Process: Nathan Sorry pg 25, pt 1

by Rich

I thought it might be interesting (if highly uninformative) if I used some time on Sketch Charlotte here to show my process for putting a page of my comic, Nathan Sorry together. I’ll break this up into a 3-part post showing: 1. thumbnails, 2. pencils, 3. inks and Photoshop. Keeping in mind that I’m making this all up as I go along, maybe someone might get something out of what I post here. Or maybe someone can comment below and tell me what I’m doing wrong.

1. Thumbnails

I’ve plotted out the entire story for Nathan Sorry and know pretty much every detail of what will happen in the graphic novel, but I only actually script and thumbnail out the action a page or two in advance. This keeps things fresh and spontaneous for myself and keeps me from getting bogged down in too much planning which I’ve found actually kills my progress.

You’ll see below that I also don’t get very detailed at all with my thumbnails. They are like shorthand or chicken-scratch in drawing form. I know exactly what it’s telling me but it probably doesn’t look like much to anyone else. I don’t even use pencil here. Just a pilot fineliner to get it down, quick and dirty. Again, if I get too detailed with my thumbnails the final drawings end up losing their spontaneity so I try not to waste too much time here. What I’m interested in accomplishing at this point is overall page layout and plotting out what needs to be said and what needs to be shown. On the left side is my script. The specifics of the dialogue often change during the lettering stage after I’ve read it over a few times to myself but what I need to figure out here is what needs to be said and how much room I need to leave in the drawing for it.  This is actually something I struggle with but am slowly improving on. I often don’t end up leaving enough room for the words (or maybe the problem is my comic is just too wordy).


Sometimes I have to do a couple of attempts at getting the thumbnails right and often that makes for a better page as I usually come up with better ideas the second time around. On this particular page, I wound up changing a couple of specifics in the panels but I knew I wanted this particular page layout so there was no need to do it twice.

In part 2, I’ll show my finished pencils for this page.

Tags: ,

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Process: Nathan Sorry pg 25, pt 1 « Sketch Charlotte --

  • Khat Fish

    I also tend to leave too little space for the words (to the chagrin of my husband who does the lettering). Maybe I should put in a planning stage like this one.

  • Brandon

    Now THIS is what I’m talking about! Great idea Rich…can’t wat to see the next installment!

  • Herc

    Oh, I love this. This is something I struggle with as well, man. I never leave enough room for words. I tend to get too detailed in the thumbnail and penciling stages that by the time I get to the finishes I’m either bored or just lose any life in the drawings. Heck, that Muppet stuff I posted was one step up from my thumbnails. A lot of the time I rework stuff on the page that I don’t like or just isn’t working too. It’s a constant struggle. Thanks for posting. Maybe I’ll do it for my new story.

  • Rich

    Herc, I’m glad to hear I’m not alone on the leaving room for words thing. I definitely recommend trying to reverse your process to change things up. I know some people definitely excel by working out every little problem in the thumbnail stage but, even though I wind up making some mistakes, I find my drawings have much more life if I’m doing them for the first time on the page. And even then, I’m starting to get looser and looser with the pencils to leave some of that energy for the inks.

  • Pingback: Process: Nathan Sorry pg 25, pt 2 « Sketch Charlotte