Space Kid! Behind the Scenes

Space Kid! Behind the Scenes

March 31, 2014 — new: a map of Space Kid Island!

October 11, 2013 — new: the first-ever sketches of Space Kid!

Space Kid! — From Script to Scan

I’ve always been intrigued by behind-the-scenes processes and tool talk when it comes to comics, so I decided to put this up in case anyone else is interested in seeing my behind-the-scenes processes.  Here are the steps involved in how I produce a page of Space Kid!  In this case we’re looking at page 28 of Episode One, simply because that’s where I happened to be when I got the idea to do this feature someday. 😉

script

First, I have already written the script for the entire episode before I start drawing anything.  My SK scripts are done in ballpoint in a little spiral notebook, which gives me the advantage of being able to work pretty much anywhere.  At this point all I do is indicate the sequence from one panel to the next — panel breaks are indicated by those little stars — with sometimes a very rough description of what’s happening in the panel, and the dialogue for it.

rough layout

Next I do pencil roughs for the entire episode, even before I start drawing the final art for the first page.  I pre-print photocopies of basic rectangular guidelines onto plain 8.5 by 11 paper so that when I fold the page in half, I have four rectangles in which to rough in four pages.  This is where I break the script into pages, work out the size and placement of each panel, and then roughly indicate the composition and word balloon placement for each.  Sometimes I will see here that I need to break one panel into two, or merge two into one, etc., in order to improve the flow of the page, so this is the step where that happens.
I find that these pencil roughs sometimes have an energy that I can never seem to recapture in the finished art — I’ve simply learned to live with this out of necessity, but boy I wish I was good enough to get that kind of crackle into my “real pages!

pencils

The final art for the page is done on 11 by 14, #234 Paris paper for pens.  I rule in the page and panel borders with non-photo blue pencils, then rough in balloon placements and drawings with same.  (Hard to see in these scans but there are blue lines drawn in there!) Then I tighten up the final pencils with the luscious General’s Cedar Pointe pencil.  In order to rough in my word balloon sizes accurately, I type up the page’s dialogue on my PC using ComicPro font, print a hardcopy, cut it out into balloons, and trace around them onto the page.  Sometimes I will also tweak the placement of the word balloons at this stage.

inks

I ink with a Hunt Globe 513EF nib and FW Acrylic Black (India) ink.  This isn’t the nib I’ve always used — in fact, I’ve never used the 513EF to ink any of my comic book work before — but I find that this nib gives me the look I want for this series.  Fine details are done with Sakura Pigma Microns of varying sizes.  After the ink dries [which takes about four hours on this paper!], I erase the black pencils with the amazing Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser.

final scan

Now comes what I find is the fussiest part.  I scan the inked page as a 1200dpi, 2-colour black-and-white GIF.  (2-colour scanning will not pick up any of the blue pencil still showing.)  Because the page is too big for my scanner, I have to scan it in halves and then piece them together into one big scan using my graphics editing program — in my case, PSP 7.  While in PSP I then fill in the black areas that were left empty on the “real page , convert the GIF to grayscale and reduce it to 30% in PNG format to smooth out the 2-colour jaggiesPSP is also where I draw in my borders, add layers for gray tones, type in my dialogue (again using ComicPro) and create the word balloons — again, tweaking their position if needed.  I then reduce the final PNG further to 600 pixels wide for online publication, upload it, and there ya go.

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