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The hump

I’m at the stage of the graphic novel that I’m referring to as the hump. The big, horrible, hump.

I’ve turned 15679 of a total of 30509 words into images; little people and places trapped within an assortment of digital shapes on a succession of 281 pages. And now, I need to meditate on where I am, and where I’m going. There are a few things that necessitate this reflection, two of them being time and  an evolving digital drawing style.


I’ve got to finish this all (including exegesis) by the end of February next year. Time is running out. I’ve been working on the drawn images since January. February was a great month with no work commitments, pumping out around 70 pages. Somehow in March, I still managed just over 60 pages, with uni. But that was before assessments. April saw a gradual decline in productivity, with just over 50 pages for the month.

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Around the 20th of May, I had completed only around 20 pages and resolved to kick up production, finishing the month with a semi-respectable 50 pages. Excuses of teaching, assessment, and life stuff aside, I’m moving far too slowly. The rest of this month will be spent in Germany where my drawing regime will take a serious hit.  Time, though to reflect and plan the final stages of this work. Next semester I will have a dramatically reduced teaching load, which means I can focus more keenly on getting this done.


The style of my drawing has changed. The idea at the beginning of this project was to draw the first draft digitally, and then to re-draft it to the point of being able to print those pages out and finalise them traditionally using Copic markers, ink, and watercolours, depending on my mood and what would best serve the scene. Below are pages from the beginning of the graphic novel, which were banged out during a 24-hour challenge. Very rough. digital-1 In December 2015 creeping over into January 2016, I took the first 24 pages, drawn to this level of finish, and polished them with a redrafting in Copics markers and ink pens, finishing them in Photoshop by applying lettering and panel borders, and making final corrections to the images and layouts. This took a long time, and any time saved by using such loose drafts was lost in

So now, let’s take a look at the progression of digital drawing over a span of pages. There is an obvious overall trend to the images becoming more refined.


Super rough. No clear rule of perspective and no indication of characters’ features.


Use of some photo reference, however still needs redrafting to clarify characters and setting


More informed use of photo reference for setting, text laid out as approximating final


Images becoming more painterly. Minimal need for a second draft. Still needs perspective grid applied.


Characters becoming recognisable. Page layout structure becoming stronger


Characters clearly worked out. Beginning to play with tone.


Experimenting with a complementary colour for music. Character details including textures included. Application of greater degree of depth.


Characters poses are clear. The indication of light and dark is delineated. Timing and page structure locked in.


Light and shadow all in place. Panel borders locked. Perspective correct.


Images now 80% finished.


Most recent page. Style now gaining coherence. Pages close to the final print quality and do not require more drafting.

How I feel about the more recent pages is that they are so close to a finished quality that I can’t see the value of going over again with the Copic markers and ink pens, except for keeping the style consistent throughout. However, as I write this I suppose it makes sense to have ‘pencils’ as close to completion as possible. It takes out extra guess-work in the inking phase and means I’ll be able to move more quickly. Plus, it will be interesting to compare the two side by side. In my most recent meeting, Andi suggested beginning with the inking on the final page and working backwards, so that by the time I get to the rudimentary drafts I will be  most fully in the swing of inking, thus hopefully ending up with a balanced output throughout. Let’s hope!