Now that we're over half way through the season, and deep into the Rink's new series, Backwards Slapshot, I figured I'd take a break from drawing and spend a moment providing a glimpse into exactly what goes into creating the series. Consider it the sweat behind an otherwise sedentary act of drawing comics.
First, the most difficult task is coming up with ideas... or at least good ones anyway. To find and create material, it's really just a matter of watching games, scouring Twitter, reading online media regarding the team, and tapping into you, the Rink's audience. Between that and bouncing ideas off of other contributors, my attempt is to capture a lighter side of Caps fandom.
When doing a comic involving a player or coach, my ultimate goal is for the player or coach whom is the target of the comic to also catch a laugh from it. One of our favorites caught the eye of Mitch Korn, who showed affinity for the comic aimed his way (Training Day). For the fan comics, I rely heavily on Twitter morale and commenter status, and sometimes even stories from real life that I've heard from friends or encountered myself (e.g., The Road Continues).
As for how long each one takes to complete, every comic is significantly different depending on who is in it, what the background contains, and how accurate I want the cartoon to look like a specific person. Some players and coaches are easier for me to draw than others. For instance, I've had an especially fun time drawing Barry Trotz this year. And while he's evolved a bit even over the short series - and likely always will - he has definitely been the most fun to turn into a 'toon (Reunited, Puck Reaper, Repeating Reporters, What the Devil?, 2C or Not 2C?).
To display the process, I've decided to use the Winter Classic comic, Pinch Hitter. I began this one as soon as the Winter Classic game started with hope that I could post a finished product later in the game. As for equipment, I use a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet and Photoshop in order to complete the entire comic. Once in a while I will have to import a sketched idea from a napkin, but in my father's words "late night ideas aren't always the best ones come morning" anyway. I had a general idea of the picture I wanted to draw, but wasn't sure of the dialogue. I was hoping something would strike later in the game.
Each step is a Photoshop "layer" which allows me to make changes more easily throughout the process. I often bounce between these layers, and almost never complete them this linearly. I'm always finding little things that I've missed or want to change.
Layer 1 - Sketch
The first drawing step entails general shapes, perspective, and sizes of the characters. This includes a quick, basic sketch of the characters and background. For this comic, I knew I was going to draw the gang on the bench, with Ovechkin holding a baseball bat. I wasn't yet sure who the other players would end up being.
Layer 2. The Outline
Layer 3. Background Color
Layer 4. Character Color
Depending on the teams involved (i.e., Leafs, Reunited) and other details, I already have an idea of the color scheme. Caps red is always available in my palette, but for this one I wanted to match Barry's outfit for the day, and also match the new, darker Winter Classic red. As for physically coloring it, I color it in much like the kids... only digitally. It's pretty mindless and can even be therapeutic, unless of course I'm in a hurry...
Layer 5. Logos
This part was particularly fun given that it was a different jersey and logo than usual. For the Winter Classic logo, I used a standard W and added the Backwards Slapshot series' featured font for the lettering. Other times I'll just use the real logo (Leafs, Reaper) and fit it into the comic. Most often for the fan ones I don't bother, and save time by using #Caps. This helps streamline the process - but it is always fun to draw something new...
Layer 6. Visors, Beards, and Highlights
Layer 7. Background Shadow
This layer involves me giving the comic initial depth with the characters and their background. I simply choose spots where the light might come from and go from there...