Ship’s Blog

Drawing

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Electronic collage for graphic novel.

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.

Blue pencils can be removed from the final Photoshop scan by selecting the blue filter in the convert to Black and White setting.

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.

Smoke, ice, and other elements are added from other drawings.

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

Photonic mouse haunts artist’s dreams (artistic influences, part 1)

There is a saying that children are like wet cement, whatever they run into leaves an impression.

My first artistic memory dates from when I was four years old. I was riding in a car through Baltimore on a November night in the 1960s. From the highway there was a clear view of a drive-in theater. On the screen, four stories high, was a Mickey Mouse cartoon. That giant, powerful, graphic rodent still haunts me. Here was a two dimensional being made of light, but as real as the three dimensional brick and morter city around it.

Art and graphics, especially in popular culture, were a huge influence. My Mother has always been a voracious reader, and in the 50s and 60s she was a fan of science fiction. That was the age of the 25 cent paperback book. There was a treasure trove of colorful tales lying about the house, each with a bold illustrated cover.

I was also born on the cusp of when small children in America stopped playing  “Cowboys,” and began to playing “Spaceman.” Black and white TV was still rerunning with the Cisco Kid and Roy Rogers; while the nightly news featured the real life exploits of America’s Mercury and Gemini Astronauts.

Traces of these themes show up now and then in my fine art. Everything shows up in my graphic novel.

Read it for yourself! Buy the novel on Amazon: http://bit.ly/soyuzblue