I decided to stop using Tumblr to update this comic. I didn’t like the look of it there and I couldn’t change pages once I posted them. I’ve gone back and edited some of the dialogue and I wanted to post that. So I’m archiving this on my site where I have more control. Click on the page to get taken to the updated version of the story.
During the Vietnam War the F-4 was used extensively; it served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles late in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace status in the 20th century. During the Vietnam War the USAF had one pilot and two weapon systems officers (WSOs), and the US Navy one pilot and one radar intercept officer (RIO), achieve five aerial kills against other enemy fighter aircraft and become aces in air-to-air combat. The F-4 continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s…
I actually drew these first in “non print” purple pencil. I prefer the purple to the blue. Less waxy. Anyway, I dropped out most of the purple by selecting “channels” and “blue” in Photoshop. Then I converted to grayscale and got rid of the rest with levels and threshold. The gray tones are still those old scans of washes I did a long time ago. But because I am slow, it took me until today to realize that I could select areas of gray I didn’t want and hit “delete” instead of using the eraser. Blinding flash of the obvious. But the sculptural (i.e. hatchy) ink work requires a more delicate method sometimes, though.
Now we get to the party. It’s “Kit Kaleidoscope and the Masked Ball” all over again.
There are many schools regarding photo reference in comics. Some say to avoid it and others, like Alison Bechdel, use it for every single figure that they draw.
It can definitely be a trap. If you aren’t confident in a single style, then photo reference can alter the look of your drawing, making for an inconsistent page. I’ve definitely had this problem in the past. I can see it in Kit Kaleidoscope and the Mermaid in the Jar. Some panels are obviously photo referenced next to others that aren’t. My annoyance at this is part of why the style changed so much with Carnivale.
Still, photo reference can be helpful. Jesse Hamm posted that that Moebius used it all the time. And he has some good advice about it.
I use photo reference. Oftentimes, it’s to get the setting to look more realistic. Or if I want a certain item, like a certain make of car or style of shirt. But I also create my own figure reference (as above). The way I handle it is to pencil things out first and if I get stuck on a certain drawing, then I get photo reference for it. That way, the drawing fits with the others. The size, angle, etc. work with the other panels on the page so there isn’t a disruption in flow. Then I use the photo to edit the pencils. I find this way keeps me from getting into too much trouble.
But I also think I am better at simplifying. It’s something I’m still working on, but when I was younger I had trouble cutting out unnecessary details so the resulting drawing would be muddy and completely out of synch with drawings taken from my own head.
Anyway, the above photo is for another new short story I’m working on. This one will be very short. Like five pages.