One thing doesn't follow another

The sketch and process journal of Jenn Manley Lee

My comic making process-or-why the latest Dicebox page is so late

I’ll answer the second part first: rewriting and redrawing, mostly the redrawing. Because sometimes I can’t see my way out of a problem until I go ahead and tackle the flawed thing in earnest.

On the plus side, I did manage to take the time to document my steps in creating said new art, which I’ll share over the course of three or four Tumblr posts. And from those posts I will FINALLY create an updated walk through of how I make comics these days.

First, here are the two panels that were to end page 2 of “Marriage”:


Naturally, you can’t see the problems with pacing and transition–not out of context of the rest of the page (and the next)–but trust me, it was awkward.

I decided what I needed was one single long panel encompassing both the conversation between Griffen and the lawyers as well as Molly observing the same. Most of the time I’d do a hand sketch, which I tend to do digitally these days, either in Photoshop or on my iPad. But as I envisioned an elevated view of an octagonal room, I decided to start my sketching with Posable and a Sketchup model.

Posable is a down and dirty Poser type program that I started using about six months ago to rough out the staging of certain scenes and explore different angles. The figures are crude and finicky to pose, but as I just want to understand how objects sit in space, it’s perfect for my needs. Plus I get a rudimentary perspective grid to work with. Totally worth the $2.99 I spent on it.


I had already chosen a Sketchup model to help me understand how the eight sided room would work; the added interest of the cross beams was an unexpected bonus. Okay, it started as a hexagon, but it was pretty easy to add couple of walls.


Next I traced the frame work on the walls and sketched out the figures in the scene, working out the exact poses and placement.

At this point I decided to tackle the tedious task of creating and stripping in the wall texture.

The inspiration for the walls in this room comes from the walls (and pillars and ceilings) of Jain temples in Dilwara.


I had always found the lace-like texture of these carvings very appealing and knew it was only matter of time I’d try to incorporate them into some piece of art of mine.

Heavily referencing various Dilwara temples, I created a base panel to strip in again and again, shown here with one of the three centerpiece panels. (I shamelessly copied and rotated elements to create the patterns, filling in gaps as needed.)


There will be adjustments and noodling as I go on, but I’m pleased with the effect and that the pattern is reading as a color, not the focus.


My next step (and post) will be developing the figures.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

  • 24 January 2013
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