desert Rose The process book By Hannah Puente
This is the foreword to a book on penciling comics, that I found very appropriate for my project. “So you think you want to be a comic book artist? You’ve been reading comics for years and want to draw your own stories? Congratulations! You’ve just chosen one of the most difficult art forms available.” -Claus Janson My proposal for this independent study was to create a comic book, what I discovered right away, was that the comic book I was envisioning and hoping to produce, is quite ambitious. Not only is my plot epic, but my desire to draw and digitally paint, in detail every scene, is something usually done by a team of people. With this understanding, my vision went unchanged, however my approach to this undertaking would have to be one of patience, practicality, and endurance. I began working with my story concept the summer of 2010. (some hand written notes to the right) I worked with a friend, who is a critical studies and screenwriting major, on my idea. We began to develop, what we believe to be an original story, with a dense background, strong character development, and the ability to grow and form other stories- or rather multiple comic books. So when I began the semester I had my grand story, but I had to figure out what the very first comic book would be; how it would set up my world and characters. Once I got that plot figured out, I began to research.
There are many aspects to consider when creating a comic book- different styles, techniques, layouts, transitions, pacing, and dialogue. I had already been reading comic books and graphic novels for years, and had an idea of styles that I liked, but I am also a painter, and study cinema, so those are qualities I wanted infuse into my work as well. Over the years I had been building up a collection of books on drawing comics, creating fantasy art, digital painting, figure study, anatomy, animation, and of course comic books and graphic novels I like. I began going back through all these books and pulling out images and notes that I found inspiring and useful. I also went to the library to dig out books on anything about developing comics, or that worked with my theme of scifi. I had also been saving images from the internet into various folders based on categories: environment, the heroine, snakewomen hybrids, animals, plants, sci-fi, cool digital paintings, and spaceships. This first selection of research goes through comic books and digital art that I found inspiring through their style, rendering, color palette, and movement.
This selection of research shows some of the environements and vegetation I wanted to reference in my alien-forest planet, the setting of the first comic book. I took images off the internet as well as took photos when I was home in Northern California, visted Huntington gardens in Pasadena, and went to the Monterey Bay aquarium. There is also digital paintings and scenes from Miyazakiâ€™s Princess Mononoke which is greatly influential to my work.
With a good amount of research done, I could then begin on the storyboard. I had my very particular vision just wanting to spill out on the pages, but after a few very time consuming scenes, I knew I had to go back to my initial approach- patience, practicality, and endurance. I needed patience in the sense that I needed to go through all the steps to develop my scenes, not to try to make some perfect, finished scene right off the bat. This meant many redraws, looking at various angles, compositions, lighting, colors, focal points. Shown in this next section, are my rough storyboards, developments of key scenes, and redraws of compositions.
Simultaneously, I was trying to develop my main character. I had to get into her head; what is she like, what does she wear, how does she move, how would these things create her persona to make her the dynamic, deep character I envision her as. A graphic series that I absolutely love, perhaps my favorite story-wise, due to its attention to character development, personality, and actions ingrained with the story, is the Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I knew I wanted to have my reader feel what my character is feeling. I think here, my desire to infuse cinema comes in, because I feel I am watching a film of the images when I read the Sandman, which is a quality I want for my work. I also had the issue of her being part snake-alien human which makes her who she is. This slection of reasearch begins with looking into the mythology of the snake goddess, who appeared in cultures all over the world. I wanted to see what form she took in these different stories and beliefs. Next I looked at many hybrid female characters, specifically Medusa. I also looked at hybrid female comic book characters, such as Mystique from Xmen, She-Hulk, Female Green Lantern, Poison Ivy, and Hell girl- the feminine, but deadly, animalistic representations. I am a huge fan of Frank Frazettaâ€™s work, not only the painterly style, but the strong, powerful, often savage women he creates. Lastly I looked at various golden-age- to modern day heroine in comic books, specifically fantasy and sci-fi characters to draw elements from.
I had begun doing some sketches of my own for my character, some explorations into the style I wanted her to be in. In these sketches I was battleing with the level of humanity and alien play. I still have some development to do in her final look, however I think she is beginning to reveal herself more and more. I want to make her a mixture of both futuritstic and barbaric, the civilized versus the savage- like her personality. When she is comfortable and relaxed she will appear more human, but when she is angry, defensive, or fighting, she will grow scales and appear more serpent like.
With the considerations of character and my storyboard reference scenes in mind, I began to draw studies, do thumbnail paintings, color explorations, and work with various materials, on some of the key scenes. Once I finally developed a look that achieved my vision, but was practical in the sense that I could draw and color the scenes without taking days to do so, I moved to the next stage of production. This selection shows some of the color explorations and digital paintings that developed a look I was going for.
Twining Tree, mixed media digital painting
Forest Digital Painting
So again my grand vision and desire for subtle details was my greatest foe- patience, practicality, and endurance I repeated to myself. Now was the endurance, I knew at this point that this was a long haul project, a project that I had begun and needed to stay dedicated to if I wanted my vision to come to life. So here I am, this semesterâ€™s work was not what I had imagined it to be; I wanted to have produced a finished first issue, but learned quickly this would not be the case. If I truly wanted this comic book to be all that I believe it has the potential to be, I needed to do it the right way, taking the time to fully develop it. I do not have a finished first issue, but I have so much more. I have a solid base which is extremely important for any project; this process book, and my research, are the sustaining forces keeping my vision alive. I was also taking an animation class, a design course, and a class on folklore this last semester which greatly added to the development of my story and the art. With school ending, I will be able to dedicate more time to my production and will most definitely get the first issue completed. I see this project as a life long endeavor and I look forward to what I can create and sharing it with the world.