…Okay, so if you’ve been following my Twitter feed (@hesir) you might have seen some of the work I have been producing for the new book (see last post also). If not you can find a whole bunch of process work, sketches and page layouts by either just following me @hesir, or checking out the #TheCthulhiad hashtag on twitter.

I thought it might be interesting to show a slightly more ordered version of that process, including what happens both before and during the production of those pages etc (and that’s all this is, I’m not suggesting that this is the best method, but its the process that is working for me – at the moment).

So here it is…

Rough Script:

This might be loose notes done during research phases, at this point maybe just notional lines of dialogue, or the names of characters etc. All joined together with arrows denoting the beginning of a plot or scene direction.

Typed Script:

This is the culmination of an editing stage, bringing all the script ideas and plot points together in order, then editing out all the unnecessary ideas and scenes that would work better later or in a different book maybe.

This doesn’t mean its the end… I’ll often add more hand written edits and notes to a script as I get ready for the thumbnailing/layout phase.


These can vary in size, from actual thumbnail sized images (3.5x2cm) through to these my average sized images, which are usually about 7x5cm.

Mostly this is about pacing the story, breaking the script up into visuals, single images that incorporate several pieces of dialogue or multiple narrative.

Script edits might still be happening at this stage on my own work, visuals might spark connections, that suggest dialogue or narrative additions, I tend to just add the notes to the sheets and then look at incorporating them fully when I get around to adding the balloons…

Pencils and Inks:

My pencil work is pretty loose as its really just for me to decipher. Usually I pencil up from the thumbnails, and then scan these, then print off a blue line version to work over in ink… this builds in a redundancy and is less destructive over pencil originals.

Sometimes these scans are resized to actually print ready size, allowing me to add type and balloons and SFX in a separate layer, meaning the finished art can simply be “slipped underneath”.

See this example of balloons and PS boosted pencils >HERE< from the previous post.

Sometimes though, I work straight in over the original pencils.

Below you can see this latter process.

You can also see that once the pencils are complete, that even that might not stop changes happening.

Whether to pencils (see below where I have rubbed out the original panel centre and replaced the extreme close up of the figure with the camera with a midshot)

And the inks of the panel in which we see the shooting victim (above) which just felt a little “pedestrian” once complete…

and so I sketched out a new composition in my sketchbook,

…and then made a “paste-over” (a piece of white paper stuck over the previous artwork) added new pencils based on my sketch and inked it up…

The inks are then rescanned, any flashbacks of previous panels added, and the artwork cleaned up in Photoshop.

Here (below) are the most recent pages I’ve been working on.

Then its just a case of adding these scans to the existing text/ballooned files and adding any final tone/colour examples of which can be found >HERE<.

…and so on, and so on, usually for me in small cycles, finishing batches of pages then going back to thumbnail a new section.

Work in progress on one of at least five new comics projects due this year…

You might remember our hero Ake, from the panel at the top of page 2 of Rob Jones and my (Gareth here) collaboration from last year, The King’s Leap. Here he is as I refine his facial features, along with other viking and giant types.

x Ake's Head

…and in typical hero pose.

x Ake

x Fighting Giants 002

The giants are going to be fun…

x Fighting Giants 001

x Ymir and the Fisherman's Daughter

x Fighting Giants 003

And here some of the other travellers and ambassadors that appear at the great thing-meet…

Thing Meet Characters

Where Ake’s Trial takes a turn for the worse…

x The Cages and Viking Types

There should be some more fixed panelled pages beginning to appear very soon.

There are various reviews of last year’s book knocking around on the internet, but THIS is one of my favourites… 😉

Oh and if you want to find out more about Rob, Mike and our other brothers over at Madius check them out in full flow on THIS podcast from the guys at Games & Graphics.

Following on from the work on “The Kings Leap” (see previous post also), I was asked to contribute some work to a new comics anthology that involved Robin Jones (Writer of: The Kings Leap, Papercuts & Inkstains), Alisdair Wood (Beagle), Michael Sambrook (Papercuts & Inkstains), Al McLauchlan, & Neil Ford… all of whom are very talented chaps… Go check out their great stuff.

My contribution (I’ll keep the title of the story I’m working on under wraps at the moment) is set in a near [post-global catastrophe] future…

Some of the WIP artwork can be found below.

Inks and Grey-toning in progress…

xx Horrere - You Are What You Eat - Page 004…and pencils.

Pencils for Maddox's Room

If you want to find out more about the book, which will be debuting at Thoughtbubble, Leeds this year, take a look over at the site >HERE<

Red Corsair - Ready For Action

More sketches towards THIS project… here some simple storyboard style thumbnails and a thought or two about the idea that their outfit might change over time… as their notoriety increases…

Red Corsair - Attack

Moving from an ad hoc commando/pilot look, to something more superhero/super-agent like…

x Corsair 001

In particular, the goggles and face mask/scarf being replaced with a WWI firefighters style mask, the strange moustache of which might add a sense of androgyny to the “costume”…  something that might be of benefit in 30/40’s Europe.

x Corsair 002

Finally, we thought the adoption of the tricorn hat, to give a more theatrical slant to the costume, the wearer reading contemporary pulp fiction magazines comic strips in which early costumed-heros appear in fanciful garb, influencing their choices… As well as reflecting the characters Spanish heritage (their mother is Spanish – @wildflowerfaery, Ed.), Zorro, the Flanders’ Cocked Hat etc.

The Needle

Above – One of The Red Corsair’s Spanish Ancestors?

This last image is an initial stab at the Red Corsair’s base of operations… I had thought about housing it in a university a research base, but with the recovery of artefacts being the primary mission of the protagonist, and some knowledge of said objects being necessary, I thought better and decided to house it in the basement of a museum, in this case, possibly the Royal Institute Hall as was on Albion Street, here in Hull.

The Lair of the Red Corsair

Usual paraphernalia abounds, books, records, maps, radio comms, telephone hotline, global time clocks, filing cabinets, assorted seating and storage, and even a chill chair for those quiet contemplative moments. The map in the bottom right shows a further two rooms adjoining this main meeting space (one of which I thought could be the costuming and kit stores), and secret corridor leading up and out into the city by a different route.

In the comics we will see much of this in close up as well or behind characters heads, and so I also wanted to acknowledge the characters interests, posters might be political, books and pamphlets that show the philosophical bent of the characters as well as their attitudes to the characters they find in magazines and comics such as popular magazines such as Modern Mechanix, Dark (or Miss) Fury, Wanda The War Girl and others…

More to come…

xx Scan 91

Set in the 30’s and 40’s, this title follows the adventures of a “super-agent” named The Red Corsair (one I began visual development of at this time last year, see below),

xx Early Designs for Corsair

Some early designs for Red Corsair

…whose mission is to hunt down and recover artefacts of “special significance” with regards to the war effort, and so thwarting the plans of the axis powers during WWII and the period leading up to it.

xx Scan 92


Some more recent costume designs…

xx Scan 94b

The comics will show the origins and subsequent adventures of the protagonist and the team that work alongside, Il Corsaro Rosso, with the principle character’s story arc and plot is being pulled together by Sarah Regan (@wildflowerfaery) and myself…

xx Scan 98

…and starts by showing the events at the time of the title characters birth that would go on to influence their world and their mission, flitting between 1912 and a mission set in the pre-war period…

xx The Corsair - Book 1 - Page 001 for Blog

(Above) potentially page one of the project…

The entire project will hopefully flit backwards and forwards through the period from 1912 to 1945, with some stories set later, and some set in the napoleonic and 17th century. From England to War torn Europe and even North Africa and The Middle East.

xx Scan 100

The real motivation behind the project is to play with some of those great themes, intrigue and action/adventure stories and character types found in pulp stories and cliffhanger serials such as: Captain Cody (King of The Rocket Men, Radar Men from The Moon etc), RafflesThe Shadow, Jim Grimm and Zorro, characters that have inspired more modern retellings such as The Rocketeer, Indiana Jones, Irma Vep and Evelyn Carnahan from The Mummy, whilst looking at real historical events from WWII such as the work done by the monuments men.

xx Scan 99

As well as thumbnail page breakdowns… I’ve filled quite a few pages with potential character faces and other ideas…

xx Scan 96

…single frame narrative development and historical notes, and other related lists.

xx Scan 95

…plenty of action scenes, from leaping motorcycles to car chases.

All in all we are really looking forward to pulling this one together…

xx Scan 93

You never know, it might be ready to debut at Thoughtbubble 2015 later this year.

See also – Dardo Bartoli, Verdi’s Opera – Il Corsaro, Byron’s Poem, Lady Catherine Ferrers etc.



So… just a little three or four step show and tell looking at one of the more ridiculous pages I worked on of late…

The thumbnail

Okay so as you can see by the scale against my pencil and fingers this image is roughly 60mm x 100mm and pretty (hairily) loose… but this laid the foundations for the page as it would turn out.


The pencils

The pencils are done at over size, around A3 (in this case on a textured paper), the pencils remain hairy, as Milton Glaser might have it, I’m still searching for the right line at this stage… here I’ve over laid the speech balloons to see how they might fit… the two missing panels where drawn afterwards… at this point I was just trying to get the balance of that staircase right.

x Comics Page 006 The Truth - WIP pencils only

The inks

And so onto the inks… drawn directly over the pencils and then cleaned up with a well worn in eraser (I like putty rubbers for this job, they tend not to smudge as much leaving dark areas that have to be removed in Photoshop).

As it turned out I wasn’t happy with the continuity between the frames here and had to do a whole lot of jiggery-pokery in PS before I was happy… compare with the image below.

Inks staircase x

The lettering and finishes…

As you can see, I pushed the imagery around a little using the digital tools available, making Miss Stevens face the right way in that last panel, despite it not being as aesthetically pleasing (but I’m on a tight deadline here – amongst my other work).

I also added a quick shade layer using a bit of a “cheat” technique, taking the inks layer, duplicating it, and then using PS’s Cutout filter (Filter Gallery > Artistic > Cutout) and then blending the layer using the Multiply option…

The lettering is digital, and so are the balloon ellipses… I’ve now began treating these a little different but the process is not far off here.

Lsst but not least I went over some of the imagery adding highlights and addressing glaring issues with the “Cheat” shading…

Page16 Staircase x

…and that’s really it.

I might well add a full-colour version of this page at some point in the future…

Y’know… just for fun.