Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chadé's Process

I can' remember how much we were supposed to post about our processes, but I have a good amount to say, so here goes.

First and foremost, I had a really hard time coming up with an idea. What's hard about this class is that on top of creating a compelling story, you have to learn the proper format in which to tell it, and, in my case, teach yourself all about it. I had barely used Photoshop before this class. I definitely hadn't used ComicLife and I've never had my own webpage before. It's all quite exciting, but also quite time-consuming. I found that I often traded in parts of my story (parts that might lend themselves to versimilitude, consistency and plot arc) for the limits of technology, aesthetic or time. That's not to say that I don't like my story. I was quite fond of my characters by the end and, given that we've done a lot of extracting/mashing from other sources, it seemed appropriate that my idea came from McSweeney's.
As far as the nuts and bolts go, I was really flying by the seat of my pants. At the beginning I drew some panels that I just visually liked. the "MAX" head is an example, the first "OH SHIT" panel (not the one that made it in the final) was another. I just drew some stuff and then fit pieces of the story around it. I started arranging pages in ComicLife with blank panels in between the ones I'd already drawn and then went back to draw the other ones later. I found it wasn't that difficult. By the end, though, I was running out of steam and time so the panels became both less detailed and less particular about parts of the story. There are some places where I should have put in panels to clarify a small moment or highlight something important, but I simply couldn't.
The actual process of making each panel was a little complicated, but similar to what Gene Yang seemed to do. I sketched each panel with pencil, then inked it, then erased the pencil, scanned it into Photoshop, fixed the contrast, imported pictures for the backgrounds if necessary, colored it, then put it into ComicLife then added the word bubbles. I find that I tend to be quite anal about small irregularities, like where the word bubbles are, making sure they fit into the panel itself, making sure everything is level, that the gutters are even, that nothing is too symmetrical on the page unless there's a clear reason for it, etc. That kind of anality can be limiting and time consuming, but I'm picking my battles.
With regards to the storyline, I probably thought of about three different endings and I drew some tangents to the story that never went in. I planned a bunch of panels referencing when Max and Emily first met and their relationship itself, but it didn't move the story along and was gratuitous nostalgia. Then I struggled with the ending of how to make the underwear end up under the tree without her dropping it there right when she's talking to Max under the tree. I'm sure I could have thought of a better ending, but I'm decently pleased with it. Raccoons are silly and annoying. They steal things. Why not underwear.
Finally, to make the process story completely complete, I exported all the ComicLife pages as images then uploaded them onto my googlepages site. Quite exciting.
Not gonna lie, this "graphic novel" might be the most amount of time I've put into a single project in a Stanford class with the exception of my World Food Economy model. I have a huge stack of inked drawings now that I don't know what to do with. My eyes feel like they're sunburned and my neck hurtshurtshurts. But, all in all, I'm really happy I did it because it's one of the most concentrated and dedicated pieces of creativity I've ever churned out. Come Tuesday, I hope you all enjoy it. Till then, it's here. And if anyone has a better name than Underwear, PLEASE TELL ME. I'm so bad at titles.

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