Or how Diana procrastinates on finishing the My Muse pages she's suppose to be working on. =[ I am posting inked versions of the pages though, yay! So, far I’ve got the first page of the “I feel like shit…” story up.
Note: This "how to" is based on the Intermission Taco "My Muse" page. Which can be found here.
First I get an idea for a comic. This usually happens in the shower or when I really, reaaalllyyy want to sleep. Then I rough out that idea, I have three main ways of getting the idea out of my head and down on paper. I tend to either jot down a short note to myself that sometimes makes no sense later: "The kid loves tacos" or I write out just the dialog for the comic which is marginally better: "taco. taco. taco tacos taco!!... ect" or in the case of this comic I make a small tiny sketch with the dialog and images. Most of the time this sketch is just a collection of random images and words.
This method works the best if I want to return to my idea and be able to figure out what I was intending. But I do use the other two methods for my more wordy ideas and it works fine. In the roughs sometimes I'll leave out whole panels or even the parts that make the comic funny. That's because this is a rough. It's just there to get the idea down on the page and out of my head. It's not intended to be the final version of the comic.
So after I rough out the idea then I have to go back and make a layout of how the actually comic page will look. This is where I try to make the comic funny, with varying results. This is also the stage most of my ideas never get past without some serious rewriting. But thankfully this example didn't need that, it just gets a couple of extra panels and it's good to go.
While the roughs can be on any piece of paper and at any size the layouts are always drawn on an 8.5 x 11 piece of card stock. I created the panel border box on the card stock using a print out of my comic page template file that I then trace on the card stock with a ballpoint. Since My Muse is created pretty much completely by hand the border doesn't have to be perfect.
Normally I don't save the layout version of the page because I erase these temp images and pencil the final version of the page directly over them. Also these layouts are usually even more rough then this... A few times they've just been stick figures or just circles with expression in them. For comparison here's an example of a rougher layout I scanned in. This layout is for the last page of the Subconscious My Muse comic.
Sometimes certain pages just lend themselves to being finished more completely in the layout stage but usually my layouts look more like this page then the Taco page. I tend to work out either the expression or the body pose in the layout stage but nothing is set in stone at this point.
After I finish the layout I move on to penciling the final version of the page. This is where I nail down the expressions, final dialog, body posture, any funny asides or extra dialog, I'll actually draw in the backgrounds, and usually crowd the page with what ever small tiny things I think it needs. I'll also add any speed lines or spot black indications. Spot blacks are sometimes indicated with a tiny x on the page.
Since I'm inking this page myself I DON'T make my final pencils very tight at all. "Tight" is a odd term for just how crazy your pencils get... for instance super tight penciling just honestly looks like the person inked their comic page with a pencil. Which is not so great if you want to have fun inking the page. Really tight penciling makes you feel like your just tracing over the lines instead of added and completing the comic. I love to ink and honestly it can be a lot of fun but you have to let it be fun, the more complete and final you make your pencils the less joy you'll have inking them. So I leave my pencil clear and yet loose. However if I was going to hand this page off for someone else to ink I'd probably make the pencils a little more clear... since some times even I have a hard time telling what I was drawing.
This pencil version is also designed for inking. Which means that I cleaned up the scan on the computer, cut it into panels, and made all the borders the way I want them. This way when I go to ink everything without a ruler at least I'll have started from computer straight panels. =] It also helps keep the gutters between the panels all the right size.
Next time inking!