Sep 15, 2011

My process

I thought it might be interesting to share some details about how I work. Maybe it'll be an excuse for why I'm slow... The last page I did is a single complex image so i feel it'll be a good example of my drawing workflow.

Here are the various stages:

1. Thumbnails

This in many ways is the most critical stage because it is where I decide on layout, (in multiple panel pages) composition, poses and overall flow and feel of the page. I do as many thumbnails as necessary until I feel I've nailed the major issues. It'll be a lot more difficult and frustrating to fix big mistakes later. You can see in the top left thumbnail that my first idea of how the drawing should look like had a weaker pose. The hand that clutches the poor bee is too close to the spider's head to make for a clear hierarchy of elements. I fixed this in the other thumbnails.

2. Rough drawing.

Here I'm mainly interested in the flow of the gesture, the over all composition and camera angle. I try really hard not get too involved with specific details. I usually don't succeed because I'm way to anal to leave the details alone. I like the blue color because it makes me feel like an animator (I'm not).

3. Volume study.

I usually do this with complex structures and characters that I'm unsure about their construction. The idea is to break down the drawing into basic shapes and be very aware in regard to their volume, direction and placement in space.

4. Unify volumes

Here I'm beginning to draw more tightly and tie together all the volumes. I'm constantly searching for ways to make the proportions and shapes more appealing. I'm also beginning to add more detail.

5. Details

Now it's time to go nuts with the details. It is smart, however, to keep the extra details on a separate layer in case you go overboard and need to erase some. I always go overboard with details. god help me.

5. Line cleanup

Now it's time to choose which of the details to keep. Thicker lines seem closer than thin ones. I always try to use all of the manipulations I know to direct the viewers attention towards the most important areas first. In this instance, it's the bee in the spider's hand and the spider's face.

6. Basic tones

To emphasize even more what is important and what is less important, What is near and what is far, I change the tonal values of the contours. I also add basic tonal values inside the contours, filling the shapes.

7. Final rendering

This part can be tinkered with for a long time. I can reach very realistic tonal values or keep the drawing more graphic, which is what I did.

Alright, That's that for now. I'm starting a new steady job next week so things will probably slow down with this project in the near future. Life has a way of getting in the way of my plans... I promise I'll keep working and uploading pages as often as possible.


  1. Other people's process is always an interesting thing to see. I never tried adding details on a seperate layer, but it makes sense. I might try it.

    Good luck with that new job!

  2. aviv - Thanks! I hope you find it useful. Your "stupid snake" webcomic is awesome!

  3. Very insightful, thanks :)
    Is it all digital except the thumbnails stage?

  4. croovman, thanks. It's mostly digital. I do a rough pencil pass on the page itself first and then scan it. From then on it's all on the cintiq.