Sunday, April 11, 2010

Building a Better Skyline

I should've known that declaring something "final" for me would be premature. I know how I am—if I have to convince myself that a drawing is good enough, then deep down inside, I don't think it's good enough. And then I'm going to keep obsessing about it until it is good enough.

Case in point, my graphic novel skyline. This drawing is important because it's a spread (a letter-size page folded horizontally) and it's the first panel the reader sees (the first image the reader sees is, of course, the cover, but I don't want to work on that until the project's completed.) I want this image to have some delicious detail. I recently read part of Scott McCloud's Making Comics where he discussed details in backgrounds. He said that although it took him one week to draw one spread, the time was worth it because so few artists make that kind of effort.

I agree with this idea in general. So many people are looking to "get over" or do the bare minimum required. Now that this country has entered a new post-heyday era, achieving anything of worth is going to require even more effort than it did between 1950 and 2000. We have to accept that we will have to pay more in order to get the same…or less.

To compete, that means giving more to stand out from those who don't. To me, that means adding more details to my graphic novels and making the art as good as I can make it. I'm confident this approach will work—the reality is that several graphic novels with mediocre art have been optioned for and made into live-action feature films. If I put in more effort, maybe I'll get optioned, too!

Below are different versions of the skyline I've done lately. I'm still trying to find the best method for showing gradated tones. I've tried Photoshop gradations, watercolor pencils and graphite pencil. Maybe Manga Studio has some tones that will work but not look generic? Any suggestions?


Photoshop gradients

All black


Prismacolor cool gray markers


Pencil


Watercolor pencil

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