Friday Fixup: Steven Grey

Every Friday I ask, on twitter, if anyone has a page of art they want me to go through and see if I can’t help them ramp up the storytelling (it’s always about making it better, even by small degrees) and then I talk about the decisions I’ve taken and why they might be good (or bad, who knows, right? it’s all subjective)

Steven Grey sent me a couple of pages, I went with the first one, so here’s his version to the left and mine to the right with notes to follow…

Ok, the first big thing I did, and something I want to talk about: black panel borders.

Black panel borders can be awesome, they can add mood and moodiness. The can really draw a reader in to the story, but like most decisions that impact on a whole page there are down sides. For me, the downsides are considerable. I LOVE open panels, I LOVE being able to blow out a background and panel borders and have the reader just look at the characters reaction, and these are things you lose once you decide you want to have a pure black panel border.

So, for this page I decided to go all out and remove the panel borders. Panel 1 is the one that is most impacted.

Panel 1: There are two things on this page that seem to be important… the boy and the boys reaction to the butterfly (which implies the butterfly is important). I opened up Panel one so it became a vista on a wide open space, allowing me to uncrop the tree (because cropping is great at making you feel like you’re in an enclosed space it felt -inappropriate to crop on this big picture view). I also added a silhouette of the boy walking toward the tree and made the butterfly more obvious (there’s a little noodle drawing, that, due to the low resolution on the original, may have been the butterfly or might not, I just tidied that idea up a little)

I also took the dense foliage around the tree away, lifted it slightly above the panel border, but keeping it on the ground plane, and added clean black into the bark of the tree. All this is to help the reader “read” that they’re looking at a tree.

Panel 2: Flipped the panel and added more black in to the butterly. Added a little bit of foliage to the background (never needs to be too complicated, just enough to suggest background. Film and TV can do a focal effects – basically pushing the background into a blur and that’s harder to accomplish with lineart [you can blur lineart but it looks horrid] but you can lightly draw some background. Flipped the background here because it felt like, as a reader I was skipping over this butterfly, flipped it feels like I’m forced to stare at it a little longer (this is very much, as is all of it really, in my humble opinion)

I really like the lineart style, but I think there’s a danger of things getting a little lost in the light feathery lines, so I decided the butterfly was in that danger, so gave it a solid black wing so we’d never lose it in any panel.

Panel 3: Unfortunately, I think your art style can be a bit of a rod for your own back, it feels light when there’s no background details (even simple ones) so added stuff here.

I wanted to drop the panel out and just have the butterfly, and the boy in the panel but as they’re both cropped slightly to the opposite sides of the panel borders it felt like that would look odd.

Panel 4: Couple of big edits here. I flipped the panel, It felt like our reading of it in the  direction meant we skipped over the butterfly entirely (it also felt like it was so hidden in the foliage we’d never have seen it) so flipping the panel actually produces a slightly more interesting narrative witin the panel – in the flipped version: boy reacts to something, we see the hand of the big guy moving foliage, butterfly flies off. In the original unflipped version: big guy looks at boy (who lets go of butterfly and it flies off in the opposite direction, zig zagging our view). Also tidied up the foliage around the butterfly and gave it black wings with eyes, so we never lose sight of it (eye joke!)


Panel 5: unchanged. Nice closeup.