Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cover is complete

So. I've got to get a printed book to the San Diego Comic Con Commission by Friday if I want to get a chance at getting a table at the comic con. I'm looking at spending tomorrow getting all the pages saved out as pdf files. I've still got to design an inside front cover, and an inside and outside back cover. One page is going to be the collage of photos with a little write-up about San Francisco. I'm thinking, inside front. I'll also put a bio on there and what-not. The back cover is going to be uber simple. White, with Uncommon Comics written on it. Maybe nothing else. The inside back cover can be my ad for Xiola: Sacrifice of the Sidian. It's got to be a short write up on the story with a link and perhaps an image of the blog.

Did I mention I still need to letter the inside pages? Even I forgot about that. So, tomorrow is going to be packed. And it's the Superbowl. But I think I can pass. Steelers and Cardinals?

Come Monday, I've got to get my pdf files to a printer who can print the book up within two days. If I can pick up the finished books by Wednesday I can Fed Ex them down on Thursday to get them there in time for Friday, which is the last day. Whew!

I think I need an assistant.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Wanderings" cover is almost finished

The cover is almost finished. I stayed up until 1:45 and still have a bit more to go. I haven't finished the cars on the left, or any of the cars for that matter. I want to have darker shadows overall, but definitely sharp, small shadows on the left hand buildings in the window frames and along edges so the contrast kicks. The sun is supposed to be beating down on the left side causing the long shadows. I will need to darken up the shadows on the right side as well to compensate. Then I've just got to paint the Sutro tower and do another pass on the sky. Last but not least I'll do another dark shadow/outline/detail pass on the main character. I need at least tomorrow night, and maybe through Friday. Good thing I don't have to work OT at work this weekend.

I'm thinking one of my inside cover pages will have a collage of the photos I shot for reference as well as a short write up on what San Francisco means to me. The back page will have a link to this blog and some kind of ad for my upcoming Xiola comic.

I've also got to letter the book. Thanks to Morgan Loomis and my cousin Daniel Elder on comic font help. I think I got what I needed from I'm planning on having an inner monologue going on the entire time as the main character talks to himself. There is only a small bit of spoken dialog, the rest will be in his head. The words will not be necessarily about what he is seeing. I've always liked it when you allow the panels to speak for themselves, and use the words to talk about something else. When done well, it reads like poetry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cover Painting

I'm coming along with the painting a little slower than I'd have liked. Boy, am I cutting my time close. I want to send the comic down to the San Diego Comic Board on Monday the 1st to make sure I hit the Feb 6th deadline. I can probably finish the painting by Wednesday. Really I just need to get whatever I can get done this week, and hit the weekend real hard with my graphic design work and print prep.

I started the painting by going in and lightly hitting my shadows with cerulean blue. This helps set the tone of where I want my darks and lights. It also helps me to see the conrast I want to go for without getting too caught up in the colors I want to use. I'd already done a color study, so I knew basically the color scheme. Now it was a matter of seeing how dark/light the final image will be. I started on the sky first and did a little of the background buildings before I realized I really ought to focus on the main character first. I want to make sure the background isn't so busy that it distracts from the main character.

For painting the main character I'm using yellow ochre base, with some cadmium red, burnt sienna, and a touch of sap green over the cerulean blue shading. It's easy to turn skin tone into mud, so I'm trying to keep the skin as light as possible. You can always make watercolor darker. Lifting color off is not always so wasy, especially once I've put green in there. I'm using Windsor Newton watercolors and Monet brushes sizes 0, 8, and 12 as well as a flat 12 brush for washes.

I'll keep the images coming as I go so you can watch as the painting progresses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Color Studies

Before jumping into painting, I like to do a few color studies to see what direction I want to go in. I first tried the one on the top left. I want to put a big shadow across the road in front of the main character, but on my first attempt I went too dark and so the road starts to get lost in the background against all the other details. I went lighter overall in the second study and I like it more. Except for the background hill which is too dark. I prefer the soft look of the hill in the top piece and I like how the distant houses on the right are in the sun, so they are bright against the green hill in the top one. So I'll do another study Frankensteining the two together.

I've got about two weeks to finish the cover art, the lettering on the inside of the book, and do the inside and back covers. These are all elements that I often forget, but that end up taking a lot of time. Graphic design does not come naturally to me, so I tend to go for more simple concepts as I'd rather the layout look simple, than that I am trying too hard to be cool.

Tomorrow I'll do one final study, then I hope to start the actual painting. I'd been debating whether or not to ink this painting and I'm still not sure. The inside pages are inked, but I don't necessarily need to be consistent with the cover. I'd wanted to go straight from pencils to watercolor, as I'm planning on doing with my Xiola book, but I worry I might lose my lines. We'll see. I've got one more day to think about it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My drafting table

Here's a shot of a work in progress. I ended up spending Saturday with my son, instead of finishing the Wanderings cover. It was a good day. I tried to make up for it Sunday night, but only got so far. The pencils are in there, but not totally finished. I'll be shooting to paint by Wednesday.

As you can see I lay out all my reference in front of me. The original sketch is on the left. I tape photos of Josh and of San Francisco to the drafting table. I've got more photos around on the side table and on the wall, but I usually don't look up from the drafting table. If I have to turn my head to look at reference, it's too far.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wanderings (San Francisco, CA)

I've come up with a title for my Get Flunk short. I'm calling it Wanderings. This particular short will be Wanderings (San Francisco, CA). I made this story based off photos I shot in San Francisco. I always liked the idea of creating comics where the backgrounds were based off real places and not just made up cities. That you could recognize a skyline, or a particular street seems really cool to me. What if you could tell that Batman was in San Francisco, and not just because the Golden Gate Bridge is in every other panel, but because he's down on Bush Street or on the corner of Folsom and Langton.

I could do a Wanderings story for every city I visit. I'll base places and characters off those I meet in my travels. Get Flunk will be the main character in all of them. And in each he will encounter some odd inhabitants, and do some strange things. Fun Stuff. But before I do any other issues of Wanderings, I've got to spend the next year bringing Xiola to life.

I've also come up with a name for my publishing company. Uncommon Entertainment. I've done a preliminary trademark check, but haven't registered it yet, so don't go stealing it from me before I get a chance to acquire it.

I've got to send in the final printed Wanderings comic to the San Diego Comic Con board within the next two weeks, so this weekend has got to be real productive. I might be able to pencil the cover tomorrow, but more likely I'll finish the drawing part on Friday or Saturday and finish the watercolor by Sunday.

I love deadlines. They burn you like a good workout. I can't wait to finish this short so I can get back to Xiola. I may try and finish a watercolor piece for Xiola and put it on the back of Wanderings as an ad for Xiola. It all depends on how much I get finished by this weekend.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cover ideas

Here are some sketches I'm playing around with for cover ideas to my "Get Flunk" story. I like the idea of having the Golden Gate Bridge in there so you know it's a San Francisco story. I tried out two different versions of Get creating a Golden Gate Bridge with string. The one on the right would fit better with the vertical format of a comic cover. I also like the idea of the simple one of him below the bridge. It's a dramatic angle. It just doesn't have any weirdness to it, which I need to add as the story is weird.

The character is named Get Flunk. It's an odd name, and probably really lame, but that's what I'd named him when I created him, so that's still his name. I may name the book something else. It's about San Francisco, so maybe something having to do with San Francisco. We'll see.

I've still got to finish this thing real quick so I don't have a lot of time to deliberate, but I want the cover to be good so the Comic Con board is impressed and gives me a table. I'll put an ad for my Xiola book on the back cover with a link to my blog and such. Marketing, baby.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Comic Con requirements

The San Diego Comic Con is coming up in August. I have reserved a table, but the commmision needs to see a published book from me by the end of this month.
There's no way I can finish my comic by then or by the end of next month, so I'm going to scramble to see what comic work I can put together into a book form and send.

I might publish my "Get Flunk" story. It's an 8 page comic I did a while back but never published. It's about an odd kid living in San Francisco. It is a watercolor piece, like I'm planning to do with my Xiola comic, but I inked it, whereas I'm hoping to just do pencils and watercolor for my new book. All I need to do is a front and back inside and outside covor for it and BAM! I've got a comic book.

That's my plan for the month. I'll put Xiola production on hold to secure my San Diego Comic Con table. I'll keep you posted with the progress.

Here's a sample page of the Get Flunk short.Get is kind of an odd character. He's based physically off my friend Josh Gorchov I (check out Josh's badass illustration work at www. and his character is somewhat based off the crazy stories Josh told of when he lived in San Francisco. He never did any of the bizarre things I've got him doing in my comic, but he has some great stories. Ask him about the insane ninja who tried to fight off the cops in his back alley with his ninja weapons. That's a good one.

Rough Layout

I had to do some commercial storyboards tonight, so I didn't get much time to work on the comic. I'm still working on my rough layout. Here's my page 2 and 3 spread. This is how I layout my comic. I figure out all the panel work and poses at this stage. You'll be amazed how much this helps when I get to the final pencil stage. My guesswork is done for me. Once I finish roughing out the whole book I take some ref photos, then pencil, then watercolor. Sounds pretty simple.

This spread is the introduction to one of the main characters, a young honey collector of the Eastern Reaches. His character is based off my son, Kodo.

My friend Leonard Robel loaned me a photo book called The Honey Collectors of Nepal and that's where I got the inspiration for this character and for his introduction. These Nepalese guys scale sheer cliffs and brave swarms of stinging bees to harvest honey and beeswax. I already had the character written into the story, but he was a minor character. After I gave him the background as a honey collector, I found that he ended up being very important to the story. It's amazing how the background of a character can open up new story possibilities.

I ended up creating a character based off Leonard too. I'll show him to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cave Beast

This is a cave beast.

They live among the cliffs of the great canyon of Sidia. They are kind of a cross between a gorilla and a bear. They don't always look this angry. This is what one looks like when it's pissed off.

The Sidian people believe that the beasts are their kin and they treat them with great respect. Meaning, they avoid them at all costs.

You would too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

another small sketch

Here are some sketches of what the typical Sidian people look like.

My story is all written. I finished it a few months ago, though I'm only now starting to rough together the layout to figure out my panel placement as well as page count.

For those of you interested in seeing how a comic book is made, here are my steps.

1. Come up with a story idea you want to tell. Whether it's based off one idea, or a single drawing.
My story is based off two separate concepts. One is Genghis Khan. The other is a crappy little sketch I did in my journal. It was of a woman warrior standing over a hill of bodies with more enemies approaching (ala Conan) yet she has arrows sticking out of her all over and a spear through her chest, so it is obvious that she will not survive. But even with all the wounds she's got, she is still standing and ready to fight. Yet behind her is the silhouette of some large beast about to attack her from behind. The idea was that we're seeing the death of a great warrior.

2. Flesh out the idea with character designs, and story concepts. Fun stuff.

3. Write the script. I prefer to type mine out as if it's going to be a book. I don't worry about comic book format with panels separated and text, versus dialog. I just write it out as a story form. I'll figure out all the technical stuff later.

4. Final your designs: characters, locations etc. I don't get too elaborate here as I may create new location ideas or alter characters in the layout phase.

5. Rough Layout. This is where the real work begins. I take a bunch of 8 1/2 X 11 pieces of paper, fold them in half, and sketch out the entire book. I get all the panel layout and page count figured out at this point. Now I've got a mini rough version of my entire comic.

6. Shoot reference. For this comic I've decided to shoot reference for my characters. I've based most of the characters off friends and family, so I'm hoping they'll be willing to pose for me. I've already roughed out the entire book so I'll know what I'm going to need from them. I'm not too worried about costumes and what-not, just posing and faces. I want the characters to feel real.

7. Pencil stage. Now I'll move on to drawing the darn thing. I love this part. If you've planned out your rough version well, and you've got reference photos and character/location designs, there's not a whole lot of thinking here. You just have fun and draw.

8. Color tests. I'll probably do a rough color test for each page on a small piece of watercolor paper. I'll sketch out a rough of the page and test out my palette here. I don't want to ruin my drawing with a poorly planned paint job.

9. Color stage. I'll be watercoloring the entire book. I'm excited about getting my hands dirty with some real medium. It's been a while and I'm ready to rock it.

10. Lettering. I'm planning on using some kind of digital lettering software. I've lettered my own books in the past, but I'm not really a letterer and poor lettering really downgrades a book's quality. I don't know what program I'll use yet. I'm most comfortable with photoshop, but I've never been too happy with it's fonts. If anyone's got a better idea, let me know.

11. Market the hell out of it. I'll be going to comic cons, taking out ads, and sending free preview editions to all the stores I can find.

12. Print and distribute. I'll be publishing myself (I think) so I'll advertise in a comic buyers mag and the order number will determine the print run. It's been a while since I've done a rag so I'll be figuring this step out as I go.

Viola! All done.

I'll keep you all up to date with my progress as I go. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Starting things up...

Hello, my name is William Groebe.

This blog is dedicated to the comic I am producing. It is a seven issue series which will take place in Xiola, which is kind of a parallel world to our own. The working title for the book is "Xiola: Sacrifice of the Sidian"

Here's an early sketch of my main character, Eleya.