Ep. 21, Page 67

smbhax on March 6, 2014

Thought I'd try doing a page without using the pencil; I was looking at yesterday's page and noticing the little things off with the pencil lines here and there and thinking that maybe the inertia working against me when it comes to altering drawn lines, especially on this watercolor paper where they don't always erase completely, was kind of holding me back in terms of drawing; like, on the page before that, I'd gone outside the lines with some really dark watercolor to adjust the hairline and mouth on the figure on the right, and both those changes had been for the better.
Then I thought no, you can't do the pages without penciling them first, that would be a disaster. And indeed I had gone without the pencil from mid-episode 16 to mid-episode 17, back when I was working in ink and ink wash, and I'd felt in the end that those pages weren't my best work (I was also trying to do two a day). But I also remembered that for a brief streak there in episode 16 I'd sort of sketched or blocked things out first in a very light ink wash, then gradually refined from there, going darker and darker, and that had produced some rather successful partial results: Selenis' face in episode 16, page 69, the foreground ship on page 71, and the background dudes in pages 72 and 73. But I'd dropped it soon after that because it took longer, sometimes didn't work out well at all, and led to some warping and runny ink seams—because the materials I was using back then weren't intended for that sort of thing, really.
Well now I'm using watercolor stuff that *is* designed for that sort of thing, and not so much for pencil, so maybe it makes sense to give that approach another try. I feel like it can definitely help me get toward a more expressive, painterly mode, which I've found myself unable to get into when using pencil lines—but it will also be a challenge to do complicated layouts and sharp features without them.
Today's layout, for instance, was pretty basic—too basic? It didn't come out quite as disastrously as I'd feared it might, though. Here are some intermediate steps (another tricky thing about this approach is that it can look like an absolute disaster most of the way through, until you put in the final light/dark details—especially the white ink!—right at the end):

So…I dunno. I think I can get better at it, but I don't think I'll ever be able to match the crispness and the subtle dynamism of layout I got with through the pencil in, say, page 66; really what I should just get better at is a) erasing and redrawing when necessary and b) ignoring the pencil lines in watercolor when necessary. Maybe I'll give this no-pencil thing another page or two to see if I can stumble upon some kind of breakthrough with it.