The 2nd 2010 SWA9 page

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At last patient reader, I have another new page for you. It takes me literally days to do these. I’ve a lot to learn. Still, I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’ll probably return to this and finesse it a bit more – but it’s best to move onto new work for the time being.

(UPDATE 2015: These days I’d probably do this in a day and a half!)

Art Notes

There are lots of positives in the way this turned out. It’s better than the previous one in some ways as I’m getting better at using the software (photoshop).

This is still all drawn in pencil – no inks. I must try an inked one and see how I get on. The beauty of pencil is that you can rapidly make changes – with the old putty rubber. Plus you get the loose slightly messy line. The downside is that when you scan it in you have to turn it as close to black and white as you can get it and then – in my case – try to colour the line work. Getting it dark enough is tricky. I discovered that Photoshop’s ‘burn‘ tool is very handy for this!

Painting in Photoshop: Stop Smudging!

When it starts to get smudgy I know I’m getting into dangerous nerdy territory; that I’m starting to use the softer Photoshop airbrush to get things smooth. A good example is panel 3 – top-right. Luke’s skin tones are overly blended and getting a bit dirty looking. I was starting to struggle and got desperate.

Compare it with panel 2? That was faster and the colour is more blocked-in looking. It’s crisper, cleaner and has better impact. I recall how much my tutors in art college hated it when we smudged our pencil drawings with our fingers. A bad habit from school art classes (not that we had any in my Irish schools).

I took the rapid blockiness further on panel 4. Threepio is more boldly modelled chromatically and tonally. This is a good direction I think. The only thing though is that Threepio is hard and non-organic, so he lends himself more to that approach perhaps. It’s just occurred to me that I might try a more bristly brush and layer up the colour for the skin tones next time. I recommend any of the good 19th C. artists (Sargent, Zorn, etc.) for a demonstration of how blocked in – or deftly flicked-on colour can look so much more real and alive than any amount of geeky airbrushing. They look almost photographic until you get a couple of feet away and then you see the boldness of thehandling.

Too much – Too little? Backgrounds.

If you’re a good illustrator – or artist even, you’ll have a good feel for what to put in and what to leave out. On this page, the backgrounds are pretty sparse. This is mainly because I just had to call a stop to the work! Many good comic artists will get quite abstract and present the characters in silhouette against a blank – even a white – background, for a particular emphasis. Perhaps when the text narrative is more important – or complex; or when a particular emotional response is being sought.


Panel 3 recycles the background from the previous page, purely for efficiency’s sake – but it works. Luke seems to be gesturing out there – where the larger conflict is taking place – beyond the farm and Tatooine. Panel 1 simply used a few filled shapes to indicate something behind the characters.


Panels 4 and 6 (last one) benefit from no background. In four, Luke looks lost against the dark grey as he murmurs a disappointed “Oh…”

In panel 6 – our attention is purely on the main action. No distraction – no unnecessary clutter. Unintentional to a large degree but it works.


So, a few lessons learnt on this page!