A miscellany of weekly ramblings on comics, art and film by Ted Mathot, storyboard artist and writer/artist/self-publisher of graphic novels and comics

Thursday, April 13, 2006


For those planning a project like this one, it's good to set up a list of rules to go by in order to keep you on track and also sane.
Here are some of the rules I had given myself from the very beginning (please keep in mind these are just for the R&I books. The next project may have an entirely different set of rules!):

1. Greyscale only -- although B&W can be very challenging, it's nowhere near as difficult as color (for me).

2. No rendering -- the greys must be flat color or simple gradients. At the very most I allowed myself a drop shadow or rim light.

3. No brushes smaller that 10 pixels -- to keep myself from noodling or getting too detail oriented. OK, I'll admit on some panels I went to an 8 pixel brush, but it was very rare.

4. No fancy brushes or textures -- again, to keep myself from noodling or rendering.

5. No zoom in past 25% of actual size -- again, a few minor departures here, but not too many. I only went in to 50% to draw balloons and some important expressions. nothing was drawn at 100% size of the 600 dpi files.

6. Keep Moving -- if a drawing isn't right (and there are many I'm not totally happy with) I have to keep going. I'll take a few whacks at it, but then move on. If it really bothers me, I'll try to come back to it later.

7. Come up with a schedule and stick to it -- this is absolutely essential. Know how much work you need to do and how much time you have to do it. Comics are great for time management cause you can break them down by pages. You can assign X number of pages per month, week, day, etc. If you fall behind or get ahead it's easy to adjust that number.

8. Everything doesn't have to be 100% historically accurate - of course Civil War buffs out there will want to string me up for some of the mistakes I made, but the truth is I did quite a bit of research but I could never hope to get everything right. And if I did, there would be no book because Amazons didn't fight in the Civil War. Everything is in service of the story. Story comes first, so omissions, changes and contunuity burps had to be made for that reason.

These are just some of the rules that made a project of this magnitude doable in the time I've given myself. I hope his helps those of you out there who are starting projects of your own!


The Moth said...

Man, that is one good lookin' drawing you posted there. This is leading up to one heckuva launch. Can't wait.

Nice rules, BTW.


MT said...

Thanks for sharing!
I agree about the greyscale, and keep moving is probably the hardest one of those to follow. I find myself questioning my work alot, but you can always revisit.

J said...

Hey Ted. Just out of curiosity how you do apply constraints in your feature production work? I mean the production itself has the natural constraints native to the medium, but is there any constraints, or rules you find you yourself consistenly making in boarding to keep your mind on the right track?
Love to hear your thoughts on this.
RI is looking great.

TSM said...

thanks guys

j - the number one thing for me in boarding is to keep it loose and don't get married to anything at the beginning. It's all time management really; get the first pass down as quickly as possible (but make sure your shots and cuts are sensible and the drawings read). That way, at the very least you have a complete version of the scene. Then go back in and start to refine things and change shots, etc.

Obviously, the less time you have, the rougher the drawings will be and the less time you will have to refine your shots and cutting. In this case, focus on the most important parts of the scene (story-wise).

Clear is more important than clean.

OV! said...

great to see you post your list of rules for the book. i wrote my list for PIGTALE a while back but i havent looked at it in about 8 months, maybe thats why my 4th issue is almost a year late. haha. i need to find it.

cant wait to get this at the CON.


Jamie Baker said...

I really enjoy hearing this sort of stuff from creators. Their process and work habits, rules, guidelines etc. Whatever tricks people use to find clarity in the creative fog are of interest to me...

For example, I recently heard a very simple proceedure that can potentially keep a project on target at the writing stage (whereas the tips you've shared with us here are for keeping focussed during the art execution stage).

When writing a story, Stephen King keeps a particular person he knows in mind as the target reader for each of his books. It gives him a guidline as to what ideas or tones are appropriate in each story..

So thanks for giving us a peek inside your process.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Great stuff! I wish I'd seen this before I started Chippy and Loopus.
Full color in every strip. What was I thinking?
I can't wait for this book, Ted! It is the ONLY thing I am looking forward to in the coming year. Well, this and Darwyn Cooke's Spirit.

Dik Pose said...

Thanks for this insight into your thought process... everything here makes sense to me...

Daniel said...

Thanks for the input, ted. I just started working on my graduation project and to be able to pull it all off I really need a set of rules, production plan, etc.