Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eldritch: Halloween 004

So… it’s ramblin’ time!

It’s come to my attention that some folks don’t know Eldritch is a real word. (To those of you who looked it up, massive, super kudos. Research, ftw!) Definitions vary depending on what dictionary you go to, but the definition my father gave me when I was a little girl was “It means strange, in that elfin, or faerie sort of way.” The word is thought to have been derived from the Middle English word elfriche, which basically meant fairyland. In the comic, (as is seen in Layline) the main characters are generally referred to as ‘eldritch folk,’ as in beings from the fairyland, or magical people. You know, like werewolves and stuff.

With that out of the way, onto the main topic… I’m going to talk about how this comic is made. I don’t think everyone understands what goes into something like this, and some folks act like I’m making this up as I go. Honestly, I think it’s kind of a compliment. Why? Because there’s NO WAY I could keep this all straight if I was just doing it on the fly. I’m just not that smart, people. I mean… I’m not a moron, but I’m not brilliant either. But when the disclaimer says I have a lot scripted and planned… I mean it.

The first stuff done was research and preproduction work. Thankfully, since this basically ties in the stuff that’s been put together over years of development both in and outside of my gallery, a lot of the groundwork for the comic is, well, finished. But I have done, and heck, I still am doing, a ton of research. For instance, a lot of my books look like this: Full of highlighted bits, extra notes with translations or additional information, and tabs that mark important tidbits left out of the index. Some of the stuff I research, develop and plan out will never make it into the comic. But by having the Eldritch characters and universe all set up so I know how it works, it makes it easier for me to work in it. I mean, honestly, Seamus has been in my gallery forever, talking about everything from shapeshifter genetics to discussing varieties of dragon species. Maggie’s design begins at this old piece: : and Faith’s design started out as an old piece of mine, Lil red: Some characters that were eventually dropped, like Bobby made it to very late developmental stages.

In the case of Eldritch, much of what I worked out was initially going to be simply for my own benefit. The comic was going to consist of strips, and be much simpler. However, I realized the real comic resided in what I considered the “Backstory.”

And then the more exciting work began.

The first thing to do after that was make a very rough outline for the entire comic, from beginning to end, and divide it up into manageable chapters. Yes, I do know how this comic will end, and some day, it will be finished. That rough outline incorporates the ‘arc’ of the whole story’s plot. Then, I took the ‘arc’ below that, and wrote a more detailed outline of the chapters in that. From there, I defined and refined it more and more until I had concise, clean (though, admittedly, not spellchecked) guides of each chapter, so that I knew where all the little details were going. That way I can tie one thing into one another… the lack of full moon when she was bitten, how Maggie knew that Faith had been mauled and dumped outside a hospital, even down to little things like how the fennel in chapter one ties into stuff that happens later. After all, things like, say, establishing just how much Seamus rambles and carries on in chapter two makes it so Faith can reflect upon his teachings as the story progresses, rather than have endless scenes of her sitting in the Layline with Dylan’s subconscious version of his coyote self making faces behind Seamus.

However, after the outlines are all set to go, it’s time to script.

Every chapter is scripted before pencil ever hits paper for the cover. I will admit, that I rarely go back and fix spelling and grammatical errors, something I should start doing. Just, when I script, I’m more worried about the content of what is being said, how it’s being said, and what should be going on in the panel it’s being said in. For instance, I’ll include things like whether or not the moon is full, or whether there’s fennel, or a reminder that Todd has a bandage on his left upper leg from the bullet burn from the previous chapter. I usually clean up the typos a little closer to as I’m going, and sometimes, I make mistakes. However, while I will occasionally make minor edits here and there, but I generally leave them untouched as I go. Why? Because I’m not the brightest bulb in the batch and may mess up consistency. Randomly, I suspect the character that has the most edits is probably Todd. I sometimes change where he puts his RRRRrrrrs and such in his speech. In addition… sometimes I have what I want to discuss in the artist’s comments in the actual script.

Once the script is done, it’s time to start layouts. I’m usually a few pages ahead in the general layout of the pages. These are super rough sketches of what is going on, and I’ll draw in the bold borders in a layer overtop it, so when it’s time to start that page, it’ll be ready and waiting for me.

Next, I go to pencil sketching. I’ll print out the layout page, and draw inside the panels. It’s not how the pros do it… but dangit, I can’t afford the super huge super nice paper and ginormous scanner and stuff. So, I make do, and I don’t think I do too terribly. Then, the pencil sketched images are scanned and put into the page layout.

Then comes coloring, and coloring means layers… lots and lots of layers. Most characters require at least two separate layers to render, and when I first started, I was using more like four or more as a minimum. There are usually multiple stages of each character, ranging from block colors to soft shading and reflected light. Then, there are additional things, like the backgrounds, objects, and such. Here’s a little fun tidbit: Dylan’s blue spirit coyote ‘form’ is almost always done in the coloring stage, nearly entirely on the computer, with only very minimal pencil sketching beforehand.

Afterward, for the dialogue, I retype the script in all caps, and copypaste that into the comic page. Behind them, I render the word bubbles or text boxes, and I generally add in sound effects last, before I lower the opacity on them.

Then I save it as a .jpeg, post it, and there we are. After hours of work, and, well, years of planning… there’s the comic page.

Like I said… I’m just not smart enough to keep track of it just in my head. There’s just too much going on. Heck, I probably missed a thing or two in this explanation. But I have to get going on the next page. Aughggghhhghgg, too much to do!

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