-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

Life, Typography, Work Process Add comments

After an exhausting and fantastic weekend in London, I return to a house of disarray and an ever lengthening list of things to make and do.

We spent the weekend with friends of mytholder, who were consummate hosts – not only providing a comfortable bed, but oyster cards, directions and delicious lasagne.

Saturday evening – and the reason for our visit – a surprise HHGTTG themed party for the ever charming James Wallis. There were Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters to drink, Vogon poetry to recite, and the most delicious birthday cake I’ve ever tasted – all courtesy of the excellent party organizing and baking skills of James’ wife, Cat.

Since last Wednesday’s Design for Print class, I’ve been nurturing an expanding fascination with fonts and typography. I’ve always had an interest in layout and typesetting (which is probably a good thing, given the course I’m taking), but poor Gar is being driven to distraction as I coo and criticize every sign and poster I pass by. I have a little mini stack of books to read through to help me foster this new obsession, and hopefully the longer term will see me use my ligature-obsessed powers for good.

Fish for Fish will be updated tomorrow. It’s likely to be just a page update, with perhaps a second update by the end of the week. In any case, Chapter 2 will be completed by the end of the month.

Thank you to all who commented on both my and mytholder‘s blogs. You are all very kind, and please don’t hesitate to give harsher criticism. This project is being done both for fun and as a learning experience for the two of us. I’m quite conscious of some mistakes and issues, and am striving to improve on these as we move forward – perhaps by Chapter n (for a large value of n) there will be some noticeable improvement.

I thought I’d write a little about the “process” (such as it is) I am using to create the pages.

To start with, I receive the text from Gar, a chapter at a time. I read it, let it bake in my brain, briefly design any new characters that are appearing and generally waste time.

I then reread the text, with a notebook in hand to do stick-figure-esque sketches of the panels. Often, at this point, I rail at Gar about “too much narrative” and “how the hell can I represent that visually?!” and he sits with me and helps me figure it out. For Chapter 1, we laid out what panels went on which page together, but I’m mostly doing that myself for Chapter 2.

Then I start drawing. I’m working with (apart from a few small instances of color) black ink on sepia paper. I first started with HUGE paintings per panel. This was unsustainable for a couple of reasons – it made it more difficult to scan them in, and it took epically longer to complete each one. I’ve since moved to a quarter of the size. I’m not using a Comic Board (if that’s the right term) or anything like that – in fact, I only just heard of their existence yesterday evening.

I check each panel with Gar to see what he thinks. I often make some small adjustments based on his suggestions. There are also often glaring issues that both of us see (I appear to suck at proportions and perspective), but we usually make the decision to move on and instead try to have it as a learning experience and do better next time. The main reason for this is our self-imposed deadline, and while the panels don’t take that long (usually about 1-2 hours) it’s long enough when trying to do other stuff in the day as well. (Seriously, green bears from the middle of the earth are stealing my hours while I sleep!).

Then I scan them in and make pretty minimal adjustments in photoshop (if I’ve globbed a big drop of ink somewhere it shouldn’t be, for example). I’ve been thinking I might like to make more extreme adjustments on the computer, smoothing lines and all the rest. I am aware that it very much has the hand-painted feel to it, and I’m not sure whether this is lending something to the atmosphere, or taking from it. Experimentation may well ensue.

I’m using Comic Life on my Macbook to layout the pages and panels, and to add the speech bubbles and text. It’s a great little tool, but I have a major issue with the amount of control I have over the placement of the text within the speech bubbles, and the spacing of it. Perhaps there’s something I can do to make this more exact, and I’ll certainly be looking into it. Maybe I’m just going to have to use something like Illustrator to do that work – I’m not really sure, and suggestions are always welcomed!

Anyway, that’s it! Thanks to all who waded through that long ramble, and if you have any help or suggestions to add, I’d be ever grateful. Meanwhile, I’ll just “keep on keepin’ on”, as the man sang …

8 Responses to “-sunlight and singing welcome your coming”

  1. Giffy Says:

    You guys went to London… do you spend any time in Cork? Re critique, I like the comic lots! I did think that the 13th child’s face didn’t seem to match up, face-on to profile though. What think you?

  2. deli Says:

    Yeah – I agree with you. I am definitely working on trying to get a single character to be more consistent.

  3. donalfall Says:

    Comic board is over-rated. It is related to – and sometimes *is* a substance called Bristol Board. All it is is a high GSM extra smooth paper card. Although, it is nice for ink and has very little tooth, so you only get textures you put in. Whatever you’re using seems smooth enough, so you’re flying already.

    Pros do all their comic pages & panels relatively big – usually a3. They scan them in in two halves (unless you’re lucky enough to have an a3 scanner) and stitch them together in Photoshop, then shrink to the desired size. If you start big and shrink, mistakes that seemed obvious at a3 disappear to nothing at letter or a5 sizes.

    Change to Illustrator for your word balloons etc. You shouldn’t regret it! It allows for far more control, and it’s pretty much the standard everywhere in the comics biz now.

    A general note on the presentation – your front page needs a link direct to Fish for Fish, or else put it on the front page. And the pop-out needs to load the most recent page first. And you need a “First strip” and “Last Strip” button as well as previous and next. It makes it a lot easier on the reader. :)

    More comments soon. On design and type, Charlie Byrnes has a copy of this book – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Notes-Book-Design-D-Birdsall/dp/0300103476/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223558581&sr=8-1 – for 20 europes. It’s pretty seminal, but it’s a bit wandering. Do you want for me to get you a copy? I’ll be down again in 10 days, let me know before then. Oh, and email me. I seem to have lost your email address?

  4. deli Says:

    Thanks for the detailed feedback, donal! I don’t have a working copy of Illustrator yet – though I’m working on it. I was trying out making some bubbles in InDesign, at my class. It was a little time consuming, though probably less so than the amount of time I spend fiddling with the ComicLife stuff and still not getting it right.

  5. CurlyJim Says:

    “poor Gar is being driven to distraction as I coo and criticize every sign and poster I pass by.”
    He’ll be fine. I’ve been… enjoying this experience for several years now, and having brief violent rages about people using comic sans in public, or taking brief detours into various establishments at any time of day or night in order to examine/steal a poster that features some arcane use of helvetica never EVER gets old.

  6. RYErnest Says:

    Nice post u have here :D Added to my RSS reader

  7. deli Says:

    Cheers – glad you liked it.

  8. 植牙後遺症 Says:


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