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Archive for the ‘behind the scenes’ Category

I repeat the subject line: Zuko’s Story comes out tomorrow! If you’re dying with anticipation, this should tide you over: Dave Roman, the co-writer, was interviewed by MTV’s Splash Page to clear up some fan questions about the book.

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Avatar Portalcast

Zuko’s Story comes out next Tuesday. If you can’t wait and want to learn more about it, listen to this podcast interview with the writers, Alison Wilgus and Dave Roman conducted by The Avatar Portal. It sheds a lot of light on how hard we all worked to bring to the Airbender TV show fans a comic they’ll be more than satisfied with, the difficulties we endured and what you can expect in the story and artwork.

ETA: Splash Page at MTV.com put up an exclusive 5-page preview of Zuko’s Story. They show the part where Zuko is trying to assemble a crew to go find the Avatar with.

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The cover I did for The Last Airbender Prequel: Zuko’s Story is up.


Amazon.com listing

I’d like to talk a little about my own process for illustrating the comic.

Because film environment shots were limited and the prequel covers many locations seen in the cartoon but not the movie (as of yet), many of the environment and clothing designs were based on the cartoon. Big kudos to piandao.org and their many screenshots of the Airbender cartoon. Asides from the film pictures I was provided with by Paramount, that site and the book The Lost Scrolls: Fire were my biggest source of reference. With their help, I was able to get some of the smallest details down, from commoner outfits to forts to how Zuko’s ship room is laid out. One of the writers, Alison, was also a great help and even went to the library in search of any photos I could use as reference.

For the action scenes, I researched some of the martial arts firebending was based on: namely Northern Shaolin and Xingyiquan. I looked up numerous pictures and demonstration videos online to ensure the firebenders had proper form. I also researched dao swords and had to do a whole lot of slow-moing of videos.

I was disappointed in how Zuko’s trademark scar was toned down for the movie, so I exaggerated it for the comic (which makes sense in the context of the story anyway since he’s been freshly scarred). One thing I like about movie!Zuko’s scar is how it goes into his hair, but again, it’s kind of subtle so I emphasized that. For the cover, I was pretty much free to do whatever I want; no direction was given. I made sure to feature Zuko’s scar and make it one of the first things you notice, as it’s a crucial part of his character.

Dave yaytime, Alison aliwilgus and I are confident that fans of the show will enjoy the comic. Since the story takes place before the film and the series, we had a lot of room for creativity and were able to stick closely to series canon. Please support our work!

ETA: Oh, and don’t forget — there will be a free preview of Zuko’s Story in Del Rey’s Free Comic Book Day sampler so go to your local comic shop on May 1st and get a copy!

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While putting Yokaiden 1 together, I was asked by my editor Dallas if I’d like to include character designs and other concept sketches in the back. I declined, because that would mean having less room for actual content. Now that both books are out, I’m posting these never before seen character sketches I’m required to show before I begin drawing any comic pages.

Lots of artwork and commentary within. There are also BIG SPOILERS so do not read if you haven’t read the books!

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I’ve realized now that Yokaiden is out, I can stop being so secretive and start showing some behind-the-scenes stuff. I just finished doing some concept sketches for the cover of volume 2. They’re far nicer than the sketches I did for volume 1.

When I do concept/layout sketches, they are 1) very small, and 2) very messy. The cover art sketches aren’t so bad, because the guys at Del Rey have to be able to understand them.


click for full view

I liked the first one better myself, but the second one was chosen. Looks like it was the right choice.

My thumbnail sketches for my comic pages (used to plan the panel layouts and where the figures and speech bubbles go), however, are atrociously messy and only I can understand them. Fortunately, I’m the only one who has to look at them. Each one is roughly 1.25 x 1.75 inch in size.

Thumbnail –> Final page:

Since I prefer to keep everything in my head, I’m bad at noting/scribbling things down onto paper. So when I have to do it, it’s extremely vague because I can figure out the rest myself. I look at the thumbnails and go, “Oh right, the speech bubble is here and the figure is posed like this here”, and that’s good enough for me.

Bonus unedited scans of my thumbnail sketches for chapters 2 and 3:
* chapter 2 roughs
* chapter 3 roughs
Have fun following along!

Next entry, I should show how rough my pencils are before I ink them. My pencils are NEVER tight. Well…except when I have to do pencils for Bongo.

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Yokaiden WIP: Crooked Temple

Some pages I’ve been working on for the second book.

I finally bought a set of Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph technical pens, and they’ve been a life saver. Before, I used single-use disposable drawing pens, which was a bad idea for someone who inks as much as I do — the nibs wore down quickly, making me have to apply more pressure the more worn down they became, thus hurting my wrist. Now with the metallic tips and refillable ink of the technical pens, the ink flows so nicely and smoothly that barely any pressure is needed at all. I should’ve bought these YEARS ago. They save a lot of time and grief (and money, in the long run). The pages I just posted would not have been possible without them. As such, the art in the second book is already looking a lot more detailed than the art in the first.

ETA: See how terrible I am with art supplies? I’m only just starting to learn what professional artists should be using! This is why I don’t like it when people ask me for advice when it comes to what tools to use — I’m clueless!

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Selected panels from Yokaiden:

What I’ve been working on for the past 7 months

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