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The making of Smuggling Spirits - by: Mike Henderson

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Hello monster fans, I’m Mike Henderson, artist on the new graphic novel Smuggling Spirits! Thanks for joining me for this brief rundown of the making of the book.

Ben and I wanted a special look for Spirits, and out of that inclination I tried to blend a mix of classic noir and horror that I have always enjoyed. I inked the book myself, as I’ve always liked having that extra bit of control. Being my first full work, and experimental in and of itself, there was a steep learning curve but as the book wore on and I grew more comfortable in using different techniques such as splatter effects, pro-white and dry brush; techniques I now use with a lot of regularity.

The sketches and roughs you see here are only a few examples of the processes I used. Unfortunately not many copies of my original pencils survived, as I did not scan my pages myself. That duty fell to my good friend, and our letterer on Spirits, Adam Markiewicz, who did his lettering on vellum overlays before scanning and placing them in Photoshop.

Smuggling Spirits comic

Smuggling Spirits comic

Smuggling Spirits comic

Smuggling Spirits comic

The creature ideas were generally Ben’s, who laid them out in rich (if disturbing) detail. As with many other artists, I let the creature designs evolve organically out of animals found in nature (obviously for the werewolf and a few others). The creature designs were particularly challenging and time consuming because no two were the same, but by the same token let me flex my creative muscles a bit more.

An artistic trait I developed on Smuggling Spirits was doing some of my drawing in ink, letting it come naturally instead of fleshing too much out in the blue pencil I favored at the time. Since my work has very little hatching, my pencils would generally look pretty blank to another artist, but inking my own work affords me the ability to skip some penciling steps.

As a rule I would do 3x5 thumbnails to nail down the composition of the page, and then full sized rough pencils that I could easily lightbox onto finished boards. Since Smuggling Spirits was straight inks, not a type of wash and wasn’t going to colored I used 2-Ply smooth Bristol boards that hold a smooth line.

At the time I used a combination of brushes, crowquill and technical pens that contributed to the sometimes erratic visuals. I’ve since adjusted to working solely with brushes, and the occasional technical pens for a mechanical feel.

Smuggling Spirits was a my first full professional work, and grew out of Ben’s great story. I’m happy that I can look back and be satisfied with (most of) it!

-Mike Henderson

Comment on the making of Smuggling Spirits.




  

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