The Art of Ryan Francis

The portfolio website of Ryan Francis


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Let’s Make A Comic Story Part 2: Reference Hunting

I continue showing off my process of making a comic where I adapt a story of a weird encounter at GameStop.

This section I’ll be demonstrating gathering references.

Since the story primarily takes place in GameStop, I gathered references of the store chain.

I also did a bit of hunting of how I want the Fedorable Man(That’s my name for him) to look. It’s a funny thing to design a stereotypical “Neckbeard” nerd character. There’s many ways to tackle it, and there’s no one way to make any character.

 

I grabbed a few refs of fat people and how fat works. I especially got some refs of baby hands as they seem the fattest of the hands.

When I think of the horror he eventually turns into, I imagine a fat, bloated blobbed nightmare, like The Boomer zombie enemy from left 4 Dead or Nurgle the Plague God from Warhammer.

Reference hunting also gives me an excuse to hunt for anatomy references for the girl’s butt (These are the safe for work refs I’ll show you ;P). Don’t spend too much time.

Since there’s some minor fighting actions, I also looked around for fist punching and choking references. This is the best time to restudy drawing hands and fists.

Some Refs for the crazy fluid attack!

And for when I can’t find a specific picture to use as a reference, I take my own pictures as references!

I gather more references as i make the comic which I’ll demonstrate during the making comic process.

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Let’s Make A Comic Story Part 1: Thumbnail Sketches

I’m struggling to write a new comic, so I decided to adapt an existing story to test myself. I’ve been working on a potential self-anthology of the dumb greentext stories that come from 4chan, Reddit, and Imgur because they get so outlandish sometimes and they’re a good source of visuals for me.

So I’ll be working at this comic story and recording my process as I go!This post is about Pre-Production and Thumbnailing.

This is the original greentext story.

I can picture this exchange in my head and I can see a decent visual of what I want to draw. So I begin some thumbnail drawings.

These are scans of small thumbnail drawings I made in my SketchWallet. It contains a 3.5×5.5 sketchbook, so it’s quite small. More pros usually will make 1 inch thumbnails on a sheet of copy paper which is fine and dandy as long as you stay small and quick. You really shouldn’t spend more than 5 minutes on a page.

The point of these thumbnail page sketches is to quickly figure out the broad scope of the entire story as a rough whole package. Because it’s so small you won’t be caught up in details and waste time on things that don’t matter yet.

This thumbnailing and pre-production time is also a good time to experiment with panel shapes and layouts before committing them to actual pencil drawings or inks. Here, I put little notes to myself to readjust the panel layout, mark an important panel or piece of dialogue to emphasize, or just tell myself the page isn’t working.

Thumbnails are mainly for your own reference to remember the direction you decided for your story, your writer to give them a rough idea of how they story might be taken visually, or an editor who might give you suggestions about how to improve the story layout and flow. As the person creating these bad drawings for yourself, and it’s entirely you’re choice to show off your thumbnails to the public or not.

After all this, I decided to do some editing in Photoshop to figure out the story better and put some notes down. This is a larger edited version of my thumbnails (click for the full size).

I’m showing my progress as I go because I’ve always been interested in the process of making a comic from start to finish and I hope you’ll be interested too!


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Ryan’s Recommended Book List for Learning the Basics of Art

Many of you are debating whether or not you’d need to go to art school to learn how to make art and my short personal answer is No.

Sure, it will be easier to have a teacher show you the ropes and speak with you about your work in person, with all the many resources available on the internet, from video tutorials, articles, blog posts, and books, it’s extremely easier to acquire art knowledge provided you are willing to put in the time and learn.

As I’ve been asked a few times about my art education, I want to do my part in helping people out on their art journey, so I made a list of books that I own or have read a bunch to help anyone else out.
Some of these books are books I studied in college to learn how to draw. Many are books I’ve picked up from my local library to preview and buy.

Good Books for Drawing in General and Learning Core Fundamentals

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards – If you have never ever drawn before in your life, this book will help you learn how to not only start but enjoy putting marks on the page.

Fun With A Pencil by Andrew Loomis – This book is great book for beginners as it can help you figure out what kind of things you like to draw. It’s also a genuinely funny book.

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Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson – This book is a great intro on how to simply put lines on the page. I actually gave away my copy to a friend so he could learn drawing so I don’t have a picture with me.

Picture This – How Pictures Work by Molly Bang – This book will demonstrate the basics of composition. Composition can truly make or break your artwork, possibly more than good anatomy or perspective.

Perspective Made Easy by Ernest R Norling – The biggest thing to learn if you want be be an artist whether professional or not is how to draw in perspective. This book will help you learn how to draw with a sense of 3D depth and space.

The Figure by Walt Reed – This book is great for learning the general structure and key points of the human body. As an artist and not a medical illustrator, you have a bit more freedom to fudge the details a bit. But this book is the best and highlighting specific landmarks of the human figure that will keep up the suspension of disbelief.

Drawing Scenery: Landscape and Seascapes by Jack Hamm – After you get a better grasp on perspective, this book with help you understand how to start creating outdoor scenery. This book isn’t a good alternative to actually going outside and drawing what you see, but it can help reduce the indecision of where to start drawing in a landscape.

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Bird Art Process

I haven’t done much that I can talk about this week. but I can show you my process on traditionally coloring this illustration of Gloster Canaries in marker.

I’ve already scanned the ink art of drawing and you can read my tutorial about how to scan and edit inked line art so you can have a good clean drawing for digital coloring!

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This is mostly a drawing done with a Pentel Pocket brush. It’s a really good brush in terms have a portable brush you don’t have to dip in ink all the time, but this is a soft nylon brush so it will catch every wobble and heavy handed mark you make.

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I spent most of my time trying to understand the colors I needed from my bird references.

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I was recently introduced to the joys of Pro White, it’s great for covering up black line mistakes, but not for being colored with Copic marker…

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Beginning to color my next two birds. Gloster Canaries come in a variety of feather patterns, so I had an easier time adding variety to the piece.

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My weird ideas was to use an under cover color so it would look better mixed with the over cover colors. I haven’t confirmed if it make the marker colors look smoother and not streaky, but it does look smooth to me.

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Last two birds getting finished. I do regret my middle brush work as I think I’m not as great with dry brush techniques as I want to be.

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This is the final drawing! I’ve used my Uniball Pen to add a free highlights to push the birds support from each other and make them stand out. I did use Photoshop doctoring in the scanned version to clear out the bad blobs on some birds, but all and all it this looks fine enough.

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You can stop by my store to get a print of these birds for $10 or to get the real drawing itself for $60!


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Scanning and Editing Ink Art

Many have asked me to do a tutorial on getting good line art and scans from my traditional artwork to the computer. This is my rough workflow for working with my art; it usually takes me around 20 minutes to finish if it’s a smaller piece. I will break it down as much as I can so you too can make good scanned artwork!

Scan your Artwork

You should find a scanner that can fit the paper in the scanner. If the paper can’t fit, scan the page in pieces and edit them together. I’ll make an article on this at a different time.

 

At the moment, I’m using the scanners at the public library. It’s an Avision FB6280E A3 Book Scanner from what I’ve looked up. Able to support pages up to 11 inches by 17 inches and can scan at a resolution up to 600 dpi, which is great for working with art in! Since buying them normally costs a pretty penny, I settle for taking advantage of our tax dollars and using local library resources!

For this scan, I used 9 inch by 12 inch Strathmore Vellum Bristol Paper. It feels good to sketch in it, handles ink decently, and Copic markers don’t bleed through it that badly!

The scan bed is large enough to fit a 11 inch by 17 inch page so it’s large enough to fit comic pages I make!

The library software for the scanner has great options to let me save to my own USB drive or email it to myself if the file size is small enough.

These days, I often scan in PDF since I’m usually scanning multiple pages of art and Photoshop can open the files easily so that’s a benefit for me.

Your scans should be at a really high dpi to work with. The minimum you should scan at is 300 Dots per Inch, any lower and you’ll have to work with a blurry, pixelly mess.. A mass majority of printers scan at 300 DPI, so if you have any that can go higher, you take that up! Though the higher the DPI, the long it will take to scan, so unless you’re drawing a digital Sistine Chapel, you should stick with 600 DPI at most.

In the case of this library software, scan at Photo Quality since it’s the highest it can go.

Back Up Raw Scan Files

These are the raw unedited scans (Reduced for web looking.) I always scan in Color, Greyscale, and Black,  but I tend to always edit the Color scan because I’ll have more control over the post processing. It just feels good to cover my bases.

In case of misfortune, make backups of your scans. You never know if you’ll lose the original sheet or make a change in the future that you regret and want to go back. Email the file to yourself, save it to Dropbox, copy it to an external hard drive, do all of it, slip the files anywhere you can so you can foolproof yourself.

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