the many faces of a soy army

earlier today, while ransacking my hard drive for something to kill time with reference photos, i happened across a few interesting ones i had taken for reference back over the holiday break. except, by 'for reference' i mean 'with the intent of posting them to the blog' and by 'holiday break' i mean 'extended period of time in which i was unemployed that also happened to be around christmas.' careful, there's a lot of subtlety to my writing that you might be missing -- luckily i'm here to point it out for you.

so these pictures that i was just talking about? they're more like process photos. who doesn't love those, right? there's so much more to be learned and appreciated in the creative process of a thing than in the actual completion of that thing -- that's why people get sonograms. from here on, you are more than welcome to imagine these sparse process images as ultrasound composites of your soon-to-be soy army infant. or you can just take it as it is, boring old computer images; it's your loss.

first, i start with a sketch. tell me if i'm going too fast for you.

there is essentially no planning involved prior to making the sketch, unless you count the punchline/concept itself. so i guess it would be more appropriate to say that i start with a loose, incoherent mess of a lame joke (usually something i or someone said in irc-chat) that slowly takes shape as a really vague idea of how the comic will play out on a page. depending on how many panels i've decided to punish my pathetic, masochistic self with laying out and drawing, i'll spend most of the day wandering mentally from work (or something more important i.e. operating heavy machinery, dodging traffic on a bicycle, etc) and getting a feel for the placement. then i come home and jot this mess down. as you will soon see (or have seen if you actually ever read the comic), a lot of the stuff that's in the sketch ends up being in the finished piece, save for a few minor details... not usually how it always goes but this is a rare example of life moving in a favorable direction for me. as an aside, and to be totally serious, it is key to never really get too into detail with the sketch since you're going to be drawing the same damn thing a little bigger in about 5 minutes (sketching times may vary).

after several beers and probably a few hours wasted procrastinating or checking ffffound or bothering the general populace with drunken rambling, somehow this comes out:

normally i like to space my panels out a lot more than this, but time, size, and budget limitations left me with no choice (it was 11x14 bristol and needed to be finished by christmas). i tried to do the best with what i had, and figured that i could get enough contrast with colors that it wouldn't make much of a difference. but for the record, yeah, more room than this. it looks like i tried to pack a metaphorical bus full of geometric shapes. anyway, here, all the characters are placed and the environments are relatively fleshed-out enough so that i know what i'm doing when i get the pen to this son of a bitch. think of it as drawing a road map for yourself; a roadmap to success. another thing to note is that, as further means of subjecting myself to the mortal equivalent of an eternity's worth of punishment in hell, i like to do my own word bubbles. that's not only extra work, it's extra guess work -- you can never really assume how wide or tall your letters are going to be depending on the words (unless you're a fucking taoist master, disciplined in the art of making your letters the same size, always), so you have to take a wild guess and say "i think this bubble should be this big, because it doesn't not obstruct the panel too much yet will be able to accommodate all of my chicken scratches." it is not recommended or necessary to repeat this out loud. drawing lines the approximate length of the text also helps. sometimes. or you could always sit there with a ruler and draw out the guidelines for your text, if you're into that sort of punishment.

after a prolonged, frustrated and quite unspeakable period of time, we are left with this:

and i have little to say about it except that, at this point, it was the morning of christmas eve and, with my hand hurting from drawing so many tiny boxes, i was not looking forward to diving right into coloring. but what is a good comic without knowing that its creator is suffering some sort of constant agonizing pain?

what follows are a few (very few) screencaps of the coloring process and my sweet dock icons:

several things to note here: at this point it was definitely no longer christmas anymore, and my computer was (still is) also having insane cpu problems. i guess two is not several. as for the coloring, i'm not really sure what to say; i tried some new things here like different (and consistent) light sources on some panels, trying to get two colors in where i could... i was reading watchmen at the time. i feel it definitely helped things out a bit as far as dimensionality goes. coloring is probably the part i struggle with the most, mostly because i'm admittedly a perfectionist with my work, even if it means that thing is going to be shrunk dramatically and none of the imperfections will show, ever, to anyone. in terms of process, it's standard coloring in photoshop, separating the black lines onto their own layer and getting that transparency underneath to color without going over any of the lines. you know what i'm talking about.

alas, 2 days past the deadline, we have a finished comic!

it's a lot bigger than the version that got posted to the site (for obvious reasons) just so you can see some more details. was it worth the effort? any practice is good practice, like i always say. like i always say starting right now. again, to be serious, it's the greatest thing i've ever done and will ever do, and i'd do it all again, if given the chance. but since i'm not going to get that chance, i'm going to watch a movie or something instead.

(for those counting, there will be a new comic on friday.)

thanks for reading, you can go now 8)

1 comment:

Lily said...

really neat! I kind of have wondered about where stuff like Soy Army starts/how long stuff takes to do--danke!