This month’s post digs into the creation of my comic for the inside front cover of the December issue of Spider magazine! If you aren’t familiar with Spider Magazine, here’s some background from their website:
"Written for that magical age when children first get excited about reading on their own, SPIDER magazine will reinforce a child’s love of reading by providing amazing stories and beautiful illustrations designed to keep young readers engaged. Pages filled with fantasy and adventure stories by celebrated authors, folk tales, non-fiction, poems, activities, and illustrations by famous children’s artists make SPIDER magazine for kids the perfect choice for newly independent readers."
They have been around since 1994 and the comic is my first piece with them. I really enjoyed working on this piece and I hope it shows!
Other than the print size of the inside front cover there weren’t many restrictions on what I could do. It had to be a comic and the art director said the topic should be about animals (no insects though as they appear throughout the magazine) or a winter theme.
This is one of those times where sitting at your desk staring out the window or into space actually counts as work. Sometimes I’m trying to think what I should make for dinner, but sometimes its work! What could I come up with that would be fun to draw, funny and different? After thinking for awhile I started to doodle and came up with an idea explaining why birds fly south for the winter.
Birds appreciate the off-season at DisneyWorld just like everybody else! They’d probably get there really early too because the early bird gets the… WORM! That’s it!
Nobody draws worms! They’re not cute, they have no face, no personality, they’re just a little tube. But a worm could fit the criteria of an animal to meet the theme requirement for the project. Soooo…worms sound great! I decided to use worms for characters. It was going to be fun to try to make them expressive and give them a personality.
I decided to keep it to two characters, a brother and sister (see, conflict already!) named Kyle and Stacy who happened to be worms. Any parent knows that often you are summoned for “she pinched me…, he took my doll…, she ate my cookie…, etc”. So I chose to use one of these little sibling battles for the theme. I thought kids could relate to the injustice and parents could relate to being summoned for mediation and hopefully both would find it humorous.
So I worked up a sketch for the second idea and sent them both off to the art director for feedback.
The art director, after sharing with her editor, came back said they loved the worm comic! I was very pleased that they found it very funny and also noted they loved the personalities and expressions! And no text changes to boot!
Now with an approved story, layout and sketch I move right on into ink and color. I should note that more often than not, I start a project with pencil and paper. Good ‘ol tried and true traditional media. Can’t beat pencil and paper. However, with this project and working with the assumption I was going to be trying things out with panels, camera angles, expressions, etc. I chose to sketch digitally. I use a program called Sketchbook Pro and I really like it. Additionally, I can email it right away–no scanning. But now as I move into color, I go back to the traditional media. I find working out colors this way much simpler. I don’t have 16 million color options and tiny swatches the size of an elf’s pinky toe to poke at. I have a marker case, colored pencils and watercolor pans that give me plenty of options but make it easier to choose. Sometimes things happen in traditional media that add a nice touch, like organic imperfections or mixed colors that I will try to recreate digitally. In short, I think working with traditional media can improve your digital work.
Next I experimented with colors using ink, markers, watercolor and colored pencils to work out the colors. I changed the background colors “adjusting the temperature” if you will. For example, it gets more red when they face each other as the argument heats up, bright yellow as Stacy fires back, and blue when Kyle absorbs the new insult. I’m please with the piece at this point, so now it’s time to go back to digital and finish it up. I scan the colored piece which will allow me to eye drop the colors in Photoshop. They usually need some tweaking but it is a good starting point and honors the color work I did traditionally.
There you have it! Wormy Rivalry out this month in Spider Magazine! Learn more and get yourself a subscription at Spider Magazine’s website.
Until next time,