If you’ve followed my comic series, Green Corner, for a while; you’ve probably noticed that I tend to make adjustments from the pencil stage to the final digital image. In the earlier pages, I often corrected proportions as well as relative sizes of characters and objects.
Now, I make far less adjustments of that kind and find it easier to double-check things while hand-rendering. I check proportions a few times while I draw by hand, to minimize the need for digital corrections.
I know how to draw in perspective, and what looks correct. But I sometimes have a little trouble with things like the sales desk in the bookshop. In my head, I know the size that I want for the desk, but I’m not actually using reference.
Professionally, I use more reference to ensure correctness; but Green Corner is a personal project (and a learning project) that I have the option of editing at my discretion. For the most part, I don’t use reference for Green Corner. The problem with this is that it can be difficult to translate what I see in my head to what I draw on a page; which I think happens to a lot of artists.
I was recently working on page twenty of Green Corner; one of the more complex and detailed pages.
I wanted both Zalanda and Alshina to be mostly visible in the first panel, but I placed them a little too close to each other and made them a little too large in my pencil to allow the desk to fit naturally between them. Initially, I wasn’t sure about including the desk, but I added it and other scenic elements to the page for interest. I adjusted the desk as well as the size of the characters in that panel for the digital version.
The desk is seen at various angles and in relation to various characters many times in the first twenty pages of Green Corner. I often find myself adjusting the perspective of the desk, to ensure that it’s correctly rendered when it appears. If the angle appears too steep, it can make an entire page look awkward.
I prefer to digitally render the more geometric scenic elements in Green Corner, regardless of whether or not I sketch them out by hand. I can fix things when I re-work pages digitally, but when making detailed pencils, I want to limit later adjustments.
I think part of the problem I have with rendering things like the desk in pencil is that I’m used to drawing at a single size. When I draw characters of different heights, I often reduce a sketch with a photocopy and re-draw to fix relative size. This allows me to maintain detail and consistency at smaller sizes. I may re-draw characters multiple times, but I don’t do the same with scenic elements.
When creating digital pages, I find it very useful to layer items and selectively hide objects if I need to work on something unobstructed. It’s more involved to edit things in pencil. I find it awkward to check perspective of the desk by hand because it’s usually obstructed.
I don’t think I will continue making completed, hand-assembled pencils for Green Corner. I think it would be better to draw items separately by hand and then adjust and assemble in Photoshop as necessary. I would still have a hand-rendered foundation, but there would be less re-drawing. I think this would work better for the way that I tend to complete the pages, as I often draw portions not visible within the confines of a page to ensure things are rendered correctly.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop drawing things by hand, but I like to streamline my process when possible. Illustrating a comic series is a tricky thing, but it has taught me a lot so far and always encourages me to grow as an illustrator.