Monday, July 14, 2008


"I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."
-Vincent van Gogh

Right then. Here's the process I used to create Plate 2 of Page 26 of "Who Killed Round Robin?"

Starting with the concept - I wanted to elaborate more on what happens to people who witness the birth of an Outer God without the proper protective eye wear and seized my chance when I noticed that because of Woodrow Phoenix's perception of what I'd drawn earlier he'd drawn a previously faceless character with a face again ... and from that I got my idea. How we perceive one another's contributions is obviously just one part of what shapes the story, with people interpreting what has gone before in ways that a contributor might not have imagined in the first place. So I figured I'd find a way to cement the original intention a bit more concretely (excuse the pun).

Also I wanted to reintroduce a concept contributed by Colin Fawcett all the way back on page Page 15 (plate 3). We'll likely catch up with Cockrell and Stone's progress at some point (one would certainly hope), but I quite liked the notion that people could be used like trained circus fleas. So I started sketching. And as with most of my WKRR? contributions I just have time for one shot at it, so pretty much what you see is more or less what you get. Straight out of the tin, as 'they*' say.

Once I got the general idea down I then inked it thus ...

.... using Manga studio for the nice big brush lines. Manga Studio is all levels of awesomeness. Try it out. Took me about fifteen minutes to ink fully then on to the crosshatching.

Basically, creating a new layer I went Robert Crumb Crazy. Manga Studio organizes your work into layers... much like photoshop, which is handy as I'll explain in a minute. I then worked into the cross hatching with an erase tool and erased small ember like dots. more on that cross hatched layer in a mo...

I then exported the file into photoshop (you can export your work, layers intact, straight out of Manga Studio... did I mention how marvelous Manga Studio is?) and did a quick color rough which, when I'm doing round robin work is finished colors... but I do probably take a little while longer coloring than I do inking. It's the bulk of the work in fact. I basically color the whole thing quite baddly, with only a rough idea in my head of the contrast I want. So the colors will be quite primary to begin with. Then I isolate areas of the color and tweak them using 'photo filter' in photoshop. Which washes colors through with either a uniform warm or coldness etc. Cyan photofilter is great for deadening flesh tones if you're doing a zombie comic etc. I then pass the whole thing through a photo filter tonal wash to ensure the color is equally distributed. So the over all image feels either warm or cold or dead even. I enjoy this process way to much. It's my favorite part out of the entire coloring process. No idea why but its totally my bag. In the previous panel Penney has set the alien on fire so we loose the usual colors for this environment.

And then I take my cross hatched layer, remember that? Hopefully I haven't lost you by now with all my talk about photo filters... anyway, I switch that to an overlay channel and it burns over the image quite nicely. Then, on a layer over the original inks I drop the oppacity and work glow into the eyes of the damned and the lighting.

I add two additional layers, one with a texture over it which I put on a soft light with high contrast... it's basically a mottled texture that actually makes any overlap in the color seemingly bleed, so it gives everything a marker effect or water color effect giving the color a pinch more depth. I also have like an old newspaper texture which I drop over the whole thing on a multiply channel, which means that anything white is now creamy colored, like aged paper, and pulls the image together a bit more in terms of tone and depth and all those bells and whistles.

And lastly I add lettering, returning once more to the log entry of the previous page, describing in some detail what happens to the skin of a 'witness' who is unfortunate enough to see an Outer God being born (or to even meet one at all). I also use words of Yiddish origin for sound effects, quite specifically choosing schmaltz (which you may know as being used for 'excessive sentimentality' but is also the word for melted chicken fat, which I thought quite appropriate for the sound of someone's face falling off) and schlub (which is a clumsy, stupid, or unattractive person ... not very nice, I know).

For the finished thing, click here.

*more about 'them' later.


mrphoenix said...

I see. Very impressive filterfiddling. But what do you think of Manga Studio?

dragonhead said...

Neat walk through. :)