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Author   Topic : "Making a comic"
eliseu gouveia
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Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Portugal

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:02 pm     Reply with quote
Hi, folks,

this is my first tutorial, a very basic approach to how I usually "attack" a comicbook page.
It´s most likely not the best or most effective way to create a comicbook page, it´s just the way "I" do it.

1. BIRTH OF AN IDEA
Anyone can tell you how completelly at random an idea for a story can appear.
My first album, Medusa31, about a member of a S.W.A.T team created to fight superjunkies came during a New Year´s Eve hangover, when I was making mental word association games and the word "Herkulizants" (from the word "Herkules") appeared.

So, there´s no special “How to” rule to it, an idea comes when it comes, you just have to grab it.
Just keep a piece of paper handy to write it down.
I´ve actually started keeping a couple next to my bed, since lately my dreams seem to turn out far more creative than anything I ever wrote.

2. WRITING

A good idea can take you a long way, but the way you organise it to sell it to the reader is the secret behind best sellers.
This is where writers come in, they structure, organize, nurture and develop the idea into a story.
I won´t dwell on it too much since this is a comicbook tut, not a literature one.
Basically, when you´re finish writing a comicbook script, you should have a stack of pages that look something like this:

Quote:

[FONT=Arial]
PAGE 6 (four panels)

PANEL 1: Long shot of Tamerlane in mid-flight as he fires a green ball of energy at the incoming hordes of supervillains

TAMERLANE: MURDERERS... YOU MURDERERS!

OFF: TAMERLANE|! STARVOX! YOU´RE OVEREXPOSED! FALL BACK TO S22.


PANEL 2: Bird´s eye view of the battle that rages across the floating city. Chaos is everywhere, as superheroes and supervilains duick it out. Think all-out carnage, but keep it PG-13.

OFF: WINTERMARE! TOMBOY! SECURE THE EMBASSIES ON DECK 96.

OFF: TELEPATIC FEED FROM GAMMA GIRL LOST. SEND MEDIC TO AIRSTATION 12.

PANEL 3: Medium shot of the 4 psychic girls who are telepatically supervising the defenders. They´re all linked to a machine to boost their coordination efforts. Behind them, undercover of the dark, one of the supervillains managed to sneak through the ducts and now emerges in the room ready to attack the girls.

OFF: SILVERSPARROW II HYPERSONIC. E.T.A.: 5 SECONDS.

OFF: AIR SUPERIORITY LOST OVER THE SKYKNIGHTS ACADEMY. WINDYLITE?

OFF: I´M ON IT!

OFF: MORE RESERVES NOW ARRIVING. WORMHOLE QUARTET NOW MATERIALISING ON THE DECK 4 LOUNGE.

PANEL 4: Still hidden in the shadows, the mysterious individual fires an energy blast from his hand, killing the 4 psychic girls.

OFF: TELEPATIC FEED FROM ASTROQUEEN LOST. MEDIC--

PSYCHIC GIRLS (in unison)- AARRRGH!
[/FONT]



3. BREAKDOWN

However, I don´t usually do that. It´s a pain, especially since I´m usually the one who draws all that. And since the penciller and the writer are the same person, we can jump on to the fun part of making a comic.



Ths is how my comics are usually born.
Just a random set of sheets I tape together and where I write, set up the page layout and plan the roughs and even word ballon placement.

There is fun in writing. There is fun in penciling, inking and coloring.
But for me, nothing is as fun as working with these stacks of sheets, you can take them everywhere, flip them, add notes, check for pacing and time the sequences accordingly, write, erase, doodle, make collages… this is the heart of it all.

A page breakdown is a rough idea of what the page will look like, how the pannels will be organised, what side of the panel the character is, where word ballons go. I´ve seen all types of page breakdowns, from ones that looked like stick figures to those that could pass as finished pencils.
Mine dwell somewhere inbetween.

In projects where I play all the instruments, from writing to “lettering”, my pencil breakdowns are usually hideous. I´m not planning on showing them to anyone, so I can cut me some slack .



When I´m collaborating with other folks, however, I usually have to put a little more heart into it (or else I´ll scare the writer off Wink ).


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eliseu gouveia
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Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Portugal

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:02 pm     Reply with quote
Unless you plan to sell the pencils at a con (kinda hard when you live in the other aside of the pond) it doesn´t really matter, as long as you polish it all up in the final inks.



4. PENCILS

I usually skip this part.
Since I´m both the penciler and inker, I can jump from breakdowns straight to inks, Saves an unbelievable amount of time,
Ideally, this is how a pencilled page would Iook like if I were to work with an inker.
Ideally.



Notice the attention payed to the finishing touches.
There´s no need for that.
Theorectically., things like line weight are the inker´s Job.
So, when do you make pencils this tight?
1) when you´re trying to impress future would-be employers (submissions).
2) when your inker is so bad that you want to make absolutelly sure that the final page will (somewhat) resemble what you had in mind.
3) when on top of that your colorist is so bad that you have to spell it all out for him too.

In the end, a page this squeaky clean takes anywhere from a day and a half to two days, an eternity in comicbook production standards.
Aim for 1 to 2 pencilled pages a day if you want your publisher to keep returning your calls.

5. INKS

Inking is an art.
Some people may call it tracing. Feel free to smack them in the head if they do. Repeatedly.
Inking requires talent, skill and not everyone is good at it.
I´ve seen outstanding pencilers commit murder in broad daylight (often with witnesses), killing amazing pencils with their gruesome inks.
It´s a vision from Hell. Really.

5. COLORING
I won´t develop this chapter since I´m the last person that should teach anyone anything about coloring.
I was learning series and theorems from people called silly things like Faraday, Lagrange, Rolle and Cauchy when I should be learning Colour Theory.
This is just for those curious to see what that initial page script turned out to look like.



6. LETTERING

I won´t develop this one either. Lettering was never my forte, I know where I want the ballons to go, I set up some dead space for the letterer to work her/his magic and I get out of the way. Bad things happen when i try to letter my own pages.

7. TECH STUFF

The standard size for a comicbook page is 11” X 17”.
After you´ve done your penciling and inking, the page is scaled down to print size, so, you have to stay very aware of these followoing numbers.

Write them down and keep them handy, they are your friends:

Bleed: 6,875 X 10,497
Trim 6,625 X 10,187
Live 6,125 X 9,687


BLEED is your canvas. Your domain
Here, you rule supreme, free to draw to your heart´s desire.

TRIM is all that´s left of your page after it has visited the butcher. According to legend, there is a demoness hidden in every Printer called Guillotine who mutilates your every page, cutting its borders off to claim as their own. Her apetite is relentless and if you put an important detail of your drawing too close to the edge, chances are she´ll chop it right off.
So, rule of thumb; keep crucial details inside 6,625 X 10,187, it´s Holy Ground.
Theorectically.´

LIVE is the área reserved for your panels.


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eliseu gouveia
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Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Portugal

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:03 pm     Reply with quote
8. SETING UP A PANEL

The way you set the "camera" makes all the difference between a visually exciting story and a yawn.
Here´s some standard concepts used both in comics and cinema.


Panoramic Shot – sometimes, this can be called the Establishing Shot. It´s usually a wide panel seen from a distance that emcompasses everything in your scene.



Long Shot – A notch below the panoramic shot, this is the character´s full body shot that also shows a bit of its surroundings.



Médium Shot – A more intimate shot, you see these a lot in sitcoms where they show a character from the waist up.



Close-Ups – your panel locks on to a single detail, be it a hand, a face or a bloody knife in the kitchen sink.


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eliseu gouveia
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Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Portugal

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:03 pm     Reply with quote
CAMERA ANGLE

Bird´s eye view – Also called a high angle, this is when the camera is placed above the scene



Worm´s eye view – Or low angle, is when the camera is placed at a very low height (imagine that it´s being operated by a worm).
You see these a lot in superhero comics, characters shot from below to make them look more imposing and majestic.
Like in Leni Riefenstahl movies.




Reverse shot – It´s when you turn the camera around to show what the character is looking at. Duh.




9. SEQUENTIAL

I love pin-ups.
However, a comic is not made of splashpages, it´s made of sequentials.
The good sequential is the group of panels that when combined, give us a sense of continuity in action.



There is nothing worst for a comicbook artist than to have a reader look at your work as if it was a rubik cube.
The reader wants to be immersed in your universe, not struggle to understand what happended from a panel to the next .
The good storyteller lays it all out in the open for them to see what happens.

Your page hás to be so clear from one panel to the next that a person can look at it and understand what happened even without the word ballons to spell it out.




WHEW!
So many rules and numbers....

Just assimilate it and then you can start having fun.

You don´t get into comics because you want to make money (there are far smarter ways to acchieve that), you get into comics because you want to tell stories.
And when it comes to telling stories, comics hás no rivals.

It only takes imagination, a pencil, and a paper.
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Tzan
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Joined: 18 Apr 2003
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Location: Boston MA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:40 pm     Reply with quote
Very nice and informative!

I took a wack at making a comic in 2004. I used captured images from the game City of Heroes. I only made 3 pages but I did enjoy it.

Unfortunately making a comic from the game means I dont get to play, so I went back to playing Smile
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Ranath
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:08 am     Reply with quote
well done, nice to see these on sijun as well, thanks!
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Max
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:44 am     Reply with quote
Awesome tutorial!! Thanks alot! It's very informative and interesting to read.
I think I said this before - your inking is superb! Great stuff!
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