I have more to do on the double-page spread pages 20-21, however, I'm working from home today (to make it seem like a Sunday off!), and due to delays in files updating to Dropbox, I'm having to work on a different page.
By way of context, page 13 comes after the page (below) where his old master tells him he should go and sketch horses and riders in real life.
,My initial idea for page 13, was to simply have six panels of different sketches of horses - to suggest these were Uccello's drawings. However, I felt that I could come up with something that was more interesting (which would inevitably mean more work for myself!). I decided to create a montage effect around a scene of Uccello drawing a horseman.
I already had an inked drawing of a horseman, which was originally on page 12. It's a drawing of the same image of a rider with a baton, leading the charge, that we saw imagined on page 1. My intention was to base all the images of horses on the paintings the comic is about - so that for the reader, they will see all these sketches worked into the final painting. The problem with this drawing on page 12 was that while the reader was seeing it the right way round (as it appears in the painting) Uccello was drawing it from the opposite, and so wrong, side. On page 13, the viewpoint is flipped so that we are looking over Uccello's shoulder, and so seeing his subject as he draws it. In short, the drawing makes sense on page 13, which I am working on.
I found images of riders in the paintings (that are the subject of my comic). Rather than simply put these in a panel style grid, I decided to have then in a looser arrangement. What I arrived at, was to organise them in an almost circular, clockwise, order. I also arranged the images within that forame, in an escalating fashion, which also reads as a chronological sequence: so the first image shows a rider: then a rider with a raised lance, then a rider with a lowered and aimed lance; a rider falling off his horse (as if hit by a lance - as it will appear in the painting); and then, completing the sequence, two images of fallen horses. The pose the 'real' rider is in, is not included in that sequence, as that seemed redundant, and I had the better idea to have it be the current one on Uccello's drawing board.
Initially, I tried drawing these to look like rough sketches, but I thought they betrayed a incongruously modern simplification, indeed abstraction. In response to this I redrew them in more finished form, closer to how they appeared in Uccello's paintings, but with the rider as shown, and armoured like most of the figure in the finished painting. Hopefully this is the right amount of information for the reader to ' join the dots'. to the figures in the final design - seen later in the story.
I have a range of pencil tools in Manga Studio, but had to experiment to see what (ironically) was going to read best as pencil on the printed page. I've also had problems before, with finding good techniques, and then when I wanted to replicate them, being unable to remember how! To preempt that, this time I used the text tool within MS to write down what pencils and settings I'd used (and then turned off its visibility).
I made a number of other changes from the previous draft, including changing the drawing board, and Uccello's hand to be more convincing that he is holding it, for support, as it rests on his legs. I also risked, and repositioned the sketched horses to make a better overall composition. When I come to draw in the paper edges, I'll no doubt have to tweak this.
It took a few attempts for the stool, even though I have now drawn it a few times. It's necessary to have the legs look correctly angled from the seat, and have the horizontal beams look like a rectangle in perspective. I also made the different legs different thicknesses depending how close they are to the 'camera'. Like other aspects of perspective - it may not be noticeable that I've gone to the bother to get that right, but it might be noticeable if i hadn't! I still think the stool is not perfect, and the legs should probably be proportionately wider (to match other panels) . but I'll wait and see whether it continues to annoy me, or I stop noticing it!
It's more usual to hold off any colouring until the pencils/inks are completed, but i was finding to hard to visualise how the whole page would look, and so how well the drawings were working, which I is why I flat coloured the picture of Uccello and the his horseman model. this did do its job and reassured me that the overall effect would be coherent. The drawings won't be coloured in the same way (they're meant to look like drawings!), though I may give the 'sheets of paper' they are on, an off-white paper colour. I won't put them on the bitmap inks layer, as I'll probably want to grey them out a bit, or similar, and it'll be no problem to add the paper colour later to the same flats layer (I make it a multiply layer, so I can bucket fill shapes not on the bitmap inks layer..
A number of elements will be changed from this draft version. The sketches in orange won't appear in that form, but I may have some kind of sketching effect over/underlaid on the more finished looking sketches, to suggest a process, and that they are working drawings rather than finished works of art.The paper edges aren't very good, at present, and I can finesse them. These various changes should improve the finished page.
All original Images copyright Graham Johnstone, or, where applicable, their respective creators.