Friday, 9 September 2016

Permitted Planet Trailer Pages



Making A Short three Page Comic Strip

I was recently asked by a writer friend to do the artwork for a graphic novel trailer entitled Permitted Planet. At this point there is no money involved so wanted to balance my input and resources with potential future employment on the project.

As always it starts with a…

Script


The initial script needed a bit of script wrangling. That is breaking it down from a stream of words and arranging them into pages and panels. I had broken tasks down mentally. A day for Layouts. A day for inking. A day for colouring and a day for lettering.  I tend to procrastinate too much over jobs so the schedule is not unrealistic bit a bit 'tighter' than I would have liked. I went through page by page usually using the dialogue to decide panels size and page breaks. I had permission from the writer to add/delete bits of his writing to make it work, which I did have to do.

Quick Thumbnails


Really rough layouts, drawn in red marker pen.

No time for research & development of character design here although in some respects the whole strip is part of the Permitted Planet R&D. There is a vagueness to doing this type of work, you don't want to define things too much or give away any of the big story ideas that will keep readers reading but you need to let your readers know what they are in for.

Layout Cheating


I grabbed a bunch of reference images off the internet and used these to make my page layouts in Photoshop. Judging by eye how much space the lettering would take up. I normally cast my lettering first so it doesn't cover up important drawing details but for speed I made an educated guess.

Inking




Using a Unipin 0.3 and a Pental Pocket Brush Pen inking straight onto A4 (two A4 sheets make one page) landscape text and graphics card with the aid of a light box. Adding figures in and redrawing, testing out characters very quickly as I go. I must mention at this point that my cheap inkjet printer ran out of cyan, yellow and black ink but not magenta. I turned my Photoshop files into Duotone magenta files as the printer was running fine on magenta toner (I had just read recently this was a way of printing out Cyan Pencils, just like a proper comic artist) . This actually made it easier to ink the page using a light box, cutting out extraneous colour details.

The pages were drawn pretty much in reading order, I may have inked the island scene on page three and then gone back to do the Theresa May Prime Minister panels on page two as I was putting off the difficult to draw Prime Minister bits on page two.

Scanning and Colouring

Scanned the drawings on the Black and White in my scanner ScanGear Utility setting 100℅ at 1200dpi. I Assembled them into pages and reduced them down to A4 at 600 dpi. Maybe they should have been A3 at 600dpi but I didn't want my old computer chugging away and causing frustration during the colouring process.

I converted the flattened page to line work. This is a transparent layer with black line work (like an animation cell). I used to be able to do this manually but over the years of applying the process as a Photoshop Action I've forgotten the manual process (suffice to say it involves channels and selection).



Luckily there are plenty of people who make the action for free and with a bit of Googling managed to find one. You can of course just Multiply the black line layer above the colour layer. "Some people Just like to ice skate uphill."- Blade.

My first stage of colouring is to Flat the main characters and/or anything important that needs to stand out on the page.



I throw down a neutral light cool brown layer under my Line layer. Using the Lasso tool I select areas and change hue/saturation (ctrl u). This seems to tone my colour choices rather than selecting and filling which seems to create  jarring colours which I then have to go back and fix.



Inthe hue/saturation adjustment palette you can also de/saturate and adjust the brightness and darkness. This is the quickest way I've found of making Flats yet. I then duplicate the Flat layer and adjust, burn, dodge add brush effects etc, whatever is in your toolbox. I add textures using the Overlay Filter to break up the flatness of the Photoshop colour.



The secret here is to not go mad or too dark or too muddy keeping the opacity of the Overlay texture layer at around 20%. Once I'm happy with the page I flatten the colour and texture layer into a single colour layer (still with separate line layer above it) and move on to...

Lettering



I have looked into computer lettering extensively over the years and have decided it's not for me. I prefer the look of my own handwriting on my own hand drawn page.

I scan my lettering the same as the line work 1200dpi B/W. Import the scan into Photoshop change the size down to around 600dpi, create ‘line work’ layer using actions. Fill the speech bubble's with a white back ground, merge layers effectively making a speech bubble patch. I then drag them over and position them  on my page above the Line Work layer, which is above the Colour Layer.

That's it really. Simple. Maddening. But simple. Sticking to a routine when working on pages is important which is why I'm writing this process down here. There is always room to improve on work flow. Potentially these three pages will lead onto a 150 page graphic novel in six months’ time, which by then I would have forgotten this process.

It’s early September as I write this, having spent four Days (10 hours a day)  on these three pages. The writer and publicist wanted these pages to give an idea of what Permitted Planet the Graphic Novel might look like and also use them in  a promo video looking at crowdfunding to finance the project.

The finished pages can be seen on the official Permitted Planet Facebook Page

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