I decided to document a bit of my process for this one. I also did most of it out on the hill in Gasworks Park – I love having a laptop!
Click on the thumbnails for full-size, of course.
The first thing I do is make a new file from my template. The dark blue lines are panel border guides, the light blue ones are the text-safe area. I have a gutter down the middle of the text-safe area because when I go to print, each page becomes a spread, so I don’t want to put text across that by accident. The template also has my color palette in its swatches, and a bunch of word balloons on the dialogue layer outside of the page, so I can just say “I need a normal dialogue balloon”, “I need an encrypted dialogue balloon”, “I need some HUD text” or whatever and drag a copy into the image area.
If I’m not doing an action sequence, I start with the dialogue. I usually have a rough idea of what it should be, but I don’t bother finalizing it until I’m working on the page. Sometimes the panel layout is first; I even have thumbnails hanging around that are nothing but panel flow from one page to the next.
After I’ve got the dialogue down, I rough in the action. This page is a bit unusual in that I used a photograph of something I’d previously scrawled in my sketchbook in pen; 99% of the time, I rough stuff out in Illustrator. Sometimes I do it in lines, sometimes I do it in rough sloppy shapes.
Most of the time I work from front to back. The figure is almost always the most important part of the panel; I compose the lights and darks of the background around it. Also, hooray for pattern fills on Rita’s skirt – that’s the same pattern I was using on her gloves, for the first appearances of Skylands Rita.
The figures are pretty much done here. And the bottom panels are definitely done; I was able to knock the out really, really quickly by cutting and pasting stuff from the middle of chapter 5. I generally prefer to draw stuff fresh instead of cut and paste, but if I can copy over a complicated machine I will totally do it. (Also note that Gary’s last line has been edited a little. I felt the new phrasing gave him a little more of an English feel; the green storyline is kind of me doing a riff on the countless hours of Doctor Who I watched in my teens and twenties.)
And finally I add in some background details. The big note in the sky is because I was closing the laptop to go back home, and didn’t want to glance at this page and think it was done.