Surprise Monday : Week 2 : first 2 spreads

This week I've been working on the first two spreads of the book. I wasn't sure if I would start out by doing all the storyboards and then all the roughs, but because the book is made up of four separate stories, it's easy to treat it that way. So i ended up doing the storyboards and roughs for the first story, pages 2-5.

I did sketches for some of the secondary characters, Hamish's dad and Alice's mum, but kept them quite quick, and let them develop throughout the storyboard process.

To start, I do extremely quick sketches of the major elements, just trying to get the composition right. I try different positions of people and objects, and different angles to view them from until something 'feels' right. I've got a pad of really poor quality A2 paper that I use for the storyboards, and for some reason I prefer sketching them in pen (it just feels better than pencil on this paper!) Plus, I'm doing them so quickly, so there is no time to erase anyway.

As I come up with a composition I like, I start to add more and more detail, as you can see towards the bottom of this page:

Once I've got the composition pretty set, I start to work on the rough. I make up a page template of the exact size in Illustrator, (just an outline of the page edges) and print it out so that I can sketch on top of it - just so that I am always working with the correct proportions for the page. For Surprise!, a double page spread is much bigger than an A4, but I only have an A4 printer, so I reduce it down. This means I am working much smaller than actual size for my roughs, but I will blow them up to actual size for when I do the finals. I tend to sketch quite small anyway so this works for me.

I might do one or two roughs. But I generally just work and rework one sketch. I erase and redraw A LOT! so sometimes it means when it's scanned in it's a bit hard to read, but that's okay. I just need the major lines, not all the little details. For instance, for page 2, I went from the storyboards above, to this:

to this:
I always make sure to have the characters sketches that I did earlier close by to refer back to, to make sure I am getting my proportions right (as you can see in the first 'rough' above, Hamish's head was way too big!) Also you have to remember to leave room for the text! I often get carried away and forget that.

Sometimes with a rough, I will draw something that I quite like, but it is a little bit small or a little bit too much to the right, etc. That's where the computer comes in! It's great for moving things around and trying new things out quickly.

I'd be interested to know how other people do roughs. Do you use a page template or sketch free hand? Do you play around with your roughs on the computer afterwards if they don't fit quite right? Do you always 'know' when you find the right composition? Do you put all the details in in your roughs or do you leave that for the final so it is a bit more spontaneous?

Thanks for checking in. I hope you are enjoying this so far!

Next week: two more double spreads

ps. as you can see I've put a graphic in the sidebar where you can click to see all the posts on Surprise! at once x