Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Learning Curve - Pook Mine

The worst thing about working on this comic is that it takes me forever to draw everything but the monkeys. I can draw you a monkey in 10 seconds, but ask me to draw a mine, a town, the interior of a bar, anything else, and it's gonna take me a long time. I'll go through all my graphic novels that might give me a hint (Bone, Iron West, and Usagi Yojimbo for this book), and try and Google Image Search some reference.

The other thing that is slowing me down is shading. I can draw you fake one-light-source shadows all day, but drawing actual shadows (or, at least, good enough fake shadows) scares me. My characters are very cartoony, but my tendency is to draw everything else a bit more realistic. It makes the characters pop off the backgrounds better. Bone is like this: the Bone cousins are very simple cartoony characters set against these amazingly rendered backgrounds, and it works so beautifully.

A page I had inked back in July was giving me some anxiety because of the shading. It takes place in a mine with a single light source, a lantern. Most artists can get away without doing exact shadows for any stories that take place during the day under normal lighting, but as I finished the panel, I realized an enclosed space with a definite light source needed appropriate shadows.

Here's the panel as it existed originally (though I had already started darkening in the tunnel here):

This is one of the pages I showed to Stan Sakai at the Comic Con, actually. He advised me to make the long black shadows there are appropriate for the lighting of such a scene. That was what made me anxious, because I didn't want to ruin the page. So, I scanned the panel in and started dabbling with it in Photoshop to see how it would look with everything darker.

It didn't look too bad, so I took the plunge and inked them on the page:

I think it turned out all right. I added a lot of texture to the ground and walls as well to continue the darkness. I still have a lot to learn about inking (the lines on the back wall aren't "classy" inking, they just get the job done), but each step makes the next less daunting.


Brian said...

Nice Ryan! I love how the shadows direct your eye around the page. It really makes the page moody too. Very nice.

I love seein your work on your blog! You should keep postin more of it. ^_^

Ryan said...

Thanks, mang!

You document your process so well, and it's fascinating, so I was inspired to finally put something of my own up.

Nobody said...

I think the shadows really make that piece. I know what you mean about being afraid to ruin it in case it goes wrong, but I'm glad you went for it.

For some reason though I like the spooky elongatedness of the first shadow without the holster, even though the second version is more "accurate". But it really makes the completely

Ryan said...

That's funny, I hadn't even noticed the holster thing until I posted the pics here. It is better visually without, you're right, but I'm one of those guys that complains about that sort of "inaccuracy" in other comics so my conscience wouldn't let me get away with it.

Did you get cut off mid-comment?

Nobody said...

Must have. I think I was just saying the shadows really make the piece. The shadow-absent one looks fine when it's all you've seen, but after seeing it with the shadows it really draws attention to the lantern and makes you feel like you're actually in a mine!

Ryan said...

Boo yah, mission accomplished! Thanks for the kind words, dude.

Kenfield said...

Lookin really good Ryan!!!
Were you orgionally going to have those images enlarge when you click on them?
I always love it when you post updates on your comic!

Ryan said...

Yeah, I think I was. I'm still getting this hang of this whole "weblog" thing, as you can see. Thanks for the kind words, Josh!