So I just posted a new chapter cover for Era of Great Wonders, and I was talking to a friend how I put it all together. Depending on your point of view when it comes to these things, I’m either a big fluffy cheater-cheater, or I’m just using references.
A note on references: in art class, it’s not uncommon to use a projector to cast an image onto a canvas and then paint it from there. In comic book circles, this is called “tracing,” and is a bit of a dirty word. What is considered okay to do in fine art is considered tacky and talentless in the illustrator world.
Luckily for me: I stand in both worlds, and don’t really worry about these things too much. (I mean, I do, but only a little.) Also, I have no illusions as to my inability to draw cars. I’m terrible at them.
I used these two references to create this art:
and for the cars
I copied these two images into Manga Studio, and then traced bits and pieces of them. I didn’t want all the details, and I didn’t quite like the “modern” shape of the cars, so in many places I made them curvier and/or boxier – I wanted something that looked like it could have been from 60’s or 80’s in there.
I ended up with these pencils:
Again, I just really wanted the basic “shapes” of the cars to help with perspective. Also, I wanted to figure out where to put in wheels and lights and things like that. I then deleted the source images from the file because I didn’t want them to influence the “details” stage of the drawing. (Also known as “inking.”)
While inking the image I didn’t worry about getting the lines straight. In fact, letting them wiggle a bit and veer off into wrong angles helped create an illusion of wreckage and bent metal. I don’t have any screen shots showing the inking process, but I started with the tank wheels (and I googled “tank wheels” to see what they looked like. I only looked though, because I didn’t want to get them too perfect.) Then I followed various lines to create shadows.
I really wanted a “bent metal” effect and was really pleased by how it looks like parts of the tank’s top are “peeled” open and showing the insides of the tank. That was all pure luck, but I went with it, and I think it worked.
I know it looks like I jumped from really rough pencils to a finished image, but I sort of did. I’ve been drawing a lot of wreckage these days, and I’ve developed a sort of “short hand” for it. It doesn’t hold up if you really LOOK at the drawing, you’ll notice I have angles off, proportions (even with references) are off, and defining shadows aren’t necessarily there.
A lot of what you see in the finished inks is this short hand. Anywhere I could add a “plate” of warped metal, or a squiggly dent in a car, I did. “Tires” are pretty readable, so I threw a lot of those in, or I would put them near areas where I thought it would read as if they’d been “ripped off” the hub. I also added spiderweb/cracked glass in all the windows that were still “intact” (as in, I didn’t draw the interiors of the cars, and I didn’t want to do anymore than I had to.)
Someday I really will show my method of drawing from crappy sketches to finished art, but that requires more planning than I’ve yet done.
I’m just not there yet.