Saturday, October 28

Colors are Driving Me Nuts

I'm about to explode form working with colors. I can't figure out how the heck they work. I know the theory behind RGB and CMYK but it's a whole different ball park to select colors. It's totally impossible to get balanced colors since the different primary colors have different wave lengths. If it looks good it's ok but I would be a lot more happy with a 10 second decision that looks fine than a 2 hour decision that looks super.

Colors schemas are like musical cords.

Now I have to figure out what the instrument looks like.

Friday, October 27

Analyzing Scenes

I've had a hard time lately working on my script. Mostly because I don't know where to start. For this reason I've been thinking about scenes, mostly while not being able to go to sleep.

I've been looking at a couple of different comic books to see if I could pick something up. Kind of like this...

Amazing Fantasy #15
Page 1
Splash scene, introduction, 1 panel

Page 2
Family, introduction, 2 panels
School, conflict, 6 panels

Pages 3 -4
Infection, enticing moment, 5 panels
Wall crawling, revelation, 8 panels

Pages 4-5
Wrestling, challenge, 10 panels

Page 6
Costume, development, 7 panels

Page 7
TV scene, development, 5 panels

Page 8
Burglar escape, setup, 5 panels
Family, development, 5 panels

Page 9
Fame, development, 5 panels

Pages 9-11
Ben killed , crisis, 4 panels
Warehouse, climax, 12 panels
Bens killer, twist, 5 panels

I honestly don't think I learned that much by doing these. and I'm not even sure that anyone would apply the "scene" metaphor on comic books. It's interesting however to see how effectively Stan Lee and Steve Ditko uses the few pages that makes up this first spider-man issue.

Saturday, October 21

Normalized Sketching

I've been sick for almost a week so I haven't been able to work that much and this being a spare time project I haven't done anything related to Comic Book Innovation. Anyhow... I'm going to take the time to discuss a theory I have about something we'll call normalized sketching.

If you sketch with pen and paper you run the risk of saturating the paper with too much lead. The paper gets messy. Enter the light table. With the use of a light table we can create multiple iterations of the same piece of art until it's tight enough to go to ink. If you don't have access to a light table you can also use something like a kneaded eraser to take enough lead off the paper to keep working on the same paper.

When working with a normalized (digital) piece of paper the lead is never fully saturated. This can be achieved in a number of ways.

My first instinct was to create some kind of brush that adds lead at the tip and removes some lead at a proximity of where you're drawing. This way you're both drawing and erasing at the same time working your way towards tighter and tighter artwork. If you use this with a mask won't erase any areas that you're fully satisfied with.

You can also regulate the amount of lead that you put on the paper. If you divide the distance between the current saturation of the paper and the full saturation of the paper for every pixel you add to your sketch you will never have a fully saturated paper. I'm afraid this will feel like drawing with a failing ball point but until I've actually tried it I won't dismiss it.

I tried to replicate some of this in Photoshop but I didn't manage to. The prototype posted here is the best I could do with this little time. As an added feature the erasing factor is bigger the faster you draw and affects a smaller area if you're drawing slower with added control.

Sunday, October 15

Studio Workspace Redesign

This evening I spent a couple of hours figuring out the look and feel of the studio. I've now got a design that looks more like an actual application. The current arrangement of tools and widgets are much more in tune with how I envision the studio is going to be used.

The theory behind the design is to have the different steps in the creation of a comic book blend into each other and not have any one step overshadow the others.

The round widget at the upper right corner is used for zooming in and rotating the art board. I can admit it looks a little strange with the paper rotated like that. I'm not sure I would be working like that at any time but it's just to illustrate that you can do just that.

Thursday, October 12

Slicing Panels 2

I've now got a panel cutting routine that works pretty well. You can now cut gutters that go through multiple panels so that you can create symmetric pages with 2x3 panels in just three cuts.

You can now move gutters by dragging them but only along the entire width of a cut. If you try and move different gutters you'll notice the difference. I don't know exactly how to explain it but the gutter cutter routine remembers in what order different cuts are laid down and will honor those cuts when you move a gutter.

I'm pretty bored of panels right now so I'll guess I'll go on with something else now for a while.

Oh, I almost forgot. If you move gutters by their intersections you can move multiple gutters at a time, even if they are on the other side of a panel as long as they are currently aligned. As I said, it's hard to explain. Perhaps I should record some tutorials.

Monday, October 9

Slicing Panels

I took some time to give you some of what the panel editor is going to be like. So far I've implemented a method of drawing gutters. Hold down the button and drag it either horizontally or vertically before letting go and you've slice the panel in two.

I haven't yet implemented resizing of panels which will be done by dragging the gutters.

There also needs to be a way to join panels. I'm thinking that if you drag the mouse over a gutter that gutter should simply disappear.

Sunday, October 8

Panels and Gutters

I've figured out now that I most likely will compromise on how panels are drawn. I've been experimenting with two ways of drawing panels and both got their pros and cons.

The first way to draw panels is to simply draw individual rectangles.

The second way to do it is to define the gutters and let the panels be formed in the gutters negative space.

Drawing gutters actually works best and is probably suited for 90% of all panels drawn. Since we need those extra 10% we need a back-up method for overlapping panels and what not.

I've been working with both these methods this weekend but I have nothing to prove that it works. The big problem here is not the math or anything, the main obstacle is creating a intuitive user interface. For this I'm trying to work with mouse gestures.

I'm not sure either if I'm going to allow arbitrary panel shapes or If I should only allow rectangular panels. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 4

Addicted to Diagrams

I'd like to add a couple of diagrams to the Studio.

Timelines are great for larger comic book universe's but might also be nice for any other comic book. Making a plot diagram is mostly just to make sure you don't mix things up too much.

Having a diagram that shows the pace of different parts of the comic book is also something that might be useful. A schedule is unquestionably a good idea. And finally I snuck a couple of elements in there that you could sprinkle over the different diagrams to emphases different aspects of the comic book.

Tuesday, October 3

Revised Script Editor

The script editor is slowly taking shape. I feel the need for a stylesheet because at the moment the script editor doesn't look as fun to use as it should. I need to go for a more traditional comic script look with more space between different elements. I also can't rely as heavily on icons as I'm currently doing.

At the same time I should relax since I'm still only at the part where you pin down the story with plots and scenes and what not. I'm sure a lot of writers skip that step anyway so I'll start to worry when I get to pages and panels. If I decide too early on fancy stuff I'll probably have to change it anyway. Currently functionality is first priority.

Sunday, October 1

The Role of the Editor

These last days I've been thinking about the comic book editors trying to figure out how we can help ease their burden. Since I usually don't waste time I'm going to assume that the editor does some or everything that this article states which in my eyes would be the following:

Product Management
  • Bouncing ideas, story arcs, plot twists and so on
  • Critiquing
  • Maintain continuity
  • Spell-checking
  • Verify dialogue for readability
Project Management
  • Responsibility for the schedule/deadlines
  • Contact with publisher
  • Contact with freelancers
  • Contact with printers
  • Trafficking of resources such as scripts, artboards etc
  • Promote team spirit
Property Management
  • Protecting the francaise
  • Commission freelancers
  • Representing the comic in media
This is probably a quite naive analysis but it's enough for now. Here are some tools that might be useful:

Product Management
  • Commenting tool
  • Spell-checker
  • Timeline tool
Project Management
  • Resource manager
  • Project schedule, Gantt
  • Messaging service
  • File repository, File reservation
  • Version control
Property Management
  • Timeline tool
  • Archives
The question is if we're trying to make the work easier for the editors or if we're trying to eliminate the editor all together. Either way someone has to own the production and call the shots be that the editor, the writer or any one of the artists.