Ok, so you folks want to see how I make a comic page. Here it is. My process, with all it's boils and warts.
Step one: The script
Here's page 1 of issue 6, written by the brilliant John Whalen. John can draw, so he does a great job of giving me lots of visual info that makes approaching the page a little easier. He also sends photo ref for specific things, like the building in this scene, which again HELPS a TON.
1.1 CLOSE ON KILCROP'S SUNGLASSES - DAY
WIDE PANEL. Reflected in the lenses: an imposing concrete office building (description next panel), and behind it in the distance, the upper third of the Washington Monument.
1.2 EXT. RICHARD B. CHENEY FEDERAL BUILDING - DAY
BIG PANEL. ANGLE FROM BEHIND Kilcrop as he approaches the main entrance of the building, passing a rectangular slab sign (see art reference) identifying this as:
"UNITED STATES/DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY/RICHARD B. CHENEY FEDERAL BUILDING."
It’s a blocky 16-story edifice on a busy street corner in Washington D.C. (Constitution Ave. and 15th St., let's say, with a partly obstructed view of the Washington Monument in the distance). Given the structure’s namesake, let's make the architecture personality-appropriate: Squat, rectangular, and ugly like the J. Edgar Hoover Building; standoffishly funereal like the Federal Reserve building or a fascist mausoleum; defensively wedgy like a reinforced rampart or bunker. In fact, that was probably the architect's intent: a civic building that channels the aesthetic of a concrete fallout bunker. The windows are small and deeply recessed, almost like bow slits on a castle.
KILCROP CAPTION 1
No place like it...
KILCROP CAPTION 2
Where the heart is...
KILCROP CAPTION 3
Where you hang your hat...
1.3 INT. LOBBY OF CHENEY BUILDING - DAY
HIGH ANGLE LOOKING DOWN ON Kilcrop, wearing a laminated I.D. badge on his suit breast pocket, as he crosses a large, utilitarian lobby. At the center of the drab marble floor is a Department of Energy seal (see art reference). Federal workers cross the lobby along various trajectories, more than a few rubbernecking awkwardly at the albino.
...And a thousand other clichés that won’t smooth the lumps in your mattress.
SIDE VIEW of Kilcrop as he approaches a bank of elevators. Hanging prominently on the wall behind him is a large framed portrait of Dick Cheney in a dark business suit, lopsided snarl in full bloom. Tucked under the veep’s arm, hunter-style, is a double-barreled shotgun.
Strip away the Hallmark bullshit and here’s what’s left:
FRONT VIEW of elevator with the passengers rudely staring at Kilcrop, who stands at the front of the car as the doors begin to close. He’s taking off his sunglasses, and we can see his startling pink eyes. We can now see the details of his laminated I.D. badge. From top to bottom: NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) logo (see art reference), the title "SPECIAL AGENT," a line with Kilcrop's signature (just "Kilcrop,"), and a color mug shot.
Home is the place that’s most familiar.
Step two: Layouts
I never seem to do these the same way twice. Some times I do them at about 2" x 3.5", some times digitally, some times I'll do them almost full size. In this case I think they were about 4" x 6" or something...don't quote me on that.
You'll see they're pretty rough, but all the important things are there. Once this has been OK'd but my editor and writer, I blow it up to full image size (about 10" x 15") and blue line them in Photoshop using the Duotone setting. I have an RGB color set for this, but I forget what it is exactly. Basically, a really light baby blue.
This is printed out onto a sheet of bristol board which is about 11.5" x 17".
Step three: Pencils
I then get busy blocking in the pencils, keeping the things from the layouts that work and changing the bits that don't. Some times things, like the building in the second scene, just don't make sense. The perspective doesn't make sense and I needed to push the building way back. Sometimes the layout is changed to match whatever reference I may have. Like, the glasses in scene two. I ended up using a pair I had laying in my studio. I found them in an old box of stuff I had on the third floor and stashed them in my studio to use later. I knew I wanted to use them for Kilcrop because I didn't really use ref for his glasses in the earlier issues and just never really liked how they came out.
Step four: Inks
Here, again, I have to get the pencils OK'd and make a few changes as they come up. My editor wanted to go in slightly tighter on scene 2, which I just zoomed in digitally in Photoshop. I also do a quick cheat and find the logo for the department of energy symbol online and just paste it onto the floor in scene 3, transforming it a bit to make it fit the perspective of the floor. Then, I bump up the thresh hold and blueline the pages again and print them out again onto a full sheet of bristol again.
Did I mention I use this old larger format Epson Stylus 1280?
Anyway, I end up with this.
From there, I might add a little tone by hand (yes, I still have tone sheets from way back when). If not I then scan this at 600 dpi as a bitmap and do the tone digitally after converting the line art to greyscale. Once this is done, I make it a bitmap again and format it to fit the comic page size and upload it to the DC FTP .
Do that about 8 to 10 times in five days, and you have my work week in a nutshell...for the Un-men anyway.