MAKING OF NORTH 40
I did a few quick character designs for the original pitch for NORTH 40, over a year and a half ago- the look of the characters, as well as my actual drawing style, have changed a bit since then!
When I'm giving one of Aaron's scripts the first read-through, I usually do tiny thumbnails in the margins, mainly to figure out panel placement. Then I do slightly larger and more detailed thumbnails, about 4" high, which are sent to the editor for approval. I like to have the panel, crop and bleed lines on my layouts to help with panel placement, so I photocopy batches of 8.5" x 11" paper with little layout guides to use.
I also try to work out caption and speech balloon placements in this stage. Even though I'm not the letterer I need to remind myself how much space to leave for balloons.
I work in Photoshop so there are no literal pencils or inks- I just start drawing and then refine it until it looks right. First I paste in my thumbnail sketch and enlarge it, then draw using that as a guide, also looking at photo reference for most things.
Setting my lineart layer to "multiply," I work underneath it and paint everything in grey tones. Generally I start by filling the panel with a gradient to indicate the direction of the light, then I paint everything its natural value (i.e., white cups, light skin, mid-grey for a red shirt). On a new multiply layer, usually at 25-35% opacity, I use black to put in the shadows. Finally, on a layer set to either "normal" or "screen" I paint in the highlights.
This is the fastest and easiest part because most of my colouring has been done in the grey tones stage. After flattening the image, I create a new layer overtop set to "color" and paint in the hues.
Find out more about Fiona on her website: http://www.fionastaples.com/
Comment on the making of North 40.