“Lunatic” process: chapter 3

(This is a diary of the process of creating chapter 3, updated bottom-to-top.  So, if you want to follow the whole thing beginning to end, start at the bottom and scroll up)

July 10-13: page 7

For once, this page worked out on the first try.  Here are the finished inks, as the kiss commences:

3-7 7-10

July 5-6 (and peeking ahead to July 23): page 6

This is relatively straightforward compared to what came before, because it’s a “closer-up” view of the couple, meaning less background (phew!).  The boy leans in for a kiss, puckering up.

My last rough in the mock-up was extremely close, but I decided to move back to a medium view, so as not to lose the body language.   Started with a couple of sketches/roughs:

3-6 sketch 7-5

3-6 rough 7-5

Then launch into a final version…

3-6 abandoned 7-6

Not happy with this so I abandoned it.  It felt to me a little like the direction of his “lunge” was wrong, like he was going to miss her.  Also I had him too close, and I didn’t like the way his nose overlapped with her hair.  So try again:

3-6 v1 7-6 B

I decided also to not make the background shading a uniform gradation (referencing the lamplight from above-right, and getting darker as it moves to the lower right corner), but left light between their faces, so as not to mess up their contours, and let the “light” between them work emotionally. Continue reading ““Lunatic” process: chapter 3″

“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.

April 19-May 5: Crawling to the Finish Line

Other nuisances of life interfered, and it took me ages to do the last page I had to do.  Not actually the last page of the story, but a transition page, to indicate that it’s morning in the last sequence.  It’s a repeat of an image I’ve drawn twice now, of the exterior of the girl’s house, roof, chimneys etc.  I’m getting kind of bored of drawing it, so I want to come up with something fun to do with this “morning” version.   A different angle, to begin with.  First, a light pencil sketch, just for composition:

p13 pencilsketch 4-19

Then, 10 DAYS LATER (!) (Really, I had other things to do.  Or was it the boringness of the page that kept me from getting to it)…. a couple more sketches: p13 pencilsketch 2 4-29p13 pencilsketch 3 4-29

Thinking of ways to make it interesting, I think of using masking fluid to define the clouds, with a light wash for the sky, shading the clouds to show the dramatic light of the sunrise.   A bunch of wash studies:p 13 wash studies 4-30

Letting the ink wash pool up at the bottom (on the tilted drawing table) accidentally makes that “burst” effect happen when it dries.  I decide to try and make use of that for the sunrise itself.

p13 wash studies 2 5-1

On to the final version.  The masking fluid is gooey stuff and hard to apply with precision.  I don’t really want to muck up a brush with it, so I used a pencil eraser to draw the cloud shapes with it:


Brush on the washes, sloppily so that it pools up just above the roofline.


Et voila!


Once this is all dry, I peel off the masking fluid, so that there is a white edge to the clouds, with the darker shading in the middle.

Washes added to the building:p13 scan 1 gray

Ilm not sure if the wash effect feels like a sunrise… or is the building on fire?  But I’ll go with it for now.  It doesn’t have the dramatic lighting that I want, though… so I add more gray wash to the front of the building, and some cast shadows on the roof:p13b gray

Good morning, right? Continue reading ““Lunatic” – Chapter 2 – The Process”

“Lunatic” Process: 1/11-1/17/17

I’ve fallen off the “post every day” wagon this week, so here’s the work I did for this story over several days:

Continuing to work on the moon images for this sequence, as the clouds move over it, and the face is revealed.  I had penciled the final image (page 7, if the current layout holds), but I went back to work out the previous two (mostly so that I could have the cloud shapes consistent).  These are all done with black, white and gray acrylic paint, and conte crayon for the clouds.  A first try at page 5:

5-1 SCAN 1

I decided to reject this, because I wanted more clouds in the frame.  Next try:

5-2 SCAN 1

This (above) is after touch-ups in Photoshop, to darken the black and flatten out the texture of the black acrylic, as well as the warps in the page, which showed up clearly in the scan (as you can see in the top image).

Here’s the next in the sequence, page 6:

I decided that the eye and smile were too pronounced here (spoiling the impact of the “reveal” on the next page.  So I went back in with white acrylic and obscured them a bit:


With these done, I went back to ink the final image of the sequence:

7-1 scan 1 flat

Over the next few days (the holiday weekend), I only managed a couple scribbled sketches.  Since I decided to draw the baby reaching for the moon (literally), after the face appears, I had a new idea for a final page of the sequence, baby’s point-of-view with her hand in the foreground.  Here is scribble of it, with some scribbled thumbnails next to it as a bonus:panel 10 alt sketch

I’m thinking that image might work better without the architecture between hand and moon, just black.

Then, unable to sleep one night, I did a few more sketches, some in preparation for finishing up this baby/moon scene, others in anticipation of the next scene to come.  This is all quick and dirty, but I’m being a stickler for completism — and also, these little scribbly sketches are an important part of the process.  So:

1-17-17 insomnia sketchs

“Lunatic” process – 1-7-17 – Page 4, again.

Completed the new version of page 4, with a more dramatic angle to the roof, and a bigger moon for more “presence” (the page, and the story, are about the moon, not the building, after all).   I used acrylic paint for the building and the moon, conte crayon for the clouds, and India ink for the sky.  Here it is, the raw scan above, and with photoshop touchups below:

In Photoshop I darkened the black of the sky, then added more contrast in the roof, and lightened up the craters in the moon a bit.  It ended up looking like this:


Here, by the way (below), is the earlier version of the page, for compare and contrast. An improvement, I’m pretty sure (though I kind of like the big cloud in the older version better than in the new.  Oh well.)

First version
First version


“Lunatic” process, week of 9/12/16

MICE stuff, SPX preparations and other things I had to do pretty much completely ate up all my work time this week.  Somewhere in there I managed to sit down and do a couple of sketches of clouds and moon, which will be useful when I get back to work, hopefully, after SPX.  These were drawn with charcoal pencil and black, white and gray acrylics.  Not much of a week’s work, but I like the way these turned out so that makes me feel optimistic.


“Lunatic” Process: 9-1-16

Still on that first page, and didn’t have a lot of time to work on it today.  I wanted to get a better fix on the figure of the nanny, so I did a couple sketches:9-1 p1 fig sketch 19-1 p1 fig sketch2

Then a little more fussing with the composition.

9-1 - p1sketch 150


In the last post I said I was thinking about the personality of the picture, and I think what I mean by that is something of a playful quality, like children’s illustration.  Is this a book for children?  Not exactly… it will be acceptable for children, but I;m not really reaching out to children the way you have to in a kids’ book. I  think of it more as having the mood and aesthetic qualities of a fairly serious children’s story, but probably more for an older reader.

Anyway, even though it’s not a humorous story, I want some sense of whimsy in the style.  Looking for inspiration on my comics shelf, I chose one of my favorite comics, Gare Centrale, by Lewis Trondheim (writer) and Jean-Pierre Duffour (art).

gare central p1
Gare Centrale, by Duffour and Trondheim, p1


This book really should be published in English translation, I think people would love it.  It’s a Kafkaesque tale set in a train station, very funny and beautifully drawn. Lunatic is really nothing like it at all, in terms of story or drawing style, but sometimes something very different can still be an inspiration.

gare central p2tif


“Lunatic” process, 8-28-16

I woorked on the moon transition, from cloud-covered, to the face emerging.  This is done with black, white and gray acrylics. Though my plan has been this comic will be one image per page,  I’m thinking it’s too much to stretch this over several pages, so I will do a panel page for the transition.

moon transiton

Not sure of the composition yet….  maybe a more conventional grid.  Also, I had to flip the second panel because the direction of the cloud movement was wrong:

moon transiton adjust 2

I am finding that thumbnailing is inadequate for this project.  In order to sense if I am telling the story with the right rhythm, I feel like I need to see how the page turns will really work.

I do a rough thumbnail of the page spreads….8-28 ch 1 thumbs 1

Then I print up the pages with the right layout… trim and tape them together to create a little mock-up of the first “chapter” of the story:






Better to work this out in advance than after I have drawn “final” pages… some of the sight-line angles of the shot-reverse shot-type pages between the baby and the moon/roofline would be affected if I have to move things around (and I want to avoid the same direction diagonals on facing pages).

Reading the mock-up, I make some adjustments, thumbnailing a new set of spreads”8-28 ch 1 thumbs 2

Next, I’ll start roughing out these changed pages and see how it works….


Next stop: MECAF

portland-animationI’ll be in Portland for the Maine Comic Arts Festival on June 4 (along with the BCR of course).  I’ll have “Hooves of Death,” the Maine-set historical romp, “The Jernegan Solution,” plus anthologies galore… Muqtatafat, What’s Your Sign, Girl?, SubCultures, plus who knows what other surprises?  And the BCR will be there too, so save the date, and save your pennies… and no matter where you are, it’s worth a drive to Portland, too!   Look for us in the Fiction/Music area on the main floor, Portland Public Library, 10 AM – 5 PM.