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Communication Comic 3.0

Following on from what looks to be an unnecessarily inflated behind the scenes that no one asked for, and in the interests of wrapping this up asap, I’m doing a bit of a time compression now on how I went from digital scribbles, to paper scratchings, and back to digital, all using the first page of this comic.

01- digital draft complete. It’s all there, more or less, with enough looseness that I can print this out as very light blue lines on nice paper, and start the most enjoyable bit of the process.
02- This time around I went in over the blue lines using a few different fixed line pens. 03- Ink washes. Now, I’m still experimenting with the best order of steps in my process, and no matter in which way I work, whether pencils, pen, washes, or pencil, washes, pen, or washes, pen, whatever, there are always pros and cons.

Pros of working this way- you end up with a line only ink layer, it’s easier to pick out exact details with control, and for me, working in line has always been a comfortable fallback. Cons- the washes bleed out the pen ink and so I need to redo some of it, and/or leave the thicker lines till after the wash, and it’s not always easy to carefully control the watery ink.

04- Here’s that extra step I mentioned, applying thicker key lines and line weights to create depth and reinforce light sources, and then more washes to generally try to make things pop a little more. It’s all very scientific.

05- Of course, it’s at this point, once things are fairly well locked in, that mistakes become painfully obvious. The earth, which I’d drawn over and ink washed, was of course not based on any actual reference and would need to be replaced. Back to the computer, using reference this time, for a new draft.

06- Printed out the line drawing of earth and applied ink washes.

07- WIth that in place its time to start playing with colours. I had the idea that I would use the ink washes as a base and that would allow me to colour using blending modes very quickly. Ah, what a sweet innocent fool I was. Here’s the first attempt at this, everything looking a bit sickly and weird.

08- Thinking I could save this by adding more local colour in places, while still saving time with a wishy washy application of colour throughout, also didn’t work so well. An improvement, but not great.

09- Changing some of the main character’s colours helped pop this out a little more, and it was also around this point that I enlisted a person to do the flatting of the colours.

Flatting is a process wherein you painstakingly lassoo out the different areas of an image that would need to be coloured differently, so the colourist can just pop in the colours they want. It’s intensely boring and procedural, and thank god it occured to me that I could just pay some to do it for me. I will never flat again.

10- Here’s where pretty much the whole comic is up to now, about 95% done, just some tiny adjustments to the intensity and opacity of the colours, and some last bits of digital trade secret fluffery. 

So that’s a look at how page one of this comic was made. I think there are a lot of areas where I can save time in the future, and as always there is a trade-off between digital and traditional that I still haven’t managed to balance. FYI, The finished Communication Comic will be available at www.theconversation at some point in the far distant future maybe we’ll see.

Read the finished thing here: