Sunday, September 28, 2008
From Words To Pictures: The Process Begins
I thought I'd lead off today's post with this stunning detail from a piece of art David did for our book proposal. I think it helped seal the deal. David's sense of humanity in his figures always moves and impresses me. His figures--and even his landscapes--have that breath of life to them; that something extra that creates an instant engagement with the observer.
I'm braggin' on you, David.
We spent the last workweek breaking down our outline of Act One of the graphic novel.
To start the process, via Photoshop, we created a template for doing "thumbnail" roughs. One trip to Kinko's later, we had a nice pile of printed pages with miniature comics page layouts, ready to go. Just give us a #2 pencil and we're in business!
We sit on opposite sides of a long table, with our library of reference books-- and an electric pencil-sharpener--close at hand. Quietly, with an occasional glance across the table, we translate our densely-worded outline into workable visuals.
The thumbnailing process lets us know if our ideas work, or if they need more (or less) to them.
For me, doing the thumbnails is a way to warm up to drawing again.
I have chosen to focus mostly on writing in the past 15 years. What little drawing I have done has been mostly doodling or sketchbook material.
These thumbnails are rough-and-ready drawings. Their goal is to account for what will embody each panel of each page. They're often almost stick-figures. Yet these little drawings can be surprisingly rich.
Many of David's thumbnails are things of beauty. I have seen sequences of our book suddenly come to life in his evocative sketches. It's exhiliarating to realize that, little by little, this book is becoming real and certain.
I have newfound respect for the common #2 pencil. My first thumbnails were done with the Papermate SmartWriter 0.7 mm mechanical pencil. Its soft leads are extremely smeary. I'm left-handed, and hold a pencil in an eccentric way, so it's impossible not to smudge the soot-like leads of these pencils.
I turned to one of David's humble OfficeMax #2s, and the smudge factor decreased dramatically. The lead is just right.
One more note: it amazes me how quickly a day zooms by when we're doing these thumbnails. I think that's a sign that I like what I'm doing! I feel grateful to the universe that we're embarked on this project.