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Hey there, comic lovers! My name is Derrick Fish. I'm the creator and artist of the indie comic, "The Wellkeeper!" An exciting fantasy/adventure comic centering on a young woman named Zoe who inherits a power that connects her to the life energy of the planet who is stalked by dark forces seeking to destroy her for her gifts!
With that out of the way, we can get on with it! I've shown you all before the steps behind inking a panel for issue #8, but things have changed a little and I've tweaked my techniques a little. As such, I felt like it was a good time to do a NEW blog post detailing just how I go about drawing a splash page for the upcoming 12th and final issue of "The Wellkeeper!"
It was a tricky challenge to pick a page that was generally spoiler free, so I picked the following splash page showing the FINAL stand-off between the villainous Withering Man and our hero, Zoe! (Spoiler... the hero and villain fight in the last issue. lol)
This layout was initially thought up as a potential cover for this issue, but I decided it worked better inside the book as a cool moment when our two characters face off for the last time. As always, I rough out my pencils VERY loosely with a Staedtler Non-Photo Blue pencil.
Yes, this is how loose I pencil when I'm inking myself. If I had to pencil tightly and then ink as tightly I think I would stab myself in the eyes.
Now, while I still occasionally use Faber-Castell PITT pens, I have largely transitioned over to the Pentel Stylo Sketch Penn! I'm in love with this pen. It's tip is designed to replicate the functionality of a traditional crow quill dip pen and offers AMAZING line weight variation without any of the awkwardness of the metal occasionally scraping across the paper that I've had with the crow quill tips, in part because of my being left handed. Plus, it's super easy to take anywhere so I can INK anywhere!
As Zoe is the primary foreground element, I ink in her primary outlines first, leaving the shadowing for later. To help POP foreground elements from the middleground and background, I often will give them a bolder outline to help separate the elements. For this, I use a fairly basic 06 Sakura Pigma Sensi marker.
Now, because this splash page is designed to have a border and not be a full bleed page and certain elements of the Withering Man will pop OUT of that border, I switch back to the Style to ink those elements.
From here, I go back to my trusty Faber-Castell PITT Brush pen to do the panel border. All the panel borders in the Wellkeeper are inked freehand with a purposely wobbly line.
After inking in the wobbly panel border, I switch back to my Stylo to ink the remainder of the outlines for the character and background elements. In this case, the rocks they're standing on. Basically, anything that will require black spotting. (As such, I tend to ink the clouds in the sky after everything else.)
From here, I pull out my OTHER favorite inking tool: The Pentel Pocket Brush Pen! This beauty is like inking CRACK for me. It gives me beautiful, juicy lines and blacks that can be as fine as a hair or as chunky as any regular brush. It's flippin' MAGIC, peeps!
Once all the solid blacks are laid down and I have the light and shadows all sussed out on the page, It's back to the trusty Stylo to add in my rendering to soften out the shadows and textures. Another reason that I love this pen, is that just like a real crow quill pen, if you turn the tip onto it's side, you get wonderfully fine lines for cross hatching. Then you can use the tip regularly for juicy feathering just by turning the pen slightly in your hand. GLEE!!!
Now that the remaining, fine line rendering is complete, I switch over to my LAST pen to add white lines, "Halo" lines separating elements or just additional rendering over the solid black areas. For this I use a Sakura Gelly Roll White pen.
From there, it's just a matter of scanning the art in and adding letters and the page is done. Hope you dug this little step-by-step demo of the making of a splash page. Of course, if you want to see how the battle ENDS, you'll have to get your hands on The Wellkeeper #12, premiering at the 2015 Orlando Megacon!
See you in the funny pages!
I recently created a hybrid watercolor/ink piece of art for "The Wellkeeper". This art is for use both as a poster for promotional purposes, and eventually for the cover art of the omnibus collection that will contain all 12 issues of the series.
As I was drawing this piece, I took pictures throughout the process and thought it would be fun to share that process again with you all. Hope you enjoy.
All good pieces of art (and most crappy ones too) begin with a couple of rough sketches in a note pad. This piece is no different.
The final design used elements from a few of these combined.
In this case, VERY rough, blue line pencils. I prefer working in light blue, non-repro blue pencils to lay down my roughs even when I will have to erase them. The light color and less smeary line is easier to work with for me. Partly because of the next steps. Please forgive the TERRIBLE photo as the faint blue lines are very hard to capture well.
Yes, I ink from pencils this loose.
For colored pieces like this that will be colored with some traditional medium like watercolors, I like to use PRISMACOLOR colored ink pens. They allow me to play to my strengths (rendering and cross hatching) without overwhelming the colors. I discovered a while ago, that once you ink with these, the pencil lines below the inks won't erase. It's another reason why I use the light blue pencils.
At this stage, I ink only the external lines leaving rendering and details for later.
Once the PRISMACOLOR lines are down, I use Faber Castell Sepia PITT pens to lay in most of the rendering that doesn't require a specific color. (Like Zoe's Magenta hair.)
And the green for the grass, etc.
Does this really NEED an explanation. Using both the sepia pens and the PRISMACOLOR pens, I finish up all the details that require inking prior to moving on to paint.
Now, for the watercolors, I actually prefer working with the cheep stuff. lol. I have a set of Prang Oval-16 that I got at Michael's. I learned using Doc Martin's dyes, but those are a little closely, and as this was largely experimental for me, I decided to start simple and work my way up to the fancy tools.
I layered about 4 different colors for Zoe's hair.
Watercolors can be a pain because you can only build color UP. You can't paint LIGHT colors in watercolor over dark colors easily, so you need to plan out your values and try and keep everything clear, a concept I'm still struggling with.
The finished watercolors, lacking necessary depth.
Once the watercolors are complete, I pull out my handy dandy PRISMACOLOR colored pencils and white gel pen. I touch up areas of fine detail and rendering and use the WHITE to render in the blast lines radiating from Zoe's hands that help push the Withering Man's skull-mask and Grandma Luludja into the background more.
A Faber Castell white opaque brush pen also helps me rim light Zoe's hair and the Raccoons, Lily and Sebastian.
The white really helps to define the shapes better.
Like most artists, I'm a glutton for punishment and never feel like I've done the best that I can do. As such, this painting was given a SLIGHT touch up in Adobe Photoshop for the final poster/cover.
I blended in some of the colors on Zoe's face and arm better, added a harder drop shadow on the Raccoons to pop them out more and added some colored highlights to them. I manipulated the field of color behind Zoe to plug blues and purples from behind Granny and the Withering Man to separate her a little more and added some hot spots to the white light around her hands.
A few tweaks here and there helped to bring it closer to what I imagined in my head.
That all said, I hope you dig it!
Hey there, folks. Derrick Fish here, creator and artist of the most awesome indie comic you may have never heard of, "The Wellkeeper".
"The Wellkeeper" is the story of a young woman named Zoe Kostopolis who has inherited a power passed down from mother to daughter across the generations connecting her to the life energy of the planet. This connection allows her to communicate with and control various forces of nature, plant life and animals. The problem for ZOE is that this power skipped a generation as her grandmother had a son, not a daughter and so she's getting these gifts without knowing why or where they come from. And now Zoe is on the run, trying to understand her new gifts, while being per sued by a dark figure called The Withering Man that is trying to destroy her to end the lineage of Wellkeepers.
Okay, now that you have the convention blurb, we can get to the meat of all this. What I'm doing here is taking you all inside the process of making a page of an issue of "The Wellkeeper". In this case, specifically page 9 of issue #8. Now, super minor spoiler alert for those who haven't read issue #7 but who MIGHT want to have a little context for the page you're about to see constructed: The Withering Man and his Thrall (A demonically controlled dog, burning with black fire) have attacked Zoe in her grandmother's home. Zoe has used her gifts to momentarily hold BOTH threats at bay by growing roots and vines around them. That's where we come in to page 9.
Now, I'm a fairly casual artist. I tend to do most of my pages in my big ol' comfy chair on a repurposed computer lapboard. I HAVE a work desk, but I prefer to sit with my lady and watch movies while I work on Wellkeeper pages.
Yes, I am wearing pants here. Fear not.
ANYwho, I write out issues VERY loosely as I work. Generally, when I get started on a new issue, I rough out 22 to 24 small boxes on a sheet of paper in my sketchbook. Each box rarely any larger then an inch or so. With those boxes, and a rough idea of what all needs to happen in this issue, I begin roughing out the scenes. SUPER loose thumbnails with hand written notes for dialogue that, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to reinterpret correctly when I get to the actual page.
Seriously, you try figuring out these scribbles!
Now, in this case, page 9 had to be re-laid out as I tend to rework pages as I draw them, often expanding on storytelling or compressing elements as I work. It's a fluid process to make each issue and I prefer working in such a way that allows me as much flexibility as possible to keep the process FUN.
So, with that in mind, I needed to draw a NEW thumbnail for this page before beginning.
Yes, I somehow know what these seemingly random lines mean.
Because, at this point in the story, the house is on fire and crumbling apart AND Zoe is being attacked from multiple angles, I wanted the storytelling to be VERY claustrophobic. I've already given lots of establishing shots and detailed backgrounds on past pages and wanted this sequence of events to be shown with tighter "camera work". A focus on Zoe's face and sense of panic.
From here, I assemble my art supplies:
• Staedtler Non-Photo Blue pencils
• Faber-Castell PITT pens, sizes XS, S, F M and a Faber-Castell brush pen.
• Pentel refillable brush pen (Lordy, I love this thing!)
• Pentel Sunburst Med. Gel pen. White
• 18" Clear plastic ruler with a few pennies taped to the bottom to keep the edge from smearing ink
• CANSON Comic Book Art Board, pre-lined
If this photo wasn't so blurry, you might notice that
this lapboard is totally covering up my crotch.
Using my handy dandy blue pencil and ruler, I line out my panel borders and begin roughing out the figures for the page. For the most part, my pencils are NOTORIOUSLY loose and light. I have nobody that has to approve my pencils before I ink but myself and I like to do most of the work in the inks. I think I'd go insane if I had to do full, finished pencils and THEN ink over it. I don't know how most comic artists do it.
Now, this page features the Withering Man's THRALL. The Thrall is a mind controlled dog introduced earlier in the series. Since this dog is specifically a Rottweiler, it helps to use actual reference on occasion to keep it from looking like some generic, snout faced thing.
Sorry this picture looks like poop, but as you can see,
the camera phone I used for the REST of these pictures
Is busy being useful.
Aaaaaan, the rest of the page...
SERIOUSLY darkened in photoshop so you can actually SEE the pencils.
As you might be able to tell, I've tweaked some of the storytelling slightly in the pencils. In the thumbnail, Zoe was looking away in panel 4. As I was drawing, I decided to have her gaze switch to a more fearful, straight on expression.
From here, I pull out the Faber-Castell brush pen. In a technique I unintentionally stole from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, I ink my panel borders freehand with the brush pen to give them a looser, more energetic feeling. (Kevin forgave me on Facebook, so I feel better. lol)
I like the more organic feeling these rough borders give the page.
Now, in part because I'm left handed, I ink from the bottom right up. As such, to avoid smearing, I always keep a paper towel beneath my inking hand. I also usually ink each panel completely before moving up. Some artists ink all the faces and figures first, or work with each tool first across the page. Personally, I like finishing each panel before moving on to the next one. As such, this whole thing will focus on the creation of this bottom panel from here on out.
Working from thick to thin, I use the Faber-Castell "M" point first. This is a 0.7 mm. pen tip that gives nicely with a little pressure that I usually use for the thickest line work. In this panel, that is reserved for the swooshing lines of Zoe's magical energy.
Behold the swirly, adorable might!
I've tried using french curves for her swirly magic, but prefer doing them freehand. Like everything else, I feel that it helps the pages feel more organic and hand drawn.
From here, I use the Faber-Casell "F" point pen. It's a o.5 mm. tip that I generally use for most of the figure work and overall outlines in any given page.
Insert "You've Got the TOUCH!" here.
I tend to keep smaller facial features and eyes to smaller pen tips. As this is a fairly large panel, I inked MOST of Zoe's face with the "F" pen tip.
From here, I can begin spotting blacks. Zoe's shirt, the Thrall's burnt skin texture and Zoe's hair rendering are all layer in with my beloved Pentel Brush Pen. Have I mentioned how much I adore this pen. It's AWESOME. I can get the finest, most fluid brush lines and the fattest, scruffiest dry brush effects and I haven't ever had to clean the tip once. It's a miracle tool. I heart it.
Look at those juicy black lines.
Before I found that brush pen, I used to render Zoe's seriously long, dark hair with a pen nib and it took FOREVER. Thankfully, now I can save that time for rendering OTHER things, like the textures of the vines and roots wrapping around the Thrall here. I can also feather out the shadowing on Zoe's shirt and add details to her earrings. For this, I use the Faber-Castel "S" tip.
The rendering with the "S" tip helps the image have more volume.
The "S" tip is where I do the BULK of my rendering. It's fine enough to cover most of the work needed on the page to give it the sense of detail I want. Because the Wellkeeper is a black and white comic book, I made a conscious decision early on to put as much effort as I could into rendering the book as richly as is possible to pick up the slack. Texture, volume and lighting go a long way towards selling the illusion of reality in such a fantastical story and the amount of rendering I use helps sell that reality, in my opinion.
Now, from here I use the "XS" tip for the FINEST rendering lines: the shadowing on Zoe's face. Now, it's often said that every line you add to a face adds AGE to that face, and that's the truth. That often makes rendering shadows a VERY difficult gambit. And in THIS issue, Zoe's extremely exhausted. Virtually on death's door, and needs to look it. I've added with the finest tipped pen I have, bags under her eyes and shadowing.
Fighting ancient evil is hard on the complextion.
Once the fine lifework is done, I break out the White Gel Pen to add separation halos around overlapping elements and help pop out things like the bursting energy lines as seen here.
Add hopefully funny caption here.
And with this final touch, this panel is complete and I can move on to doing the same thing for the rest of the page. And then repeat the process for every OTHER page that makes up one complete comic. Once each pages complete, I scan it in to my computer and letter the pages digitally. (My handwriting is PAINFULLY horrible, as is my spelling.)
Now, of course, if you're saying to yourself "HEY! What about showing us the REST of this page!", you'll have to buy a copy of "The Wellkeeper #8" when it premiers. Don't be greedy.
And if you're interested in the comic, issues can be ordered TODAY either in print or as PDF downloads! Get in on the excitement today! Thanks!
See you in the comics!