Archive for the ‘Sequential’ Category

Storytelling Thumbnails and creative process flexibility

June 14, 2017

As in other occupations, creative arts professionals or hobbyists benefit from developing systems in order to formalize the creative process, generate ideas, and simplify production. However, it’s a mistake to think that steps in a process are one- size- fits- all; that a creative process is a static rather than the dynamic list of action steps. 

In general, there are phases of design that will be taken; research, brainstorm, sketch, edit, refine yes are the basics I learned in school. I would say that these work fantastically overall. But we can get stuck when we overly formalize what research means, or what thumbnails are, for example.

I remember the revelation that was part irritation when I considered that at certain times, I would need to change my preferences in Adobe Illustrator, sometimes from stroke for stroke. The temptation to overly mechanize our process  can make creative types become lazy. Perhaps one step two add at the very beginning of the process of is to evaluate whether the process you intend to use is a good fit for the project you are beginning.

 In the thumbnails below, I chose to thumbnail one page of the comic in the middle of a half sheet of paper. This left room around the sketch to write notes and make comments. Having one set of panels on the page surrounded by a lot of white space helps me focus on that page and think very freely. I know sometimes having multiple smaller thumbnails on a single page is helpful to see the flow of pages and panels, but doing them this way shifted my thinking. I don’t know if it’s better or not, but I felt very free in thinking about the story; designing the shots, dialogue, and storytelling simultaneously.


New Jack O page

June 5, 2017

I’ve been retooling Jack’s design to make it easier to draw. This is just a fan page I came up with to play around with a new design in an action scene. I also have tried to develop a uniform style for towns people. Try to keep mostly rounded shapes and using dots for eyes to simplify them. The idea is that by focusing less on details, I can capture more story and action. We’ll see.

Jack-O 5-Pager

January 18, 2017

I finished inking this five page story that I penciled during a road trip last year. There is a lot that I would fix in order to make some of the panels more  clear but for now I’ll call it done. 

It was fun to plot out the story page by page, panel by panel. I liked starting with characters not central to the story. It gave a grounding in human relationship that helped anchor the events of the rest of the story. 

Jack muses whilst pummeling RSR

March 8, 2015

In joyed the juxtaposition of words and image. I drew this panel by panel and left the speech bubbles blank until I had finished the first three panel layouts. Wracking my brain for dialogue I realized I wanted the text to speak to J’s personality rather than snappy repartee. Jack really sees himself as the protector of the city and a student of human and teleological experience. there is nothing ironic about his permanent smile.

Jack-O Short: rough stage

March 1, 2015

I started doodling a story using a Le Pen .8 technical drawing pen, a Uni Super ink and a 30% ink wash in a Pentel Aquabrush.


February 7, 2015

…and the finished inks along with my tools.

Curved composition

February 6, 2015

I thought I’d knock out a “quick” composition on Bristol board. Hadn’t played with Jack and company in a while. I drew jack flying up but liked the idea of a corkscrew evasive maneuver instead so I turned the board and went from there.

Process – Action League Poster

January 5, 2015


This is more of a “layer by layer” rather than a “step by step”. The final file was printed at 12″ x 18″. The initial layout was inspired by the classic JLA #1 cover by Kevin Maguire. I wasn’t brave enough to pull off the white background, however.

I sketched in red pencil on tracing paper and initially inked with Micron pens. Ultimately, I decided to scan and re-ink in Manga Studio 4 Debut, mostly as an exercise to get more familiar with the program. I am not happy with my digital inking overtures, but happy with the program itself (see Jonathan Rector’s generous videos for more tips on digital inking in Manga Studio).

Coloring and effects were added in Photoshop. I had an archived tutorial from some design magazine on creating halftone effects. While incorporating that effect with the characters, I stumbled across the “Circle” Halftone pattern (Filter –> Sketch –> Halftone Pattern) which I used to help separate the figures from the background and direct the viewer to the “Action League” Logo which (along with the individual hero logos) was created in Illustrator.

To give the image the “aged comic” look I followed the excellent tutorial by the fine folks at Comicraft.


Quick story

October 25, 2014

I was talking to T.E., making up a story. I thought it would be fun to thumbnail a sequential version.



Nick Scratch – Character Design

September 15, 2014

I’ve been thinking about Jack-O’s universe a bit. Gradually I’m seeing his world develop and with it, other characters to populate his city. Nick Scratch is a negative version of Jack. I’m not sure yet if it’s an alternate dimension sort of thing, a rival scientists creation, or an experiment gone awry. Nick has five modes that are somewhat analogous to Jack’s abilities. However, one of Nick’s modes is mysterious: he doesn’t seem to use it all that much. That mystery will serve as a plot point.

It was fun coming up with the look and icons for the various modes. Initially, Nick was going to be a reverse jack: same costume, same body etc. but with mean eyes and reversed colorsThen I thought I would make him squat, with a broader chest and “squarer” head. The mode “badge” on the chest bothered me though. So I started thinking about alternate shapes. I wanted Jack’s circles and friendly curves to be contrasted. Sharp points are less friendly but a triangle seemed to extreme. I stumbled on the hexagon shape and started modifying the costume elements to include more points. Even his head fits inside a hexagon. Once that was done I played around with the colors. Brown and yellow seemed to fit (yellow being the opposite of violet on the color wheel).



Here’s a line up of all the characters I’ve populated Jack’s world with so far. I should have done a scale chart sooner; some of my past compositions have odd comparative proportions. Ah well, moving forward…