Responsive design, and my progress

A caricature of George Lucas. I am thinking of practicing caricaturing a bit more, as that will help me push poses and expressions in my stories.

This post will be about my progress and process a bit.

So I did a story at the end of 2015, a one-pager I had written for practice. I drew it back then, but I decided to redraw it this week, 16 months later. And the differences are interesting. You can read the latest iteration here. See the animations below.

These animations show the comics as they would be rendered with different browser widths. I render the comic at either one, two, three, four or six columns wide. This makes 12 an important number as it is divisible by all of these. A comic that has a multiple of 12 fixed-size panels will always align as a block of images in this case, no matter what size the browser takes.

This is my attempt to do 'responsive design' for comics, and it kind of works. You can read the comic on small mobile screens but also on big desktop monitors. The comic will fill the space provided. It is hard to get pacing right and to guide the eye properly through the page for every configuration, so I'm not sure this is such a good idea just yet.

The left animation shows the first version. No backgrounds to speak of, and the coloring doesn't give you the feeling that you are at a boxing match. The animation to the right was drawn sixteen months later, and I feel that it is much better in those respects. I did an excellent "Introduction to Coloring" course at Comics Experience and an also excellent "Depth and Details" course over at Sequential Artists Workshop, and although these comics aren't very good yet, I think I can see the improvement that resulted from enrolling in these classes.

My process at the moment: first, I make several thumbnails of each panel to try to find a satisfactory composition. I place the thumbnails online so I can see if the storytelling works.

Then I look for photo reference, and I study the reference, put the photo away, and draw the reference from memory. The reference will be relevant to character designs I am planning, and objects that I will need to render in the background. Then I look at the photo again and fix mistakes and add the details I missed, and then I redraw the reference from memory again. I find that the second time, I remember all the details I forgot or got wrong the first time. It find it also improves my ability to eyeball drawing things I haven't studied this way. I got this from studying how the amazing Kim Jung Gi works.

Then I do a first pass of the panels, sketching them at the actual size at which I will make the final drawings. After that, I place a new sheet of paper over the drawings, put them on a lightbox, and I try to improve and tighten the drawing. I got this approach from watching Youtube videos of Glen Keane drawing. I do this, fixing mistakes in volume suggestion and such, improving the drawing at every pass, until I am happy with the result.

Then I do a final tight pencil drawing, which I will ink. To get good controlled lines, I try to imagine the line on the paper and do a few rehearsals, trying to draw from the elbow and shoulder, until finally making the mark. The pencils are then erased, resulting in this pen drawing.

Then digital scanning, and coloring. Anyway, so it's how I approach it at the moment. It will likely still change, my work isn't very good yet.

Newer entries in Sketchbook

I continued work on Javascript code that helps me generate perspective grids.

Older entries in Sketchbook

Here's another batch of panels I copied for practice. I decided to make them tonal studies and to try to use only three main tones.

One of the things I'm trying at the moment is copying panels from existing comics pages, for the purpose of study and practice. I get to practice penciling, inking and coloring and I'm hoping constructing poses and worlds and how to suggest things will seep in through osmosis. I'm also taking a colorist course at Comics Experience at the moment and also a course on how to create a story through images, panels at the Sequential Artists Workshop, both great places to learn the craft.

Playing some with the Gimp colorize function.