A New Mix in the Works

A while back I came up with the 5-Track Challenge where one chooses 5 “visual” and inspiring songs and arranges them in a playlist to somewhat tell a story. That playlist is then given to another artist and their challenge is to create a 3-5 page comic based on whatever comes to mind while listening to the mix.

Sunday Ink’s David Piper and I have been passing these back and forth for a little while now. He’s currently on his third while I’m on my second. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep up this process and have a nice little collection of awesome music inspired one-shot comics.

Here’s a little bit of the progress I’ve mad so far on the current mix.

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I don’t have all of the process documented, but I usually reserve a chunk of time, grab a cup of tea, clear my mind, and drift away to the tunes. Sometimes I’m out of practice and the first bit of the music often confuses me. What is it going to be about? What is this song making me see? Can’t fret… must not worry about these things, continue to listen, and the ideas will start coming to mind. The thing is, ideas may not always come to you durring first or even the second track. It’s the whole playlist that is the story. Maybe it’s something in track 4 or 5 that brings you that “AHA” moment.

Sure enough, thoughts become images and I start to see a story. I listen to the playlist again, and again. This time I doodle images, and write notes. Unfortunately, with this one, I wrote a whole lot of notes. I think there were 3-4 pages of a written outline with thumbs and doodles. There’s only 5 pages to work with so I had to take that outline to the chopping block. This is hard because I would have loved to keep all the visuals and transitions I saw… but many take up at least a page or two. Did I choose the best parts? I dunno… but I’ll continue to listen to the music as I refine these ideas into thumbnails.

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Ok, So the pages are laid out and it comes down to the lengthy process of inking. Unfortunately, I decided to do a portion of this comic in ballpoint pen, which is an even lengthier process than normal inking. On top of that, there are quite a few panels with architecture… which is actually easier to do in ballpoint pen since it’s all scribbly and you don’t have to worry as much about line-weight. However, drawing lots of buildings takes time.

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It all starts to look like scribbly mud to me which means it’s time to move on. I can always come back to it to redefine certain features with fresh eyes.

So I’m working with a B5 live area which has it’s pros and cons. It’s small enough that I can throw it in a folder and work on it anywhere. Also, When it comes to shading, there’s not as much to shade. But sometimes, things get a little too small. See those tiny people in the center right panel? It’s so difficult to add definition to drawings that small.

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Another thing that makes rendering in ballpoint pen a lengthy process is that you often have to mask a lot of stuff. This panel wasn’t that difficult to mask, but the one below it will be a quite fun (sarcasm) since I don’t want to scribble all over my character in the foreground.

It’s important to finish the area you masked off in one sitting. If you decide to take a break and come back to it later, the humidity in the air will make the glue in the tape all the more sticky. When you peel it off the page will tear. I speak from experience (and it is a painful experience). Finish the area you’re working on and remove the masking from your page as soon as possible.

Well, need to get back to it so keep an eye on ACGalaga.com for more updates!!

If you’d like to check out DPi’s and my other Mixes click the links below 🙂

5-Track Mind – by David Piper

Lightspeed – by David Piper

Western Mix – A.C. Galaga

Party on, dudes!

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