On Technique

Since I've already covered the style I'm using for ONE, I'll go over technique.

If you think of style as being what you do, technique is how you do it. Technique is the actual mean/s the artist utilizes to get their ideas on paper (or monitor, or canvas, or music sheet, etc). Some artists like to use expensive drafting tools, some use mechanical pens bought at their local Walgreens, and others use Sharpie markers that are almost dry. They all work, but not all of them work for everyone. So while technique is important, as an artist, you can't be a slave to it. The most important thing is how to get your ideas out of your head and on the paper.

Here's an awesome quote by Neal Adams' in Will Eisner's Shop Talk that goes a little further into the topic:

"What I find is that there are many artists doing many things, and each successful artist has found his own tools. Very rarely does an artist accept the tools of another artist. His responsibility does not include responsibility to other artists or to the general public. His responsibility is to himself. The tools he uses are the tools he finds. The thing he has to think about is what is his goal, not what is his technique."

Amen. It's all about the goal. And as the artist, it's up to you to choose the best technique that will allow you to accomplish your goal.

With ONE, I want the book to feel like an episode of Samurai Jack...but in print. I want to utilize a lot of epic shots and give it a cinematic pacing. I want the reader (actually, audience is more appropriate 'cause there's only one word in the entire book so there's not much reading going on) to be able to get through the book in ten minutes. I'll let C. C. Beck (again, from Will Eisner's Shop Talk) say it best:

"Never include anything that doesn't belong there...[convey] a message to the reader in the simplest form...[Most] young artists are so anxious to show off, all of them, to show things that they can do, that they throw in a bunch of stuff that doesn't belong there. If you have to stop to figure out a picture for about three minutes, then you've lost the thread of the story."

Amen. Again.

I also want to be able to handle the creation of the book. It is, after all, my first real book. Not that I want to make it easy on myself, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by trying out new tools and working methods that I'm not already comfortable with. That's why I'm using the animated style. And that's why I'm sticking to good ole pen and paper (8.5x11, nothing fancy) for the actual pages and Photoshop for finishes (cleaning up, editing, coloring, design).

So with my goals in mind, I made a few ground rules. I have to give credit to Ted Mathot for sharing his own ground rules on his book, Rose and Isabel (which I'll be purchasing at the San Diego Comic Con in a few weeks). I basically ripped off some his rules. Yeah, I'll admit it. But they make 100% sense. They helped me decide how to approach ONE best; how to reach my goals.

1. ONE will be in greyscale - Like Mathot said, "Although B&W can be very challenging, it's nowhere near as difficult as color (for me)." I agree. I'm just getting into color theory so grayscale is something I can manage. I'll probably go with a color cover but as far as the interior pages are concerned, grayscale is law. This will also come in handy when I start researching printing options. Grayscale, by far, is cheaper to print than color. And if I end up using a printing service like Lulu or Dream Weaver Press, my checkbook will thank me for going gray.

2. No Rendering - Quoting Mathot: "The greys must be flat color or simple gradients. At the very most I allowed myself a drop shadow or rim light." I'm using shadows here and there to convey scope and specific moods but that's as far as I'm going to allow myself to go on ONE. I'm not even getting into using too many gradiants. Greyscales and flats - check.

3. No fancy brushes or textures - I'm still relatively new to Photoshop so I wouldn't even know how to use the fancy brushes and textures. And since I've already storyboarded most of the book, I already know where I can reuse and repurpose backgrounds. ONE is getting the KISS treatment: Keep It Simple Stupid.

4. Keep Moving - Mathot, again: "If a drawing isn't right (and there are many I'm not totally happy with) I have to keep going. I'll take a few whacks at it, but then move on. If it really bothers me, I'll try to come back to it later." I'm pretty anal about my work but if I plan to stick to my schedule, I can't get hung up on minutiae. And speaking of scheduling...

5. Come up with a schedule and stick to it - Quoting Mathot: "This is absolutely essential. Know how much work you need to do and how much time you have to do it. Comics are great for time management cause you can break them down by pages. You can assign X number of pages per month, week, day, etc. If you fall behind or get ahead it's easy to adjust that number." Told ya, the man knows what he's talking about.

Initially, my deadline was mid-July, just in time to have the book completed by the San Diego Comic Con. But reality has set in and the possibility of completing what has grown to be a 250+ page book (aka monster) in the next month has been thrown out of the window. So taking into account what I've done so far, what I need to do, and those pesky real world things that are bound to materialize along the way, ONE should be finished by the end of this year. I may be able to finish the book before then but that gives me ample time to do some quality control and make sure my first book is a good book, at least to me.

Now that style and technique are in the rearview, time for more pretty pictures. Next up - storyboards.



TSM said...

Hey Bernie,

I'm glad you found the rules useful...they're not my rules by any means; they're anyone's rules. I took a few cues from Mark Andrews when he was doing Colossus, mostly in time management.

Best of luck with your book! Are you going to post some works in progress on your blog?

(oh, and you need to add one more "t" to my name...it's Mathot).


Element X said...

Thanks for the comment, Ted. And thanks for the rules. I picked up Mark Andrews' Colossus and I can definitely see how they were put to use. Damn fine book.

Now that the "thinking" is over, I'll start putting some of the "in progress" artwork on the blog. If you check it out, let me know what you think.

And I took care of the extra "t." Sorry about that...