In a lot of ways, 7th Voyage is a departure from convention. Let’s face it: a 120 page graphic novel about China discovering America doesn’t scream traditional Western philosophy. In the same way, the art for 7th Voyage isn’t being handled in a traditional way, either.
- No pencils
- No inks
- No original pages
Digital only . . . Sketchbook Pro to be exact. I discovered Sketchbook Pro a few years ago and had begun to incorporate the program more and more into my everyday art process. From thumbnails and layouts, to finished pin-ups.
When we first started planning out 7th Voyage, I was still working a day job and knew that time was going to be an issue . . . especially with how ambitious we were.
So, time constraints, coupled with me being a control freak and not wanting anyone else to ink my work, and, my continuing comfort and trust in Sketchbook Pro made the decision simple: ALL DIGITAL.
Here is a glimpse into my artistic process on 7th Voyage:
Step 1: Layouts
All but a few of the pages were laid out using the Sketchbook Pro app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. I’ve seen some artist’s layouts there were just stick figures and basic shapes, and I’ve seen some that are hyper-detailed. Mine are somewhere in between, depending on how well I’m “feeling” the page and how much art direction there is from the writer.
Once the layouts are reviewed, revised (if needed), and then approved, I will move the layout into Photoshop and set it into my page template. First, I will create a bottom layer with a blank white fill. Next, I will set the layouts as the second layer and name it…wait for it…..“Layout”, and then drop the opacity to 25%. Last, I will create a top layer where I will set the panels and gutters based on my layouts.
Step 3: Finishes
Once the page is setup and saved, I move it directly into Sketchbook Pro for the fun stuff. When I’m drawing traditionally, I will ink my scribbled and scrawling pencils with my Pentel Brush Pen which allows for spontaneous and natural line weight variations. When drawing digitally, I tend to get bogged down in the details, so I needed to create a brush that would allow for similar spontaneity and variation. This is the main brush that I use when working on my pages. I am also a big fan of the chisel tip brush for quick gestural lines, and the ballpoint pen brush for detailed work.
When working on the page itself, each panel gets it’s own layer, sometimes more. Depending on the complexity of the panel, I may have a separate panel for the foreground, middle ground, and background.
We have a very talented colorist working on 7th Voyage, so I intentionally left a lot of the space and backgrounds emptier and less rendered than I normally would in order to let her to do her thing and put her own mark on the book.
Once a page is finished, I will throw it back into Photoshop to clean up any border issues and set the guidelines for Copy Safe, Trim, and Bleed lines, and then the page is DONE.
Be sure to stop by Artist Alley tables P56 - P60 at Toronto Fan Expo this weekend to meet me and the rest of the Station Studios crew that will be in attendance. I'll be selling originals, prints, copies of 7th Voyage , and doing sketches all weekend.