Jeff: Swim, Elle, swim!

Before I let Jeremy talk a bit about the actual process of creating some of the artwork for the strip, I wanted to give all of you an update on the Kickstarter project. Not only have we met our original $1,000 goal, we’ve more than doubled it! The extra funds allow us to upgrade the paper that the book is going to be printed on, and we’re pretty darn excited about that. At the time I’m writing this, we’re actually about midway between $2,000 and $2,500, which prompted us to announce a few stretch goals. If a few more people pitch in, and we hit the $2,500 mark, we’ll be producing a limited run of character buttons and bookmarks for the strip. Anyone who pledges $20 or more will get in on that action. If we manage to make it all the way to $3,000 before the campaign ends, we’re going to be getting the Elle mini-comic (“Sound and Fury”) printed as a separate treat! That storyline was always designed to look and feel like a comic book; if we hit that stretch goal, it will actually be one!

Also, we noticed that the “Engineer” and “Producer” rewards went pretty quickly. Both of these allow the backer to make an appearance in the comic, and we’re stoked that people are that excited about joining our universe! Since we can’t really offer any more of those types of rewards, we put our creative minds together and came up with a couple of alternatives:

  • Pledge of $100 – “Share the Roster” – Your (or your band’s) name gets put on the marquee of a venue for an upcoming strip. The Bros will even make some mention of you and/or your band (we promise that, if it’s anyone other than Elle, it will probably be a friendly mention!).
  • Pledge of $120 – “Gimme a Beat” – Getting your name mentioned just once not enough for you? What if Bal permanently named one of his drums after you? Pledge at this level, and it will happen! You get to be a part of the band! …Granted, a part that regularly gets pounded upon, but still.

If you’re interested in either of these – or any of our other rewards – please check out the Kickstarter page and lend us a hand! You guys have been terrific, and we really appreciate your support! Now, Jeremy, why don’t you talk a bit about what we see up top, there?

Jeremy: As many of you may already know, I draw the comic completely in Photoshop, using a WACOM Intuos tablet to translate my movements and pen pressure to the digital canvas. The first thing I do is rough it all out with a custom brush that mimics pencil. I forget where I downloaded it, but Thom Pratt from the fantasy/steampunk adventure comic Shadowbinders is the person who told me about the pencil brush, and I have been happily using it ever since! Thanks, Thom!

Step 2 is inks. Earlier this year, I bought this killer Photoshop custom brush presets pack created by Ray Frenden, that I use to do my digital inks (buy the presets here! They’re an absolute steal, and I love them!). I particularly like using the “Organic” preset, with a few tweaks to brush angle. Using black as my brush color (values are R: 0, G: 0, B: 0), I create heavier, width-varying lines around the outsides of my drawings, and thinner lines to do detailing in the inside areas.

In Step 3, I lay down flat colors. In this specific instance, I created a general background gradient (lighter blue to darker blue) to represent the watery atmosphere color that I would build up to completion with details later. This simple background treatment also allowed me to fill in Elle with flat colors that would look good with the atmosphere. In Photoshop, I color flats one layer beneath the Inks, as I like keeping my line art and my colors separated.

In Step 4, I do shading and/or highlighting. For this image, I used a few different soft-edged brushes with varying opacity and pressure settings to add darker shades and highlights to Elle, the coffee cup, and the water. I created this in several layers between the Flats and the Inks layer. I am sure you all may be starting to get the idea of what this particular image is a representation, and we will show you how we used this art in creating some unique material for the printed book in next Thursday’s update!