|Digital composite detail with maquettes and perspective grid|
Beginning with Daredevil #9 (and since I purchased my Cintiq) I've made the switch to all-digital layouts. The benefits are numerous, but it all boils down to freedom. While the comic book page has a fixed amount of real estate, the digital canvas is limitless, allowing each panel to be resized, rotated, and reconstituted in any manner. The layout stage has always been a process of trial and error for me — the digital approach simply streamlines it.
|1. Digital Layout 2. Refined Composite (printed out in blue-line)|
A side benefit is the easy inclusion of text. When I send layouts to my collaborators for approval, they get to see a convincing approximation of the final product. Dialogue and captions are now the first thing I add to every page, which saves me from continuously referring to the script. Once approved, I refine the drawing, often adding perspective grids to guide architectural backgrounds.
As our run on Daredevil has progressed, continuity requires a growing library of settings, props, and character designs. If this were a movie, the bulk of this would be done beforehand, but we're a lean operation, so most of this is done on the fly. Pictured above is the Omega Drive, drawn by Marcos Martin, that I use as a model every time I draw it (often just tracing (shhh)). I think I may have been the first to draw it (in issue #7), but he drew the first detailed rendering. A coaster serves as a decent stand-in for size reference, and a rolled-up piece of paper doubles as the billy club (or a bottle of camphor).
Daredevil #9, Page 1. 2011. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.
Digital layouts also make it easy to include Sculptris maquettes — and even reference photos (taken with my iMac's Photobooth) — directly onto the page. If you'll look at the closely at the top image, those are my hands superimposed on Matt Murdock. I don't recommend this if you can't already draw hands, but if you can, it's another way to save time. The only drawback is the unrestrained ability to include more detail than the page warrants. I lost track of how small some of the figures would be on the printed page since Photoshop allows zooming to almost any magnification. This page gets a little too cozy towards the bottom.
As mentioned above, Scuptris maquettes are now an integral part of my workflow. Here's a quick turnaround of my Daredevil model with a dual light source. When pasting into a page (via screen grab), I use a lighting preset that is mostly white, receding to black at the edges. This rendering mimics a clear-line style that can easily be traced.