Alright, for my first installment I will be focusing on a three panel sequence from the first page of ch.2 of Ruby's Fire. my creator-owned webcomic. First I will read through the entire script a couple of times to get a feel for the characters, situations and locations involved. Usually on the third pass (sometimes more or less) I will begin to take "notes". They are literally just scribbles and is usually any visual information I feel describes that particular panel.
Once I have gone ahead and made "notes" for the whole script, I then sit down and make 2x3 inch thumbnails. I will try to get 3 or 4 on one piece of paper to be able to get a quick feel for the flow of the story. At this stage I focus on my actual panel layout for the individual pages. If a panel calls for a long-shot, or close up I take that into account here and orchestrate the panels accordingly. I keep in mind how I want to direct the viewers eyes through the page, keeping in mind top to bottom, left to right.
A lot of artists will move directly to the page from here, however I like to throw in another more detailed layout. This layout is 4x6 inches and here I concentrate on the shapes of the figures and props. I will also make any final storytelling adjustments here. Seeing it in this larger size can sometimes give you a heads up to any quirky things you might have going on. I will usually do 2 pages at time to make sure they flow and work together.
Now this is the exciting part, putting all of this information on the actual page! Comic pages measure 11x17 inches with a print area of 10x15. I will quickly go in and rough in all the borders for the panels, once I have them properly proportioned I bust out that handy ruled and straighten those lines up. This helps to make sure your drawing in the exact area you need to, without having to end up erasing a hand, arm, or even head later on.
At this stage it is VERY IMPORTANT to stay extremely loose and just focus on the constructing shapes of the figures and getting in a base for the backgrounds. This stage should focus on the gesture, character acting and the movement. I also like to loosely put in the background at this point as well.
Then I will continue to block in the shapes and start focusing on the final construction of my figures. I also work out the facial expressions and set up an actual perspective grid for my background. Another VERY IMPORTANT thing to always keep in mind throughout this entire process is WORD BALLOONS. This will be your last chance to make room.
Now I move on to the final art stage. I don't normally do my own inking but for Ruby's Fire I do. So I will go ahead and ink in the borders, it's a great way to break the ice. When inking I always move front to back as to not overlap a background element with a character and then have to solve that dilemma. The closet character to the viewer gets a thicker line and smaller as the characters recede into the distance. I always reserve my thinnest line for my backgrounds. This is a good way to make sure a background element isn't competing for attention over an important character moment.
Alright folks, that's it for now, but stay tuned as I will be coming at ya with more tutorials soon. I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Panel Break! and found it helpful. Catch you all soon!!