Saturday, 17 December 2016

SDOAR: Pencils Round 1

In between wrapping up two classes for the semester and struggling with a bout of the common cold that very well could end humanity I got a fair amount of 'penciling' done over the last two weeks.

Dave, I am, ready for the next batch of mock-ups. I plan to wait on inking until all of the pencils are done so I can really get into that zen place with the brush.

I tried two different version of the following page. Dave, any preference?


Dave Kopperman said...

Looks fantastic. Seriously.

Jeff Seiler said...

On the last page, panel 5, upper right-hand corner, is that Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, Carson?!?

If so...


Travis Pelkie said...

Worst. Depiction. Ever.


Man, Comic Book Guy in photorealistic style would be creepy, wouldn't it?

crazyyears said...

A thought: the double-page spread, while beautiful, doesn't really show any action. No guns or swords in hand, no punches thrown, no swinging on vines.
Of course much depends on what our comic shop lady is doing among them. Is she imagining herself a hero? It seems to me a 2016 comic shop lady would not be identifying with characters that mostly just stand around in their gowns.
Context is everything and I may be completely of base.

crazyyears said...

Oh! And as I am getting in the habit of saying: amazing work, Carson.

Carson Grubaugh said...

Thanks, ya'll.

Comic Book Guy is in a number of the panels, even back in my tryout pages, just not so large and clearly depicted.

Ed said...

Wow - I just love this pages. So skillful. Just lovely.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Carson -- I'l take the #1 version of the two options.

Also: how would you be about letting Karl Stevens do a couple of these pages? I haven't talked to him but I thought I'd talk to you first to see if you were okay with it, since they're your photographs.

crazyyears: You'll have to read the narration when the book is ready to go. I think I have you covered.

Dave Sim said...

Jeff - Yes -- they actually have a Comic Book Guy figure in front of the store computer. It's in all the photographs!

Carson Grubaugh said...


Just got the brushes in the mail. Thank you! Makes me itchy to start inking.

Was able to stage the fender-bender today, so the first and last pages of these two sequences should be all penciled up with two or three days, leaving me ready for the next batch.

Regarding Karl doing some of the pages: I will happily draw whatever you send my way and then happily move on back to my own work. The only hesitation I have is, given the conversations we have had about how the sequence ends, does Karl drawing some of the pages fit the narrative?

Also, just got a google alert for this article by Heidi Macdonald, which reports, pretty in-depth, on where we are at with the book.

Jason Winter said...

Great to see the process, and progess. Keep it coming please!

Jeff Seiler said...

Hey, Carson, I'm with Dave. Version 1 is definitely better.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Carson! I'm of two minds about that: on the one hand, it would be nice to have the bridging material "All Carson" for consistency. But, on the other hand, when you two guys take over the drawing on SDOAR up ahead, we're going to have you both on the book, anyway. So, this would seem a good chance to see what kind of "mash-up" that looks like. Do people even notice? The more realistic the style, in my experience, the less people can tell who is doing what.

As an example, Gerhard and I can tell who did which animals in the Africa Sequence in FORM & VOID and I suspect you could and Karl could because you're used to seeing all the detail elements and overall look through a professional photorealist's eyes. For most other people it makes a good quiz show question.

The last bridging sequence between "issue 4" and "issue 5" is the longest. Why don't you pick two facing pages and e-mail them to Karl and we just won't tell people which two pages Karl did and we won't get you to preview your "issue 4 and issue 5 pages" here. When they're done we can post them all and see if people can tell the difference.

If there's no major difference, I can just send alternating two-page spreads to you guys as I get them mocked up or send more pages to the guy who's the fastest at turning them around. Or "double up" if there's a scheduling problem for one guy or the other.

Dave Sim said...

Carson - I'm also going to send you a few boxes of Hunt 102 pen nibs. "Purist" Alex Raymond is strictly brush, but the only Al Williamson SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN original that I've got, there is definitely pen on there. A LOT of pen relative to the brush. And Williamson, to me, is the "look" that we're going for.

If there's any concern that I have with your Williamson style, it's that the REALLY thin lines aren't thin enough. My suggestion would be that when you start inking that you do the solid blacks and textured brush strokes with the brushes that I sent...

[the problem with too many brushes is that you often don't figure out which is the best brush because it can take a while for a good brush to make itself known. You have to work it into "game shape". So it's going to be a balancing act on your part: getting a few brushes "on the go" and then seeing which one(s) are giving you better results. There are "Raymond brushes" and "Williamson brushes" in my experience that just seem to ink like those guys practically on their own]

...and then go to the Wally Wood theory: "I like to put in my solid blacks and then see how much drawing I have left to do." Which, in my experience, is "later and moreso" with Williamson. A big part of his look is how a) tiny his pen lines are and b) how few of them there are. MUCH tinier and FAR fewer than Wally Wood.

Dave Sim said...

Carson III - Towards the end there -- late 2014 early 2015 -- I had gotten completely brutal about it, having looked at Williamson's pen lines through a jeweller's loupe on the only original I had. Let's get serious about this. HOW do you get lines that thin?: basically, what I would do is, any time that I put a new Hunt 102 pen nib into the pen stock, I would test it and if it was a PURE 102: absolutely microscopically thin line...

[You can tell right away. If it has a little "beef" to it, then I'd just use it as I'd use any 102 -- like a tiny brush, press on it to get some texture. Outline stuff, cross-hatch. Whatever.]

...then I'd put it aside and ONLY use it for the microscopic stuff -- eyelashes on a face that's only a half-inch tall, fine, fine blonde hair -- basically the LAST things I'd do on the page. Don't even dream of using it to do anything thicker or you'll ruin the perfect sharpness and tension.

That takes a lot of self-discipline -- forcing yourself to ONLY use it for the thinnest lines and PUTTING IT DOWN when the thinnest lines are done -- but, as I say, the last pages I ever did were the best I ever did.

Carson Grubaugh said...


It is hilarious that you talk about the animals in Form and Void, whenever we post my commentary on that volume you will see that I spend a LOT of words pointing out the dramatic differences between your animals and Gerhard's animals. Also Gerhard grass vs. Dave Sim grass. HUGE difference, to my eye at least.

Sounds like a plan with Karl. It will be a fun experiment for sure! When Sandeep sends over the next batch of mock-ups also have him send me Karl's e-mail.

On the first of the tryout pages I hadn't really figured out to set aside the extra fine nibs, but started doing it in the later ones. I uspect I can actually get thinner lines with my brush. I will send along a scan to Sandeep of a trial I did seeing how thin I could go with the brushes. I have also printed out some of your pages to size to get an idea of how thin the lines go.

Dave Sim said...

a) Yes!

b) Will do. Did you get the #4 to #5 mock-ups yet?

c) That's true. People don't believe it, generally, but once you have Alex Raymond's brush sharpening trick down, you can get much thinner than you can with a pen. When you get there, try hatching and cross-hatching with a brush. There's really no other "look" like it. Same as Raymond's duo-shade: cross-hatching in one direction with a pen and cross-hatching in the other direction with a brush. Nothing else looks like that.

Carson Grubaugh said...


I still need the mock-ups for the material between #3 -#4 and #4-#5. The pencil scans Sandeep is bringing you represents all the material I have received mock-ups for.

Will have to try the pen over brush cross-hatching. Any particular Rip Kirby strip dates I can look at on Heritage to see the look you are talking about? The biggest problem I have with hatching using the brush is over really long pulls. It is hard to stay at a consistent line width for the duration of the pull. Switching over to the 102 for the areas with lots of long lines just makes everything go faster because I can be just that little bit heavier handed and stable.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Carson -- I'll take a look in Goulart's ALEX RAYMOND book for a good example. You can tell, because if he's using pen, you'll get little "hooks" on the end of the lines. If he's using brush, they're squared off.

And no, I don't expect you to copy it over large areas. It really doesn't make a difference to the overall audience and Williamson got gorgeous results just with pen. Although I suspect once you're in the inking "zone" you'll get there on your own. As long as you're working with the brush consistently -- which is what you'll be doing: doing all the inking at the same time -- you really start to Understand that the brush can do Anything the pen can do and usually Better. But as soon as you're away from the brush for even a day or so, you lose that Knowledge/Faith. "It's a frigging BRUSH! You can't get a PEN line out of a brush!"

Even Raymond if you look at his RIP KIRBY designs -- there's WAY more pen on there than he ever used before 1945/46. But he had been gone to the war for a couple of years and lost touch with it. And then it came back because he'd ink the entire week's worth of strips in a couple of days. He'd be back in the "zone".

PEN? I don't need no stinking PEN!

Went through it myself multiple times on SDOAR. :)

Dave Sim said...

Carson - forgot my post-it notes with the examples of brush cross-hatching and brush-and-pen cross-hatching on RIP KIRBY. D'OH! I'll try to remember them after Christmas!

Sandeep said he's sent you all the pages TWICE now and showed them to me on his computer. "Yep, that's all of them all right."

E-mail him until they actually go through.

And Merry Christmas!