Doug TenNapel – Penciling
December 8, 2012
When I pencil a comic page, my goal is to place a marker on the paper that is a guide for my inks. That’s all. I want the pencil line to do the kinds of things that minimize the mistakes I can make with inks without sacrificing the energy and power of a final ink line. I’m not trying to draw the same line twice, or I could just as easily go straight to inks.
It’s hard for me to get perspective right at the inking stage without a marker set down on the page first, so placing characters, buildings and environment on a believable plane is the the first job of my pencil work. It can be scribble-y, but only if the scribbles look good and appealing. If the first pencil line doesn’t look appealing, then I make sure I fix it at the pencil stage, knowing it ought to look good before a permanent ink line casts that drawing in cement forever.
Above is an opening two-page spread for my comic, Nnewts. I’m going to force the reader’s eye to go from left to right by putting the most basic, simple images on the left, and drawing them to the more detailed, interesting town on the right. Merely spreading detail equally across any panel is mean to do to readers, as it doesn’t tell a story. I can push the eye by guiding it with roads, beauty, little characters doing things on the ground like swimming or talking to other characters, until they end at a natural place to grab the page on the right and turn it for the next page of the story.
A detailed close up shows how flexible I am with perspective. The middle building’s vertical lines don’t make the tilt of the building before or after, but the shapes are pushing your eye where I want it to go. It’s not accurate, but it’s dramatic. The building on the left leans to the right pushing you to the next building before it meets a curved building that stops the eye like a backstop. To the right of this building are little Nnewt children playing ball in the street. That’s really all the story I need the reader to see before turning the page.
Next up… the inks.