DESIGN INTERLUDE FOUR (SORT OF)
K, this is gonna be the last of these little development chats.
We haven’t found a house, but not getting to work on my comic has started pissing me off, so i’m just gonna start drawing an interstitial scene I’ve been kicking around.
The last of my little test comics. This is the one where I found the character I’d been looking for, and found out whether the Third Sword could really fight in that coat.
A lot of y’all have asked me about writing process, so I’ll show some of that. I’m a lot less confident and a lot less practiced as a writer than I am as a draftsman. So this isn’t me trying to hand down wisdom or teach anybody the craft. This is just me explaining how I go about it.
So first you get an idea. MY idea was “it’d be cool if she fought some dudes.” Just that. Nothing fancy. I thought about how to give that some structure and make it more of a free-standing scene that felt like part of a larger story. This developed into:
“it’d be cool if she was walking through some sweet ruins, got attacked, looked outnumbered but totally wailed on her attackers, then said something pithy and walked away.”
We will call that my ‘outline.’ It is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a sequence of events, and that’s enough. I generally outline before I try to actually write anything, even a 2.5 page short. Then I wrote this really rough little script on my phone one night while I was falling asleep:
Clara walks through a ruined city, a place once fearsome and now chilling.
She hears a noise off-panel
Spinning, she brings up her sword to defend against a hideous creature that bears down on her.
She cuts it down, and another springs up.
The creatures, all sprawled out and defeated.
D1: we well come again
D2: when you are alone
D3: in the dark
D1: and without your sword.
Of course you will. You have before.
I know. Pretty sparse. And I’m still calling her Clara because I haven’t come up with a name yet. But I was writing for myself, right? Plus, I always edit a few times, even as I finish lettering in the copy. This is partly because I hate everything I write, and partly because editing is just a good idea. The next day, I worked out the layout like this:
Again. I know. But I was drawing it for myself. And again, I usually change these up when I go to actually pencil in the page. You can see, also, that the dialogue here is already evolving from the script, meaning that I didn’t like it and wished it were better.
I researched the look I wanted for some more dense and ‘urban’ ruins, pulling a lot from Angor Wat and a few other Khmer temples, modifying the stuff to suit my needs. Then I drew it like this:
I drew it in photoshop. I usually do my first lettering pass while I pencil, and I did with this short. I changed a lot of the stuff that went up. Predictably, it ended up being informed by the feelings and struggles of my family at the time. This is what I ended up posting:
As a test, it was mostly successful. I liked the way her coat handled in the fight scene, liked the location, and I got a LOT closer to the sort of personality I wanted in the character. But I skirted around a lot of design problems.
Like in that last panel, look at the bullshit way her sword connects to her belt. What is that? Who let THAT slide? Oh, it was me, exhausted from drawing a million crumbling bricks. Maybe could’ve gone easier on the environmental detail, girded that sword on, and colored her frigging belt. But no. No, instead I drew every wrinkle in that root system behind her.
So the moral of this story is: I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t even know how belts work. Everything I’ve said these last few weeks is suspect. Don’t do things the way I do things there has got to be a better way to do things.
So find that better way, take what you can learn from other artists’ triumphs and failures to make your own path, and have a really good time on it. And make a lot of fun comics (or whatever you like to make).
Next week I’m posting comics again.