Saturday, November 6, 2010

Working 1.2 Story, Characters, and Thumbnails

This is probably the hardest step in making a One-Shot. Actually coming up with something. Since my last post I spent 2 days thinking about what I wanted to do. I had no idea at the time what that might be. I was leaning towards a modern setting, but decided to bite the bullet and do my fantasy idea I've had sitting for well over a year. Coincidently this was the same idea I failed on last year, but instead of rehashing old story ideas I decided to start from scratch and just use the characters I had on hand.

Although coming up with a plot wasn't easy. Since I wanted this to be an action orientated One-Shot I needed some concepts that went beyond Good vs Bad. Using this website, Chaotic Shiney, I saw an idea I haven't thought of and used it. The generator their provided this, " A Geomancer uses a Golem to ravish a town."

From that simple plot idea, I was able to use my characters and make a short story out of it. How did I know this plot would be good? It wasn't the first one that popped up, but it was the first one that sparked something inside of me where I was able to see a whole story evolve from it. Before I even wrote anything down I already had an idea of how many characters I needed, where it will take place, and how it will Climax and End. The Climax and End were important because if I couldn't visualize those two things quickly, then my story would have been doomed from the very start.

Once I was confident this will work for me. I began to write it out in my notebook.

When I said notebook I wasn't kidding. I meant the good old fashion spiral variety. With my simple plot selected I fleshed it out here. I also gave my characters names, listing the ones I'd use, as well as giving myself a schedule on how long I had to get everything done. Once I felt this was good enough for my One-Shot I proceeded to make my character sketches.

To make these I used a home-made stencil I crafted from a blank stencil you can purchase at any craft store. The stencil was built off an ordinary pose that I drew, then cut out in certain sections so I could quickly put a body on the paper and add in the face and costumes on top of it. I highly recommend blank stencils to any artist out there who knows they are going to use a repeated process over and over again. These can be used for any type of project you can think of. Word Balloons, Page Templates, and even your own handwriting.

The character designs I decided to go with were my 3rd designs. Even though this is a fantasy with guns, I wanted it to seem somewhat more fantasy like and went with a tunic/cape design on my heroes as opposed to a full body suit/pants design I came up with first. I didn't want it to seem too fantasy like, hence the guns, but I didn't want to give the impression this was too modern. I had to balance it out.

With my characters in place I began to do the thumbnail using the Thumbnail Worksheet I made in my previous entry.

My thumbnails might be crude, but as long as I know what's happening in each panel I'm okay. If I was making this story for another artist, I would go back on these to flesh them out more. I tried to keep the figures simple, in some cases just an outline of them with an indication of how their head is orientated by adding circles for eyes or ears.

Another thing to note is before I began. I laid out my Story Structure on Page 1. That was my guide to how the story would play out. Also each page represents each section of the Story Structure. By keeping it separated like that I was able to concentrate on one scene at a time.

Also I was able to work backwards. After I finished my Introduction, I immediately did my Ending. Since the  Antagonist's are only on those sections of my One-Shot, when I draw this out I can do my Introduction and Ending first to stay consistent in my artwork when doing the Antagonists. If I went in order, I'd have 12 pages of doing the Protagonists and the Golem, then have to go and draw the Antagonists from the beginning for just one page. The idea here is to be consistent. If I did a comic book that went back in forth between two groups, I'd work on one group first, then the other to stay consistent, even if it's done out of order.

Another thing I did is when it came down to The Problem, Dealing With Problem, and The Climax I worked backwards again ( as mentioned in my tutorial ). Because I know how the scenes began and ended I worked around the whole Pagination Areas so I properly paneled my scenes.

Take The Problem section for instance. I know I had to use pages 4 and 5 to introduce my Protagonists since my Antagonists were in the Introduction. Before I started I knew I wanted the page 7 to end with the Golem marching down the street. That was the first thing I drew, then for my Page Breaker for page 7 I added each character in a surprised reaction to what they're seeing. After that I proceeded to do the other 3 pages.

I started on Page 4 with a wide shoot of the town. Then I knew a conversation would take place, so to end the conversation I had Page 6 start with a villager breaking up the conversation and warning our heroes of the Golem. With those main panels in place I started filling out the rest. I didn't keep what I first chose ( and if you look hard you can see eraser marks ) but by laying down key panels first, how it ends, where it starts, and where it changes, I was able to easily fill out the rest of the pages. This is what I mean in my tutorial about working around your scenes and Pagination Areas to determine your paneling.

Onto the action in the Dealing with Problem and Climax sections. Guns are user friendly when it comes to action. You can use one panel ( wide or whatever ) and the amount of action you want out of the guns depends on how many SFX's you use. Cheap I know, but know this. Hand to hand to combat and any other form of physical actions require a lot of panels. I got off easy because my fantasy story does have guns ( a creative decision made last year ) but I had plans to add some melee weapons in here. That proved to be too much on my page count, so I scrapped it.

However when 2 of my characters go to push the statue off the temple to crush the Golem, that was done in 2 sequences. Them running past the Golem and up the Temple to get to the roof, and then them pushing the Statue over. I also juggled that with the other 2 heroes who went to get bigger guns to slow down the Golem in the right spot so the statue would fall on him. This helped me balance out those 2 separate events happening in the same scene when it came to paneling my pages.

I also started out by doing the last page of the Climax first. Knowing my Ending won't end with our heroes, I needed a moment at the end of the Climax for the Protagonists to celebrate a little. The aftermath being a Page Breaker panel that I will spend more time on than the others.

Where to go from here?

With everything I need to finish my One-Shot completed I have several options. If I was busy ( which I'm not ) I could pack everything together and start another One-Shot project, leaving this one sit until I had the time to complete it. Or I could begin drawing it out. In this case I'll be drawing it out for the sake of the this blog.

Doing that I have 2 routes I could go. I could do this traditionally or digitally. I will do this one in particular digitally with Manga Studio 4. With that option I'm going to take the scans of my thumbnails and place them on each page as a guide to draw out my One-Shot. I could do it traditionally, but for some of the panels I have designed I'll probably rely on the 3D model figures Manga Studio provides. Again the decision is all mine, and any way I decide on how to do this will work, it's just a matter of what I think will work best.

To help me finish this quickly I'm going to keep this in the back of my mind. If I did the maximum panels I was allowed for these 16 pages, that's a possible 128 panels. At 15 minutes a panel that 32 hours. My On-Shot has a total of 67 panels, I think ( I'm not recounting ). That's half of the maximum I will allow myself to do for an average of 4 panels per page. If my math is right that should take 16 hours, give or take, to pencil this out.

Add another 16 hours for inking, dialog, and colors/tones and I should have this done in a week. The only thing that could hold me back is if I get too creative in the art ( work outside my comfort zone ) or if I have eye and hand sprains. ( I'm known to sprain my hand a lot and I use a CRT monitor that just kills my eyes ) Either way if I treat this like a job, I should have no problem finishing this up if I work on it 6 hours a day. Just below full-time at a real job.

The Story, Characters, and Thumbnails are the hardest part of any One-Shot. With that out of the way I can concentrate on just drawing it up with no distractions or second guessing where my One-Shot is going. I already know how it will play out, now it's up to me to finish it up so people can read it.

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