Behind the Scenes
Space Kid! — From Script to Scan
I’ve always been intrigued by behind-the-scenes processes and tool talk when it comes to comics, so I decided to put this up in case anyone else is interested in seeing my behind-the-scenes processes. Here are the steps involved in how I produce a page of Space Kid! In this case we’re looking at page 28 of Episode One, simply because that’s where I happened to be when I got the idea to do this feature someday.
First, I have already written the script for the entire episode before I start drawing anything. My SK scripts are done in ballpoint in a little spiral notebook, which gives me the advantage of being able to work pretty much anywhere. At this point all I do is indicate the sequence from one panel to the next — panel breaks are indicated by those little stars — with sometimes a very rough description of what’s happening in the panel, and the dialogue for it.
Next I do pencil roughs for the entire episode, even before I start drawing the final art for the first page. I pre-print photocopies of basic rectangular guidelines onto plain 8.5 by 11 paper so that when I fold the page in half, I have four rectangles in which to rough in four pages. This is where I break the script into pages, work out the size and placement of each panel, and then roughly indicate the composition and word balloon placement for each. Sometimes I will see here that I need to break one panel into two, or merge two into one, etc., in order to improve the flow of the page, so this is the step where that happens.
I find that these pencil roughs sometimes have an energy that I can never seem to recapture in the finished art — I’ve simply learned to live with this out of necessity, but boy I wish I was good enough to get that kind of crackle into my “real” pages!
The final art for the page is done on 11 by 14, Strathmore smooth bristol. I rule in the page and panel borders with non-photo blue pencils, then rough in balloon placements and drawings with same. (Hard to see in these scans but there are blue lines drawn in there!) Then I tighten up the final pencils with a humble, simple little dollar-store mechanical pencil. In order to rough in my word balloon sizes accurately, I type up the page’s dialogue on my PC using ComicPro font, print a hardcopy, cut it out into balloons, and trace around them onto the page. Sometimes I will also tweak the placement of the word balloons at this stage.
I ink with a Hunt Globe 513EF nib. This isn’t the nib I’ve always used — in fact, I’ve never used the 513EF to ink any of my comic book work before — but I find that this nib gives me the look I want for this series. Fine details are done with Sakura Pigma Microns of varying sizes.
Now comes what I find is the fussiest part. I scan the inked page as a 1200dpi, 2-colour black-and-white GIF. (2-colour scanning will not pick up any of the blue pencil still showing.) Because the page is too big for my scanner, I have to scan it in halves and then piece them together into one big scan using my graphics editing program — in my case, PSP 7. While in PSP I then fill in the black areas that were left empty on the “real page”, convert the GIF to grayscale and reduce it to 30% in PNG format to smooth out the 2-colour jaggies. PSP is also where I draw in my borders, add layers for gray tones, type in my dialogue (again using ComicPro) and create the word balloons — again, tweaking their position if needed. I then reduce the final PNG further to 600 pixels wide for online publication, upload it, and there ya go.