Hackles: The Metamorphosis
Here we use the May 28, 2001 cartoon in a behind-the-scenes look at Hackles.
The storyboard in pencil
Drake: Here is where it all begins. Well, not always. Sometimes
I just begin drawing the comic without a storyboard sketch, especially if we
know exactly how the strip should look.
This step is useful for visualizing the character placement and story pacing, without
cluttering the final copy with a ton of eraser marks. Because its
purpose is conceptual, only the bare essentials go here. The last two
panels are blank because they will look roughly similar
to the first one. Note my total inability to draw straight lines
without a ruler.
The good copy, inked
Drake: On a new sheet of paper (8.5x11", 94 brightness,
extra thick, for those who like to know this stuff), I draw the
cartoon in pencil. I don't bother drawing stuff that I know Jen can
handle with her computer wizardry. The mice holding the sign, for
example, will look the same in each frame, so I only have to draw one
copy of them. Jen can handle the copying later. Similarly, I left the
store window blank, because I wanted to see what kind of fun things
she'd put in there. I use a #2 pencil and a kneaded rubber eraser,
which doesn't leave a lot of crumbs like most erasers.
Once I have a good pencil drawing, I ink everything with a felt tip
pen. It's a Stabilo Sensor, medium 0.7, which I like a lot. Finally,
I'll erase over the entire strip to get rid of any stray pencil marks.
The finished comic after the GIMP
Jen scans the inked picture and then performs her magic with the Gimp.
First, she pastes the scanned image into our border template (the
frame that has our names and copyright info).
Then Jen fills the strip with colors and background patterns
(e.g. the brick building). She sticks primarily to a Web-safe palette of
colors, so that people with monitors capable of only 8-bit color can see
our toons. However some effects, such as patterns, gradients, and
anti-aliasing, may introduce some Web-unsafe colors.
All the objects you see in this picture that you don't see in the previous
step were created by Jen on the computer. For example, the items in
the cheese shop (where else would mice hang out?), the clouds, and the
whimsical bird flying around in the last frame, were all mouse-drawn
by her. Also, Jen created the text and word balloons seen here.
Often, some surgery is required. In the inked
picture, Marcus's legs looked a little too short in the first
frame. Jen stretched them out by a couple of pixels on the computer.