Entomon is a comic that I documented even more than usual, as it was a project I did alongside the Primary School Comic Club I was running.
We set a “Who What Where” challenge, where we had to agree to a subject, a setting and an activity that you have to follow. In this case, the challenge was:
-Who? A villain;
-Where? In the woods;
-Doing what? Finding a cave.
I chose an insect-based character. Here are the first few sketches of Entomon, and her Firefly lackey, Cole. As you can also see, I thought it was a good idea to sketch out a couple of caves for her to find, too.
This is the very first rough sketch of Entomon, which I thought was a little too generic, so I tried to make more insect-y. Also, there’s the rough layout sketch of the page, where I arranged the frames, and what was going on in each one. Some people worry about getting it right first time, but as you can see, this was just a very rough sketch, where I could make mistakes and rearrange stuff before I properly got started, as well as do practice dialogue.
I tried a couple of designs for Entomon’s head, but I liked the long head (which I thought was a good place for whatever organ allows her to control insects). For Cole, I realised I really needed to look at some firefly photos, and they're pretty cool.
First I sketched out the frames , figures and where the speech bubbles will go, with a soft, coloured pencil.
Next I added some details to the figures and scenery, and made changes where necessary (like moving Entomon from the centre to the right of the 3rd frame, to allow the cave to be viewed better, and to leave room for speech bubbles).
Then I switched to a drawing pencil to do detailed and shaded art. One thing that makes working digitally (or in a mix of traditional and digital like this) easier, is that I don’t have to add speech bubbles until the end.
After pencils, I switch to ink to define the lines better.
Then I inked the outlines with a thicker pen, to make the objects stand out from each other better.
Finally, I shaded it in, and added the text and speech bubbles.
Originally, this was just a one-page challenge, but I had so much fun with it, I couldn't help adding a bit more.
I needed some more bugs and insects for this page, and researching what you’re planning to draw is always better than guessing - Even if you don't end up with perfect copies, you'll pick up on little details that will make it look much more interesting, and will help you if you have to make up a fictional version.
In this case, I ended up with a Bombardier Beetle (an awesome creature that can literally fire jets of boiling poison out of its backside), and a Millipede.
From there, I added shading, which was very important for this page, as it is set inside a dark cave, and some of the details in the art don't make as much sense without that necessary darkness.
Using a thicker ink pen, I drew in the panel borders, to make the figures stand out better from each other, and generally add definition.
After that, I just had to add the dialogue, with some minor changes (the third panel was so big, it was just asking for at least one more speech bubble than I'd originally planned).
The first stage of inking cleared up the lines a lot, but some panels still looked a little bit jumbled, like the bottom left.
Next, the detailed pencilling. I've put this in two stages, how it looked with the orange pencils underneath (a), and a version with the orange removed to show what I actually drew (b).
Then it developed to the more detailed roughs, still using the coloured pencil, making a few adjustments and adding in the panel borders.
I also tried a bit of advice I'd seen, which was to start off without the panel borders drawn in. It can help you to keep a bit freer working as you develop the further stages. Still, what we have is the basic stick-figures that are showing what is happening. Again, I used a coloured pencil, so that it would get in the way less when I was working on later stages.
I started this page off differently. I decided to sketch out the page in advance, and worked out roughly what the dialogue would be, and how to lay out the characters and speech bubbles. If you can make out my writing, you can see that most of the dialogue stays the same, from start to finish.