It’s great when an art project can do double duty! I needed a cover for my story The Mermaid, as well as a “cover” for an art show featuring made-up comic covers, many by artists who don’t usually make comics. So I decided to combine the two projects and save some work.
So far I’ve gone through several stages. It’s not unusual for me to go to all this work when I’ve got something that I want to look really clean with sharp detail. Here is the process up until now (I’ve been working most of the day on this):
The first stage was to do a rough sketch on plain copier paper — since the parameters given by the gallery included that the piece be 8.5 x 11 (not a standard comic size, but I included generous margins so I could trim it to the right proportions), this paper was easy to start with. I use 24 lb stock, a bit heavier than the usual, which is good for printing both sides without showing through, as well as for cheap sketch paper. I used blue pencil, which a lot of illustrators use for rough sketches, a holdover from the days when it didn’t show up in the photo-repro process. After I scanned the sketch, and pumped up the contrast a bit so I could see it, I popped the jpeg into Pages (the Mac equivalent of Word) and put in some lettering..
On my light-box, I traced the letterforms and then played with them a bit; I want the whole thing to be hand-drawn, including the lettering. I’m not too good at freehand lettering yet (working on it!) so it was good to have the guidelines. I used Herculaneum and Marker Felt. After tracing the letters, I turned off the lightbox and did a bit more refinement of the sketch.
I cut a piece of Strathmore Windpower Smooth Bristol paper to size, and put it on the lightbox on top of the blue sketch, and traced it with an H pencil, then added a few more refinements; there are still more to be done. Then back to the scanner and Photoshop, and again I hit the auto contrast so it wouldn’t be too faint to see. If I were going to finish this digitally, I wouldn’t need to ink it; the pencil lines are mostly clean enough to stand in for ink. But I’m going to do this the old-fashioned way, at least for the show, so tomorrow it will be inking and painting for me!
The Mermaid will eventually be a webcomic, and later a graphic novel, with possible publishing of chapters as a series; we’ll see how that goes! I have 36 pages, the first chapter, penciled and ready for inking and painting, and a script for 10-12 more chapters. This is going to take a while!