
For two days I drew this page. It put me behind my deadline, but I was giving it my all. I drew this panoramic New York street at night. Every window in every building. Every piece of relief sculpture on the sides of the buildings. Cars. Lights. Reflections. Everything.
Next panel Hana dances in a club. Not only is she lovingly rendered (one of my favourite likenesses) but I decided to draw all the runner-up Hana dress designs on all the girls dancing around Hana. I painstakingly drew every dress as accurately as I could.
Finally the page was over. I couldn't be happier. It is/was (you sensing where this is going?) one of the most detailed pages I'd ever done. I shrunk it down to email size and sent it off to Frank. I then noticed something I'd missed (a bit of rough rendering I think) and went to fix it up. After fixing it up, I thought I better save it again. That's when I realised that I was working on the compressed copy. I was horrified, but that's ok, I saved it already right? Wrong.
So instead of a 28.3x43cm 300dpi file I had a 20x30cm 150dpi file. What's the difference you might ask? 108MB of information vs. 16.7MB. That's about 15% of the information I had before. Now while I uncompressed it and did what I can to fix it, it's about 60% of the page it was.
Two days work. 60% of what it should be.
Any other page... Any other page I would have been ok with. Just not this one.
I'm a litte unhappy...
Saturday, April 21, 2007
More importantly, thank you for all the great links and resources! I never even knew half these sites existed and they are IDEAL for research. Thank you!
I can definitely say I'm going to do more of this sort of stuff in the future. It's been a blast!
Ok... And the winner is...
Ok, so as you can see, I've had to take down the images. Frank said, "Our proprietary contract states no art or story elements will be released early w/o NBC’s consent. I don’t think you or us would get in trouble or anything, but it certainly wouldn’t look good if they found out."
And let's face it... I'm all about looking good. =)
So sorry guys. There's a ghost of the image there... Just to let you know that it is being done.
Here's an update I posted on the 9th WONDERS Forums regarding the Hana dress competition:
"Wow! Wow! Some incredible designs here.
What's quite funny, is that I started out with a very clear idea of what I wanted, but as I looked through them I got more and more of an idea what Hana would wear.
Some clarification on why I might/might not select your suggestion:
1. I can't draw the texture or do the colours. Some prints are extremely complicated and I just can't do some things.
2. I couldn't make out all the details of the dress that I need.
3. I just thought it wasn't appropriate for the situation. This one you're going to have to trust me on. I can't give you any more details. Sorry!
6 more hours then I take my favourite to the page!"
More drawing. I will continue the process discussion tomorrow. Sorry, I'm a bit behind my personal deadline (which is still way ahead of the actual one).
Friday, April 20, 2007
This is easily one of my best likenesses. It's not just the glasses (people with distinctive facial features are easier to draw - beards, glasses etc) it's just that I seem to have a really good handle on Jack Coleman. He's got such a great face and his presence as HRG/Mr. Bennet is incredible.
He's easily the most consistent and expressive likeness I do.
Again, I gotta say just how much fun I'm having. When I pull out an image like above, I sit back in my chair and go, "Wow. I did that." A huge smile comes over my face and then I plow straight into the next one.
Again, I will talk about how I do this and how I approached this project after it's uploaded. (No idea when - but my deadline for the first 11 pages is wednesday the 25th - so I figure it will go up the monday/tuesday after that). All I will say now is that I don't want it to look too much like a photo, and I don't want it to look too much like an illustration. The show is the show, and the comics are the comics - but I believe there needs to be a visual balance between the two.
On the good news, I just got approval from NBC for the art. They seem to really like it. A couple of great suggestions and I'm back onto new pages. Page 8... wow. Immensely detailed. It's fun but it's gonna cost me.
Be aware that I have taken on KJC's advice and asked NBC for permission. Do a quick download cos these all might come down. I might be whisked off my MIBs and never to be seen again.
COMPETITION: Ok, I need some help from the ladies. Hana is going out clubbing. (Please... don't ask). It's an elite night club and she's out to paint the town red. What should she wear? Please attach links with some images in the comments section. Winner will see their choice in the comic! (I prefer women, cos from all the guys I know... we have NO fashion sense).
Gotta fly off to work. Will talk about page assembly tomorrow. Sorry!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
First up, this is a request. I wasn't sure if I was going to post this because it's such a small picture. Really, it's practically a postage stamp on the page. It's a background shot (hence the lack of detail). When you see it in context it will make a LOT more sense why he's so sparsely drawn.
But a request is a request. Hope I didn't disapoint. Hang in there for a kicking Mr. Bennett (one of the best likenesses I've done) and then a Ted.
Ok, more on the process:
There's also two more steps before drawing. The first one is photo reference.
I love doing photo reference because I love working with models. I love creating a performance by collaborating with someone. It's incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately, all the Heroes stuff has been so pushed for time I've only been using myself, my tripod and my camera. To give you an idea of how I use it, on part 5 page 5 in the Petrelli Mansion, I modelled for Christine, Papa and the kid as well as Linderman on the next page. All I need is a rough idea of body language and posture. Sometimes I sketch over the top to explore stuff. Most often I just start drawing.
Photo reference is the fastest way that I can do performance, body language and proportion without stuffing around. At the end of the day, it's always just a guide and not a hard and fast rule.
NEXT: ASSEMBLING THE PAGE (then drawing! I promise!)
Obviously I can't talk about this story. But suffice to say, I think it is a great story. I pretty much get to draw something new every page. This makes it exciting, interesting and fun.
I'm hoping I don't get in trouble posting these. They're just going to be excerpts from the panels. Not even full panels. This preview isn't even half of a panel!
So here's my own coloured style at work. It's a darker, moodier lighting scheme than what Annette uses. I like dark shadows, extreme fill lights and my airbrush tool. I will talk about it a bit more down the track. I'm no where near as technically good as Annette, so I try and do something totally different.
I selected this panel cos I think Hana looks really cool here. As I mentioned, it's not technically perfect, but I really like it.
But right now, I believe I have to back-track down the process and talk about what comes after the layouts.
RESEARCH AND REFERENCE
This process usually takes a night. I like to sit down and research everything I might possibly need about the story immediately. I believe research is an important tool. While I have a pretty good visual memory and mental "library" it's not perfect. People are constantly asking me, "Why can't you draw it from your head?"
My response is, "How many Simpsons episodes have you watched? A lot, right? Well how many spikes make up Bart's hair? Surely you can remember. While you could probably take a good guess, you probably really don't know. That's the sort of details I'm supposed to remember? Impossible!"
And I'm a stickler for details. The little things that make something convincing. I also don't like having to constantly stop my drawing having to research everything along the way. Research usually means either hitting the huge reference library I have or Google.
So for War Buddies here's what I researched:
- Vietnamese peasant clothing
- US army uniforms
- Vietnamese jungle
- Vietnamese peasant huts
- m16s (all sorts of angles)
- mountainous backgrounds
- command tents
- US bases
- US jeeps
- Malcolm McDowell
- Adrian Pasdar (as I said on a previous post, I felt Dallas should look like Nathan, as Peter looks like his mother. I also had to fit into what the previous artist had done).
I'm a big believer that if someone else has done the research, then go with that. So I grabbed Platoon and A Clockwork Orange (for the McDowell reference). To grab the Adrian Pasdar reference I went through my mental library of scenes and grabbed screen caps of images that I knew I would need. I tend to grab a LOT so I don't have to come back to this process, as it's tedious.
NEXT: DRAWING THE PAGE
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Man, I thought this was a solid page. It doesn't look rushed at all. This is probably pretty close to how I would draw it if I wasn't pressed for time like a jittery safecracker with the cops on the way.
I'm happy with all the illustrations on this page. I love the angel. The problem with drawing statues is that you don't want them to look like people. You don't want people going, "Why is there an angel there?" I like the camera angle on the top two panels. I really wanted to pull back. I felt the dialogue adequately communicated who was who. I enjoyed adding that sense of scale.
Panel three has a very satisfying performance from the two characters for me. I'm glad they used that panel as the preview, it's a good one. Linderman is in control, and Petrelli is a little out of his depth. I tried to communicate that by giving Linderman the higher ground and a very Machiavellian look. I also like Petrelli's worried expression.
Hana! Not only did I not have to draw people in army clothes (I was so sick of those shirts and pants with all those pockets, I woulda given Annette a run in the capsicum/pepper-seizure department) but I also got to draw a chick! It's not a bad picture of Hana. It's got nothing on the ones I'm drawing now. I will post some preview shots over the next few days. I'm so excited to show what I'm doing.
I felt the final panel was uncecessary, but I tend not to argue with NBC. If they say jump, I try and jump to the best of my ability.
Monday, April 16, 2007
So thank you guys.
So where is panel 2 set? Why the Petrelli mansion of course. It seems that Papa Petrelli had some cash before he left for 'Nam. I believe Ryan was distracted by the picture of the table and chairs hanging behind Papa Petrelli. Why would I put something like that there? Let's just say that's what was in the reference.
Spoiler (highlight over the next bit to see the text): Episodes 19-21 are set in the Petrelli mansion. I wish I could tell you why
Anyway. Enough teasing.
Panel 1 was initially supposed to be set in the mansion. Hence why I didn't draw any stubble on Papa Petrelli. I didn't send Annette any notes and she coloured it like it was set back in 'Nam. In retrospect, I think that's an excellent decision.
Panel 2 has probably been the most controversial as far as my creativity and my drawing inability. It has my weakest illustration to date: baby Nathan (how old is he anyway?). I used an adult for reference and couldn't quite see past the reference to create a convincing child. As it is, he's a little bit freaky. But I (like to think) made up for it by having him play with an angel and a plane. Two things that fly to foresshadow his prediliction for things airborne. It wasn't in the script, but it's the sort of thing I will put in if given the opportunity.
It's probably my favourite bit of nerdery.
Panel 3 is probably one of the strongest character performances I have drawn. Papa Petrelli looks suitably surprised (but chunky!) and Linderman looks so much like Malcolm McDowell here. And I love his look. It's just perfect for the dialogue and how he feels. I'm really happy with Linderman's "performance" on these last two pages.
DALLAS CAPTION (CONT'D): Silenced. Discharged. Ignored. The desire to use Austin's gift for the greater good had destroyed everything I had built for myself in the military.
ps more stuff about the process soon! Had too much to rant about on this page.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
So Dallas lays the smackdown on Austin. A really fun page to draw. I wanted lots of space and a minimalist feel here. I felt that we were drawn enough into the characters that I could take a step back from the normal detail that I try and put in.
As amusing as it was, the line: "You lying sack of sh-" was not in my script. I like to think I inspired the writer here. =)
Ok. I believe Hero asked about how I prepare for these stories.
Firstly, I'm emailed the script. I read through the script a couple times to make myself totally familiar with it. Then I will sit down and start sketching out layout. Layouts are basically tiny sketches of the page. Mine are notoriously messy, tiny and indecipherable. I really don't know how NBC reads them. I'm sure they just kind of squint at them, shrug and smile.
What I tend to do is draw each panel in a small series of wide rectangles. I then draw and and redraw the angles, trying to find the right shot. Sometimes it takes me up to three or four attempts. I then arrange them into a page (usually 10cm tall and 4cm wide), and sometimes what I thought was the best shot doesn't work next to the previous or the next panel. So I have to make choices as to which ones I think work best or worst in sequence. Once the pages are laid out, I scan them and send them off to my editor, Frank who sends them onto NBC.
The point of the thumbnail is to make sure that I am telling the story and haven't missed any elements. It's also a means by which the editor and NBC can make corrections and suggestions before I commit to the time-consuming final art.
NEXT: Research and reference.
NO BLACK CAPTIONS HERE
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Well, well, well.
The good news is that "The Jas" is gonna be one busy guy (I'm speaking in the third person and given myself a monicker as I've cracked under the pressure). I just got given a 22 page Heroes story that is revelatory. I've got the first 11 pages and they're a LOT of fun. It's a Hana story, but Ted, Parkman and HRG are there. I'm really looking forward to drawing this.
The bad news is Annette won't be joining me. She has other committments which she can't get out of. God forbid she's a woman of her word. Currently I'm in negotiations to colour it myself. I really hope they let me do it. It will be faster and be a lot closer to my vision. It won't be Annette, but hey... I'm only human.
11 pages in 11 days. I'm insane. Just insane.
Page 3 quick notes:
panel 1: What I referenced was the bronze medal of valor here. Annette coloured it silver cos that's what the script asked for: two silver medals.
panel 2: I was totally pushed for time here. I had an idea for a whole inside of a command tent... But well... Yeah. I do wonder how they got these filing cabinets and desk into the field. But hey, no one complained.
panel 3: Look how dirty our boys are compared to the guards. Great work Annette. I found that hilarious.
panel 4: Whamo! I didn't want to go too "superhero" here, as I just didn't think it was appropriate. A good solid sock to the jaw is what I wanted. As a side note, I forgot to draw stubble on Dallas here, but Annette saved my ass. Apparently she stole Sylar's from ROAD KILL.
This caption does not exist on my script. I believe it says something like, "The things that Austin can do "may be invaluable" to the army."
Less talk more arting!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Sorry about the lack of blog-age yesterday, I was totally snowed under with work.
But here we are! Page 2. As you can see from the black and white versions I leant heavily on Annette here to help sell the background and the setting. When I'm this pushed for time and tired, I tend to try and really focus on the storytelling and the characters. I tried to find layouts that told and sold the story without leaving it feeling empty or leaving the reader lost in space.
It's Annette's textures that really take it up a notch for me. The muddy faces and the blood sprays. And these dirty textures juxtapose so nicely with the bright blue eyes. I just don't know how she does it. It's so tough to make digital work look organic. It's an incredible balance.
I know there was a lot of resistance by readers as to whether Au Co was dead. Despite it stating in previous comics that he cannot heal the dead, I felt it pretty obvious that when he grabs her in panel 3 and nothing happens that she's dead. We see in panel 4 that she's certainly not better. The script stated that she is shot in the gut. I moved it up to the chest to not only make it more lethal, but also because we know Austin can heal someone of a chest wound if they're not dead. Add to that, here's the script for those of you still in denial:
Panel 3: Austin has reached Au Co, he has his hands on her, concentrating, trying to save her life... but there's no healing the dead. Dallas looms behind Austin, his face lost in shadow.
The purpose of Au Co's death is to give Austin new perspective on the reasoning behind his future methods: sacrifices must be made for the greater good. That's what Linderman's story is here. Her death gives him reason, method and later, purpose.
By the way, if you see or know that I'm working on a Heroes comic, I recommend downloading it as the PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION rather than the online reader. I design the books to be read in Acrobat. Select fit to screen and just get scrolling. While I LOVED the previous artist's rendering of the Pentagon, I had to scroll out to see it all, then I had to zoom back in to read the next few panels. It's a pain in the butt. I try and avoid that by laying it out so it reads easily in Acrobat.
Right now I'm working on layouts and designs for Zero-G. Unfortunately I'm a little burnt out, so I think I might take the weekend off and play Lord of the Rings Online (hey, it's free!). I will work on the Zero-G stuff, but I think I will leave the pages til next week.
BLACKED OUT CAPTIONS:
DALLAS CAPTION (CONT'D): Austin
DALLAS CAPTION (CONT'D): He didn't want to go through with the mission. To kill Au Co. Understandable.
13.4.07: hmmm... appears the captions aren't right. I will fix this as soon as I get home.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
It has been revealed. Linderman and Petrelli. Interesting, huh? I thought so. Imagine trying to sit on that for two or three weeks. I'm so glad you all know now. I had to keep checking and double-checking all my posts, comments and threads to make sure I hadn't said "Linderman" instead of "Austin" and "Petrelli" instead of "Dallas".
That was tough. Glad that's over.
Ok, now we get to play spot the difference. What you see up the top is the original page 1. Notice anything? That's right, I originally drew the woman in the background getting shot also. I figured that Petrelli unloading semi or even fully automatic would hit her also. NBC asked me to remove her as they felt her presence distracting to the central image of Au Co being killed. After scouring the message boards, no one seems to have missed the woman, so I guess they were right.
Here's the final art that I sent through to Annette:
As Annette and I were going back and forwards about the last story, she joked that she'd have a seizure if she had to colour another capsicum (go back and look, there's hundreds of them). So of course, I had to chuck some in. I was going to throw them in every panel, but that would of just been stupid - and wasting valuable time that we both didn't have. So this page was my playful little dig at Annette. She's such a good sport. =)
Now I can talk more freely about the preparation for the series.
First up, I believe that this story is PERFECT for the comics. I mean, how else are you going to have a young Malcolm McDowell running around? CGI? I don't think so. The comics are a perfect way to tell this story.
It became very prevalent to me that they were relying on the medium of comics and perhaps the lack of skill in the artists at rendering likenesses. The last panel of this story (the explicit statement that Linderman is Austin and Dallas is Petrelli) confirms that. So when I thought about this, I was adamant that I would try and do the best likenesses I could.
But where to get a good young Malcolm McDowell reference? I checked IMDB and didn't recognise (nor could I find) any of his earlier films. As Ryan guessed, I ran out and bought A Clockwork Orange. Even though he's 28 old in A Clockwork Orange, that was the closest reference I would find to how old Linderman is supposed to be in the script (18 - it's not in the script, but I'm sure I read it in an email. I would have drawn him younger but I wasn't sure how to without affecting the likeness).
But what to do about Daddy Petrelli? Well I had a look at the Petrelli family. It seemed really obvious to me that Peter takes after his mother. Nathan on the other hand looks very little like her. So I reasoned that the father should look like Nathan. Not identical, but close enough. I remember looking at a photo of my father when he was my age and the similarity is uncanny. So I ran through a bunch of episodes to grab some Nathan reference, and off I went.
Again, Annette brings this page to light in a graphic and vivid manner. I especially love the bullet splatter on Au Co. It's brutal and prominent without being gratuitous. It looks like it really hurts.
BLACKED OUT CAPTION READS: "Au Co, who could create fields of crops with just a wave of her arms."
ps. I'm gonna spoil this now and say it was my idea to give baby Nathan the plane and the angel. I just thought the fans would get a kick out of it. I know I did. =)
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Boy, was I pushed for time on this page. I remember Annette telling me she needed it by lunchtime. I woke up at 7am and finished it by 12pm. I normally like to take almost twice as much time with a page, but this just came down to the deadline.
I decided to start with the last panel first. Normally I like to start with the first panel and work my way through in the order that's on the page. I find I discover things about the characters and the performance that I then allow to influence the latter panels that I draw. As a side-note I really like the run that the woman does in the first panel. At first I didn't think it was dynamic enough, but it looks like how my mum would run (she doesn't do a lot of running at her age). It's really convincing to me.
But I thought I should finish on a really strong image so the majority of the time on the page is spent on the final shot. I then worked back to panel 3, but being so pushed for time I knew I wouldn't get time to do my grey layers (man, they take a lot of time), so I went for heavy blacks to try and highlight just how bright the flames are behind them. I'm especially disapointed with panel 2, the black on Dallas' face just doesn't look great at all. It looks... unfinished to me.
The reason whay all the watches are flipping here is because at the last minute I decided to flip all the panels on the page. It just read better for me. We naturally read left to right, and I just felt that Austin needs to jump from the right holding us back from visually progressing in the natural direction we want to read in.
As Ryan also noted, it was page 4 and 5 where Annette and I consciously tried to "blow up" the previous artist's colour pallette. It just seemed like the best opportunity to change things to the way that we wanted to draw.
From here on in and into the next story it's all us.
I can't wait to discuss the next story.
I just got my next Zero G script and it's a laugh-out-loud roller-coaster ride of fun, thrills and adventure. I can't wait to get started.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Whether it's on the page or making the page, energy is a really pertinent factor when drawing comics.
As an illustrator, drawing a single picture is like running a 1 km (2.16miles) race. At about the the halfway mark you really have to dig a bit and for the last stretch you need to find your final wind. It's a nice challenge, but pretty easy.
As a comic artist, imagine that each panel is a 1km race. Each page is like running 5km (not something you want to do daily). Each comic is like running an emotional marathon. And at the end of the day, you're not done til the entire project is done. And you have to keep the energy consistent for the entire page. As I've said before, a page is only as strong as its weakest panel.
Throw in a full-time job... and well... It almost ressembles tough work. My days resembled this:
7:00am: wake up. Coffee. Breakfast. Email. Check proofs from Annette.
7:30am: start drawing
11:00am: Start work at the gym.
8:45pm: Finish work.
9pm: Eat dinner, watch season 3 Veronica Mars (now finished and loved it!).
1230pm: Clean up. Head to bed.
Do that for two weeks (using weekends to basically totally draw - one day I was drawing solid from 6am til midnight) and it's pretty grueling.
I gotta say the one thing that really kept me going on the second book was the fan feedback on the forums and on this artblog. The response, the appreciation, the speculation, the excitement, the trust and the respect have meant the world to me. I love this show, and I apologise if I couldn't give 100% every panel but I gave everything I had left.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Page 3. I really enjoyed this page. A lot of research went into the background of the huts, the vegetables amd the people. I love the texture that Annette used on the third panel for the sacks. The way she coloured the detonators in panel one is great too. I decided to pull right back on panel 2 and play a bit of "Where's Wally". My idea is that Dallas is pretty sneaky so he should be hard to spot.
Curlymarie made a really good point. I talk about performance when I evaluate a character on the page or the stage or on the screen. A lot of the time comic artists are given direction in terms of dialogue, but rarely in terms of reactions to dialogue. It is at this point that the artist goes in and decides how that other character is feeling and expresses that in a way that is consistent with their next action or line of dialogue. For example, take panel 3. Here's a close up (and a picture I wanted to show off cos I spent a lot of time on it):
The script actually reads:
3 - Austin sits crouched down hidden by wooden crates holding a detonator. Behind him, oblivious to his presence, a man and woman stand talking-- smiling and laughing. They hold baskets of food in their hands. Austin looks at his watch.
I wanted to communicate a greater sense of conflict in Austin's eyes and presence. While Dallas has bullied him into this, I felt that it's not a total coercion. Instead of having him go all "Rambo "on us, I wanted him looking at us, asking us, "Am I doing the right thing?"
I felt that this expression foreshadows what happens next. When Austin tries to stop Dallas, we shouldn't be too surprised as we should see it in his eyes here.
This to me, is a character's performance. The little details that I like to add that round out the story. Just because a character isn't saying anything or being mentioned in the script doesn't mean that they're not reacting to what's going on in a way that is consistent with their character at the given moment.
Another interesting aspect to performance is dialogue. As an actor delivers dialogue, consider their range of expressions they use to communicate the emotion. As a comic book artist I have to consider that line of dialogue and find the one single expression that is consistent, emotive and communicates what's being said. As an aside I also like to have their mouth open so they look like they're speaking too. It's not easy.
Again, this is why I like to work with models. A good model will bring a level of performance to the role that creates a greater level of depth in the character. For this project I tended to model all of it myself. I was constrained by time. I have two friends that would have made a great models for Austin and Dallas (Lee and Alex - hi, guys... maybe next time), but time just didn't permit.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
First up I wanna say thanks to everyone who has posted on the threads or online here. I only check out the 9th Wonders boards. Are there any others I might enjoy the discussion on about the comic?
I was really burnt out last night. Imagine working a 60 hour week and then coming home after every 10 hour day and drawing for another 6 hours. All work and no play makes Jas a dull boy.
But after reading all these comments, and seeing the passion and love that people have for the series, and the appreciation for all my hard work... well it really pumped me up.
The other thing that fired me up is that I'm on the last two pages. I don't have to draw the village, GI's or the jungle anymore. It's so refreshing. I've been stuck drawing that for the last 10 pages and I'm a little bored with it.
Now without all the mud on his face you should be able to have a really good guess at who Dallas is. Especially on panel 3.
Now I offerred to post or confirm about the blacked out bits, but I cannot. My script is different to the one that was used. There has been subtle dialogue and caption changes to make it mesh with the art better. I never noticed this before, but I'm flattered that they would go to this extra detail. It reads so much better now. But I will say that anything that's blacked out is basically Dallas talking about Au Co's powers.
The job that Annette did on this page was beyond superb. The mud on the faces makes them almost look like photos! I ran around the room pointing at it and emailed Annette going, "That! That! That's what I want our stuff to look like! That's it, right there! How do we do that again?"
Annette replied back with, "I dunno. Put mud on everyone's face?"
Back to the drawing board. =)
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I think I got the script Thursday. I smashed out some layouts and began to do my research.
I had three challenges: likenesses, researching Nam and the previous story.
I can’t talk about the likenesses. My only clue is that they are both based on visual reference.
As for Nam, I really didn’t know much about the war except for a bunch of movies I’d seen a very long time ago. So I went to the video store, and there was Platoon on dvd on special for AUS$7 (about US$3), so I was pretty happy about that. I also picked up another movie for reference, but I can’t disclose what it was (no, not that sort of movie!). Friday night was spent watching Platoon and doing video capture reference. I wanted a bunch of frames of huts, guns, uniforms, Vietnamese villagers, jungle, vegetables and likenesses. I figured if I had this on hand, then I could move faster once I started drawing.
Obviously this is a follow-on from the previous story. I had to consider what the other artists had done. Annette also had to fall in line to make it look visually similar. She had to limit her palette to the choices that the previous colourist had made. I personally felt that the choices that the previous colourist made didn’t suit my artwork. I felt that it all looked a little... cheap and a little flouro. But our hands were tied. Annette still did a stunning job regardless.
I’m particularly fond of this first page. It’s quite detailed. I really enjoy setting the scene for the first time. Anytime we go somewhere new, I like to try and explore the area and make it as rich as possible (deadline and time permitting). In this case, I was really trying to make my mark here. I’m a little competitive and while the previous artist had done a decent job, I really wanted to knock it out of the park.
I also like my take on the girl. She’s supposed to be about 10 years old. With no models available, I modelled for her. Given that I’m 6’1 and 92kg (a little over 200lbs) I thought I made a stunning 10 year old girl. =)
A friend commented that he really liked panel 3 because of the poise of the girl and the guard to her left (the one smoking). He said he just really liked the performance. I tend to pose for background characters myself. I find that when you’re acting for a comic, it’s like being onstage; everything has to be big. Performances have to be a little larger than life to communicate the emotion of the scene. It’s actually a very hard skill to teach my models.
So… have you figured out who Dallas and Austin are yet?
I apologise, I will discuss the story more when the final part is up. I can't expose the truth here. It just wouldn't be right.
What I am interested about... Is that my script actually has the unblackened out letters! I wonder if I can post them?
ps. Huge apologies about Dallas and Austin's watch. Neither myself, Annette nor our editor picked that up. I was so rushed, that it slipped straight past me. I'm normally great at that stuff.