Friday, February 27, 2009


Drawing a winter scene is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Anyway my latest HUZZAH!! is up, and here's a detail from it. Main idea behind this page was that after all the orange hues of the previous pages I wanted something cold, though, as you'll see by reading it here, things soon warm up again.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Just finished my second full page HUZZAH!! contribution this week and I thought I'd take the time to make more of a record of the process, taking desktop snapshots as the thing took shape.

So... I had an idea. With the previous page I briefly mentioned Pample's past and his dealings with those monkey mobsters. With this page I wanted to pick up the thread from where Paul left off on panel 3 of page 15 and pick up my own thread from the previous page and use page 17 to explain how these characters came together, while also laying out what's potentially to come. I also wanted to use the talking stone device (an idea thrown into the ring by Rob Davis). This would be the first time I'd drawn my 'featuring' character Zhadira since page 1.

I decided to start with a script for a change, something I rarely do when working on HUZZAH!! unless I've got a lot a character needs to say and I need to say it in as few words as possible. It's sort of an oblique strategy of mine. If I'm having trouble writing something I often change how I write it just to get it written. Synopses for example - I always find those things devilishly hard to write in a word document. If however I'm writing an email to my friend and telling them about the story, suddenly I'm way more succinct and clearer about what I'm wanting to say (note: when you speak to a friend you're informal, the pressure's off) - so I shut down whatever word document I'm writing in and open up email and write the synopsis in that. Just a change of surroundings as it were unblocks me and away I go. Totally psychological I know, but it works for me. But hey, next time you're stuck trying to write something, consider dusting off the old typewriter in the attic, or writing what you want to say on post-it notes, or consider who you're addressing and email a friend. You might find that that unblocks the thought process for you.

So I knew what I wanted to say on this page, but my usual method of drawing thumbnails with little balloons sprouting off wasn't working. So I hit the keys. And here's the script for page 17. It's actually plotted out into three plate chunks. Even though I'm writing and drawing a full page, I try to break things down into three tier beats.

And from here we go to thumbnails. Sometimes I draw all over the script, in the case of working on Holmes I have a moleskine I draw in as followers of this blog will know, but in the case of Huzzah!! I opened up a page in Manga Studio and roughly worked out my layout for the story like so:

I took all the text I'd written in the script and made rough word balloons for them on one layer and then placed those balloons approximately where I intended them to be. And then I roughly sketched out the layout, very loosely. At this point really I'm considering composition and how to balance the pictures against the text. Once I'd got that all down I took a second pass at it on separate layer like so:

And what this second stage of roughs is is really just a chance to fill in any details I felt I hadn't figured out properly on the first stage. It's a hybrid stage layout and part pencils. Not really one nor the other. After this I would start inking so any information I didn't feel was enough to start inking with would be filled in to help me along my way. They're not 'full' pencils in any sense because I'm not conveying information for anybody but myself. If this were a pencil stage done for someone else there would be way more information, but as it's just for me...

... I started inking:

There were several layers of inks at work here. The suns were all put on a separate layer because I knew they'd be a colored line - in fact any lines that are colored lines are inked on separate layers just to make like easier when it comes to coloring. So the suns and the orb the Baron is holding are inked on separate layers. There's no order to how I drew this page. I started with panel 6, then five then 2, then 4 then 3 and so on. Going for whatever felt easiest, till in the end the job was done.

Next we have shadows.

We have three lights sources on this page. The seven suns (which combine as one light source as they set), the glow from the orb and the inside of Durante's vac suit. The shadow layer was split into two. There's a darker shadow layer for metal edges, like the side of The Baron's helmet and the side of Durante's vac suit just to give it added definition and then there's the main shadow layer which picks up the highlights on the faces and clothes. I used this layer to really accentuate the lines in the Baron's face - details like that.

Finally, with my inks done, my shadow layers done etc... lettering.

The tails were drawn on a separate layer - Manga Studio does have a feature that adds tails to word balloons, as it does for making the balloons in the first place but I chose here to draw my own tails. I started out with this lightining zig-zags for the Baron's speech balloons and the rest sort of followed suit along that same line of thinking. Also, the balloons I used I made myself - the only preset was the Eldar speech balloon which is a modified version of a balloon called 'insecure' which comes with Manga Studio. Manga studio rather niftly allows you to create your own which atomatically scale to whatever text is contained within.

So we're done with this stage, goodnight Manga studio. Next, color.

Here's a version of the finished page without the panel grid and lettering. Because of the shadow layer in Manga studio, most of the work is done here. I shifted the oppacity on the shadow layer to around 43% and then got to work on flat color fills underneath. I took my palette cues from earlier contributions, like the light inside Durante's vac suit being pink etc. And really the rest was all mix and match until something didn't make my eyes bleed. Job done.

For the finished thing, click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Just finished my latest HUZZAH!! contribution. Click on the image to jump to light speed...

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Friday the 13th. Unlucky for some. But for me it was a day of fun stuff arriving in the post. Not only did I get my comps copies of Dark Horse Presents Vol. 2, but I also got my comps copy of 4 Feet from a Rat from Mam Tor (which was a Time Out comic supplement), for whom I drew a three page story called 'Life on the Road' back in November.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Finished The Hound of the Baskervilles today. Finally done. The panel is apt because of what Sherlock is saying (you'll have to read the book to find out). The book's out in May - you can pre-order it in the sidebar on your left. Tomorrow I start work on 'A Study in Scarlet', the first four pages of which will be appearing in the back of Baskervilles, and I'll keep updating this blog with glimpses from that.

The Hound of the Baskervilles © 2009 SelfMadeHero)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


(The Hound of the Baskervilles © 2009 SelfMadeHero)
Very very busy. Baskervilles is almost finished. 'A Study in Scarlet' starts this weekend with four pages and then I have a week off. Lots of research ahead of me for The Country of the Saints. Really am looking forward to that. Should be fun. That's the nice thing about this job - in all its various stages there's always something for me to look forward to.

You can see the thumbnail for this panel here.

No small amount of thanks goes to my dear friend Colin Fawcett, without whom this last week would have been a real struggle. He helped me enormously with my 'flats' and also guided me to this rather superb photoshop plug in which is a real time saver. Follow the link for more of an explanation as to what 'flats' or 'flatting' is.

Thank you also to Brian Sibley for awarding this blog an Premio Dardos Award. Enormously appreciated!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Dark Horse Presents Vol. 2 is out! It features a story I did with Ian Edginton (Edginton on words, me on pictures) last year called Retro Rockets Go! So if you want it in print form so you can read it in the bath, you can buy a copy here.

Monday, February 02, 2009


(The Hound of the Baskervilles © 2009 SelfMadeHero)
Cock the hammer, it's time for action!