Kevin Mellon is a Story Board Supervisor on the hit animated TV show Archer and a friend of SketchBook. In addition to working on Archer, Kevin has worked on storyboards for the hit live action show The Vampire Diaries and has a background in the comics industry. Having started out penciling and illustrating comics, notably GearHead and 13 Steps, earlier in his career before moving to the television world. Kevin has a degree from the Kubert School, a college devoted to cartoon and graphic art, which gave him a great foundation in sequential art which he has used throughout his career.
Kevin’s storyboards are the foundational blueprint for Archer. As an avid SketchBook user, we asked him to share with us what tools and features in SketchBook he finds useful time and again in his practice. Here are his picks.
SketchBook’s Speed and Flexibility
Kevin likes to say he has three work stations – home, office, and mobile. Therefore, interconnectivity is key to his workflow. With the use of cloud storage, he can access whatever he is working on from wherever he is.
The clean user interface and the quickness and ease of drawing helps him prepare everything for the layer comp process. The interface was designed specifically for drawing with an ultra-clean user interface that even hides itself if your pen gets too close to the UI.
Speed when sketching is key to Kevin Mellon’s workflow, using a multitude of layers is one way he achieves this. In story meetings, he sketches constantly while adjusting his sketches to comments and suggestions from the writers and directors. Instead of opening new files for each scene or shot, he turns down the visibility and adds layers on top. He can then go back in and copy the sketches out to expand them after the meeting into a storyboard format.
Visibility & Opacity
Kevin is constantly working with the opacity and visibility of layers in SketchBook. But he also renders storyboards in grayscale; by adjusting the individual opacity of the layers in a panel he can cause the background to recede or the foreground to pop and adjust the darkness of the gray shades as needed.
Interestingly, Kevin describes himself as being a nervous or “hesitant pencil-er” which actually seems to come through in his sketching style and works to his advantage. To increase the speed he works Kevin uses hotkeys to quickly access important tools. He often draws on his iPad Pro and has assigned the first button of his Apple Pen to switch to the Eraser tool. This means the flow of sketching isn’t slowed down with accessing the lagoon and brush panel over and over.
Though Flipbook is not hefty enough a tool to support Archer-caliber animation, it has proven useful to Kevin’s process. Storyboarding at Archer takes the form more of an Animatic than still panels. So often he will use Flipbook to make quick stick figure studies that he can put in motion to check the flow of what he is drawing. His work really is the bridge between the writer and director’s intention for the scene and the animator’s final product, so getting it right is important.
Even with all the technological tools available, there are still days when Kevin pulls his sketchbook out of his pocket and puts pen to paper. When that happens and he wants to continue working on a piece started in traditional media in SketchBook the great mobile tool Scan Sketch comes in to play. Kevin says Scan Sketch is highly useful when he does get the itch to draw something traditionally because you can quickly take a picture, remove the background, and get to work.