Bonus Week 1 - Wednesday

Welcome to the second Bonus Week feature. Today you can learn how SCROLL is created from scratchy sketch to finished fragment.

As with any other comic, before I start working on the art, I write down what I want to express in the particular part of the comic. Although I wouldn't call those notes a 'script', they help me out a lot when I'm working out the visual part.

The art of SCROLL starts with a sketch for mulitiple fragments at the same time. Compared to 'traditional' comics, I have to pay very close attention to the interference of the preceding and following fragments, since they are directly connected. As you can see, the sketches of the parts are very small. They serve mostly just to get the panel arrangement right and look like this:

These are the sketches for the first fragments of chapter 2. I'll take the first fragment of that chapter as an example for the rest of today's post. (I usually work on rows of five to seven fragments at a time and go through all of the following steps for all of them before moving to the next one.) The sketch for that part looks like this in close-up:

Starting from these thumbnails I use GIMP to create the lines for the fragment. As you read on Monday, the advantage of using computer and tablet is the ability to change parts of the art easily and without any effect on the rest of the page.

I faced one particular difficulty here with the speech in the last panel, because it is not of the same quality as anything that has been said before in SCROLL. I hope that I managed to find a fitting solution...

The finished lines with the background texture:

After the part of the process that requires the most decisions, I get to the most time-consuming, the coloring. Although, I have predefined images for the sky and the earth, adapting them to the horizon line is very difficult, due to the sketchy line used for it.

The fragment with sky and earth added:

When this is done, I use the Airbrush-tool to color any objects not already covered by the former steps:

This is usually the half-time point for the creation of the comic. The rest of the time, I have to make sure that my computer doesn't crash while it calculates the effects for the borders of the fragment and the panels. Yes, it's an old (or ancient, by today's standards) laptop, but it works for most of the other stuff I need it for.

After this I cut the image up into same-width pieces fit for web and PSP and save them. That's it!

I will not show you the finished fragment just yet. You'll have to wait until Monday (not that there's much that will be different from today's last picture). In the meantime, don't forget to come back on Friday for less time consuming bonus content.


Bonus Week 1 - Monday

Welcome to the first SCROLL bonus week! Throughout this week you can take a glance behind the curtain and learn how SCROLL evolved and how it is created. Do not worry, the comic is not going anywhere. It will continue next Monday with a daily schedule for the first week (except Sunday).

Today I am going to explore the artistic evolution of SCROLL towards the comic you have read in the past weeks. I will not go into the details of my ideas behind the comic as one of my intents behind SCROLL was to create a comic where the art is open to interpretation.

To acchieve this I decided early on that I wanted the comic to be silent, so that images would need to carry the narrative. At the same time I have been practicing figure drawing and using lots of stick-figures for getting anatomical proportions right. Somewhere during one of those praciticing sessions, I realized that the drawings looked like the cave painting depcitions of the human form.

From there it was only a short step towards formulating the concepts behind SCROLL and trying to figure out how to best put it on paper. I did not have a tablet back then, so I had to draw the figures by hand and scan them in. The result looked like this:

After scanning and colouring, the first version of SCROLL looked like this:

This early version has many problems. One of those is that by having drawn the characters once and not being as proficient with a mouse as with a pencil, I simply copy & pasted them and tweaked minor details like the position of the arms. Thus they look stiff and immobile.

Also there are difficulties with the proportions of graphic elements. The 'stitches' that I have tried to use as panel borders are far too big, while the facial expressions of the characters are barely visible. The upper and lower borders only take up space without providing anything.

I wasn't at all satisfied with the result and decided to let the ideas brew while concentrating on other things. A few weeks later my fiancee got me a tablet as a present and I gave SCROLL another try. With astonishing results:

The facial expressions and stiches are gone and the lines are far sleeker. The figure was drawn seperately for each panel, making the images less static. This looks pretty much like the final version. One remaining problem are the off-looking borders of the texture (the cover of a notbook my sister gave me) at the top and bottom. They were the last major tweak that I added to get the finished version. For comparisions sake, the first fragment would look like this without them:

That was all for today. Join me on Wednesday, where you will learn how SCROLL is created from sketch to finished fragment.


SCROLL - 036


And thus ends the first chapter of SCROLL. Thank you for reading so far.

To celebrate this occasion, during the next week I will be showing you some extra content, like early versions of the comic and layout sketches. The second chapter will start on May 4th with twice the number of fragments during the first week (the schedule will be Monday through Saturday for that time).

I'm very happy for your interest in the story and the positive feedback I have received. Make sure to come back every now and then, as the journey can only take us forward.

- Dominik