Process Process Process

I’ve had a busy old week, starting on two projects simultaneously. One of those is the third issue of Freak Out Squares by gentleman deviant Harry French. Coming back to comic work after a fairly long break (the last thing I did was a strip in December, then I was focussed on the animation) has been fantastic. I seem to have loosened up a bit – I feel like I’ve got a style that’s working for me, and I’ve gotten much faster at producing pages thanks to a refined, all-digital approach.

Harry and I are in discussion about some exciting prospects for Freak Out Squares which we’ll reveal when and if, but we’re keen to share some process and work-in-progress work with you.

Here’s the stage by stage work on page 1:

01Thumbnail

02Panels and Guides03Large Sketch

04Layout

05Final

For those who’ve read the first two issues, you’ll notice that the Blanck Mass are returning for more digital erotic thrills and adventures, whilst the Uberminister watches intently…

This issue, I’ve dropped back the spotted blacks from the last – that was an experiment, but I don’t think it worked as well as just letting my lines breathe, so I’m concentrating on detail this time around.

Working in Photoshop digitally has become ideal thanks to some wonderful brushes, the Lazy Nezumi plugin (which smooths brush strokes, has ellipse guides and and and! perspective tools that make perspective in PS a total breeze now), and my increased use of things like the the Ruler tool (which I didn’t even know existed) and the grid.

All of these things have combined to make it really intuitive and simple to go from thumbnail to layout to finished digital pencils/inks, doing perspective on the fly for each panel, setting up grids and stuff and just making everything look clean. A lot of this stuff saves a lot of time, which means I can do a lot of preparatory work without taking ages, and leaves me more time to spend on the finals.

Here’s a look at page 2:

01Thumbnail 02 Sketch03 Panels 04 Layout05 Finish

So that’s that then.

Working on page 3 just now, which is where the new sense of symmetry and asymmetry really starts coming into play – we’re pushing and pulling elements of the book against the grid, depending on the mood and narrative of the page, so being able to set up everything digitally is really helping.

I should say as well that this is the first book I’ve ever sat and thumbnailed sitting with the writer. Me and Harry had two sessions of sitting going over the script while I thumbnailed, and it was really worthwhile.

For Harry, it’s given him an idea of how I think visually, which is something writers can always benefit from – it can go into the scripts from the off. And for me, it was great sitting with Harry, bouncing ideas for panel placements off him, knowing we could alter the script structure without me having to try and explain it by email and waiting for the yay or nay.

I’d urge anyone who has the opportunity location-wise (or even through Skype) and the inclination to work this work to try it. While I wouldn’t expect much of my other work to follow this pattern, it’s good to do it at least once. Makes for more confident pages, I think.

Anyway, FoS 3 will be out soon, looking to have the art completed by early April, and then colours (by the brilliant Harry Saxon) and letters (by ‘Gentleman of Comics’ Colin Bell) so shortly thereafter.

It’s going to be brilliant, so keep your eyes peeled.

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