Thursday, 8 April 2010

A Test with Morgana

File under: Experiment.

I am trying to figure out how best to go about drawing the comic. The questions are many: colour or monochrome? Pencil or ink? A4 or A3? It is important to get everything right, so that I don’t run into trouble at some point in the future.

I had more or less decided on inks and monochrome, because black and white is what I think I do best. Colour still gives me trouble. I adore watercolour, but I am not good enough at it to paint a comic. I have seen digital colours that I like, but I don’t have the Photoshop skills to achieve them myself. Nevertheless, in a comic in which the colour of the hero’s hair and, occasionally, the colour of his enemies plays a part in the story, it would be kind of nice to have colours.

Now – one way of colouring that I do feel up to is with colour pencils. I like what I can do with pencils on the pages of my Moleskine notebook, so I sought loose sheets on which I could more or less reproduce that effect. The paper that I think comes closest to Moleskine is Bristol board. So I had a try with that. The result is this:

The original is very crisp and, I think, rather pretty (if I may say so myself). I think it reproduced fairly well… The skin tones are very delicate, and some of their subtlety got lost, as did the blue of her eyes – but all in all I think the scan is not so bad.

In order to judge the effect in a comic page, I will have to actually draw and colour a complete page, I guess. Still, I’d much appreciate your opinion about this little test. What do you think?

I also made a version with texture added in Photoshop. This is not difficult and could easily be done in the comic too, I suspect.

One disadvantage that colour will always have is that it is more expensive to print than black and white. That is in case anyone besides myself would like to hold a paper version of the story :) .

Anyway: I would love to hear your opinion on this – on the feasability of a comic drawn entirely in pencils, a comic coloured with colour pencils etc. Please let me know what you think!


Cecilia said...

I personally prefer black and white comics. I feel it is the *original* way comics should be, in a certain sense, their true form. I always imagine comics in black and white when I invent them in my mind.

That said, the choice between just pencilling and inkin it's up to you. With modern scanners and photoshop retouching you can now print from pencils (a thing that couldn't be done in the past) and some artists have their pages printed from pencils (I'm referring to Samura Hiroaki, to speak about a Japanese author, and to Marco Tagliapietra, an Italian artist who published a graphic novel about Elizabeth Siddal and the Preraphaelite circle a few months ago).
I also believe colorists prefer to add digital colours to pencils than to inks. In fact, at the moment the majority of US superhero comics are coloured scanning the pencils.

Pencils can convey more nuances than a pen does and with the same tool you can do very thin and almost transparent strokes and larger traits, a thing that it is more difficult to reproduce with inks (in facts, trying to ink a pencil can be sometimes frustrating because you lose millimetric details that made the difference - especially near the eyes and mouth).
But a good inking is fabulous to see and has sometimes a peerless power (think of Craig Thompson, for example).

Then, it is also a matter of style. For example, I can hardly do pencils clean enough to be readable, so I'm forced to ink them almost all the times, even if I'm not at all satisfied by my inking skills. One of my studio colleagues says that without inking he does not feel that his pages are "accomplished". But your style is clean enough to admit just pencils.

As for Morgana, I prefer her without the photoshop texture! And I can assure you that colouring 100+ pages means hard and sometimes boring work.

ampersand said...

I completely agree with you about good inks. I love them, and I often think while reading colour comics that they would have looked better without the colours XD. Jeff Smith's Bone, for example, is now being reprinted in colour, whereas the b/w version was absolutely perfect. Of course, the reason why it's being reissued in colour is because colour sells better...

The thing is: for Gawain, I'm not convinced that inks are the best solution. I like inks, so if they felt right, I wouldn't even be asking these questions.

As for the hard and boring work of colouring, I have no trouble believing that it can be a bore. But inking is hard and boring work too! At least, it is to me. It's so bad that I'm wondering whether colouring the whole thing by hand can be worse than inking the whole thing by hand ;). You have seen me ink: I'm not only slow, but I'm also completely anal about it. That, and I invariably lose some of the liveliness of my pencils.

I have such a tough time being an amateur XD. If only I was really good at something, I think choices would be easier to make! But I acn't ink like Craig Thompson, I can't colour like Jérémy Petiqueux, and I certainly can't do both at the same time like Enrico Marini.



Cecilia said...

You know, I don't like Marini as much as you :P I find his comics a bit stiff, even if I recognize his general skills.
By the way, have you read "Murena" by Dufaux and Delaby? Each time I saw it in libraries I was going to buy it, but put it down at the last moment.

You know, it's quite strange for me to hear you talk against your inking, since I sincerely envy your cleaness and precision in details, something I hardly and rarely reach myself. My inks always come out more messier and dirtier than I expected. On the other hand, you master those terrible brush pens and you know how to make the line change thickness, and this add a lot of interest to your inked pieces.

ampersand said...

Eh. I'm just such an "I doubt, therefore I am" person. Sometimes I think that inked pieces are really what I do best, and at others... Wah.

Marini? Stiff? It's true that he's not an animator, but I don't think I agree. Ah well.

As for Murena, I can't keep count of the times I've *nearly* bought it. Now I'm thinking of getting the next intégrale, because 1) the second series is coloured by Jérémy Petiqueux and 2) Murena ends up in Gaul somehow. The reason why I've never bought any Murena so far is Jean Dufaux. I'm not too fond of him. It's always the same mixture of sex, perversity, magic and violence. Okay, it's about Nero, but a less sensationalist writer would have tempted me more...