We’re all about obsessive phases here at Soule Designs… and by we I mean me. You’ve borne witness to the great ZBrush phase of 2013 and the equally epic Peck, Peck, Peck phase of 2014-2015; now I’m all about comic book creation. As my last post may have spoiled (by showing the page below sitting on my drafting table), I have indeed been working on more comic stuff! Namely trying out a bunch of different tools of the comic trade to get a feel for a traditional combined with digital workflow.   

While I intended to have a Farmer Bob short as the first project I tackled, I wound up going with an eight page script Laura worked on a few months back called Red Wolf Night. It is a terror tale in the vain of the Creepy and Eerie magazines of the 1960s. The full script can be read here, it was formatted using a nice template from Fred VanLente.

Here is my test page, which is the first comic page I’ve done using all traditional methods (first to be comic book size at least). This sheet of bristol was cut incorrectly so I used it as… MY GUINEA PIG! It is 17” tall by about 10 1/2” wide - about 1/2” narrower than it should be but… meh. I used non-photo blue pencils for most of the pencil work and supplemented with some blue mechanical pencil lead. For inking I used a Hunt 102 quill, a G-pen nib, and Alvin Penstix markers for the panel borders and some of the word balloons (more on that later).

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To toss out all that blue and leave naught but inky blackness, I followed a very simple tutorial from Deviant Art here. From there I slugged in some copy just because… why not? Don’t get too caught up reading these panels, while they are from Red Wolf Night they are randomly pieced together here just to try out different panel layouts so there is no continuity… unless you read it and see some, in which case you’ve seen too much!

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Swinging back to the Alvin Penstix, my goal was to wash this page with ink as I’m going for that old school pulp horror look. However, I found that ink wash and Alvin Penstix do not play nice… my Penstix are not waterproof so the lines bleed :’( Below you can see a raw washed panel and the same panel de-blued. If you look close, you’ll note the panel borders bleeding in spots where the wash got too close. This means I either need to use india ink for panel borders or get new penstix of the permanent variety which are said to be waterproof.

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Everytime a panel border bleeds a dove cries?

The test page turned out to be a great exercise and led me to a few revelations. First off, real inking takes a fair amount of time just to allow for drying. I smudged many a pen stroke while rabidly rotating the page to get a better angle. Second, as the great Penstix debacle pointed out, always test media for water-fastness (is that a word) prior to working on a real page. Third, as you may have noticed by some really scrunched/tiny copy in my black & white version above, I need to find a better way to layout word balloons. This is something I’m still trying to work out - maybe just hint at balloon location on the physical page and then add in afterwards in Photoshop? Only time will tell.

Ok, that’s the end of my comic rambling for today. Stay tuned for the full version of Red Wolf Night coming soon… I’ll leave you with my test page thumbnails and a collage of random concept drawings…

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