Today I’m continuing the series describing my process for creating my cover image for PANEL 17: PULP.
Last Friday I described the sketch stage, where I cut the design from whole cloth and prepare for a final drawing. Once I have a sketch I’m happy with, I transfer it directly to the final art board. Since my sketches are frequently so small, this usually involves a scan/scale/print/graphite transfer affair. I print the sketch at final art size, coat the back of the print with graphite, and trace it over onto the board. This leaves a ghost-image on the board, with all the correct proportions/perspective of the smaller sketch.
In other instances, such as times when the final art is much larger than my printer’s capability and I don’t care to assemble pieces, I’ll do a grid transfer. In this method, I draw a grid over the sketch, usually about 10 squares high by 6-7 squares wide, for images in this ratio. I then draw the same grid on the blank art board and re-draw each square one at a time. It’s a quick way to accurately re-draw a smaller image without all the intermediate steps of a graphite transfer.
In this case, I decided I could probably improve the composition a little by re-drawing it entirely. So I started instead on a blank board, and re-drew the sketch freehand, and put everything exactly where I wanted it. After filling out the drawing enough to where I could ink confidently, I began the ink stage. This is where I spend the most time on an image, and where I think my style really emerges. Here’s a side-by-side of the original sketch with the inked cover art (click to enlarge):
The sketch was rather spontaneous, so it was not drawn in the correct ratio, which is why it isn’t as tall as the final. As you can see, I pushed the “Femme Fatale” character further into the foreground, and enlarged the “hero” in the background, to improve the drama and overall design of the page. In addition to the composition changes, I changed the figures in many ways. I fixed her legs, tilted her head, showed a bit more of his face, and I gave her a cigarette so I could use the smoke as a design element. I also eliminated a lot of the extraneous props on the desk, as they seemed like too much clutter to me, and angled the shadows on the wall quite a bit more, for added drama.
In the next step, I’ll be adding the digital colors and effects, as we get closer and closer to the final art. Tune in Wednesday to see the results…