Learning from J.AKE

So, I finally manged to publish a total of two pages of sequential art – only about 35 years in the making and I’m feeling pretty good about my rate of production! Anyhow, I wanted to say something about the unexpected development of just about every aspect of the process. I guess this is something that must (presumably) happen to every artist when they draw their first few comics – I figured that I’d learn one or two things as I produced the story (I’m talking about J.AKE, The Waves was knocked up entirely traditionally in a couple of hours) but, as it turns out, it feels like I knew jack-s#&t before I started and now I’m at jack+1 – which is still basically bugger all…

It’s not unusual for me to launch into a project (not just art btw, but like, anything) with essentially no planning whatsoever. And, as that method had only let me down entirely on a small, but notable, handful of occasions in the past, I thought it’d do here too. I now realise just how stupid I am.

The list of cock-ups is pretty extensive and I want to talk about them all but this would be a very long and probably intensely boring post if I did so I’ll reign myself in for now. Let’s just say that there are a few things that I’ll be doing differently with the next story which are often about making the final product better but are always about making the process easier.

First up, I’ll be doing more (read ‘some’) storyboarding. Not really thinking about that has caused me more than a few headaches so I’ll definitely be considering the relationship between layout and script more carefully next time.

Next is remembering that each panel isn’t just a piece of artwork but, in the main, has to include space for word balloons. This near catastrophic error was summed up by the face Milmo pulled when I told her that I wasn’t sure I’d left enough space for my letters at the True Believers Summer con earlier this year. “Idiot” it said (in a nice way, natch).

Finally, and this is one for the two pages of J.AKE that are still to be inked – I’ll be doing the inking traditionally. I realised that I wanted to use cross hatching to make the whole thing a bit darker and grittier right at the end of making page 1, and I just couldn’t get it right doing it digitally but had no choice to carry on so I’m ditching the stylus for the pen when I get to that on P3 and 4 (Page 2 is largely already inked – apart from the cross hatching…)

The other thing to say is that it’s taken me an age to finish page 1. Partly due to the random way I’ve been going about the whole project but also because I’m learning with each and every aspect of the process: script, layouts, pencils, inks, colours (kicked those into the long grass in the end ‘cause they just weren’t good enough), using Clip Studio…all of it. Hopefully, I’ll be getting quicker from here on in because I really can’t wait another 35 years for the next page…

Here’s a panel from page 2, just in case you’re interested.

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