Comics 101 for 02/17/2005 Advice from Jan Duursema on Drawing Drapery and the Comic Book Art Process
I'm currently busy this month illustrating a variety of Star Wars projects as we gear up for the final Star Wars movie, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. For this week's Comics 101 I thought I'd share some dialogue between fellow Star Wars artist Jan Duursema and one of her fans from her official message board. Be sure to stop by her board since the sage Jedi Master herself always offers up enough art tips and advice to fill a space cruiser. Enjoy!
How long does it usually take to make a comic? Just getting a general idea of the release date. I can only imagine how long it would take to draw/re-draw if neccessary and do some touch-ups and then create a plot.
Also, I'm having trouble drawing creases in clothing and also I'm having trouble drawing shadows without making it completely dark. Can you provide any suggestions for creating a crease in clothing and how to make it so shadows aren't really dark so that you can see a bit of color underneath it? I'm sorry im having a very hard time putting words into that sentence.
It usually takes me a good solid month to pencil a comic. Some, like Jedi: Dooku take a bit longer--but that's mostly because we were doing a lot of experimenting with technique since Dan and I had never approached a comic that way before.
Ideally we like to be working about 5 months ahead--more often we are working 2-3 months ahead.
The plot/script is set before we begin so there are not a lot of touch ups to that once the drawing has begun.
It works like this-- Plot (goes for approval--with Dark Horse and Lucasfilm editors), Script (goes for final approval...), Pencils (goes for approval...), Inks (goes for approval...), Letters and Color (these can be done at the same time since they are both done on the computer.)
There's also a lot of scanning and pre-press stuff that I have no working knowledge of. I think the same magic gremlins who live in my computer and make it run must have something to do with that aspect of it.
Good lessons in drapery can be had by looking at photos--ones you can take or ones in newspapers or magazines. If someone you know has a digital camera and a printer it's a great way to get exactly the lighting and folds you need on a figure.
Drapery is tough--understanding how it goes around the figure, is pulled by the figure and hangs on the figure. It's really a matter of observing reality and trying to abstract the forms and shadows that you see there. I find drapery to be one of the most abstract set of forms to understand (the other tough one for me is water!)
When we are learning, many of us tend to get to the detail before we build a framework. The drapery is the detail--if the framework of the figure is not there--it will not look right. So make sure your framework is there before you attempt to construct the drapery on it.
Again--when you are working on drapery--look for the shadows and draw the deepest ones in first--just sketch them in with the side of your pencil roughly--this can keep you from getting to detailed before you block it in. From there you can go back and refine.
Another approach with drapery is to try to see it all in line--forget the shadows for the moment and just try to understand the direction folds take and why they are formed--how they pull from the points--like an elbow or shoulder. Right now don't worry about the finished drawing--just sketch and practice--and the next time you go to do a finished drawing you will see what you have learned. I have filled up many sketchbooks with just gesture drawings and rough sketches. They don't look like much, but each one is a step in understanding form and function.
This is not all there is about drapery--but it's a start, I think. Hope this helps!
By the way Matt, be sure to check out Drawing Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery by Burne Hogarth. This book will undoubtedly help you with your hurdles when drawing clothing on your figures but be sure to check out all of Hogarth's books when you get the chance. They're essential for any comic book artist or illustrator looking to improve their work. Best of Luck!