Making of "The Battle of Sentinel Prime" / by Richard Rudge

So today I’ve just published the 80th and 81st page of GALACTIC SCRAP COLLECTOR, my jet setting science fiction story following a family of scrap collectors as they get whipped up into a tale of corporate espionage, experimentation and backstabbing. You can start reading the whole thing here: https://tapastic.com/episode/90464

If you’ve read the pages you’ll realise why I published both pages today rather than the regular one a week. It’s a double page spread, a first for GSC. I did this for many reasons. The first being that the story of GSC is escalating, and how I portray that should match it, so a large and dramatic space battle should be given the appropriate stage, secondly I’ve never done a double page spread before so I wanted to have that experience.

So you may be asking, what’s the big deal? Why is a double page spread such cause for celebration and a once in a blue moon blog post? Well I think looking at how I go about making comics will demonstrate that.

I’m something of a traditionalist at the moment, I draw and ink on A3 paper, then scan it into a PC to colour it. So making a double page spread this way brings up some problems.

Pencils for the double page spread, two sheets of A3 taped in the middle

Pencils for the double page spread, two sheets of A3 taped in the middle

Here are the pencils for the double page spread, bearing in mind half of this is what I usually make for a single page. So what I did here was draw out the page dimensions on each page and then fold one page at the comic page edge as seen here.

Folded one sheet so I was drawing right to the edge, so there was no gap between the pages

Folded one sheet so I was drawing right to the edge, so there was no gap between the pages

From there I stuck the pages together with tape so I had a single drawing space, so there wasn’t any gap or unalignment with the two pages.

With the problems of practicality out the way, now begins the design challenge. I’m making a double page spread that will be initially published as single pages as a webcomic. So each page as to stand on it’s own but still work as a whole. So obviously things like text can’t go over the centre of the image (doubly so as this would be hard to read in a print format as well because of the book spine)

Secondly I had two stories to tell, the battle happening between Inami and Sentinel Prime and Keira, Abigail and families’ escape from their ship and travelling to the nearby planet. So giving space for the second story while still giving the battle enough room to sell the spectacle of it was a consideration.

Initial thumbnails and notes on the pages

Initial thumbnails and notes on the pages

So here’s where my notebook comes in. I use this to draw out thumbnails of pages, breakdown large sequences into what I fit into a page and draft dialogue. Here’s what this week’s pages looked like in draft.

 

All the key components of the battle are there, the battle cruiser, Big Bertha, several fighters flying around, and Sentinel Prime and the planet in the background. Below that I draw large thumbnails for the six panels, again with only key components of what I wanted in each panel.

You’ll notice that the 5th panel is completely different to the final page, I felt it smarter to show Abigail leaving as a single panel rather than both ships in one. Plus it gave me the space to show the battle close up with the missiles flying by and the explosions in the distance.

Finished Inks

Finished Inks

For inking I use a range of pens at various thicknesses for inking, the close the object in the scene the thicker the ink as a general rule. You’ll notice that I haven’t filled in the large black spaces that are through these pages. That’s done digitally once it’s scanned in as I felt it a considerable waste of ink when I can achieve the same effect later on in the process. Should be noted that I did leave little x’s to denote where I need to fill with black so I don’t forget. There will be of course areas that I forget to fill until fairly late in the process. Such is life.

My colouring style for GSC is fairly simple, lots of block colouring, highlights and shadows, and some lighting effects such as the red light inside the small shuttle or the light yellow hue on board Big Bertha.

I add the star effect when colouring also, Clip Studio’s “droplet” tool is really good for this. I can get some good variance in depth and spacing of the stars to make it look non uniform. I also used the crosshatch tool that I blurred afterwards to give clouds to the planet.

Black Panel Border

Black Panel Border

White Panel Border

White Panel Border

There was lots of colour hold on this page. By that I mean colouring previously black lines of the original inks so its gives less of an edge, the laser fire from the fighters in this instance. I also did this for the upper half of the six panels to make them stick out a bit more of top of the larger image, as in some cases it was black space on black space so it needed a little more distinction.

From there I added text/letting. Again I was telling two stories at once, the battle and Keira/Abigail leaving Big Bertha so I wanted to be clear but also make sure each page had enough for the reader. Much of the “battle” text was radio chatter from both Inami and Sentinel Prime forces telling a larger story without detracting from the main story. Giving the blue and red distinctions gives some clarity to it.

The finished pages.

Here’s the final pages in full, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. You can find the rest of the story over on tapastic: GALACTIC SCRAP COLLECTOR.


Thanks for reading.