Sunday, March 23, 2008

Atland Process.

Suh weet! Our Atland strip won the guest strip competition! I'm stoked. My thanks go out to all the other competitors (they was some great stuff in there), my fellow conspirator Jon Kipling for being Johnny-on-the-spot with such a great script, and to Nate Piekos for doing such an awesome comic as Atland. After doing this one strip I quickly realized how much work goes into doing these, I couldn't imagine having to come up with one a week. Whew! My hat is definitely off to Nate.

So that being said, I thought it would be fun to post my process which is much different than the way Nate does his, notably I knew when I started I wasn't going to work on 11x17 paper. I like to work small, I try to keep all my stuff on 8.5x11 paper. 1) It saves me time (working freelance this means more $) & 2) everything will fit conveniently on my scanner (which I am extremely reliant on).

So first off I contacted John to see if he'd ever heard of Atland and then if he'd be interested in writing a script. He read all 170+ episodes and banged out an awesome script in record time (I think he said it took him around 30 minutes). You can read the script here. Even his descriptions and scene set ups were funny and I found myself laughing out loud which was a sure sign that we had a winner.

(1) In my usual fashion I read the script then "rolled it around a bit", gave my subconscious some time to work it over. After a few days I started scribbling, working out layout, some character poses, mainly working on Queen Maple Butter... the process being what I affectionately call the "brain dump".

After that a long time went by, I wasn't happy with what I had, wasn't feeling it, and got real discouraged. I had a great script and what I had drawn was mostly crap. I moved it to the back of my priorities, the deadline was looming, and resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn't have time to get back to it. Bummer.

So the day of the deadline was upon me and while in the shower I said to myself, "Self, I'm finishing this damn script today. Cowboy up and nail it." So that's what I did.

(2) I scanned my scribbles and using another episode of Atland as my template I began laying it out. After I had an initial layout I printed out a version and did some pencils on top of my rough. I scanned these again and used these as my rough artwork. I knew the episode would appear small online and I wanted the type to be readable at that size so I laid out the type font and size at this point. Also I knew the word balloons would be integral to the final layout so I also figured out where those would go and how the art would fall under them.

(3) After deciding where all the type would go and fit inside the word balloons I dropped out the type, turned all the line work to blue line in Photoshop I printed this out and did my inks right on top of my print out.

My final inks are small as you can see from the photo, a size I'm comfortable with. I ink with pigma microns and faber-castel brush pens (my favorite pens ever). * I swear that the brown pens give me a better line but I think this might just be my imagination.

I then scanned the inks at 600 dpi then enlarged them to the 11x17 size while dropping the resolution to 400 dpi (the specs for the final). I cleaned up the line work a bit then started coloring. My coloring process is very similar to the way Nate does his and pretty much the same as the way I did the Fishing For Terrorists cards. I was quickly realizing that I was going to barely make the deadline (Thursday at midnight) if at all and I had to keep myself from going off on a tangent and spending too much time on any one thing (I too often find myself zoomed in 400% erasing pixels...) and my file quickly ballooned to a whopping 105 megs so every time I saved it would take around 5 minutes. I was starting to sweat...

I finally finished up the final at 11:33 pm, 27 minutes to spare. Luckily no unexpected problem arose or I would have totally blown it. I didn't give myself much breathing room.
I think I like working with a gun to my head, either that or I'm King Procrastinator... I think it's a combination of both. Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. I hope you enjoyed the process.


Anonymous said...

clearly the enveloping deadline works well as motivation for you! congrats on your well-deserved win, brilliant illustration : )

a : )

John said...

I really enjoyed seeing the process on this piece as I was so close to the project. I l-u-v-e-d the different facial expressions on the Queen. You are a super star, sir. Congo rats again.

El Willy said...

awesome layout! love the process details/notes. thanks for sharing and congrats!