Page 3: Lessons learned so far.
Not even finished with the third page but had enough stuff to show and talk about process, so here goes! Growing up my least favorite things to draw were houses, cars, and trees. Today I still hate them and, more or less, they are all present here.The pressure is high with this drawing as it not only tackles my creative fears, but it is the first establishing shot of the series, so I wanted it to be kind of ‘grand’ and, well, drawn well. Even with all the ‘preproduction’ exploring I did over the course of the past year, I still hadn’t really settled on a “final look” for environments, and therefore not a solid process. Working on this has been experimental in a lot of ways.
First I want to thank Paul Wolfer for his suggestion to give the house a basement. With his architecture background, he saw many mistakes I didn’t address, but the lack of a concrete foundation or basement was unforgivable. I think it helped on all accounts.
-Starting with a rough, grey underpainting to layout the environment. This worked well for me because it’s the only way I can figure out any kind of perspective. It let me tackle the linework in a confident way, and let me explore and reiterate with some mild grace.
-Going over the underpainting with Flash brush tool for linework. Though tedious and Flash is pretty not amazing for linework, it does a lot of unexpected, fun things with lines, and it would match the line look for the animated things, (done in flash), so I stayed with it for steady BG’s. This way, when the water is animated, it will be relatively seamless with the BG image in terms of line quality.
-Using 3D Melony to plan out character staging/perspective/posing. This is the first time I’ve shown her I think. I’m a little embarrassed because she is a rush job and only meant to plan out drawing. She is pretty ugly up close, with her model, rig, and deformations all being thrown together. Still, she gets the job done. It will help me keep her on model as well as push camera angles to extremes. Here, I brought in the background rough I was working on into Maya, and layered Melony over top. Then I brought that image back into Flash to more or less trace, but look for opportunities to make her better with every line, of course. We are really far away in this shot, so much detail isn’t needed. She will be slightly animated as well.
-Greyscale value painting overtop the linework to make final coloring easy. So at the top you’ll see a refined greyscale value painting that I think looks pretty good. The hope was I could use the method of dropping the colors in under the value layer to speed things up. Well, I completely forgot how much I hate this method, as you have to do a lot of guessing as to what the colors are actually going to be like once you get photoshops math done (whether it be a multiply layer, color layer, or so on)…completely unintuitive, and is too easy to get muddy or unrealistic lighting combinations. So I’m scrapping the value painting per se — I’ll be referencing it a lot as I do my color redo. It was a helpful exercise. It helped me bring focus through value in a very dense image, so I’m going to try to keep that. But I won’t be trying this method again as it is doubling up on work.
Hope you guys found some of this interesting and as always hit me up with questions. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of “I don’t agree with your decision to keep posting progress/individual pages of the comic”, which I totally get. My philosophy here is to build interest in the project as well as offer a resource for budding artists/writers trying to figure stuff out like myself. It’s my feeling that this kind of “overexposure” (put negatively) or “behind the scenes look” (put postively) treatment will become more and more common in all forms of entertainment — especially the indie’s trying to get their tiny project off the ground. If it annoys you, you may not want to follow this blog and wait for merrymelony.com to arrive…which will be a long time from now, just sayin’. :)
Rock on guys!