this manga thing

So I’m working on this manga thing. It really is different and fun and as good as taking a break from the comic altogether. It lets me stretch my art skills without the outside pressure that comes with working on Dragon’s Fall.

It’s a lot to get done in the time that I have before NEWW, but I think I’m going to manage it. I’m making pretty good time so far. Here are the reasons it’s getting done faster than regular comics:

I know exactly how the story goes and I have for years. The scripts only needed a little tweaking before I typed them up. I made sure to thumbnail all the pages before I started any detailed art. This meant I could do the layouts while still in regular comic mode, and then wake up my art brain. I didn’t agonize over the placement of every panel, but I can make adjustments now as things come up.

I’m drawing detailed sketches of panels as they inspire me, instead of page by page, so I don’t have to waste my time forcing mediocre art out until I get to the last few really boring panels. I’m inking them as they are produced if they’re really inspiring. Ink is the star of this comic. After it’s done the comic will basically be done as I’m leaving it black and white.

Here are some of the things I’m worrying about getting done:

I’m going to try to challenge myself to make really good backgrounds – at least in the panels with backgrounds. This is manga, after all.  But I haven’t done all that much and I was going to try to get a few done before I started the figure inking, but I couldn’t wait.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with everybody’s hair. I could fold it all into the inking process and hatch or do a straight black-and-white manga shine effect on everyone, but that would be time consuming. I could use digital screen tones, but I’d need to do that at least twice per page after the inks have been scaled, because they don’t scale well. I could just shade in greys and then see what the page looks like if I separate it into black and white with dithering. I’m not sure how to do that exactly or whether it would look any good. I could photocopy with any of these methods or I could just shade in greys and get it printed digitally. But that will only work if I finish extra early.

Here are some of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the process:

The more I learn about how to draw human beings, the more I can tell the difference between manga conventions that have a basis in reality and ones that are just weird. When I was creating the style for LleuGarnock I picked up a few that made sense to me and that I could use confidently – for example, the manga mouth. This time I’m seeing other parts of the style a lot more clearly and realizing how they can and can’t be used. I put a nose on a face and it doesn’t work. Maybe I need another kind of nose to go with that face, or maybe the face just needs to be more angular to go with the nose. I’m not really good at using manga noses yet, though, so there are quite a few characters with more horizontal noses than you usually see in manga. The way I draw faces, they just don’t work as well with the vertical nose style.

It’s also interesting to be drawing every panel as though it’s a separate work of art. I’ve got a couple of amazing ones that I might expand into paintings or use on the cover or something. It really helps me think of the whole thing as art, because I’m not thinking about getting one panel out of eight done, I’m thinking about drawing a pretty picture.

It’s cool that I’m not going crazy from not writing. I guess it’s like my brain is so busy with art that I can turn off my writing brain for a while. Although clearly it’s not as sensitive as my art brain because I can do something like this blog entry without pining for more scriptwriting or the good old days when Dragon’s Fall was a novel. I think it might just be that this art project is more fun and less pressure than Dragon’s Fall. And also it is a short complete story, so I’m not sitting there the whole time imagining what might happen to these characters later. The story is what it is, and all it needs is some cute art.

I’m really glad I decided to include this story within The Elves of LleuGarnock. I think it’s going to be awesome.

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