graphic styles for comics production

So right now I am working on a 13-page comic about a lady magician and her demon sidekick getting into trouble at a rave that 2016 me roughed out. 2022 me found it recently and decided it’s still good, so I’m finishing it.

Today I did an important part of bringing it up to 2022-me’s standards: I’m making Graphic Styles for everything in the model sheet. This took about two hours total; the model sheet contains a generic version of these two characters (seen above), as well as them in Magical Rave gear, and Khebunassvem (the demon) in Combat Mode.

This is no small amount of fiddly bullshit; it takes time to pack all this stuff up into named swatches, and time to think about the most efficient way to make Illustrator draw a bunch of shit for me. This was two hours on top of character designs that were 100% done by the standards of 2016 me. Plus a few design revisions, Chloe used to have straight hair but I decided curly felt better.

Two hours is nothing to sneeze at. But this is the payoff. These are the paths I have to draw, using these various styles. Illustrator then does a bunch of stylistic stuff to it and makes it look cool. I don’t have to fiddle with drawing any of those ragged edges, or even remembering which brush I use. I just say “I’m gonna draw Chloe’s hair”, find the right section in the Graphic Styles, click on the appropriate style, and draw a loose shape that Illustrator noodles a bunch of curls around. Kheb’s tail and its little spade is just one line. All that Kirby Krackle in Combat Kheb’s wings and aura is done by Illustrator around simple shapes. Doing most of the rest of this comic is now gonna be super fast; I just look at my roughs and quickly flesh them out into full drawings, without ever having to fiddle with trying to remember what brush I used at what size and in which color. If I ever draw another story with these two then I can reuse all this work. Probably with a little time to design new costumes for whatever situation they’re in.

If you wanna have a look at the Illustrator source and see what kind of crazy tricks I used, it’s over on Patreon.

desk shot 2016

desk-shot

The mess I work in when I’m at home. Not shown: stool at an appropriate height for sitting in front of the screen sometimes, coffee table that I used to clear off and sit on the floor to work at before Trina commandeered it for future castle parts.

sketchbooks

I just cleaned up around the apartment and put the pile of sketchbooks that had been kicking around the studio into the shelves with the other filled sketchbooks. One pocket-sized one has been kicking around since March 2011 or so and still isn’t full.

I really don’t fill sketchbooks up like I used to.

Admittedly I think that one taking forever to fill is a function of its tiny size – it’s not much bigger than my phone, and I like more room than that. I put away filled sketchbooks with later starting dates.

There were actually about 15 books at various places about the apartment, in various stages of fullness. To fit them onto their shelf in the studio closet, I had to do some rearranging – first I pulled off the handful of empty sketchbooks and various notebooks waiting there, then I pulled out the hole punch lurking way in the back of the closet and put some of the empty books back. I just kinda… chew through paper, and turn it into art. These days most of the stuff on paper isn’t even finished images; I mostly do a lot of scrawlings to plan my big projects now.

I am now down to four in-progress sketchbooks. Two of them will take forever to fill since they’re marker paper and I’m reluctant to draw in them with pen and pencil; two of them will probably be ready for the shelf in a couple of months.