Anatomy of a page: Rock In Purgatory


I have been blazing away through Rock In Purgatory page creation lately. This comic has been so good for my artistic development. It not only forces me to try new compositions and draw things in a way I had not before, it has also opened up opportunities for me to try out new styles and techniques. I though it was about time I wrote another ‘how I did it’ style post to show one of the many ways I have been creating this comic.

First up, I thought I would go with a more traditional page than some of the ones I have previously done. Up until recently, all of Rock In Purgatory has been drawn as individual frames, each on an A4 sheet, edited together digitally. However, as I started to venture into having a few two and four page strips, I quickly realised that going back to drawing a whole page as one piece was going to be the best way forward.

Why the change?
On the one page strips, I have to convey a lot in a short time. As I have chosen to stick rigidly to presenting every strip within a 9-panel page layout, I end up with a maximum of seven panels to tell the whole story. With longer strips, I have the chance to add more depth or slow the pace. This often means I end up with some more incidental panels than usual. Though drawing these each as A4 would be fun, it would take ages, and the space I would have to play with would mean I would add far too much detail. Going back to a single A3 sheet for each page limits me a little. I can concentrate on the important details and also speed through the page.

The photos above show the progress of a new piece I am working on. Once I have thumbnailed the layout of the page, I get it marked up ready to start drawing. I keep it nice and loose to start with, working the shapes and action lines into place so that I have a nice solid foundation for the art.

Next, I tighten the pencils up a bit. I have recently pretty much relinquished all use of my lightbox and have opted to ink directly onto the same page that I have been pencilling. Personally, I have found this not only speeds things up but also leads to a better final piece. I used to procrastonate over the pencils so much and ended up making them as perfect as possible. When I came to ink them on the lightbox, I was never as happy with the inks as I was with the pencils. Now, I get as far as rough pencils and then make a lot of decisions for each panel at the ink stage. As you can see from the final image above, I am able to get a great final page that I am really happy with using this method. This is the first page from my first four page Rock In Purgatory strip.

Since you have read this far into this post, I thought I would treat you all to a further sneak peak into this strip. Here’s a character design sketch for a member of Vortex Face…see if you can guess why they named the band that….


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