This week, C looks through a microscope while M reads a business magazine! The action never stops in this comic! The initial thumbnails started out a bit different from the final piece.
I decided that I wanted to show some contrast between what occupies our two lead characters, which led to this mock up.
Initial pen inks:
Final brush inks:
A few weeks ago, I started with this page sketch: I wasn't quite sure how to pull off the long-shot of the office in the 2nd panel. After trying several ideas, the muse told me to echo this page, which also discusses the 2 sets of footprints.
So using similar elements, I mocked-up the page in Manga studio in order to get the perspective down quickly. I like the simple 1-point perspective; but the problem with one-point perspective is that the further you get away from the focal point, the more distorted it becomes. So you have to fake it/cover it a bit on the periphery, especially in images with lots of detail.
It went through a couple of iterations this week. Here's the first mock up sketch:
The thumbnail was more square, so it took me a few tries to figure out the right scale for the first panel. I decided to remove the smoke from panel 2, since it's pretty obvious in panel 1.
Eventually, I got it close enough to where I wanted it. Here's the final sketch on Bristol board.
I wasn't quite sure how much ink (black) I wanted on this page, so I started a bit small and then tightened things up as I went along. You can see the white circle tighten between this and the next image. I may do still more in the Photoshop/Manga Studio clean-up phase.
Here, the dark circles get tighter in the (possibly) final take. One of my goals in this comic is to learn to use black on black better, and to see how much black I can use and still have a comprehensible image.
Calimbo has found a receipt, and sets out to find more info.
My original plan was to have a 2x2 panel page with all panels of equal size, but that seemed a bit boring to me. "Luckily" I drew C's hand too big when I started the mock up (a not uncommon problem for me), which led me to re-design the page as below. In reading over the whole story, I've noticed that I skimped on backgrounds a bit, and relied a lot on close ups, so I'm trying to work in more middle and long shot scenes.
From this mock up, I re-drew a few of the elements in order to get them right. In the process, I changed the scale of the scenes a bit.
I was also originally planning to have the final panel be a close up on C's face, but that didn't really seem to work. So I left the panel blank until I was ready to ink.
That's when I realized that C "shrinks" in each panel. So I continued the trend, which allowed me to make a symbolic trail of bricks as well. Sometimes the Muse has much better ideas than I do!
So I've spent the last few days trying to finalize the story pacing and work out some transitional scenes so that I can determine just how many more pages I need to draw. These transitional scenes are meant to show C as he carries out the investigation. I didn't want a multi-page scene, but I did want to show specific evidence and to give the flavor of the investigation, without going into every little detail. So studio time was spent sketching out these transitional scenes. And then some home time was spent piecing them together in Photoshop. Likely, this isn't the last word on any of these pages, but this excercise gives me the basic skeleton of how the pages should work.
Here's an early scene where C talks with a co-worker (and gets his lunch out of a file cabinet).
Here we see C checking out the receipt he found for Fortunato's clown suit.
While M is currently unworried.
And then how the nitre will be a key tell-tale (ha) sign.
I'm trying really hard to complete a page and move on; otherwise, I'll spend forever "fixing" things. That said, this page was not quite working, so I redid it with an image that I had been envisioning for a few years---but somehow forgot when it came time to draw the actual page. So now, the top tier of this page: Will use this image that I've been carrying around for awhile:
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.
After roughly 3 weeks away from the studio, I couldn't quite finish a full page. This is what happens when you get out of practice. Anyway, this week I worked on the scene where C reveals that he's found the trowel. You'll no doubt remember the initial thumbnail sketch (+ word balloons):
Here's a couple of mock ups that I worked on. I'm still not quite happy with it, but it's getting close to what I want. I need to practice some on panel 4.
And a more polished view:
This page is set up to be reminiscent of an earlier page:
Once again, I couldn't make it to the studio, but I did have some time to work on the Calimbo comic. I saw Mark! in person recently, and he was gracious enough to provide some overall feedback to the comic. I think his exact words were: "I wouldn't line my birdcage with this garbage!" He's always so helpful!
Here's an updated page that takes into account some of his feedback. I'm not quite happy with all the white, as I think it hurts the mood, but it's DEFINITELY easier to read. I'm thinking I might stagger the boxes so that they are set off even more in terms of who is speaking. In case it wasn't obvious: C always speaks in italics, while everyone else is normal font. (But hopefully the context of the dialogue is clear enough that you can tell who is speaking.
As you can see, Mark! helpfully (ahem) pointed out that M was not using his left hand to smoke--so the whole page got flipped.
Another issue: I drew this page long before I decided that C's smoke is white and M's is black. So I'm still trying to think of a way to fix the smoke in this panel. Part of me wants to re-draw the whole thing, but I have to resist the temptation, or I'll never get done.
Here's the original for comparison.
Another page of edits. Mark! pointed out that M wouldn't refer to himself in panel 9 as a murderer; and he'd be more curt with C. I went one step further: M thinks of himself as a "helper." I also updated panel 8 to make it clearer that C is deflecting (by pretending he doesn't understand why M is upset).
(May still re-think the white on black text in panel 5.)
Mark! demanded that I add more "yes's" to this scene. (He actually said "more yes-es and no-s", but I think it better reflects the scene with the boss if they are all yes-es.)
I modified the artwork a bit in this one. I moved some text around to make C appear more rambling. I removed the text blocks in panels 2 and 3 and relied only on free-floating text (and white on black again...). Finally, I updated M's dialogue. Here, he does refer to the action as murder, but I left it in for the double meaning.
Made some other minor edits as well. Those took a couple of hours, but they are less visually thrilling.
I realized that the year is already 1/4 of the way gone, and I still have a ways to go before I complete the Calimbo comic. So I dashed out a few scene sketches, which will save me time in the long run. I threw these together at home rather than in the studio. Here C is talking to the Medical Examiner.
This is a transitional page. We start with C thinking about the case and transition to M starting to freak out.
Here we see C waiting to confront M (although he will claim that he was there for another reason).