CBR News spoke with Jonathan Hickman back in September about “The Nightly News,” and we’re very pleased to present now this in-depth look at the process of creating the series’ dynamic artwork.
This is pretty straightforward stuff. I’m working with photo reference on The Nightly News (Something I thought the project needed to achieve the gritty realism I wanted, but probably won’t be doing too often in the future – way too much extra work for, what seems to me, little pop). I’ll use a light box, projector or just side-by-side reference to pencil it out. Inking, I mainly use a brush and a nib, but sometimes I’ll use a micron/copic pen for some fine line work and a copic brush marker if I want the kind of line that makes. From here I scan the art in at either 300 or 600 dpi depending on the size/detail of the drawing.
By the way, I draw each picture individually on 8.5×11 100lb Bristol. So, yes, that’s a lot of paper per issue.
After scanning, I convert all my artwork to vector. I still use the legacy program Adobe Streamline instead of Livetrace in Illustrator CS2 because there are some differences in how the later converts the image. Now, there is a loss of quality here, so you have to go back in and add some of the detail you lost with the pencil tool. So, if there is a loss of quality and you have to do repetitive work, why do it? Two reasons.
Reason one: It’s easy to export color line art. Doing color holds in the normal fashion is just a pain. So I don’t.
Reason two: This is real reason why you go through the pain of all that Illustrator stuff: A final image that is completely scalable and resolution independent. (And since I put all my pages together after the fact, this is pretty much a necessity)
I then export everything out of Illustrator as a .PSD (300 dpi, maintain layers, anti-alias)
In Photoshop, I color all of my backgrounds with custom brushes (Some I made, some I downloaded, I’m sure I stole some from somewhere – I honestly have way too many too remember). The thing to remember here, use pure CMY colors – no black.
Then I add in some “designy” junk. Sorry, I don’t have any other way to describe it.
I wait until last to render the characters. For the Nightly News, I went with kind of a “cut” style of coloring. This is the kind of thing that Adam Hughes or Dave McCaig does a lot and I thought it went well with everything else I was doing in the book.
That’s it except for a couple of things I haven’t mentioned yet. Even though I don’t have the text on the page in this example. I letter the book first. That dictates where some stuff does or doesn’t go, and where all that “designy” stuff is placed. All of which controls how a reader’s eye flows through the page.
And one last thing: I really don’t know what I’m doing… at this point it’s still just a lot of experimentation and effort. That’s one of the reasons why I’m showing everyone this: I know my stuff won’t look anything like this in a year and, hey, I’m a giver.
In the end, my hope is that somewhere down the road I can look at my work and feel like I’ve pulled off something special.
Okay, that’s it. Cheers.
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