A Sasquatch in the Suburbs (pps. 2 and 3)

 

Launch #8: A Sasquatch in the Suburbs (pps. 2 and 3)

Concept: The concept here is not really any different than before—since it’s the same story.  The only thing to add is that I do want this to be a story that looks back at something that happened.  So the narrator is older now, and he supposedly knows better; but I don’t want it to be one of those “oh wasn’t I a silly kid” stories.  I do want it to have a specific mood, which I’m trying to pull off in both the language and the pictures.  The language is sober and mature, but forgiving of childhood silliness.  The art is an attempt to show the differences  between light and dark—the brightness of the hot sun and the stranger, darker world of the “woods.”  Obviously the art needs help (and so does the text), but hopefully if you know what I’m attempting, you’ll be able to offer more specific criticism as to what worked and what didn’t.

Layout: (p. 2) I wanted to do a cartoony view of the city and the suburbs, meaning that I wanted to give it the feeling of a realistic map, but to skew the perspective so that I could actually fit the large expanse of territory that I was trying to cover.  I thought that doing it that way would have a better feeling of place than having separate panels for each of the “scenes.”  It came out okay, but I think it would have been more successful if each piece had followed more or less the same perspective (for example, the airport should be tilted more to the right).  It also occurred to me too late that I should have had the three kids in the neighborhood, because that would have made a better segue from the first to the 3rd page.

(p. 3) This one was a more direct attempt to show the changeover from bright light to a more motled dark.  I’m not sure if it is even clear what is happening, but the three kids are walking to the woods, so the page is done in a frame-by-frame motion.  As they move closer to the woods, the panels get darker, because the sunlight becomes less and less as they move into the shadows of the trees.

Putting it Together: I sketched these out in my sketchbook.  Page 2 was actually part of page 1 originally.  I do think I made the right decision by pulling them apart, because it works better visually; but I wonder if a story this short deserves this many pages devoted to set up.  Page 3 was little more than four boxes that got progressively darker.  The original idea was to have the three kids be simply negative space; that is, they would be like the hole in the main picture.  But I decided that using that idea made it even more difficult to tell what was happening.  Besides, by showing the kids, I could more easily show how the light on them changes.

I don’t know what made me think that this would be a good story to do.  Trees are a pain in the ass to draw; and as you may have surmised, most of the story takes place in the woods.  So please forgive me—if you can’t tell what something is, it’s either a tree or a kid.

Lettering: On page 2 I continued the font style of having the first words of each “paragraph” have letters that were twice as large.  I kind of like it, although I don’t really think that it works.  You may be interested to know that the freeway on the left was one continuous line originally, but it turned out that I didn’t plan well enough for the amount of text (with the larger letters).  So I would up placing an opaque white sticker on the page over the line and doing the lettering on that.  I was worried that the line might show through, but it worked out okay.  I think I will at some point do lettering exclusively on the sticker paper and then transfer it to the page. 

The white letters at the bottom of page 2 were done with a silver paint marker.  It actually came out pretty well (and it’s a hell of a lot easier than using the scratch paper).  For some reason I haven’t been able to find a similar white paint marker—the ink in the ones that I have is too thin so the black shows through.

(p. 3) I was a little more careful with the lettering on this page, and (despite the fact that it isn’t well centered) I think it shows.

Inking: Both pages were almost exclusively done with a brush.  I used the Rapidograph and a ruler to get some of the straight lines (page border, roof tops, curbs, lightposts), and I also used it to create the stippling effect of the grass on p. 2.  I used the white paint pen occasionally to get some lighting effects: see the white outline on the tree bottoms/sides (p. 2), and some stippling (for some of the mottling) and random outlines on  trees to make them stand out better.  I also drew some of the one-point perspective lines in white to give the ground a flatter, dropping-away-toward-the-horizon look.

I put a lot of work into these two pages, and I think that I’m still learning a lot about using a brush.  Some tips: keep the brush moist; it’s easy for it to get clumpy and dry even when you’re using it.  That means that it won’t hold the ink.  So get it wet with water or clean it occasionally in the ink cleaner.  Next up, I try using Sable brushes, which I read are the best.  I don’t know what the ones I am using now are made out of.

This will sound stupid, but the part that I’m most pleased with is the inking just to the left of the airport runway.  That “feathered” look of the lines is really a pain to do.  It still ain’t great, but hopefully with practice…

I also made a big boo boo on this one.  I spilled ink on the upper left hand corner of p. 2. Be careful how you place and store your ink.  Usually I use a little tray that only holds about a tablespoon full of ink.  It’s nice, but you have to re-fill it a lot.  Of course, if you spill it, it isn’t so tragic.  I’ve taken to using a film canister with ink in it because it is easy to open and close, but still holds a lot of ink.  Of course, it can still spill.  Anyway, I was able to cover up most of the damage with lots of white out and white ink.  However, I don’t recommend white out because it doesn’t spread evenly and it tends to dry really hard and clumpy so it really makes a mess.

Reproduction: Nothing special about the reproduction except that the paper size that I’m using doesn’t really shrink to an 8.5 x 11 very closely.

Tools:

  • Brushes: #2 Loew-Cornell, #3 Royal-RG 
  • Pens: Rapidograph, Pilot Precise V7
  • Magic Rub Eraser 
  • Paper: 11 x 14 Bristol
  • 30-60-90 triangle T-Square
  • Ridgeways Horse Hair Brush 
  • Opti Fluid: white out
  • Black Acrylic Artist’s Ink 
  • Higgins Pen Cleaner: This is good for getting the ink out of your brushes
  • White UniPaint (fine line): for whites 

Overall: I feel like I’m learning a lot with this exercise, even though I’m not completely happy with the results.  Still, I like that I’m working on a longer piece.

Additionally, I experimented a little with the packaging of the pages.  I don’t know what the final format will be.

I also went back and touched up page 1.  I think I did more damage than help.  I may go back again next month to see if I can clean it up some more.