Saturday, April 14, 2007


The first two pages of EMAW #9 will be taking place against a more-or-less static background. Since that what going to be the case, I really need to nail that background. It was also important that the scene looked particularly New Jersey. This takes place out in "The Sprawl": land outside the city that's been abandoned somewhat but still maintains some of the markers of suburban/rural life.

I grew up in Morris County, New Jersey, near the Great Swamp and Jockey Hollow and less than an hours drive away from the Meadowlands, the Delaware Water Gap and maybe a little further away from the Pine Barrens. So, I sort of know what the North Jersey woods look like and maybe have a better idea of what makes them distinctive from other woodland areas. North Jersey is made up of land cut and shaped by a glacier and it has it's own particular brand of foliage. I'm not a botanical expert, but we have a lot of pine, maple and oak. And these trees have there own way of growing and shaping the foliage around them. And that's what I'm trying to capture.

Anyway, after the thumbnail, I photoshopped some images of Morris County woods together in a way that I thought looked authentic. I then figured out the approximate scale that I wanted everything to appear. I printed out the altered image and lightboxed it onto scrap paper with a felt tip marker to find the shapes I wanted and to add in a stone wall.

I then took that image to my drawing table and traced and refined it a bit (the paper is thin enough that I don't need to lightbox it, especially since there were few actual detail to transcribe. I kept the original photoshopped image handy to reference.

Then I produced this image with felt tip marker and 6B pencil:

I'm kind of proud to say that I actually have quite a bit more work to do on it, but the nice thing about it is that I can almost treat it as the background on a animated feature for the 12 panels it will be appearing on. I think it will be a cool effect, if I can get it right.

The secret is to not make it look like some crap comic that reuses the same images over and over again like some lousy photo-reference artists you might find working for DC, Marvel or Image. It's important that each panel remains somewhat distinct and alive and various elements all work well together. Hopefully, I can do that. It's an exciting challenge, at least.


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