I've been avoiding working on this page, because it's a bit intimidating to get the perspective right. But I couldn't put it off forever, so in the intervening months, I've looked at a lot of restaurants and taken a lot of pictures to try to figure out how best to pull it off.
Using a combo of references, I drew out the following mock up on my computer:
I settled on 4 panels rather than the original idea of 5. I printed this "sketch" out at full size to use as a reference.
From there, I made a pencil sketch of the scene:
And then refined it a bit:
Then I traced/drew it out in pencil on the good paper:
And then got to work inking the bad boy.
It's not as "clean" as I'd like it to be, but it's done (except for all the other computer processing I have to do...)
This week I worked on a couple of inserts. These images aren't complete pages, but they will be used to fill out 2 pages. As such, I wound up making them about 2 times bigger than they will be once they are incorporated. It's hard to draw small! First up, C ponders at his desk. Probably a bit too much exaggeration on the perspective...
Next up, a mock up of a couple of head shots.
And the inked image. I didn't get it quite as simplistic as I was thinking, but it's close.
The text is purely for fun. It'll be cut in the final image.
So with all the panels more or less how I wanted them, I used a lightbox to redrew the images.
Here's the pencils with initial inks (pen).
And finishes with the brush:
Mark! brought up a good point: C should be very terse and to the point, except when he's playing the buffoon for M. With that in mind, it occurred to me that he'd also get much more terse when closing in for the kill. Although he's still playing a bit dumb, C is very much conveying "I got you, you bastard." in panel 4.
And since I really want to make up for some lost time, I worked on another page.
The following brickwork (or at least portions of it) will serve as the chapter breaks.
I was originally going to draw one or two bricks and then copy them in PhotoShop. But that seemed like too much a cheat, so I went ahead and drew the whole page.
I started by creating a blue line guide. I knew I wouldn't keep the brickwork quite so regular, but I still needed something to go by.
Here's the thing. It's easy for me to love Montressor as a character; he's such a slick and smarmy snob. But it's also important to remember: there's a reason Calimbo is after him. He slowly walled a man into a cave. Hand drawing each of those bricks one-by-one gives you an appreciation of how evil Montressor is---and why he has to be caught.
It was a working weekend, but I snuck away from work just long enough to...do a different kind of work! Last time, we left off with this mock-up:
I wasn't quite happy with it, so I reworked it a bit:
And I used a combination of the 2 mock-ups to make the final page. I re-positioned the pointing hand in panel 1 so that it is a bit more dominant. But now I think I need to add some more black so that the nitre stands out some more.
I made sure that the footprints in panels 2 and 3 line up a bit better.
Panel 4 is meant to evoke the grim reaper. Not only is C indicating where the victim died, but it also signals that the end is coming for M.
Panel 5 has another symbolic "gotcha!"
"But, Cej, where did their flashlights go?"
Cej: "Quiet, you!"
Maybe it was the time change, but I spent more time in the studio, but seemed to get less done. I finished inking this page, where M decides to go tamper with evidence.
And I started on the rough for another page, where C leads M into his trap. This is pretty rough. I'm still pondering the images for the upper tier (currently the 1st 3 panels).
For those following closely at home, I think I've decided to combine these two pages:
Didn't quite finish a page this time, but I got close. Here's the thumbnail from a few weeks ago. This is roughly 2"x3".
And the full size mock-up. I had to research how people walk down stairs. Sure, it sounds weird; but it's a bit hard to mimic/model for yourself on a flat floor.
Here's the pencil sketch.
And the partially inked version. It takes a while to ink all those bricks!
Today I worked on an "establishing shot" page for when C goes to see M at his office. I figured I could knock this one out in one studio visit without too much grief. I did the thumbnail a few weeks ago.
Here are some practice sketches I worked on first.
And the final inked page. I'm not quite happy with how it came out, but I tried a few different ideas and tools, (like a crowquill dip pen), so I guess it's not a total disappointment. Next time I think I'll just use fine straight lines for greys (instead of squiggle lines [panel 1] and dry brush [panel 2]). I think they might not stand out so much.
Here's the pencils:
As I mentioned last time, this page is meant to be reminiscent of this earlier page (where C looks for evidence). My original thought was to have the 2 pages be almost identical; but that seemed a bit lazy and a little too "on the nose." So I went with something that reflected the earlier page. That makes more sense to me anyway, because C and M should always be opposites.
Click on images to enlarge.
STEP 1: THE IDEA
The first step is probably the hardest. How do you come up with an idea that will be fun and fit on a card? There are thousands of Christmas cards out there already. Luckily, since I've been making Christmas cards for awhile now, I actually have a set of ideas to fall back on if I can't come up with something new. This one began as a doodle in one of my sketchbooks several years ago. You can see that the idea was pretty fully-formed from the beginning (that's not always the case).
STEP 2: THE SKETCH
Next came some sketches. I wanted this image to be a bit more realistic (as opposed to "cartoony") looking. So I hired the best looking model I could find to play Santa. He's not too bright, but he works cheaply and he does what I tell him to do.
The nice thing about using a "model" is that I don't have to think too hard about which side of the hand the thumb goes on or how folds bunch up on clothing, because I can just look at a real world example. I also looked at some real fruit (as you can see in the photo above).
I drew the image in pencil on some scrap paper. At this stage, I'm working out a lot of the details (like hands). I try to make all my mistakes on scrap paper first, so that the final artwork is largely pristine. Once I finished the pencil sketch, I "colored" it in with a black magic marker. This sketch would serve as a full-size template for the "real" artwork.
I initially thought I would have more background elements, like a chimney and stockings (as in the doodle), but I abandoned that idea as the image was starting to get cluttered and I wanted to keep the focus on the main idea.
STEP 3: THE DRAWING
Using my mockup as a reference, I redrew the image on Bristol paper; it's a heavier weight paper that is good for both pencil and ink.
STEP 4: INKING
With the pencils done, I next went over all of the pencils with ink. Some people think this means “tracing,” but it’s not. Inking adds a whole different character to the image. I often start off inking with a pen and then go over (most) everything again with a brush. Using a brush lets me vary the weight of the lines and to create big dark areas. Ultimately, inking helps make the image look more polished; and it makes it easier to reproduce. Unfortunately, it can also remove some of the "spontaneity" of the image.
Once I was done with the black ink, I also used white ink/paint to create "shines" on the fruit and the bowl. White ink is kind of a pain, because I haven't found one that is easy to use and does a good job of covering black ink.
Once all the ink was dry, I erased any left over pencil lines.
STEP 5: SCANNING
Next, I scanned the picture into my computer. This process turns the image into a digital computer file. The paper was larger than my scanner, so I had to make two separate scans and then stitch them together with the computer.
STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP and ILLUSTRATOR
I took the scanned image and opened it in a software program called Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These programs allow me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing.
STEP 6a: FATTENING
I showed the card to JoAnn. She said Santa was too skinny. That's another problem of using models! So I used Photoshop to fatten up our hero (can you see the difference?).
STEP 6b: COLORING
I was initially going to print the card in black and white; but when I showed it to JoAnn, she said it looked too depressing in black and white.
So I decided to color the card. I won't go into the whole process, but essentially coloring requires creating several different layers of color in Photoshop and then merging them together.
STEP 7: PRINTING
Printing in color costs about 6 times as much as printing in black and white, and there are more things that can go wrong in the process. I'll spare you the gory details of dealing with printers, but luckily, it only took one extra round to get this one right.
STEP 8: MAILING
Then JoAnn and I addressed, stamped, added something witty like “Merry Christmas,” and dropped the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!
If you didn’t get a card this year it probably means we don’t love you we don’t have your address. Send it to us!
After weeks of WHAM and Christmas-related work, I was worried that it would be hard to get back into Colimbo work. But lo and behold, look at the little present I left myself! I had forgotten that I had started on this page. Oh, it's so much easier to get to work when there is no thinking involved!
I still had to do a little work in pencil to get all the perspective lines on the bricks (which admittedly is not great). Then, I inked it all up with a brush.
I tried to use a lot more of the white out/white ink. You can see some on the bricks and the "shine" on the windows. I have yet to find one that really works for me. This one is pretty thick, almost like paint, but it's hard to work with.