I’m new to digital art, and it shows. I’ve been working on some pretty small canvases, based on the format that work with Webtoons and Tapas. But I didn’t realize that should be the finished size, and that I should work larger than that if I want to print it someday. Oops!
Well, at least I figured this out before I launched the comic! The good news is that it isn’t too late to start over. The bad news is that I have to start over 😀
‘Fail faster’ was one piece of advice I came across re: making comics. It’s absolutely true; the more I fail the better the comic gets. The pacing of the story is changing along with the canvas size. I’m going to end up posting all of the original work to my patrons on Patreon before uploading them all here in the months leading up to launch.
It’s ba-aaaaack! I’m in the process of working on chapter six of A Palestinian Tale. I was really unhappy with how it was going. My inclination is to paint it rather than do line work because the setting is very foggy and mysterious. After some feedback on Twitter, I gave redoing the chapter a go and I’m happier… at least!
Although I have a new problem. I keep reworking the same panel.
I was warned that one of the dangers of making a webcomic is the temptation to redraw old panels. It’s the biggest hurdle after actually starting the comic, apparently! And… it caught me in its trap. Part of the problem is that it is inevitable that the drawing and painting styles will change over time. I’ve done around six chapters of A Palestinian Tale now. And the style has changed a lot already.
I gave in to the temptation to redraw the first panels I worked on, the sequence known as Four Giant Leaps for Safia. Here’s how that broke down:
From there, I choose local colours from the colour picker. I keep in mind my dominant colour. Colours closer to it can be more saturated while colours distant from it are kept neutral. In this way, colours shift according to the environment (Rumanye’s shirt is yellow but it’s brightness is drained away by the spooky pea soup environment).
I use the opaque watercolour brush to do my first pass. This allows some of the base colour to show through and further unify the scene.
Next, I add effects. Sometimes this is as simple as using the airbrush tool, but occasionally I use blending modes to boost the magical quality of an effect, for example.
And that’s all for now! I know my process with change again, as it has so often during this project!
ETA: I fixed the driver on the Cintiq. What a difference it makes, eh?
Chapter five has a new main character, Rumanye Daoud. Above is the first colour test. She is an archival assistant at Saint Sisyphus’ University in New Haifa. It isn’t long before she has a spooky run in with a creepy Canaanite robot. Yes, an ancient robot. One of my interests is medieval and ancient automata. If I can give Canaanites robots, why would I not?!
I’m almost finished the first pass on the colours for chapter five! You can read the short story that this chapter is based on here on my website.
It all began with what I call ‘the Cafe Scene.’ I solved one problem– that of the main character meeting Hasan and Raghda– by having her apartment be over a cafe. And I opened up another problem: I can’t draw architecture.
And so it goes. Adding colour to the scene did help to bring it together but without adequete experience drawing interiors, or even people sitting in chairs, it looks wonky and unsatisfying.
The problem isn’t limited to interiors either! Chapter five requires an establishing shot at a university. This is the current draft for that panel:
And so it goes. I’m reading about sketching architecture, as well as learning to use 3D modeling programs so I can build my own reference material.
I settled on the image of Safia holding hands with her grandmother as the cover page for the prologue to A Palestinian Tale. Something about the image struck me as appropriate, beyond the other contenders such as a schematic of the world of ‘Ard, or a sunrise. Safia and the reader are learning about the foundations of the world, the setting of A Palestinian Tale. It’s intimate and earthy rather than grand and spatial. There is the slight glow of magic about the gesture too, since there is the transference of a story taking place.
I hope to complete cover pages for all of the chapters of A Palestinian Tale.
I forgot the earliest form of Safia’s comic adventure: the storyboard art! I sketched out the first few pages with my mother’s old clutch pencil from her drafting days. It really came together quickly once I got it down in the ol’ sketchbook!
The middle of the first chunk of A Palestinian Tale was written after The Marriage. It’s working title was ‘Train Jockey.’ A peculiar name, isn’t it? It came about from a writing prompt and exercise in writing short stories. Mary Robinette Kowal leads this fantastic lecture on short stories. Following along, I wrote Train Jockey and invented the character of Safia.
It was as I was working with this piece that the thought of making it into a comic came to me as a whim. I started to refer online to “Palestinians in Space.” Using Clip Studio Paint, I began to explore making a comic, and the first panels started to come together: a monochrome first pass.
I was happy with my first attempts, and my first reader, Natasha, was on hand to give me feedback along the way. An important detail in Train Jockey and the comic was the establishing shot of the twin moons. This detail was meant to be a shorthand way of introducing the genre of the story. But, as it turns out, two moons can’t just be hanging in the sky like that! Back to the drawing board…
Next time, we’ll take a look at the first colour tests for our plucky protagonist, Safia, and see how she has evolved.