Process: That one time I made a comic (Toronto Comics Anthology vol. 2)

So in case you were wondering where I was from October 2014 to April 2015, I was sitting in my dinky student room, painting comic book panels. Painting them. You know, the good ol' fashion way, one panel at a time. While this took me f***ing forever to do, and it completely rocked my social life, I'm really proud with how it came out.

Painting used for the cover page of the comic.

Toronto Comics (FB) is a collection of talented writers and artists from the GTA; they get together every year or so and put out an awesome anthology of comics. I had the pleasure of working on a comic called We Were Here (<read the entire thing here if you'd like) for their second official volume. It was written by the very talented Aaron Feldman.

Alright so, here's how the f*** I did it.

1. Brainstorming and thumbnails: Because this was my first time doing a comic, I really had no idea what I was doing at this stage. I decided to approach it like every other illustration, and go super interpretive with my concepts. I wanted to leave a lot of room for happy accidents once it came time to paint the panels, so the brainstorming was very rough. More than anything, I wanted an unconventional look to the comic, so I didn't restrict myself to panel sizes or conventions.

As you can probably tell, I used 2 different types of papers for the brainstorming. These are what I would call the "final" roughs. I actually ended up doing roughs on many different types of papers to force myself to think outside of the box. I knew I'd be using toned paper for the final paintings, so I decided to try toned (tan) paper for the brainstorming as well. It shifted my thinking - from my usual line based illustrations - to working tonally.

As you can probably tell, I used 2 different types of papers for the brainstorming. These are what I would call the "final" roughs. I actually ended up doing roughs on many different types of papers to force myself to think outside of the box. I knew I'd be using toned paper for the final paintings, so I decided to try toned (tan) paper for the brainstorming as well. It shifted my thinking - from my usual line based illustrations - to working tonally.

2. Painting the panels: So at this point I had just come off of reading "Arkham Asylum", the Batman graphic novel illustrated by Dave McKean, and I was drooling over the style and direction. I was completely in love, and thought THIS is how comics should look. Although I knew painting an entire comic would be hard, I didn't know how hard. In any case, I decided to bust out my acrylic paints and (using only black and white) illustrate the entire thing this way. I painted everything on illustration board, which I gesso'd and toned down with grey paint.

It was so tempting to use markers and ink to darken areas (as is my nature). So I decided to make 3 rules for myself. 1. Only black and white acrylic paint. 2. Ok, fine, you can use white chalk pencils once the painting is done. 3. No crying, you baby.

It was so tempting to use markers and ink to darken areas (as is my nature). So I decided to make 3 rules for myself. 1. Only black and white acrylic paint. 2. Ok, fine, you can use white chalk pencils once the painting is done. 3. No crying, you baby.

For references, I took photos of downtown Toronto, as well as images from a photoshoot (for the figures and characters). The male character is my brother, and the female character was his girlfriend at the time. Big props to them for putting up with my photo direction.

What's not shown here is the extensive digital editing I did in Photoshop post-scanning. It was mainly just to balance the values, using the levels and curves tools in Photoshop. I fixed some wonky things too, such as faces, shadows, and some painting flubs.

3. Ink'd Graffiti: Once the layouts were fairly organized in MangaStudio (the program I used to do all of the speech bubbles), I transferred the files back into Photoshop for what I like to call flair. I wanted the pages to feel like someone took a white or black sharpie, and just went to town graffiti-style all over the artwork. Basically I just took some tracing paper, put it over my comps, and inked until it felt fairly natural (or unnatural).

I decided to use this same technique for the cover page as well. Below you can see how it turned out. Basically I just used the multiple or screen layer tools to place the ink work over the paintings. 

I decided to use this same technique for the cover page as well. Below you can see how it turned out. Basically I just used the multiple or screen layer tools to place the ink work over the paintings. 

4. Finalizing: the final touch-ups were all done once the ink was overlayed, and the typeset was done in Mangastudio (as mentioned above). Basic touch-ups were things like darkening lines, toning certain areas, and adjusting the pages for an appropriate bleed. Because my compositions were so assymetrical, I had some problems avoiding the gutting (for printing), as a lot of artwork bled into the middle of the book.

The title and the credits were done with ink and overlayed in photoshop. Same goes for the multiple skylines and floor textures.

The title and the credits were done with ink and overlayed in photoshop. Same goes for the multiple skylines and floor textures.

Thanks, more soon!