TRYING SOMETHING NEW By Mark Buckingham
As regular readers of FABLES will know, I’m always keen to try out new things to keep the book looking fresh. In past story arcs I’ve used elaborate line techniques, bold styles with strong block blacks, zip tone textures, black crayon, cartoony styles, realism, design motifs, and the introduction of border art panels to frame every page.
With FABLES #100 I knew I had a great excuse to experiment once again.
During the first few months of 2010 I had been lucky enough, thanks to Shelly Bond, to land the role of cover artist for the MADAME XANADU series. Although I wasn’t able to do fully painted covers, I really wanted to make good use of my renewed love of water color painting, so I created a style combining graphic design elements with illustrations produced entirely in grey tone watercolor washes.
I was so delighted with the end results that when I later started planning my pages for Fables #100 I really wanted to try combining some of those painterly qualities with my regular art for Fables.
Not wanting to risk introducing something like this without testing how it might work, I prepared a sample piece.
In the images below you will see the three stages in the creation of my test piece.
First I pencilled it completely as per usual.
Then I inked all the parts that would appear as regular black inks, the part of the job usually done by the incredible Steve Leialoha.
Finally I added the water color washes to add depth and atmosphere.
My biggest concerns at this stage related to reproduction and color.
How difficult will it be to color?
Will the greytones disappear or turn the pages to mush?
I persuade the wonderful Lee Loughridge to color the sample and my fears soon disappeared. Not only was he amazingly fast, returning the finished piece to me at super speed, but it looked fantastic! Best of all it transpired that Lee loved to color this style of art.
With Bill and Shelly’s seal of approval I set to work on pages for the main story using this new technique.
The trickiest part of the process turned out to be Steve Leialoha’s job. I pencilled the pages and then added grey tone washes before sending them to Steve. This meant that our talented inker had to do a little detective work sometimes to tell what was going on the pages underneath the paint. I made scans of all the pages in raw pencil form, so Steve was able to keep a print out of each on his desk as he inked the original. This gave him an invaluable guide to anything that was unclear on the art.
Although I’m used to making life tricky for myself I always feel bad when I think I’m causing trouble for the rest of the team. I realised that next time we use this technique I’ll add the washes AFTER Steve inks.
I really hope you’ll enjoy this fun new look produced especially for our One Hundreth Anniversay issue!