14 January 2014

[art] Guest Post: The Comic Creative, With Christina Cabral

And now, after a long,long time my little blog tries to grow up … with a guest post! I am in a sort of a mixture of renaissance/reconfiguration and I'm aiming to push this into more of a resource. This means more than just sharing my art-healing but also trying to bring more than just my fun personality every entry.

This is the first guest post of my blog and, since I've been exploring creativity I thought I'd ask one of my more inspiring Facebook acquaintances for some insight. I adore work-in-progress and the creative process … I've always imagined it was like being able to watch a nuclear reaction in real-time on the atomic level … watching small things coming together to become something more than the sum of its
Copyright Christina Cabral. More awesome
at her website.
original parts.

L.A artist Christina Cabral's work crackles with inventiveness, flair, fearlessness and take-on-the-world attitude. Since she's allowed me the privilege of a front-row seat to her creativity, I've watched her go from merely great to excellent, zooming in a superlative direction. I find her art challenging, delightful, daring and antic. It brims with a sort of confidence that's hard to contain. She's going to be something big sometime soon.

So, naturally, I wondered about how she met her creative challenge. She graciously agreed to speak a few words about it, and I'm grateful for the privilege of sharing. So, the following words, which may be read … and read through to the bottom for links that will take you into this artist's world.

And now, Christina …

Because I went to school for animation I tend to start a comic like I would a short; I make a list of things that need to get done. This is just how I get to work,I’m just a crazy list maker.

  •  Idea
  •  Story
  •  Characters
  •  Supporting characters
  •  Concepts for world and character building
  •  Storyboard full story arch/or short story
  •  Block out pages
  •  Edit
  •  Finalize pencils on pages
  •  Ink Pages
  •  Edit 
  •  Tone and/or Color pages
  •  Edit
  •  Dialog and FX
  •  Edit
Clearly editing is pretty important to the process. Ideally sticking to the list is best but it doesn’t always happen. In the end as long as the final result is the comic you want to see then you did it,you made a thing! 

Story and Characters

It’s cool to have elaborate backgrounds for every character you have but it’s not as great to make that the first 5 chapters of your comic. For Gardenia* I just made quick 3 pose turnarounds for each character and wrote some simple stats on the side of them like; name, height, age. Since it was in black and white I didn’t color them. If it was in color I’d have worked that out in concept doodles and made a small square color key on the side of the turnarounds for future pages. 

When it comes to story I’ve learned from struggling on my first comic that scripts are important. Outline first then script will make storyboarding the pages much easier. Storyboarding/thumbnailing is also super useful because you can figure out the blocking right away. If you can coloring the thumbnails that helps too. The more prep you do the less time editing you need. 

Inking and Coloring

For Gardenia* I inked it by hand and added the tone with photoshop. Whatever you work in fastest is going to be the best bet. For me inking by hand is much faster because I feel the Wacom pen lags for the way I like my lineart. As for the coloring I like to use photoshop because it’s faster to block color out and still be able to change it on a dime.

Dialog and FX

Decorative fonts are neat but think about how you read a comic. If the text is too fancy it’s hard to read and takes longer to get the story across. It’s ok to have it on background items or characters clothes but not so much fun to read as dialog. I like to use Helvetica but any sans-serif works brilliantly. FX are just as tricky especially if the font is not contrast enough on what the FX are against. Quick fix for that is to add a stroke to the font in white or black (or contrasting color) so it will read but not distract too much. 

Layout and Printing

Layout can be done easily enough using InDesign. If you don’t know how to use it there are tutorials online that I used as well. Make a booklet tutorial (http://youtu.be/GY16m7QcFj4) Ah printing … the final frontier of your finished comic. You can use your local printer if you have connections,use a service like KaBlam (http://ka-blam.com/printing/front/) or Createspace or do like my friend and I did; print it at home/Staples using a long arm stapler to connect it. I don’t suggest the latter unless you have lots of patients and less than 10 pieces of paper for your book. The industrial cutters at Kinkos/Staples/printing places can only cut through so many pieces of paper. In the long run doing it at a printer or using a service is going to be way more cost effective because of test prints. Like always the first pancake is always ugly,no matter what. 

I hope these tips helped anyone starting to make comics. Work smarter, not harder. 

… Thanks, Christina!

A notabene… The comic Gardenia mentioned above is from her zine Kitten Squad: Resurrection, a romantic and spooky tale which I've been privileged to see. The zine is on my desk and ready for a review, and that's coming soon. Really moving stuff.

To get on board the Kittie express, you can follow her at Facebook; her Kittie Cakes Designs page there is https://www.facebook.com/kittiecakes. If you want a look at some more of her art and design, Kittie Cakes Design's home on the web is http://www.kittiecakes.net/, where you can see her other art, bloggy stuff, all sorts of goodness.

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