Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I'm gonna be on the Tee-Vee..

The battle you've all been waiting for, live on TV.. The League of Just Us vs The Eggheads!!

The league of Just Us roll call (left to right):
PJ Holden (Comicbook artist; 2000AD, Battlefields)
Paddy Brown (Web comic artist/writer and self publisher; Cattle raid of Cooley )
Reggie Chamberlain King (Writer; upcoming Layer Zero: Exile)
Aidan Largey acting as the backup (Writer; Layer Zero: Choices)
Aimee Durkin (Comicbook model; Cancertown, Slaughterman's Creed)
Stephen Downey (me)

As I've probably mentioned before, a bunch of comicbook creators meet up monthly at the Garrick Bar in Belfast to share portfolios, ideas and generally talk geek. Well 6 of us are heading to Glasgow in January to record an episode of the Eggheads, trying to see if our combined geek knowledge can outsmart the resident quiz team.

A few weeks ago I got a phone call via Mal Coney, the manager at Forbidden Planet Belfast (he's a friend and comicbook creator in his own right having written the Darkness and created the Magdelena for Top Cow, amongst a host of other projects). He'd gotten a call from the producers of the eggheads looking for teams for the Belfast auditions, and although Mal couldn't make it himself he passed them on to me. I quickly gathered six comicbook creators (who will herefore be know as The League of Just Us) and two days later we went to the audition for a laugh in the BBC building in town. Long story short, they liked our audition and flying us over to Glasgow for a day and night in a couple of weeks time to appear on the show.

I've no idea when the show will air, but it should be a good laugh and I'm sure I'll blog about the happenings when its all over.

Hope you all had a good Christmas by the way.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Going Digital

The Playstation digital comics store has just gone live here, and Insomnia Publications are right there along with some big name publishers on day one. They have Cages, Burke & Hare and Cancertown right up there now (more details on the Playstation network's Insomnia blog here).

This means Cancertown will be easily available all over the world to PSP owners without having to pay any sort of delivery costs (the irony of course is that it will not be available in  Ireland, well the South anyway, for another few days.) The first chapter is even free, so if you own a PSP you have absolutely NO reason not to check it out, even just to see how the reading experience differs from thee aul paper version, and of course please encourage your friends to do the same. Here's a direct link to help you out.

If you browse their catalogue you may even find some other popular comics, some of which may feature this guy:

(That's meant to be Wolverine by the way.)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The end is nigh...

Here's part 2 of my 'script to finished page' process I was using for the Demented story in 2012: A final prayer. Part 1, including the script, is here.

6/ Calendar: The calendar in Bob's script pops up various times in the eight page story so I wanted to create it in photoshop (simply using the text, select and fill tools) and impose it on the images so I wouldn't draw it too muddled trying to squeeze in all the numbers.

I had forgotten to mention before, but although Bob's script mentioned the calendar appearing on panel 3, there was an angle I wanted to use later in the story that meant it was better to have it over Aida's head and so established on panel 2. An examples like this is why I find it's often helpful to layout an entire story, or at least scenes or issues at a time, rather than just before drawing each page.

7/ Redraw: Looking at the scanned page, panel 5 was much too cluttered and needed a little more room for both dialogue and to make out what was happening:
I took the scanned panel and on a new photoshop file moved things about and digitally sketched around it.

The characters looked a little squashed, and the panel wasn't going to fit into the original space anyway so I stretched it a little and turned in a blue colour.
The I printed out the blue panel and inked over it with my pens/brush. When I rescanned it I could quickly and easily take away the blue channel on photoshop so I'm left with just the black line.

8/ Black and white artwork: Finished the inks on the rest of the page and digitally put panel 5 into place, then used the curve tool to get a really strong contrast between the black and white.
To get the wallpaper texture I simply took a photo of my studio wallpaper, again using curves to bring out the pattern. I used the transform and perspective tool to fit the pattern to the walls as seamlessly as possible, and used my PS 'blood brush', which I'd created previously by scanning in an ink splat, to add the black splash at the bottom right (which actually has subtle story significance). I also didn't like how straight Aida looked on panel 2, so tilted in slightly just to make it more interesting, and added straight borders to the panels using the stroke tool.

9/ Greyscaling: The book is printed in black and white, which allowed for some greyscaling. I was originally just going to finish off with the stark black and white above, but I experimented with the greyscaling and thought it added to the art and atmosphere. All done in photoshop (CS4 incase anyone was interested).

10/ Lettering: This was my first time lettering in Adobe Illustrator, previously just using Photoshop. It look a little bit of learning, but I managed to pick up the basics pretty quickly and much prefer the process and result compared to Photoshop. It's the ease of ability to change and play with the vector lines before finalising or distorting anything that makes the difference. Thanks to this video for the quick reference.

And that's the page finished. Laying it out like this makes it look like a lot of work, but I didn't really notice as I enjoy it so much. Time wise I think I did the 8 pages over about 2 weeks.

So if you want to see the rest of the pages, pick up the 2012: Final prayer anthology. There is some great art and writing in the book and I really enjoyed it myself.

On an altogether different matter, I may have some amusing TV news next week if everything works out...

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Living up to its name...

As I've previously mentioned, I've drawn an eight page story for Heske Horror's 2012: Final prayer anthology, written by Bob Heske himself. Its a lovely looking book with some great short stories so I'd recommend picking one up.

I love seeing artist's process work, and I experimented a little with my approach to the following page, so with Bob's permission here's a little 'script to finished page' post:

1/ Bob send me his script:

Page One

6 panels.

Panel 1:
Exterior Nursing Home. Night.
Snow is on the ground. A shoveled, paved walkway leads us to a brick building.
A sign outside: Rosebud Nursing Home.

How’s she doing today?

Not one of her better days.

Panel 2:
Interior nursing home, a drab, depressing room.

ANGLE ON – A 65‐year old woman (AIDA) who sits in a chair by a window. She looks much older – her hair is white, her skin loose over her brittle bones. Her eyes are blank, her mind lost in a fog.
There are blinds in the window, a crucifix on the wall, and ugly print wallpaper on the walls.

Frankly, mom’s best days are behind her.

That’s true for us all, Dex.

Panel 3:

REVEAL – DEX, a 40‐year old man with a boxer’s sturdy build wearing a wool coat. Beside him is the attending nurse, DOTTIE, whose ample cleavage fills out her white uniform quite pleasantly.

Between them, hanging on the wall, is a calendar. It shows December with the 21st day circled.

At least the world didn’t end. December 21st, and we’re still here.

Another false Apocalypse. Like 1984, Y2K, and Planet X in ‘03.

Panel 4:
ANGLE ON – Aida, in her own world, almost appears to be listening to their conversation.

Looks like we’ll be here to celebrate Christmas after all.

Panel 5:
Dexter watches Aida leave the room, admiring the view. His right hand reaches inside his coat.


Panel 6:
Dexter pulls out a REVOLVER and stares maliciously at his mother with dementia.

Some of us will.

Apologies to Bob as some of the formatting is lost while transfering to the blog. Bob also embedded lots of really helpful reference material into the PDF, which were extrememely helpful in picturing the scene as I read the script, but since I didn't directly reference the images and this blog will be long enough as is, I've left them out.

2/ Small thumbnails to layout the panels and figures:

Often on first pages, I like to make one panel larger than the rest to pull the reader into the scene. In this case though there was a lot of information to portray; most of the panels are establishing shots of different characters and the last is the 'action' shot. I made panel 3 a little larger than the rest as it establishing arguably the main protagonist Dex, but I had to make the other panels stand out clearly as well. The above jpeg is probably the actual size I drew it, at just a few inches tall.

3/ Pencilling (work in progress)
Drawn on 11 x 17 inch bristol board. I looked up some photos of old ladies and I think the side view of Aida in panel 3 was pretty close to the imageI found, as I needed to see which way glasses sit on the nose, but for the most part I didn't use much direct reference. I wanted Dex to look different from my other male characters, so he's based very loosely on Bruce Willis on panel 3, just to give me a starting point. I've heard he look like everything from myself, to an angry Gary Barlow, so I don't think the likeness is too obvious.

4/ Working out panel 2: I'd just downloaded a free 3D modelling program called DAZ3D and was having a messaround with finding a nice pose for Aida on the chair:

I experimented with different angles, but ended up ignoring the model and just going for a simpler angle as it was the first time Aida appeared in the story, I needed to establish the calander on the wall, and leave room for dialogue. I also felt it was appropriate to start off with an almost mudane angle, then go for the more extreme angles when the action started on panel 6.

5/ Inking:

I starting inking the piece, tidying up and refining the artwork using mostly the new Rotring ink pen I'd just picked up and a little bit of brush for the bigger black areas. This was my first time using the Rotring on a proper comic page, I felt the pen would bring a grittier look to the page, which I thought suited the story.

- We're only half way through and the blog's getting a little image heavy so I'll call this Part 1 and show the redraws, inks, grayscaling and lettering/finished page in my next blog post...