Tonight I began work on she said. I’m approaching the artwork for this project a bit differently than I usually do. So for all you process junkies out there I present my work flow for she said:
It all begins with a cat named Bat. She is supervising the thumbnailing process.
I thumbed the book (comic, web comic, whatever. I just call ‘em books) quite small. Normally I thumb at 100%, but for she said I think I cranked it down to 40%. I make mini page layouts in Illustrator and draw directly on printouts so I can see the book develop as I sketch along. What can I say? I’m a book designer and I see books before I see comics.
This is the thumb for page one. I draw with a .9mm mech pencil with blue lead and work loosely and quickly to keep the line energetic and lively. I sometimes add little notes so I remember what certain scribbles or details are.
Drafting/mechanical pencil porn break! Since I’m drawing she said entirely in pencil (exciting!) I’ve been, um, researching (read: buying damn near everything jetpens.com stocks) various kinds of mech pencils. These are the ones I’m using for she said. The pencils that are fanned out are my primaries. The rest are various brands that range from .3 to .9mm. It’s interesting in that each brand has a different line quality even though I’m using the same lead (2B) for all. The pencil with the pinkish-purplish top is the deadly .2mm. I adore it and it’s delicate line but have already stabbed myself. She is needle-thin and inflicts a whole lot of hurt. I treat her kindly for fear that she may develop a taste for my flesh.
After thumbing, I scan the artwork and place it in an InDesign file of the book layout. Here I scale the art up to it’s final print size. As I finish each drawing, I scan and make two image files – one for the web and a hi-rez file tweaked for print. When the web page gets posted the thumbnail in the book layout gets replaced with the hi-rez image. This way, the book comes together at the same rate as the comic serializes online.
When I’m ready to draw the final image, I print out the scaled-up thumb from the InDesign file onto crappy old printer paper and slap it on my light table.
My light table is a massive, archaic, green metal industrial beast from the 1950s. I love it. The glass is held on by the yards of reinforced tape you see here. The original glass – before it broke – was thick and opaque. I replaced it with clear glass and now she’s a beauty to work with. Sucks to move, though. She is quite hefty.
Next I place a sheet of higher-quality color laser paper over the thumb. On it is printed the final panel size for the book. I tackle the tight underdrawing with a .9mm pencil loaded with red lead. At this stage I add the details clearly and figure out ideas for textures and patterns. The underdrawing stage is tighter, but not completely so. Gotta give myself some room to have fun in the final stage, y’know?
And…the tape. I use a different drafting tape for each project. Manya books had black tape, Max & Lily’s were held down by standard cream-colored drafting tape, Grace had yellow, she said gets red.
The filled portfolio of she said thumbs.
The script. Subject to change, but usually not much.
NEXT: The always fun final drawing stages!