Saturday, October 3, 2009

3/17/07 - tOrN reposted update

This post is in reference to a webcomic I created a few years ago. If you are confused please refer to the previous post.
You can read the webcomic by following the link here.

>drawing the panels
>fixing the panels
>format and the comics field in general
Drawing the panels

My original idea was to draw basic spheres and then just trust my hand at inking as a way of improving my inking style and becoming confident in a permanent medium. Because I had seen how I loved my sketches, but how they went flat and static when I inked because I was so cautious. I used a micron #8 and a fiber castle "f" and "s" sizes. They had a flat point I could put at an angle to get thin lines and hold perpendicular for thicker lines. However most of the time I wanted a thicker line I just did a double line like Charles Schultz. I was only reducing the panels to 86% of what they were drawn at, so there wasn't that much difference in size from the printed version. I did start off this way and I guess that's why the panels looked kinda wonkie to begin with but by the end I was sketching out panels fairly tightly at least specifically in the face, because I found that's the part I screwed up most often. Not to mention the expressions got harder to think about and draw as the comic went on. Emotions became more complex and I had to be an actor of sorts and think about what faces went with what expressions.
This is about the only place I used reference because while people know (much is the problem in 3d) when something isn't right they couldn't identify the iconic traits of the gesture, walk, expression whatever without actually doing it, they just know its wrong because we've seen it so much in our everyday lives and tv. It's a subconscious thing but something artists have to think about and be able to identify. I was taking a photo for the hand on the table in the panel where Logan leaves a tip and had my girlfriend put her hand down. It was wrong, I couldn't tell her why but it wasn't the symbol for that gesture.

As Duncan, my professor for intro, was saying each panel is a symbol in pictures for what is actually happening. If your trying to show someone cutting hair you show spray bottle, scissors, a black comb.
By the end the problem, as I've grown to respect artists that draw clean and simple, is that they have to think about drawing the panel before hand the most. It's like what are the barest bones I can give the audience and will still get the idea across. I thought it was laziness and while it's not as much work physically, it makes up for it in planning. I think this is why I liked my thumbnails better than my actual panels. And they were small enough for me to see the composition.

I think if I go pro (please let it happen eventually) I would use a method which unfortunately I heard of from Rob Liefield - sucks by the way but for reasons which I will explain later. He draws small and blows them up and then draws the details. I think it is good for a sense of proportions especially if I were to do a splash page or something big. Though figure drawing has helped me get comfortable drawing big, I am so used to 8 1/2x11 work its hard to draw bigger. And like I said earlier especially with composition and silhouettes.
Drawing the panels was a difficult problem, because I didn't know if I should draw the pictures first and assume the size of the text and then have those problems in editing dialogue. Or if I should letter first and draw around it, which felt weird and awkward.

The entire book was an exercise in confidence, storytelling over art, and profile shots. I had a hard time drawing profiles and so I purposely made the photo a double profile shot so I would have to draw it so much I would eventually get it right. And I think I nailed it in the last panel. But it took the whole book to get it right, but practice makes perfect right? Anyway, figuring out the difference between males and females faces not to mention bodies has long since been one of my problems. All these things much as the gestures are easily solved with reference because you don't have to think about it, but next to a few expressions and a few hands or object - like the gun - the whole thing was drawn completely out of my head. Jaw lines, hands, feet, noses and eyebrow. Mouths, lips noses - each must be drawn so different to imply the gender defenses that if you mix and match you will get them looking like some manly hermaphrodite.

I remembered Jim lee saying and seeing it most comics, you barley draw the nose with girls , usually just the nostrils and you have to keep them small. The jaw is particularly hard and something I think I still have to work on. But in profile as well all the features change. Men you can add as many lines as you want make them knobby and exageratedly 3d and they can still look young. With women if you draw any lines between the cheek and eyes it adds 20 years. Men are so ugly so wrinkly. Why do women like us. If I was a girl I would be a lesbian.

Many of the panels I would draw and the angle would change from behind the character to in front of him/her which means according to the viewer the right hand will go from one side and flip to the opposite. The 180 rule, from film, which splits characters to sides of the composition and tries to keep them there to avoid confusion by not rotating the camera more that 180 degrees, in fact usually around only 90. When you have to see the back of one of the character's heads, and not the faces, it means the viewer has to think about it and it detaches them from the story and the reality of the story with the technicalities of its presentation. However changing the camera angle, and screwing up this rule and other rules can subconsciously make the viewer say, "wow something is wrong here," because were so trained with these rules we don't even know how much switching the characters, just for one panel, can be.

I had originally been really excited about using a zip tone to separate layers of depth in the composition which would have been amazing and worked so much better. But because of time I did parallel lines as a shading technique, the problem was I used the same thick pen, as I had drawn the outlines with in the beginning, which made all the lines the same weight and you ended up losing the contours.

Fixing panels

I started using the white out tape to edit text easily though because of the sharp points of the pens I used, the white out tape would tear through. I would try to flatten it with my fist, hoping to flatten and stick it into the rest of it which still stuck to the paper - but it fell off most often. In the beginning I had used acrylic paint that I would paint on and draw over. This didn't have the same problem of "fraying," however it did become 3d and didn't make it easy to draw straight lines and it didn't take permanent marker at all. Around the time of the phone contestations and the diner scene I didn't have my lettering guide so I had to leave space and then rewrite the text and cut it out on a separate sheet and paste it on with some double sticky tape - thanks to Alison for that tape by the way. For the most part this scanned alright without casting a shadow. This took a particularly long time because it added steps and I had to draw background that was eventually covered up.


Anything goes in inking. It all comes down to the fact that the final product will be 2d, and whatever you have to do so that it is black and white, and so it is the panel you want goes. If that's cutting and pasting, whiting out, digitally mixing images, adding text afterward etc.


Much as I believe Frank Miller drew some of the panels for Sin City I drew the text in invert of what I wanted the final to look like and then flipped it on the computer, knowing I was scanning these before I would be able to reproduce them. I tried buying a white paint pen
but it was a piece of crap and soaked into the Bristol without doing a thing. I could also copy things from other panels, if they didn't change such as in the panels I mentioned earlier. I chose a 5 for lettering size which ended up meaning, I could only fit about 3 to 4 lines of text across the top of a panel and still be able to include an image.

Format and the comics field in general

However making sure the left character talks first or the highest character speaks first, and so on, become problems you have to deal with. I guess in short comic artists are not so much artists as we are storytellers and problem solvers. Some even go so far as to say the hero should always enter from the left and move right, like your eye across a page. Villains contradict this rule and should subconsciously make you estranged from them, at least some bit. This also ties into how composition should be thought of with how the eye moves from panel to panel and word balloon to balloon etc. I asked one of my friends when we read through the other's minis and I realized we didn't actually look at the panels. We read from word balloon to word balloon and only saw the panels peripherally. Which was a disappointment to me but good to know when I draw. Thank god I didn't have to think about how I would get down to the next tier of panels like a vertically stacked conventional orientation page would.
I had originally thought I wanted to post the images as a web comic -all side by side, one big long scrolling comic - this was brought on after seeing McCloud speak at SCAD about how the web browser/screen could be a window to a bigger canvas and how without having to turn pages there is no leaps of faith or cut off point in which the viewer kind of has to remember what happened before without being able to see it.

On the internet its all right there. Its almost how film editing works and how good editors are, in theory, are supposed to make cuts when people blink and some actually use infrared cameras on a test audiences to watch for blinks and make cuts on a majority of simultaneous blinks. But well see if it ends up on the internet. I will however try to post pictures with the what I'm talking about.
I was really inspired by city of glass' use of the basic 9 panel page.

When David Mazzucchelli deviated from it the panels were multiples of the single panel. They were double size, quadruple or whatever. I figured I could get the same effect but still drawing the panel boarders. Speaking of which, I drew 36 panels to an 18X24 Bristol sheet which I then scanned in four portions and then arranged into pages on the computer. Which became a problem dealing with figuring out which panels ended on the right page because I would have transitions or as I call them sequences - who's composition directly related to the panels before or after it - this is one of the main reason I have any deleted panels. The rest of the deleted panels were because the panel just didn't work and needed to be completely redone. Or something was wrong to the point it would just be easier to redo it than fix the same one


I tried to think of the shots very much like I would direct it if it were a film. So many of the shots are the same angle with things happening over time rather than changing the camera angle for every new panel. This way the viewer focuses on the change and allows me to be more specific and predict more easily points of interest and focal points for the viewer. Like when ashley opens her eyes angrily later in the story when she backs up into Logan after stepping in Brandon's blood. Looking at these early panels really makes me realize how much the style changed throughout the book. How I progressively used fewer and fewer lines, less shading and just simpler panels in general. Though the style of storytelling changed as well. I started off trying to remember what I was thinking of when I wrote the story in the first place. It was done in such a quick fashion that I drew and drew ideas I had picked my favorite and moved on from the beginning of the book to the end, making a few notes along reading through the script before I drew thumbnails at all.

There were a few reoccurring images I tried to repeat when they made since. Like before Logan knows who he is, I used the image of a face over and over. In the sink, the breakfast plate etc. Many of the sequences were slow zooms with the progressions of actions in them. Or transitions based on composition and layout - like the shot changing from when the waitress sees the blood and him inside looking at his hand in the bathroom. The food, the clock, the face. And most consciously when he would wake from flashback and have the same figure with different backgrounds.

© 2007 zach bassett, all rights reserved. no part of “torn” related material posted here may be reproduced an any form without written permission of the author via email, also any copyright not stated here is stated at the bottom of the blog. Any art/pictures not done/taken by me are copyright of their respective owners.

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