Category Archives: Process

Beautiful Scars: Our Favourite Page of the Week

This week’s page is one of my personal favorites. The top panel shows a proud Ridley escorting his lady around in the newly-fixed Panhard. It’s one of the first panels we finished completely, and served as a reference for the styling of a lot of the other pages. The bottom is a dramatic view of the dragon, the first time we get to actually see it in the book! So, it’s a fairly important page to the story and as a reference to the rest of the visual style of the book. I remember having a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to do the bottom panel’s background. It had to be something that wasn’t too busy or overdone, because the focus needs to be on the dragon. Mimicking the style of trees from the top, but simplifying them down to their base elements, ended up being the perfect solution. And now it’s one of our favorites!

We’ve talked a lot about the fantasy side of the book on this here blog, but not about the history side. So let’s remedy that right now!

We wanted Ridley to live through some extraordinary times. And while every era in human history is pretty fascinating, we felt that the early 20th century held a lot of interest for both of us. There was so much happening with innovation in technology, society, fashion, you name it. But, tackling a historical project also means hours of research to make sure our details are correct. Questions like “when exactly were spiral notebooks invented?” (1934, by the way), or “when were crayons available?” (1903!) came up whenever we wanted to put any kind of detail or prop into the story. We both learned a lot, about subjects we hadn’t even considered before starting.

Major details, like the car Ridley is driving above, required some more in-depth searching. We had to find a car that would have been available in England in the early 1900s. Panhard et Levassor was an established woodworking and machinist firm before making their first automobile in 1890, and by 1900 they were one of the largest and most modern automobile manufacturers in the world. No wonder Ridley was so excited about it! When we learned about this car, it jumped out to us as a good fit, and also as a gorgeous machine in itself. It was a little hard to find reference for when we were looking, however. Once, I even found an old advertisement on the wall of a hotel in Victoria, and for a long time that was the best full shot of the car we had. Now, it seems like it’s everywhere! There was even one up for auction recently (although it’s a slightly different model than ours). We ended up finding a video that a car enthusiast had taken during an antiques car show and posted to Youtube as a source of major reference, especially for the engine. Oh well. I guess if we decide to bring it back in another book, we’ll have all the reference we can handle!

Last, the good PhDs at Comics Alternative gave us a shout out on their podcast highlighting the January Previews offerings. At about the 1 hour and 4 minute mark, they talk about Beautiful Scars. And yes, we are both nice and heartwarming! Have a listen

http://comicsalternative.com/2014/01/08/episode-69/

Beautiful Scars: Our Favourite Page of the Week

And… ACTION!

Continuing the tour of our upcoming graphic novel, we wanted to share an action sequence.

This is a fun page to show off because, amidst all of the action, we get to reintroduce Scars the Troll. In the top section, Ridley is flying high in his DIY racer, but in the bottom story, the Princess and Woodsman are being overwhelmed by the Dragon’s minions. Our goal in running concurrent storylines throughout the graphic novel was to blend Ridley’s memories with Maddie’s fantasies. When two moments line up, we illustrate the idea that one memory can directly affect an idea. We wanted to counterpoint young Ridley’s exuberance against Scars’ stoicism (in reality, the troll is happy on the inside!).

Our book made the cut for CBR’s January Flippin’ Through Previews highlights! March 11th can’t get here fast enough!

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/01/04/flippin-through-previews-january-2014/

On Silhouettes

To give you some insight to our character design process for Beautiful Scars, I pulled a panel that would work out beautifully as an example (it also happens to be the panel I’m working on). In this panel, the Princess sees her friend the Woodsman. She’s about to give him a big ol’ hug.

To me, the moment is about the action. And after channeling my inner Princess and posing the pose myself, I chose the moment where she would gather herself before the hug. In other words, she’s not walking out like a robot, arms in the air in a hug-like motion.

First step is to go through an old Warner Brothers exercise and create lines of action. ASIFA has a great handout I use in my classes pulled from the great Preston Blair book on animation. In essence, I use the fattest digital brush I have and lay down a core mark thinking about movement running through the character. I’ll cheat and add smaller marks to suggest shape.

The second step is to use this gesture drawing as a base to sketch onto using layers. Making the lines of action a bit more transparent, I draw directly on the base sketch. I’m thinking about construction, silhouette and anatomy, but I’m constantly reminded about movement. To make a stronger character silhouette, I adjusted the rose to point down, but the energy still feels right. David Guertin always preaches clear silhouettes (and now I do too!), and all of the important details are an easy read at this stage even if I deleted all of the internal information.

The last step is to ink. Sometimes, the penciling stage will get tighter if I’m nervous about details. But I feel if you over pencil, then you lose all your energy on the inks stage. Taking a cue from Bruce Timm, I try to push my line as far as I can. Inking almost becomes a game… Can I define an entire arm in one stroke? Inks = Energy!

The process for this book is pretty loose, but I think the effects are worth it. Since I’m known for working in a tight style, it’s nice to relax and enjoy the act of drawing again. Guin is constantly pushing me to be looser and looser and I hope it shows in Beautiful Scars.