Friday Fixup: Rapha Lobosco

Hey! every Friday I ask if any artists would like me to see if I can’t pump up the storytelling on a single page of their art.

I find these fascinating, both for the insight they offer me in to other artists but they require me to really think about the decisions I’m making on storytelling (more so than when I’m just drawing)

Today my 13 year old son is off to Rome for a week long school trip, and I’ve at least four submissions, so let’s see what we can get done.

Usual caveats apply: this is what *I* would do, and not necessarily the right way to do these (they’re certainly not the only way, give a hundred artists a script and you’ll get 100 different pages)

BUT! I think there’s lessons to be learned, even if you disagree with everything I do – it firms up what you think, and that can’t be bad? right? (Unless you’re full of wrong-think in which THAT IS BAD. But you wouldn’t know that)

Here’s Rapha Lobosco’s original, and my redraw and annotations to follow…

I know Rapha, so I may be a little more heavy handed than usual (just bear that in mind)

Ok, I have two initial thoughts about this:

1) Where the heck are we?

2) This is all very light (both in the brightness and in the weight of it) looking. Lots of freespace for colouring, but as I’ve said before MOAR BLACKS! ALWAYS MOAR BLACKS!

SO these are the things I’ve got to address. I have to make a decision : night or day. It’s not really clear. So I figure NIGHT with floodlight arena. Floodlighting means heaver crisper shadows.

Panel 1 – This gets the biggest, most dramatic make over. Assuming night I add a heavy star studded night sky with clouds. Added a lot of shadow over the figure, and bleed that black into the surrounding gutter. Now we’re grounded (a trick I’ve used before)

The sword looks a little odd to me, too short and stubby (maybe it IS a short and stubby sword) but assuming it’s a normal sword, it would jut out more – because it’s a rigid fixed length/width, and we have a passable idea of what a sword should look like so any variation can look a little weird unless we get a good hero shot of it.

(Anecdote time: Aged 18 I drew a one page sci fi strip, it featured a barman on an alien planet, I drew him from the back and sort of stunted his arm a LOT. John McCrea [we go way back] saw it and said “what’s going on with his arm” – “er..” I replied, looking for an excuse, “he’s an ALIEN”.

John thought this over for like a millisecond and said “well, yeah, but it just looks badly drawn”.

Cruel, but fair)

Since everything is a little darker, we can add a bit of a shadow around the other primary figure here – just a bit of weight to help her pop out of the background.

We now have a few, clearly defined planes – foreground with heavy blacks, midground, girl standing, medium black and far background which is lighter.

On drawing crowds: crowds have a ragged appearance at a distance, crowds are a pain and you DO have to find shortcuts, I’m not sure the flat line with black blobs is entirely successful. Even just adding the ragged lines I think help.

Panel 2 – 3 – 4

There’s an entire story telling sequence here which I think needs to be tidied up a little. Girl in leather jacket cuts her arm with a knife and lets other girl suck her blood (a tale as old as time). I think we need to be crystal clear, so..

panel 2 – added the knife in her hand (with a bit of a glint). This actually looks far more threatening than I’d intended (esp with her hand at her neck). I also added a bit of background, I don’t think we’ve earned the ability to drop the background just yet (backgrounds don’t need to be complex, they can be suggestive, just enough lines to keep our sense of place)

Panel 3 – we’re pulling out a bit to make what’s happening here clearer (it’s far from perfect here I’ll admit, I’m trying to compromise between a decent close up and yet still enough information to know what’s happening)

Panel 4: I’ve added some background (stars and wotnot) and made the crowd a litlte more blobby, and then most dramatically I’ve added her other hand with the dagger, this neatly ties these three panels together. (I’ve also added in the bg little silhouettes of the other warrior women, who appeared in panel one then just sort of vanished!)

Panel 5: Felt like a flip happened here, I’m not one for saying NEVER break the 180 rule, but I think if you’re going to break it, have a good reason. It felt like it was broken here (or at least it was a more dramatic camera movement than was neccessary) so I flipped the image on the horizontal (this is a great way to try something out, not sure if it looks right? flip the horizontal) THEN – dramatically, I made her a silhouette, but not your common or garden silhouette, rather I kept her hair and some shoulder armour, this has the advantage of making this feel more like a reactive moment and because she’s silhouetted, we don’t mind so much there’s no background here – we’re concentrating solely on the action happening here, but it also has enough physical attributes visible (specifically the hair) that we don’t confuse her with any of the other women in the scene.

(Looking at it again, I think panel 5 could be pulled in much closer (maybe right up to her mouth as she vomits up the blood)

Panel 6: I pulled out, felt weirdly cropped as was, and it needed to be flipped to be consistent with how I was yanking the camera about. I also drew those other warriors back in, witnessing this moment between the characters.

I think, as well, there’s a stronger bit of acting going on when we see this flipped horizontally – blood-eater-girl is sad and a bit vommy, and slice-her-arm-girl is very happy how this has played out. This particular order feels more satisfying – as though slice-her-arm-girl is smiling BECAUSE the other girl has vommed (I’ve no idea what’s happening on the script, and could be I’m way off base!)

Anyhue, as ever, YMMV. I apologise profusely for everything I’ve ever said or done, it’s only my (often wrong) opinion and Belfast is currently experiencing a heat wave the likes of which it hasn’t seen in decades, so I may be heat-haze-hallucinating (Plus I drew the edits of this last night in bed, and I may have gone over board, sorry Rapha!)

Rapha is a top bloke, and fab artist, and can be found here.