Finished Pencils Vs. Layouts
As requested by guido, this post will feature a comparison of my finished pencil art and the layouts I did on the last three issues of Number Of The Beast, and I’ll show what each looks like when inked by Karl Story.
First up is my second favorite page from NOTB #1, page 18(my fave is the double-page spread featured in earlier posts):
This was lots of fun to draw, and I labored over little details like the salt shakers, condiment bottles, the signage, napkin dispensers, and on and on. I used a straightedge wherever I could and worked out cast shadows and placement of areas of solid black. Any black areas are filled in with pencil or there’s an “X” somewhere within an enclosed shape indicating that Karl needs to fill it in during the inking stage. In short, there’s a lot of tight work showing–everything has been finalized in pencil before the page goes off to Karl.
Here is the same page after Karl has inked it:
Karl was super-faithful to the pencil lines I put down on paper, but he certainly didn’t just trace what was already there. He added depth and emphasized certain figures or objects using different line weights that just weren’t there when I drew the page. Mechanical details such as Engine Joe’s auto-body are even slicker and cleaner in the inks. Look closely at the feathered shading on Mago’s vest, for example, and you can see how Karl used thick to thin strokes to transition from solid black to gray to white very smoothly whereas I just scratched some lines out of a shadow really quickly and a little gracelessly(Mago is the long-haired guy seated to Engine Joe’s right in the big panel). Does it sound like I’m just gushing too much about Karl Story’s inking here? Impossible! The work he does over anything I give him is astounding–and the original art looks even better in person than it does in the printed version or even in my scans, if you can believe that!
Next up is page 12 from NOTB #7, a fairly typical example of my layouts on this series:
You can see that I didn’t do any shading(apart from the eyebrows, which I just noticed…weird…), and didn’t indicate every solid black area. My pencil lines are still relatively clean and precise, but you’ll notice I didn’t even use a straightedge on the page more than a few times–all the background details in the large third panel are pretty roughly free-handed. There’s very little feathering at all and only one line weight used throughout(feathering, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is the use of multiple thick-to-thin “feathery” lines as shading or to simulate gray tones in black and white line art).
Here’s what the same page looked like when Karl was finished with it:
Thankfully, Karl did use a straightedge in panel three–he really made sense of that background. All the shadows in that panel–except for those on Black Anvil–are Karl’s creation, as is nearly all the feathering. As for line weight, compare what Karl did with Engine Joe’s hand in the last panel to what I drew–the hand looks much more solid and far heavier, as it should. So, basically, Karl took a bare-bones coloring book-like page and gave it some life and some pep.
My layouts are pretty tight, and when inked by Karl, colored and printed, they don’t look terribly different than my finished pencils. I also enjoyed doing my work as layouts–concentrating on the basics and building up a huge pile of pages really quickly, not to mention finding a way to beat the dreaded deadline doom–but it’s back to my regular finished pencils on my next assignment, which I’ll write about as soon as I can.