“Lunatic” – Chapter 2 – The Process

This post will contain all the material that I produce while working on the 2nd chapter of my comic Lunatic: from thumbnails and sketches to finished pages.  Lunatic is a wordless story, with one image-per-page.  I’ll add new material to the top of the post as I do it.

February 22-23: page 6

Finally, we meet our heroine as a young girl… sort of.  Feet only:

p6v1 color

This is a black-and-white image of course, but this is a color scan, so it adds a tint. Which I like.  It makes me think about printing it in color, though that would be very expenseive.  Anyway, here it is converted to grayscale, as it will probably end up:

p6v1 grayscale

I really like this image, but I decided to try it another way, with the feet closer to the picture plane.  I scanned it once before finishing the shading (“state one”):

p6v2 state 1 B-darker

Here’s the color scan of it with added shading, for a more dramatic composition, and to indicate the light from the window above (even though it’s kind of nonsensical, probably, as far as how the light would really go):

p6v2 state 2

As you can see, between the first scan and the second I smudged ink on the picture (above the hem of the nightgown on the right). Here’s the image with some touchups, and converted to grayscale:

p6v2 state 2 corrected

I think this second version of the drawing is more dramatic for being a “close-up.”  But I don’t have to make a final decision until I’m actually assembling the book.

February 21st

More sketching/studying for the next 2-3 pages:

cg2 p6&7 sketches 2-21 ch2 character sketches 2-21

My idea for the moon, is that, as the girl ages, the moon’s face will change to reflect the image that a child of her age would have of a friendly or beautiful or funny face:

ch2 sketches 2-21 ch2p7 rough 1 2-21 ch2p7 rough 2-21

February 19-20.

At long last, after moving around the room looking at toys and bedclothes, the next pages will introduce the character (re-introduce, since we met her as a baby in the last chapter).  Gearing up for this with sketches and studies.

character sketches 2-19-17 character sketches 2-20-17

Still trying to find her face as depicted at the age of 8 years old or so.  Curly hair seems to be winning the day (resisting the easy fallback of a little blonde girl, which would probably be the stereotype Victorian child, I’ll make her hair black and curly, so that her ethnicity is a little more open to interpretation).

But at first, we don’t even see her face.  We see:

p6 feet studies 3 2-20-17

…feet.  Which ain’t so easy to draw, for me.  Especially from behind!

So more studies: p6 feet studies 2 2-20-17

And working toward the actual composition of the page, including a stuffed animal bearing mute witness:

p6 studies 1 2-20-17

And an actual rough of the page:

p6 feet studies 1 2-20-17

February 15-19: Do-overs.

I felt that page 2 (the “wide shot” of the bedroom), didn’t capture the shadowy, night-time feel.  I wanted to beef up the blacks, and rather than go back into the page with more ink, I bit the bullet, put a print-out of the line art onto the light-table, and re-inked the page, with heavier blacks:

p2v2 BW

I think it’s stronger than the earlier version.  I added washes.  Again, I kept putting more layers of gray wash down to get it as dark as I wanted.  But I don’t think I really know how to handle this yet: you can damage the paper and lose the ability to control the tone, and I think that’s what happened in that lighter patch above and to the right of the door.  But… working this way, I’ve got to be willing to live with accidents and imperfections.

2-2v2 scan2

One more step, to add in the wallpaper pattern:

p2v2 washes final - scan

Okay!  But now that I was into all those heavier blacks, I started to feel disatisfied with some of the other pages in this sequence… so I used the same process and redrew two of them!

p3v2 line BW

I had a good time being a little more reckless drawing this page, and I like the crazier linework.  Washes:

p3v2 washes scan

Needed a little more tones, to make the horse stand out a little better, etc:

p3v2 washes scan2

Alright!  On to the Jack in the Box.  p4v2 line art

All of this is still being inked lefty, by the way, because I am digging the unrulier line I get with that hand. Washes:

p2v2 wash 1

And a little shadier:

p2v2 final

Yeah!  I didn’t redraw page 5, but added some black:2-5 with washesB

This was all fun to do, and I like the way they turned out.

But then.

It suddenly came back to me that the reason I wanted to use gray ink washes for this sequence was to get a delicate quality, appropriate for a child’s bedroom & toys bathed in moonlight.  Now, I feel like what I’ve done has added a little bit of the “scary toy” feeling to things.  Is that just as good?  I’m not sure.  Luckily, I’ve got everything scanned (and backed up on another disc and in the cloud) at lots of different stages, so when it comes down to it, I have a lot to choose from.  That’ll be tough.

 

February 11-13: pages 4 and 5

Moving on to page 4, the Jack-in-the-Box detail of the room.  A rough sketch:

2-4 rough 1 2-10-17

Then another, to adjust the composition, moving the jack-in-the-box left so that the head is closer to the center of the page and you can see more of the books:

2-4 rough 2-11-17

Work in progress on the drawing table, penciled and inked. With one nice ink drop on the bed-post, oh, well.

process photo p4 inked

Here is the line-art with pencils erased:4 line bmp

The ink washes go on in layers, from light to dark.  Here’s the first layer, an overall light gray:

p4 ink wash layer 1

Moving faster now, I didn’t resort to doing ink washes on separate pages via light-box (because I was satisfied with the way they turned out applied directly to the original.) I moved back and forth between pages 4 & 5, as I waited for the layers of ink wash to dry.  Here’s page 4 on the drawing table:

process photo p5

Page 5 line art scanned:

2-5 line art bmp

 

And here is page 5 with all the ink washes applied:

2-4 with washes FLAT

And pag4  with final ink washes:

2-5 with washes FLAT

 

February 10-13:  Page 3

After the wide shot of the room, three pages of details, moving around the room. Bear with me for all these versions.  It’s f***ing endless.  Here’s a photo of the line art, inked, on the drawing table:
2-3 pencils photo

Scan of the line art:3 line bmp

Gray wash process.  First an overall light gray (which will serve as the “white” of the page once other wash layers are applied) (i premixed 3 different tones of ink wash in separate jars):

wash layer 1

Next, added another layer to darken in the figure of the horse.  I also wanted the horse to have spots that are lighter than its overall tone, so I used masking fluid to create those.  Actually I didn’t particularly care if the spots were lighter, I just liked using the masking fluid:

wash layer 2

Finally, more wash to darken everything, and peeled off the dried masking fluid:

wash layer 3

Here it is, scanned:

2-3 washes 1

To be honest, I can’t even remember what it was that disatisfied me about the above version.  Probably again, that it’s a little too pale and doesn’t feel like a dark room at night time.  At any rate, I went through the same process I did on the previous page, using a light box to create new wash layers on separate pages:3 background wash tones3 objects wash tone3 shadows wash

Stack ’em in transparent layers over the scan of the line art, and voila:

3 with washes FLAT

Well, I do find this richer and stronger.  I even the white gaps in the washes on the horse, resulting from imprecisions in my light-boxed layers.  So I’m done with the page.  Or am I?  Don’t kid yourself.

 

February 6-9: Page 2, many stages.

Rough pencils:

p2 sketch 2-6

 

Final pencils:2-2 pencils

Pencils inked:

2-2 pencils inked photo

Line art inks:2-2 line

With ink washes (applied directly to page):
2-2v1 scan

(note on above: I wasn’t satisfied with the washes, because I think there’s too much light. This is supposed to be a room at night, dark, with a diagonal section lit by moonlight thru the window).

So I went back in to add more atmosphere with washes:
2-2v2 adj

…but I felt I’d only muddied things up.  Irretrievably.  Luckily, I’d scanned the line art, so I tried a different method, applying ink washes to separate pages, using a light table over a print out of the line art.

Here is the ink wash for the overall lighting of the room:

tones

Then, digitally combined with the line art:2-2 wash layer 1

Another layer of ink washes, for specific shadows:

shadows

Added digitally:

2-2 wash layer 2

And finally, a separate layer for the wallpaper pattern:wallpaper

Here is the line art combined in Photoshop with the three layers of inkwash:

2-2 w washes

This method gives me a lot of flexibility.  Too much flexibility, in fact, as I can try so many combinations.  Here, for instance, is the scan with the first layer of inkwash applied to the page (that is, the fifth image from the top for this date’s entry), combined with just the darkened ceiling from that separate layer of inkwash, four images up from here.

2-2v1 digital shading touchupsIf you’re confused, you see why I may be overdoing the “flexibility.”  But I push on…  Stay tuned.

February 3: Page 1, finally.

The exciting moment.  Pre-season is over.  Now, it counts. Pencil to paper, then ink… the final page.

Oh, I lied.  First there was a false start: I penciled, but realized I hadn’t gotten the composition exactly right.  Not a dramatic-enough angle.

2-1 false start

Rather than erase,  I started over.  Got the composition right.  Here is an in-progress shot with just the line art.  Again, penciled by right hand, inked with left:

2-1 line art photo

And the finished page:

2-1gray

I was painstaking with applying the ink washes, using several “coats, ” like glazing in painting, letting each coat dry, then applying another, to get the tonalities where I wanted them.

February 2: ink sketch for page 1

I did one final pencil sketch, then another version in ink and inkwash… since that’s the media I’ll be using for this chapter, and I want to get used to it:

p1 sketch 2 - 2-2-17

p1 inkwash sketch 2-2-17

I penciled this with my right hand, and inked with my left. I kind of like the wiggly lines my left hand makes.  Overall I’m happy with the quality of the drawing, but I screwed up the composition… didn’t get enough of a dramatic angle.

 

January 31-Feb 1: page sketches

I started doing more refined pencil sketches for the first two pages of the chapter.   Page 1 is the “establishing shot” of the building in which the scene takes place: p1 sketch 1 2-1-17

What bothers me about this is that it’s too similiar to the first page of the previous chapter, another look down a block of rowhouses.  I tried to vary the architecture, but still.

Re-thumbnailed the page, changing the angle and making it closer to the window of the girl’s room (plus a few more rocking-horse doodles):p1 etc sketch 2-3-17

Okay, that looks better. Then, on to page 2, A thumbnail:

p2 sketch 1-31-17

And a full-sized rough sketch:

p2 sketch 2-1-17

January 30-31:  Jacks-in-the-box

Another toy to be featured in the first pages of the chapter (as we “move in” on details of the bedroom).  Here’s some reference:jack in the box composite

Some scribbly sketches:

jack in the box sketches 1-30-17 1

Thinking that I want to do something different: still with a classic Jack-in-the-Box feel, but with a little variation.  It popped into my head to do a Cossack Jack-in-the-Box:

jack in the box sktches 2 1-30-17

Rocking Horses 1-28 1 cossack jack in the box 1cossack ink sketchjack in the box and toysjack in the box and toys DETAIL

Again, I don’t need to nail it down at this point, just get a basic idea of what it would look like, and go back to it fresh when I reach that page.   (afterwards I googled “Cossack Jack in the box” and there aren’t any images of one, so maybe I’m being original!)

January 27-28, 2017: Toy-time

Studies for the rocking horse in the bedroom scene. Here are some of my reference photos (there are lots more, I’m kind of obsessive about gathering reference):

ROCKING HORSE composite

Rocking Horses 1-27 A

The thing is, a lot of those Victorian rocking horses are very naturalistic — but if I draw a naturalistic rocking horse, it won’t look any different than if I was just drawing a horse.  So I will go for a more stylized design:

Rocking Horses 1-27

 

Rocking Horses 1-28 1

 

Rocking horse 1-28

I like this last one (inked with left hand).  I’ll stop now, so I don’t get stale on rocking horses before it’s time to draw the actual page.

 

 

 

January 26, 2017: sketches, ink wash

Now that the sequence is thumbnailed, I went to work on more refined sketches of the characters.  Since I plan to draw this chapter using ink and wash, I started working with that medium.

sketches 1-26-17 1sketches 1-26-17 2sketches 1-26-17 3 ‘(Note: the above is just a doodle of the character when she’s older, though the hair is wrong, not a sketch for ch. 2)sketches 1-26-17 4

Drawn with left hand; the reaction of the mother on entering on the final page of the chapter.  This was going to be a maid, but I decided to make it her mother, again to play down the idea that she’s wealthy.  There’s no reason she shouldn’t be a wealthy character, but there’s no reason she should either.  So even though it might be more fun to draw a big mansion (and easier to draw a maid’s uniform than figure out what a Victorian-era mother would be wearing in the early morning), I don’t want this story to be about the fantasy of wealth. So mom gets the part.

sketches 1-26-17 5

January 25, 2017: more detailed thumbnails; architectural decision sketches

I drew larger thumbnails, so that I could see more detail and get a better idea of the flow from image to image:

Thumbnails 1-25 1Thumbnails 1-25 2Thumbnails 1-25 3Thumbnails 1-25 4

 

One question I’m having is the depiction of the house.  I started drawing a rather large Victorian stand-alone house. I wanted to differentiate this location from the row-houses in chapter one.  But I don’t really like the way that defines the character as wealthy.  I’d rather have her be middle-class, which would suggest that she and her family live in a more modest row house (since they’re urban). So I sketched a block of row houses with hopefully enough architectural differences from the opening scene to make clear we’re not in the same exact location:

sketches 1-25-17

Sorry about the bleed-through from another sketch (which I drew with brush pen, the following day).

January 24, 2017: Rough thumbnails, reference material and sketch for bedroom interior.

Thumbnails:

Thumbnails 1-24-17 1

Thumbnails 1-24-17 2

 

Scribbly, yes, but I understand them.  At this point, I am laying the chapter out at 15 pages.  For comparison, here’s the thumbnails for this sequence from way back when i first “wrote” the story, a couple of years ago (the character was a boy, then):

first thumbnails 2

Back to the present-day, and here’s some sketching of the location (interior) for this scene, the girl’s bedroom:Bedroom interior sketch 1 1-24-17

Here is some of the reference images I downloaded for this setting:

 

Undated (2016)

Here’s a  couple pages of doodles from some time back, not sure when.  On the top page, I’ve circled the ones that relate to Lunatic.

I found the bottom page in a pile of papers, I’d forgotten about those drawings.  It was kind of an important find, because in the intervening months, without realizing it, I’d changed the character’s hair from dark to blonde.  And I think I’m changing it back to dark thanks to finding those sketches.

early sketches 2

 

Lunatic sketches

Dan
Lives in: Cambridge, Mass. Does: comics. Used to live in: Topanga Canyon, California But grew up in: Cambridge, mostly Used to do (maybe still?): Screenwriter, journalist, teaches some too