Crafting a Story – Page thumbnails

Last weekend was a milestone of some sorts, I finally patched up all the holes that were still there in the script of my comic. I still needed some scenes and needed to give some thought to how some things work logically.
I also did some style tests in the last few weeks, testing various traditional and digital inking looks and trying to figure out a colouring technique that will look nice but will also not take me forever.
I think I got what I’m looking for.

This all feels like a relief, I can now fully focus on translating the script visually and go on to actual page thumbnails.

I blogged about this process of visualizing the script before. This is different from making page thumbnails.
In the first visuals I’m not concerned with page design or even panel design. I just throw on paper what I had in mind when I wrote the script. (I write my scripts without much dialogue.)
I’m not searching for composition, nice poses, interesting shapes or even a sense of the world around the characters that much. But I start to get an idea of what the characters are saying and doing and what the problems are that I might run into.

Here are two pages of exploring the prologue of the comic:
14-08 thumbs
14-08 thumbs2
By the way, you might recognize the scene from this image.

When I’ve done these, and I can get through them fairly quickly, I write on a piece of paper what the scene has to get across, what questions it has to raise or answer, what the characters goals and feelings are in the scene and what kind of atmosphere I’m looking for.

Then I go into thumbnailing the pages.
I made a blogpost before about thumbnailing specifically, you can read it here. But basicly, this is where I start to look for good composition and design.
Here are the first thumbnails for the first four pages of the same prologue:
14-08 thumbs_page
I sketched them out and then revisited them a few times and made some changes either through erasing and starting over, arrows that point things to other places or just some notes next to the thumbs. It’s a bit chaotic now but I’ll make tighter ones later. On the back I experimented with different ways of presenting certain compositions and dialogue.

I made a very tiny version of every page again (only blocking in basic shapes and word balloons) and checked if my eyes flow over the page in a correct and natural way.
Then I made another tiny version and put in some value to see how the overall balance of light and dark would work best. (I’ll need that later for inking and colour compositions but it’s good to keep that in mind for drawing as well)
Then I went back to the initial thumbnail and made some additional changes or comments again, that’s why they’re probably pretty unreadable now by anyone but me.

Obviously the dialogue doesn’t fit into the tiny word balloons so I put in a few words here and there and try to estimate how big the balloon needs to be. I write new ideas for the dialogue next to the thumb or on the back of the page.

You can see that quite a bit changed from the initial visuals and then on to the page thumbnails. And I expect there will be more changes as I go.
It’s always good to look for even better ways to get your point across throughout the whole process.

The page thumbnails you see here are drawn on A4 paper so every initial thumbnail is only 14,8 x 10,5 cm big. The tiny thumbnails I just mentioned are 3×7 cm at their largest. So each of those takes me 2-10 minutes to do, depending on complexity. This means you can fill up pages of them in no time.

There is still much designing to do. For example: the city, the cart the kids are riding, background characters, clothing etc. I have my basic designs ready though, so I might do a lot of these things as I go making the pages.

I will now implement my changes into the thumbnails and tighten them up. Then it’s sketching time!

I hope these articles give you some more insight in the process of making my comic. If you use different techniques or if you have any questions please add a comment.

Stay tuned for more!

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