Gabo reveals the process behind 'The Life After' #9 cover

Step 4 – Cleaning Inks: Some people prefer to ink digitally, but I like inking by hand on paper, I can't seem to achieve the same feeling digitally as I do traditionally. That and I need to take a break from staring at that computer screen! Not to mention I then have a lovely piece of original art people can frame and place over their fireplace. After I scan the page in, I desaturate the piece to remove all color and then play with the levels in Photoshop.

Step 5 – Flat Colors: Here is the most grueling part of comic making, flatting. Grueling because not only does it take forever, but you have to figure out what type of color palette to go with. In this case, it's a fairly simply composition with no real setting to have to worry about, so the color choices for the background won't be too hard to pick. Initially I felt some warm earthy tones would work well—I wanted Essie's purples to really pop being that she's so small and is in the foreground. Also I wanted it to have that feeling of a jungle hunt!

Step 6 – Noise: One of the first things that my mentor Moritat (Elephantmen, All-Star Western) taught me was the use of noise as a base wash for my pieces. He explained it as if we were working on canvas, and adding a light winsor blue or burnt sienna wash to it will help set a tone to your piece, the grooves of the canvas soak up more paint, so you get those little speckles! This technique helps the colors sort of melt together, they blend a little so they're friendly. I usually refrain from using this technique on skies, I like to keep my skies nice and crisp.

Step 7 – Shadows: Next up is shadow work. I like to go with a nice desaturated purple or blue for shadows, and I usually drown the entire scene, or in this case, just the characters in it. I choose to exclude the background from this process for the moment, I want Essie and The Consultant to be the main focus here. Also I make sure to add a cast shadow on The Consultant's shoulder, from Essie. I know most people will just add their shadows to areas that ask for it, but the way I go about it, this pulls together all the colors so they sit under the same tone, much like the noise is doing already.

Step 8 – Warmth: It might be a bit hard to see the subtle warm color I've added to The Consultant and Essie, I do this to sort of “warm” up the areas where I'll be applying stronger lighting. It gives the eventual lighting I add more oomf, and creates a nice gradation to the forms, which adds volume!

Step 9 – Lighting: And now we get that strong lighting! The form begins to take shape, you see the bulge of The Consultant's muscles, the puff in her hair, the roughness of her bone elbows! Using rough brushes for The Consultant's hair and bones, and softer brushes for Essie's clothing and face provide you with a sense of what these creatures would feel like. To push the sunrise/sunset feel of this lighting I've chosen, I put some subtle blue lighting under the beast and Essie. Doing this pushes your eyes around, so you get a full feeling of volume.

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