While it may cause die hard comic purists to curse and throw their Series 7 Number 2 inking brushes in outrage: I have to admit this book could never have been created without Photoshop.
Two-ply Bristol board, pencils, lettering guides, inks, and electric erasers? I would still be working on the first chapters.
Most of the drawings in Soyuz Blue were created separately in small sketchbooks, and at various times and locations. My tools of choice are mechanical pencils of H, HB, and B value. I took these disparate pencil drawings, scanned and darkened the line work, then combined them into the collaged images you see in the finished novel. On occasion, I have also included a file or two drawn in Adobe Illustrator.
For the figure drawing, the most demanding part of any comic, I relied on a two-step process. First, I create a gesture and wireframe drawing to get the feel of the figure. Second, I cleaned up this rough drawing by tracing the figure on to 80 pound cold press paper, retaining some gesture lines to make sure the drawing still felt “alive.”
Also handy in Photoshop was the ability to rough things out in a non-repro blue pencil, draw directly over the sketch with a black pencil or pen, scan the image and “erase” the blue using the “black and white” conversion tool.
In this way the novel has been portable. For instance, the fiery explosions at the end of the first volume were done while waiting to comment on a zoning issue at the Arlington County courthouse. I also did some pretty good work waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
This technique heavily influenced the final look of the novel. Scanning and converting pencils result in much more of the artist’s’ “hand” showing. The rougher look contrasts with the slick expectations the reader might have for a science fiction story. Also, while I tried to draw at 120% of the final print size, I occasionally mixed scales of drawings; using bolder rougher renderings for grittier special effects. Having the drawings as layers in Photoshop also allowed for quicker corrections and more spontaneous combining of images.
More coming in February 2016 with the release of Volume Three, the final installment of the three part Soyuz Novel.
See it for yourself! Buy the novel on Amazon: http://bit.ly/soyuzblue