Friday, June 29, 2012

Prince Akpan: 2004 Comic Book Art

I recall when I started with The Comics Hut in 2004. There were only two of us in the entire studio and I had to do all the work on my title from comic scripting, layout, penciling and inking to painting and graphics design. All under a schedule so tight my health slipped on more than one occasion. Looking back at the finished pages I am filled with nostalgia.

Posted here are two pages and a cover from The Trials And Triumphs Of Prince Akpan, published by Cowrie Comics (The Comics Hut) and original story by Ako Essein.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Comic Strip: Tutorial On Visual Communication

In my previous post, I talked about the technical aspects of making the comic strip- software and illustration processes. But a good strip needs more than technical proficiency. It also needs good visual storytelling and composition.

Telling the story convincingly within the limited space requires a creative use of negative space. It is easy to clog the panels with visual information, especially background details. But this will make the strip too busy. Negative space allows the panels to 'breathe' and add aesthetic value to the overall design. It also provides space for the captions without covering up essential parts of the illustration.
A contrast between the background and the subjects of the story also help to make the visuals clearer. This is a marked difference between comic book illustration and the more constrained world of comic/cartoon strips. In the later, anything not totally relevant to the story is omitted. No frills. 
Another powerful story telling tool is body language and facial expressions. The expressions convey the general mood in a scene and communicates the character's feeling to the reader instantly. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

JMG Generators: Comic Strip Advert

JMG limited (distributors of F G Wilson generators) is a leading member of the Nigeria generator industry. I had the challenge of presenting a humorous story based on a real-life incident in comic strip format. After reading the brief, I developed a script for the comic.
The next challenge was capturing all the above in the limited space available. Most people do not realise how much juggling and trouble shooting goes into a well-laid out comic strip. After several sketches I arrived at design that satisfied the script and still had enough space to publicise the product. 
The panelling and graphics was done in CorelDRAWX4. I developed each panel in large scale and pencilled in the sketches bearing in mind the position of the captions and dialogue. 
Next comes the inking stage. Here, I redrew the sketches using a light box to achieve a smooth finish. The drawing were scanned and painted in Adobe Photoshop. 

I then imported the painted files into the CorelDRAW cartoon strip file and power clipped each image into its respective panel. Fine tuning the texts and word balloons, and the strip is ready. I then exported the final design to Photoshop where the image is treated in gray scale for optimal clarity.