Saturday, October 31, 2015

Posters for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Last night I was checking my promotion schedule notes and as of 30 days ago I was supposed to have completed the first of five posters promoting Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Unfortunately, I had not completed a single one!

With ongoing family and financial problems, the Act 2 script adjustments and this, I was feeling overwhelmed. However, I woke up with the attitude that I am not going to allow anything or anyone to get in the way of my happiness and peace of mind.

So I broke my rule of getting to bed by 10 pm and began sketching ALL five posters. After getting about seven hours of sleep, I got up and finished all five drafts this morning. I plan to release a finished poster every two months. Each one leads into the next and contain insight to the story. After the fifth one is released, the graphic novel should be finished and available for purchase.

At left is an abstract of one of the poster sketches I plan to use.

Also, yesterday, I received my copy of Drottningholm, the Palace by the Lakeside by Jan MÃ¥rtenson. I was quite disappointed in that there were very few illustrations of the palace. I ordered this, along with 2 other books about the National Palace to use for references because many of the story's scenes take place with the Royal Family. 

Finding references with pictures of the interior of these palaces in Swedish and English has been very, very difficult for me. However, the book is full of great historical information and will be useful for tweaking the graphic novel in general.

And now, back to the script.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stumbling Blocks - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

One or more characters from Badin and the Secret of the Saami
I am trying to untangle some knots in the script
I am about 75% finished with the thumbnail layouts for Act 2 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. However, I began to truly understand that there are some serious problems in the story at this point. Everything weighs on the comprehension of the story at the end of Act 2. I cannot take this lightly. So all artwork has ceased while I attend to the emergency.

I am pulling out the threads and trying to re-sew a more proper garment for the end of Act 2. One of my editors pointed out various annoyances about this section awhile ago. I just didn't know how bad it was until I had to compose the rough artwork and layouts. This is a frustrating stumbling block indeed. I hope to have it ironed out within the next few days. 

The picture above is an abstract of a finished panel for one of the vignettes. The vignettes are more of a show-and-tell for me. However, they are appropriate for use in the story—or at least the Special Edition.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Testing Manga Studio and Act 2 for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Snapshot of digitally produced penciled and lettered panels
Progress was a bit frustrated this week. I only have 3 pages sketched for Act 2. It required a few layout changes and two additional pages. Also, I needed to do various page size tests with Manga Studio 5EX just in case my layouts became impossible to work with in print. In order to maximize time, I decided to work on a vignette page. By vignette, I mean a very short story related to a character in Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This page may be used in the graphic novel or for promotional purposes.

The vignette and page testing helped me work out many problems and doubts regarding how the graphic novel will appear in print. This test was all digital: Composition, thumbnail sketches, penciling, lettering and inking were all done within Manga Studio. So far, it appears that I will continue composition work on 11x17 inch pages reduced proportionally to 8.5 x 11 inch pages. I'll scan those drawings and import to Manga Studio. From there, I'll finish the book and probably export the pages as JPGs to layout in Adobe InDesign. I find Adobe InDesign's capabilities for book layout to be more robust. For example, if I want an index or table of contents, it's much harder to do in Manga Studio.

I found that building the basic 11x17 page template was much easier when I started with's specifications for comic books. It's not a profound discovery. However, after wasting time reading all kinds of websites on what others were doing, I had to learn my lesson the hard way.

I purchased Elizabeth Staley's Manga Studio books and am finding them very useful. They are very expensive, however. Yet, between her books and the videos and course by Doug Hills, I have more than enough to help me work with the program to achieve my goals.

The picture at left is a low resolution snapshot of the first vignette. I cannot reveal any details yet. But if you stick around, you will see and learn more! Please comment and share this with all of your friends and family.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Act 1 Thumbnail Layout Done - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Sketches on the other desk
Beautiful bed sheets, don't you think?
Tonight, I accomplished a major creative feat by completing the layouts for Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. The price was expensive, however. The lack of sleep with a compromised immune system response to a virus, slapped me with a 3 day sore throat, cough and aches. I did it all for you Badin. I did it all for you, Sweden.

The picture at left is all the thumbnail sketches (some pages have multiple versions, but they are stacked and not visible). These are my blueprint for the pencil drawings and lettering. So I don't spoil your fun, it is a very small picture with poor resolution.

Some magical moments occurred during this process. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal what happened. However, the picture portion of the story telling took me in a few subtle directions that enhanced the script. I am glad to conclude this portion of the production because I needed to see if I could truly accomplish this difficult task. I understand better why this is the most fun part of illustrating comics. I "directed" the illustrations in the full script. It really helped. However, I did not hesitate to change it—or improve it.

Next step: Complete the thumbnail layout for Act 2.

I have now started a regimen of getting to bed by 10 pm. Getting sick is not something I can afford to repeat. The downside is that I am spending much of my days off working on this graphic novel. If you are interested, my day job is heading a photo retouching business and a stock illustration business.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ready, Set, Go! Badin and the Secret of the Saami

A sneak peak of the thumbnail design process
My throat is raw and my body aches. This awful feeling is probably partially the result of lack of sleep from the adrenaline rush of starting the thumbnail sketch phase of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. Yep. I'm sick (in more ways than one possibly)! This morning I went to bed at 6:30 in the morning. I really need to re-assess my priorities. When I wrote earlier that this graphic novel, its characters and the 18th century Sweden is beginning to possess my soul, I was not exaggerating.

You are looking at a spread of variations of the first few page of Act 1. My process for creating the thumbnail sketches so far are as follows:
  1. Script with panel direction (top left). This gives me the feel of the layout with each panel (frame) on the page and its dialog, sound effects and general composition.
  2. The black construction paper shapes are a critical positive/negative space ingredient to helping me maintain randomness in the thumbnail sketches (I did not include white shapes on black paper in the photo). Thumbnail sketches are not little drawings. They must contain gestures of  lines and contrast. Badin and the Secret of the Saami is full of literal and visual contrasts. From these thumbnails I will create pencil artwork (when I'm done with all four acts).
  3.  The sketch pad is where I work out the black construction paper and scribble general compositions before gesturing them into the layout pages on the bottom row. I often drop shapes at random on the page and build them up from there with minor adjustments until I see an object or person. I got this idea from retired Chicago Public Schools high school art instructor Diane Towber. She is an excellent abstract painter and clothing designer.
  4. The thumbnail layout pages are proportionally shrunk from 11x17" to 8.5x10" to fit on scrap paper. I use scrap paper because I will feel less committed to the panels and more confident about trying new ideas. Of course, when I do the pencil and ink phases, I will use the full size. By the way I plan to do pencil phase of the first act entirely on Bristol board. By the way, I used Doug Hills' Manga Studio 5EX comic page templates for these thumbnail layout sheets.
The thumbnail layouts and script are obscured in this low resolution image for obvious reasons. However, I wanted you to learn about the creative process behind creating the graphic novel's illustrations. During this process, I will cut down the amount of blog entries. However, rest assured, I am working hard every day to make this project a reality.

Please comment, share and tell your friends about Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I want you all to buy it when it is finished. It will be a work of art for all ages.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just One More - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Are you watching me?
One model sheet remains. Fatigue is setting in and I think I'll stop drawing tonight (actually, this morning).

Tight quarters
I have been spending my non-illustration time listening and viewing as many interviews and tutorials as I can about layout thumbnails, penciling, inking and coloring. There are so many artists out there—in all kinds of genre—that are willing to share their fascinating workflows and techniques on how they apply artistic fundamentals to their work. While eating lunch—if not listening to interviews—I am indulging in reading comic books online with Marvel Unlimited.

I am currently catching up with comics I used to read as a youngster. My
favorite was—and always will be—the Incredible Hulk. I picked up around the early 300's and have about 10 years to catch up. Studying the various inking and coloring methods have taught me much. Unfortunately, now that I work part-time as an illustrator, I can never enjoy the comics like I used to. I spend more time studying the writing and the artwork, than just "taking it in."

The model sheet abstracts here are a minor female character I whipped up with Manga Studio 5EX (left) and a scene using Sketch Paper on Drafting Table 1.0. I'll admit, I'm still not comfortable working with Manga Studio's perspective rulers. Also, sitting at the computer is more grueling than at my drafting table with T-Square and Triangle rulers, setting up 2-point perspective lines.  I bought all of Doug Hills' Manga Studio rulers and guides, along with his ebook. So far, the composition rulers have been very helpful. But I have more learning to do when it comes to rulers for Manga Studio in general. So I hope his ebook will give me the knowledge I need.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Focusing - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Is it a can opener?
Eight hours later, full of color, this model sheet is considered done. Next, I shall get back into the sketch pad with pencil and move "inside" of it to build something interesting. It looks like draft #14 is insufficient. So I am working on draft #15. I really want to start the illustration for Badin and the Secret of the Saami. But I must follow the process.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Oil Paint Brush in Manga Studio 5EX. I was able to work in "weathering" details that really gave the character a three-dimensional appearance. It seems color—in addition to black ink shading—can give an illustration high appeal.