Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Moleskine De Juan Berrio

Andrew Wildman highlighted this video on Facebook and I had to post it here, it's too damn good! I didn't know of Juan Berrio's work before this but I'll definitely be investigating further...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dead Pets - Page One - Pencils

I'm still busy finishing the last episode of the current Dead Pets story. I'm probably going to milk what bits and pieces I can for this blog. Sorry, but I've been working on the strip exclusively for a while now so there's not much else I have to show or talk about!

Here's the pencils for the first page of the first episode. I began this page by knocking up a rough perspective drawing in Manga Studio EX, printing it off in light blue and then I drew over that. I've used a couple of applications to help me out whilst drawing Dead Pets - SketchUp for help on a couple of perspective heavy panels and Manga Studio for the same and the occasional rough breakdown too - virtually all of Dead Pets was drawn and inked in the traditional way (paper and brush and pen) and the lettering and colour are all digital. I'm toying with going all digital but I'm having trouble committing fully to working that way. Some old habits are hard to break.

I sought out a bunch of photo reference for the van on the web, I find cars and vehicles difficult so the more reference the better! It also looks like there's a few places where I've redrawn the odd bit or moved elements around in Photoshop.

I wanted to set up the situation as quickly as possible in this first panel of this page, my aim was to avoid having too much preamble. Here's a family, they're moving into a big, old house, one of them is a young boy and his only friend in the new place, is his dog. I tried my best to make sure that something happens, in each episode and that the story progresses in some way and that each episode ended on a cliffhanger or moment of suspense, however slight. Three pages per episode (one of those truncated by about a third) isn't a huge amount of space to work with but limitations are good, you have to think and learn to work within them and hopefully, be creative with how you do that.

That squirrel ends up causing a fair bit of trouble for poor Godfrey, the dog. If only he knew.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dead Pets - Sample Piece

Before being given the go ahead to start, I did a sample piece to give a general idea of how the strip might look. The characters changed a little from this initial piece, Frazzle the cat, in particular. Part of this piece was used for the Doodler section on the inside of the Comic in the same issue as the first episode of Dead Pets. Here's the pencil roughs, I can't remember but it looks like I might have drawn them over an even rougher scribble that I printed out very faintly as a guide.

These are the more finished pencils, I was definitely drawing over a blue printout of the previous picture here.

The line art, inked with a Kuretake brush pen, which I may write a little something about in a future post.

And the finished art - I coloured it and added the window shadow on the computer.
It was while doing this sample that I realised I didn't want to have the dead pets slightly or semi-transparent but to suggest their lack of solidity by having their linework in colour - apart from a few details here and there - and no shadows cast on them or by them. There is a shadow on Gus the snake in this picture but I was still working out what the rules were at this point. I'm still unsure as to whether my ideas to make them seem ghostly are entirely successful but I didn't want to go down the see-through route, it would have been a pain to deal with technically and far too time-consuming. Not that doing colour holds on the linework of the pets is a speedy process either, as I've discovered.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dead Pets Society - Online

I've just spotted that a couple of episodes of Dead Pets Society are now available to read on the Guardian website, episodes two and three, to be precise. They've been put up in a click through format of a panel or so at a time, it works quite well, especially on the build up and ending of the third episode.

It can be difficult to keep surprises and significant moments from view in a comic strip, it's natural and pretty much unavoidable to look ahead or take a page in as a whole entity before reading it, often without even noticing that you've done so. There's ways and means around that but you can't always use them due to space constraints or how the pages fall.

With the format in the newspaper there's only one turn of the page and that happens after the first page, which I think I managed to take advantage of once, or maybe twice, but most of those 'moments' take place towards the latter part of the episode, the weekly format suggests you build to some sort of cliffhanger on the last page and set people up for next week's episode.

Knowing that the reader takes in the page as a whole is also one of the wonderful aspects of comics, allowing for dazzling page layouts, interesting compositions and design, so it's not all bad. It's just one of the many aspects to consider when creating comics. You can choose to ignore it completely - nevertheless a decision has to be made.

Right, I'd better get back to working on the last episode (number eight), I'm beginning to bibble on here anyway...

Thursday, January 08, 2009


It's deadline crunch time so I've been quiet for a little while and probably will remain so until the end of the month.

I've just popped my head out to urge you to visit HUZZAH!!, the successor to Who Killed Round Robin? I've been invited to take part and I'm excited (and not to mention a little daunted) by the whole thing.
I won't go into what it's all about here as it's explained on the site. I haven't been able to contribute yet but will do once Dead Pets is done and dusted, around the beginning of Feb. Go see the lovely, unfolding comic strip being created by my fellow participants.

I've just realised that this is my first post of 2009, so let me wish you a belated Happy New Year!