Monday, May 11, 2009

The Making of One and Done

I've been interested in making comics for quite some time now probably dating back to my Junior year of undergrad (2005ish). The first comic I ever made was Dingleberry and since I have been hooked. Currently I am in the writing stages of another project which is one of the reasons I have put One and Done on hold. The other reason is that I simply need to write and draw more One and Done's. The reason I have provided this blog article is to show you the amount of time and effort that goes into each one. It is surprisingly time consuming despite the art not being photographic quality.

The One and Done process is not very one and done at all. Instead it is multi-stepped. First I need inspiration or a subject matter. Don't even ask where I get this from. If I see something or think about something that's where it comes from. That is why so many comics have nothing to do with anything or each other. For instance I was thinking of one of my favorite jokes and I thought it would be funny to portray it through the comic medium. That is how I came up with the peanut comic.

Once I figure out what I want my comic to be roughly about I try and think of funny situations. One time I wanted to draw an animal so I thought of an elephant. Then I spent some time trying to figure out what about an elephant is funny. I figured if he acted like a person then even the most meaningless human tasks would be difficult. What would be funnier than this elephant not being able to get into his own house because he can't turn the door knob? I quickly sketched what I wanted to see and wrote down various things I thought he would say.

Obviously that picture is far from the finished product that you have all come to love. I then spend some time putting effort into my characters. In fact even drawing the goofy characters that I put into these comics isn't as simple as it looks. I need to get expressions, body language, movements, attire, etc all correct otherwise it will just look like the elephant above. Since I have no real life models to work with I use the next best thing... Google Image Search!

Using GIS, I can get a whole slew of different perspectives, lighting situations, sizes, etc. It provides everything I need for my characters. To get some insight into how I could go about the drawing I will then search for my model drawings to see how other people do it. I used to think this was cheating, but then I realized that artists study past artists to learn from the masters like Leonardo Da Vinci. Once I figure out what I am going to draw and how I want to draw it I move on to the next part.

Most people will draw everything as one picture. Because I work with Illustrator I chose to draw everything separate. If someone is wearing a hat, I draw the hat then elsewhere on the page I draw the person. This is demonstrated below:

This image is actually 3 pages of drawings. On one page I have the pizza and the box, on another I drew the background, and on the final page I drew the hyena and his jealous friends. I draw this for two reasons. The first reason is because I need to scan the picture in. Usually I do this at Stef's house and so to prevent her from seeing the whole comic I have one comic spread across multiple pages. The other reason is that I have these little pads of paper that I get at my work, and each sheet really only fits a couple of images.

The reason I draw all the images is simple. I work with Illustrator. When I convert the images to vector graphics it is easier to work with each individual component so that I can tweak everything just right. Which is the next phase of this operation. There are several ways I can convert an image to vector graphics. One way is to physically copy every line with the pen tool, which is what I did when I made the elephant. There is also a live trace option which the computer will convert for me. This is not as fool proof as it seems and it requires a lot of customization. The results of this provides me with a little more hand drawn feel (which is what it should be since I actually do hand draw these comics).

Once I get the setting right I need to make sure everything fits in my frame. I made a template that is a 5 by 5" square so all I have to do is load the template and each comic is already made (the frame is). Then I need to rearrange and resize my drawings to fit in the frame. Finally I need to setup the layers so that objects are in front of or behind other objects.

The final step in this whole process is the wording. I usually have a general idea what should be said for each comic, but I could spend at least an hour trying to find the right words. For this comic, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right set of words. After it's all done I save the file for the web, which just means it makes the file size small so that it loads very quickly. Then I put it on this very blog.

The quickest I ever made a comic was 15 minutes from idea to fruition. That comic was the chairs. I needed something to have for the next day and this randomly popped into my head, very luckily. The longest I ever spent is a toss up between two comics, one is the peanut which took me like 8 total hours of drawing (I wasn't so good with the pen tool at the time). The other comic was the cavemen which took me a long time to physically draw before I got something that I liked.

Well I hope you enjoyed this look into the making of One and Done. In the near future I will post some more about the specifics of some of the other comics. Anyways thats all folks.

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