Category: Recollection City

I made the series “Crafting a Story” to show how I make my webcomic “Recollection City” and some work in progress posts.

On composition in comics

What’s typical for comics (and some other narrative art forms) is that you’ll be drawing the same characters, props and locations over and over again. For a lengthy scene in the same place it can be tricky to come up with nice, new compositions for each panel.

This is why I spend a few hours this week thumbnailing different compositions for certain scenes. Thumbnailing is, like I’ve mentioned before, a quick and simple way of trying out new composition ideas.


These are for a scene of dialogue on a balcony. Some of them may not make much sense to you sorry about that, I`m a messy sketcher. I kept the thumbnails small to keep the focus on bigger shapes and lines in the composition instead of going into detail. The black ink lines also helps me focus on the breaking up of the picture plane more instead of focusing on lines.

You’ll also notice that each thumbnail communicates a different idea and feeling through it`s composition.

I learned a lot again from this exercise, it even helped me refine the story and have more control on what exactly it is I want to say with a scene.
And I now have a few compositions lying around to draw from.

I’m now thumbnailing compositions for city scapes, since I’m not very experienced in drawing a lot if architecture. It’s given me some interesting new ideas for comic panels so far.

As before, I also added last week’s creative prompts to the master list. Go have a look to see if there’s some new ideas for you there. Maybe you can even use them in a comic.

Crafting a story – Colour

Some of you might remember I posted a painting I used in my portfolio for CTNx. It is a painting, not a comic panel. For my comic, however, I`m not going to paint it all. I`m going to use line art.

I experimented a bit with how to colour this lineart and how to keep things simple. After doing the Oatley Academy course Painting Drama 2 that`s all about colour, I decided I would try to just use flats. Some of my favourite comics use only flat colour and they`re no less atmospheric. But it`s still a challenge to get your mood and atmosphere across without gradients and with hard edged shapes like in line art.

The challenge of how to recreate atmosphere like in this painting…

Concept art for my comic "Recollection City"
Concept art for my comic “Recollection City”

…in a comic panel in flat colour.

I’m experimenting with two methods.
1 Doing it literally in all flats:. The first result I got was not really going where I wanted it to be, so I abandoned it.

Only flatsIt still needed some variation in the rocks for example. I can’t just give those one colour since the light is bouncing on one side while the other side is dark. This technique wasn’t really statisfactory since I felt like I was doing cell shading.

2 Another technique that I’m trying out is something I derived from techniques out of the Oatley Academy’s course the Magic Box. I use the lasso tool over a coloured background to create gradients. I think this looks better. And it`s just as fast as the flatting.

Atmosphere with lineartThese are very rough, the lineart is just a sketchy version, I`d also use different colours in the comic and I used the lasso tool very crudely. But I like the overall sense of atmosphere that is still there in the second attempt.

I still feel like I want to tackle the challenge to create a lot of atmosphere with just flats (without gradients), which requires a very good understanding of colour and colour relations. I’m curious where this search will end.

CTNx feedback – working on expressions 1

The main feedback I got at CTNx was that my character designs looked stiff and I didn’t tell enough of a story with them, even in the basic designs it`s better to let the characters do something or react to something so we know what kind of character it is.
I also stayed fairly on the realistic side, with not much room for more exaggerated expressions.

Even though I consider my style to be at least somewhat cartoony, I`m not very experienced in exaggeration, pushing features and expression (both face and body). So my goal for the next months is to improve that.

Here`s some basic expressions for my character Ivory, who immediately presents a challenge since the character is very guarded and not very expressive unless she is agitated.
I have not yet tried and push everything more. I`m focusing now on just drawing the unique way each character expresses the basic emotions. I also try to draw the full body expression, and not just the face. Some advice from Nilah Magruder, who creates the comic M.K.F., who I had the pleasure of meeting at CTNx.

2014-12-16-expressions_IvoryWhat are you working on right now?

See you next time!

Building a house on paper

Hello all!

I didn`t finish an illustration a day for the rest of Inktober, but I did work in ink a lot this week. (so I kind of made up for it?) Since my main focus now is finishing some comic pages in time for the CTNx expo in LA I am in the middle of designing locations, props and side characters.

This week I had to design a place fit for regents to work and live in. I always dread drawing architecture since perspective is certainly not my strongest suit and I don`t even know where to start. My first efforts always involved drawing a block, a roof, then slapping some windows, balconies and doors on it. Turns out, I never really looked at how houses are constructed and what people do to make them look nice. That was my main problem. Surprisingly, that was all I had to do to solve my problem this time.

Here are some first quick ideas and sketches. I`m very far along in the final design now and I`ll show you when I finish the page.

2014 10 Regent housesSometimes the problems you have to solve when drawing are hard to find and it takes you a while to overcome them. Sometimes, a breakthrough can happen in a day.

I was so intimidated by this whole idea of designing a building that I put it off, then, when I finally mustered up the courage, I stared at a blank page for a while and then stopped again. Funnily enough I was on my way to work and then came across a building that gave me a push in the right direction. I was looking at it, finding it really pretty. And then it dawned on me: why is this building so pretty to me? And I started looking at it with different eyes. Sure, it didn`t have the right look and time period for what I was searching for, but why did this building have so much appeal? And how can I use that to make something appealing instead of a block with windows in it?

Here`s what I did:

1 I analysed the appeal of the building.

I found pictures of it online and started studying them. It was a heavily decorated building, but somehow really elegant. It had a lot of vertical shapes with a lot of round arches around them. I looked at how the windows were placed, where they used structures to keep everything in place, and especially how they decorated it without making a mess. From here I searched for other places I knew that have appeal and have the feeling I was going for.

2 I drew, drew and drew.

I sketched a lot of details from those buildings: windows, decorating, roofs, stones…everything my mind couldn`t  think of whenever I looked at the blank page or the random house-block-thing. Here`s a page of sketches that I did:

2014 10 reference drawingI many pages with elements from different places I knew had what I was looking for. I tried to look for the basic structure underneath all the decorating, study the shapes and the material.

I could never make these discoveries by looking at the buildings alone. The act of drawing it out makes it set in your mind more than just looking at it. I can remember I only looked at certain pictures of buildings and couldn`t possibly draw it now from my memory. But the buildings I drew I can now still reproduce the basics of from my memory.

3 I then started drawing buildings of my own.

Those are the sketches you see at the top. Using the knowledge and the newly sparked ideas for what I could do with the place I started sketching. I was working in ink since it forces you to be bold and you can`t erase things. I was really amazed by the reservoir of options I now had, to build up the forms. The many ways I now knew how to divide up the spaces on the walls in an interesting way and how much more free I felt in my imagination because I had been “feeding” it with so much different input. Which brings me to the point: don`t stop in your reference drawing at a few buildings, only one time period or a certain type of building. I looked at Victorian houses, cute little houses and cottages, the houses that line the canals in Utrecht and fairytale buildings. Look at characteristics, nice new ideas you never thought of, shapes, basic floor plans etc.

Most of all: have fun exploring! I never could have thought I would like drawing buildings this much. Granted, when my design is finished I have to draw it in my comic frames in perspective and everything and I will always face challenges, but this experience sure encouraged me to try and not shy away from the blank page. Going forward!

Is there something you struggle with in your art? How can you give yourself the tools you need to learn to get better at it?

“Recollection City” – when change takes a while

The headline of this blogpost is the new title of my comic project formerly known as “Reminiscence.”

I present to you:

14-09 Recollection City_charcters
The previous title was too generic. And after some Googling I found out it`s also a jewellery brand and a remembrance project in numerous countries and for numerous causes. Another comic also used the exact same title already. Even though it`s on hiatus for a while and has few pages, I still felt uncomfortable about it.

So it was time for a change.

It was hard, because I was already attached to the title and it fitted my project perfectly. How do you change something that already feels done?

I wanted something that invoked the same feelings of remembering for me but was also a bit more mysterious and less on the nose.

Finding a title for a comic

This title took way longer to find than the previous one. I have pages and pages full of words I like, phrases that held the same meaning, invoked the same emotions as the word “Reminiscence” did, I wrote different wordings to my story`s theme and events and did some word play.

It took a long time but all the while I tried to try and go with the process and trust that it would eventually come to me, just like I felt about my character designs.
After all this a handful of words “felt” right and out of this came “Recollection City.”

I feel it captures what I wanted out of it and it`s a bit more original and mysterious. I ran the title by some friends and fellow artists and the feedback I got about what kind of reactions it invoked were spot on.

I still haven`t completely switched over to it in my mind, I have some letting go to do still. But I do like the new title and even have reserved the domain name already so it`s mine now. 😀

Ever felt like you had to let go of something you liked in your art or work? Was the change for the better?