In stores November 28, “R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned” is a four-issue miniseries prequel to the original comic that will soon be a major motion picture starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. Written by Peter Lenkov and Jeremy Barlow with art by Tony Parker and covers by Dave Wilkins, the series focuses on a new case for detectives Roy Pulsipher and Nick Walker where they face down a religious fanatic set on the world’s end.
To serve up a look inside the undead world of the series, CBR and Dark Horse enlisted Parker to share his process for creating the detailed line art of “R.I.P.D.” from sketchy rough outlines to lush brushy finishes. Below, the artist digs into how he tackles the storytelling challenges of a script, how he balances multiple pages as once and how he adds in layers of detail and mood to the story with each arisen draft.
Hey y’all! Tony Parker here, and thanks for taking the time to peruse this process piece, and to Dark Horse for allowing me to play in their wonderful sand box. Well, enough chatty talky from me. Let’s get right to the process.
Once I get the script, I start sketching thumbs immediately. First thing that comes to mind goes directly on the printed script. If there are a couple different ways to tell the panel, they all go down. My focus at this point is just to get the initial ideas down. I fully know that many won’t work in the final script, but there have been some gems that came through. These sketches are very loose, and fit in the margins. Once I’ve gone through the entire script, or at least as much of the script as I may have at the time, I then go through again, but with the full script in mind. This time I check for continuity and storytelling elements. This can be basic things, such as establishing a window in a room that the villain escapes through, or types of trees. They can also be specific storytelling elements, like foreshadowing and thematic repetition/reference.
After that, I make a third pass. This pass is all composing the pages. This is the most important part of the process, the focus on the pure storytelling. I now use all the single panel thumbs, and see how they incorporate in to both the storytelling and the metapanel composition. Some panel make the cut, but many have to be modified for composition and pacing. The page at this stage is about one inch high. I’m only looking at mass shapes, and how they fit together.
From here, I go to the larger paper for editorial approval. The first large scale rough sheet has two pages on an 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper. The first rough is from page 1, issue 1 of RIPD #1. It’s tight enough to see what’s going on, but loose enough that I don’t spend too much time rendering at this stage. Once this is approved by editorial, it’s time to go to tighter pencils. For this specific page, I did a loose render of the structure in Google SketchUp. It looks like this structure will be repeated throughout the series, so I want to make sure that I have an approximate model for continuity sake. I then printed the model out at the correct angle, and transferred to the full sized art board. Once transferred, I tighten up in pencil. They’re not tight pencils, since I’ll be inking and washing later. I just need to know where everything is, and that it matches up. Once the pencils are approved, it’s off to inks. I use all the toys in the inking toybox. My favorite is the Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brush, as well as the Rapidograph pens, Hunt 102 crowquill pen, toothbrush and sponges. I use the Koh-I-Noor ink for both brush and pens. I leave some light pencils for reference to where the clouds are going to be placed.
Once these inks are editorially approved, I’m off to washes. It’s important that everything is good to go at this point, because once the washes start, it’s far more complicated to do corrections. I use Lampblack Gouache for greyscale, and White Gouache and FW White ink for corrections/reductive drawing. The wash process is pretty quick, as it’s a quick drying medium that doesn’t blend easily when dry. It’s important to think ahead as to what’s going to be toned before the wash hits the paper, as corrections are difficult. After the wash is down and dry, I added some reductive white effects (lighting, glowy energy balls, wind).
Once it’s all dry, it’s scanned in and sent in for approval. It takes about a day per page, from inception to final piece. However, I usually do the process for 5-6 pages at a time. This allows me to keep different mind sets going for each part of the process, cut down on prep and clean up time, and most importantly, only hassle my editor a couple times a week. They’re busy enough as it is, and you want to keep your editor happy. Thanks for taking the time to read through all of this, and I hope that you all enjoy the book. I’m having a great time drawing it.