Moonshine page process.

I wanted to show my process for this book that I'm working on.
I usually work on two pages at a time, but I'll only do one for this explanation.
Here is the drawing table that I work at.

The laptop on the desk is used primarily for reference. I've taken almost 1000 reference pictures on my trips back to Alabama over the past year. I will probably continue to take more as I go home. It's nice having all them right in front of me as I need them.
I have a general plot/script that I've written:
I've gone through and made notes that brake the script down in to specific scenes that I later intend to break apart in to flashback sequences.
I then work on a series of thumbnails for each page, working out pacing, composition, page flow and dialog. I carry this little blue American-eagle notebook (a x-mas gift to Kristie from her family) in my back pocket so that I can work on it where ever I go. I'm using a tiny Pilot pen that my dad ordered from Japan (Hi-Tec-C 025mm). Since this whole Moonshine book will likely be more than 200 pages, I'm trying to stay as far ahead of myself in thumbnails as possible. Some artists thumbnail the entire book before they ever get to work on the actual drawings. Craig Thompson did thumbnails for Blankets for 2 years before he started drawing. I'm not doing that.

After I choose the layout that works best for the story and what I want to convey on this page I then pencil out the page onto a 14"x17" piece of Canson Smooth Bristol board. This is my favorite paper. The total panel area is 10"x15". Standard comic book size. I've tried working smaller on some of my other stories, but I always find that I usually like working bigger.

After I'm happy enough with the pencils, I then rule out the panel borders using a Speedball B-2 nib on a dip pen. I know this is a little larder, but I tend to like thicker panel borders. For my Gobnobble stories I never ruled my panel borders, but for this book I think it looks much better. I'm using an ink mixture of of Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay Black India Ink and Winsor & Newton's 951 Black Indian Ink (the one with the little spider on the bottle).

I hand-letter the page using Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph tech pens. I primarily use the .08 for dialog and balloons. Once again this is a little larger or standard lettering, but I think it works best for me. I've upgraded to the Koh-I-Noor Black Drawing Ink for these pens because the standard ink that comes with the set is too thin and watery. These pens require a great deal of care and maintenance, but I've noticed that the Savannah humidity keeps the pens from clogging. Even when I was using these pens back home in Alabama, I had a heck of a time keeping them clean. I destroyed a set of these when I was in high school. Note that I'm using all-caps lettering for this book. I used mixed case lettering for my Gobnobble stories, but it just didn't feel right for this book. I think I might switch to all-caps on my other stuff when I go back to it. If I need more control for something specific, like on larger sound effects ("UNGH."), I draw out the word with a .60 and fill it in accordingly.

Once I start putting ink to the paper I being to make notes on the sides of the page regarding errors or other problems that I'll fix after all the inking is done. I use a red color pencil for this because it won't show up when I scan the page into Photoshop.

After I finish lettering the page, I move to a brush. I've been using a Winsor & Newton Series 7 No. 3 brush for a while. It gives me the line weight that I want while still being able to give a pretty thin line when I need it. I only ink the primary characters, black areas, and other prominent elements in the panels. This is the fastest stage of the inking process.

I then come back with my Rapidograph pens to build value and texture in the images. I've been getting much of my inspiration from Gerhard's background for Dave Sim's Cerebus. This takes forever sometimes. I rarely go below 0.6mm and never below 0.35mm. The largest pen I have is 1.2mm. These are all from the same pen set (40 bucks online!)

Once the inks are through, I erase the whole page. This is where the quality of ink is important. Many inks will fade or erase away during this stage.

Finally I will clean up the whole page using Winsor & Newton Permanent White Designer Goache. I fix all of the errors I have noted on the side of the page (those notes are super handy), clean up the borders and gutters, and given each panel a once-over looking for problems.

Once the correction fluid dries and any other fixes have been made, the page gets thrown into the pile.

Then I start again.


Tom Lyle said...

David Allan-
This is so cool. I love seeing the way that you work. I like where you're going with this story and the art looks really strong. Keep on pushing!!

Had a blast with you at Heroes Con, too! Next year I won't need the cash so badly that I will sketch the whole con away. That way we can hang some more. Sorry I was antisocial in any way.

I think we need to just avoid Sunday workshops, too. Or just do one.


Anonymous said...

it's such a nice post. And I know how you work now... :)

Can't wait to see the comic when it's done. And thanks for the books.

Isaac Klunk said...

Great post!

This is looking great... your lettering is phenomenal. You should teach a class in that, or something.

I think I'm gonna start using the full page like you do so I can have more room for notes. Usually I just trim it beforehand, but I like your thinking. One question; what do you use to apply the gouache? Oh, and do you like to use water with it, or just take it straight out of the tube?

duncan said...

I'm glad that you all liked this post (even though I think Isaac is being patronizing complimenting my lettering since he's such a great letterer, but chooses to do digital lettering on his comic strip).

Issac, to apply the gouache I'm using the crappiest little brush that I have. It's not really that bad, I just didn't take care of it. If you really care, it's a Princeton No. 2 round. Red handle. Usually use the gouache right out of the tube.

Joe Bevill said...

This is looking pretty cool so far. Do you have an idea of how long it's going to be?

Anonymous said...

Great post - It is the exact way that Procter makes a painting - Except that he would probably finish pencils and inks on the entire book in 1/4 scale first to make sure that he liked how it flowed, then he would go about with pencils for the full size.)
Very nice to see the work flow and get a description that even includes pen and brush sizes - very nice indeed.

In other news - I was robbed this week, and thusly lost my phone to a young man who obviously had enough money to invest in a semi-automatic weapon and a rather large gold crucifix neklace. I sincerely wish that he would have invested his fiat money into a hedge-fund instead, but he did not ask for my financial advice, after all.

So, to make a short story short, I got your phone message, but as of yet am unable to return your call - as the last number of yours that I have written down was from those heady days of undergrad.

Give me a call or email me your numeric signifyers, and we shall see about putting some plans into effect.

duncan said...

Joe - I'm thinking this story is going to be around 200 pages, but I'm not really thinking too much about it. I'm just going to do it and see how long it gets.

duncan said...

Ben - that sucks.

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Wemento said...

whow amazing! this is incredible! great post! i like your art! what kind of paper did you use for those pages?
i've added your blog to my list of watching on my blog, great job! i want to learn more about drawing for increasing my techniques!
excuse my english! nice to meet your art and you!

if you can answer me by mail it would be great because here i have no notification if you answers me