Turncoat Art: The War of Thumbnailing
So TURNCOAT Issue #3 is almost completed. Blimey. Time sure does fly. Many thanks to everyone who’ve stuck with us so far for our first webcomic. We’re learning on our feet and loving every minute. We’re especially enjoying the comments section – it’s nice to know we’re not shouting into the void.
I thought – benevolent writer/dictator that I am – that Plaid Klaus could have a single 10 minute break from pencilling/inking/coloring/lettettering/designing to talk about his thumbnailing process.
Over to you, brother.
Thumbnails are the blueprint for the comic book illustrations. It’s where the artistic war is waged, it’s where the battle is won. So, when Ryan gives me a script, it’s time for me to prepare for battle. My first thoughts are always, “Ryan who taught you to write, monkeys?”. Ryan always apologizes for his primate ancestry (I have never apologised – Ryan) and we move forward with making comics. Before any pencil is put to paper, I read the whole script, then go back and analyze each page. Which panel is the “King” shot (most important). I’ll even try to figure out the “Queen” shot (either setting up, adding impact to the king shot or just the second most important piece of information). If I know I want to use an extreme wide or tall panel, I figure out how the previous panels need to be arranged to allow for that in the page design. Next I realize my own existential dread and decide thinking is great, but if I don’t put anything to paper then I’ll have nothing to show for all my thoughts. So it’s time to thumbnail…
If the page design doesn’t work at the length of one’s thumb it won’t work any better when seen at full size. It’s important to take the time and make sure the elements work small before going into final illustrations. There is a lot of information that goes into a page that needs to be considered. Does the composition lead the readers eye across the page? Does the dialogue fit nicely in the resting spaces without covering important visual information? Are the images even interesting to look at? All these are important questions to ask yourself while developing thumbnails. Let’s get into the trenches and talk about how these designs get made.
When the thumbnails are complete, I enlarge them to page size, reanalyze them and make minor adjustments in photoshop, as well as add the final white borders. In fact, I go one step further, since I letter my own work as well, and I’ll place the lettering onto the thumbnails to be 100% sure that the comic reads and nothing is crowded or covered. It’s a lot of time to invest in such an early stage, but honestly you have a comic by the end. Sure, it looks rough and needs to be polished, but again the blueprint is complete, now I can start building.