Sketch Fridays #84: Long John Sketch. Made in Procreate on the iPad Pro.

Things are really busy with the day job, but I’m slowly plugging away on Long John when I have time. The goal right now is to have everything ready to go for me to jump right into drawing pages once summer break starts for me in May. So, I’m bouncing right now between the chapter outline, thumbnails, and scripting. My basic process goes has me start with one of those and, when I get stuck, I bounce to another, which tends to get me out of most jams.

Generally the first thing I do is a chapter outline, though I call it a “Pacing” document which lays out numbers for each page of the book and I write out what generally happens on that page; it’s less a summary and more a reminder of what this page needs to do to be an interesting page and to move the story forward to the next page.

A look at my “Pacing Sheet” for Chapter 3. It helps me get ideas out, but it’s not doctrine, as you can see there are some major details toward the end that are very different from the final version (click for larger version).

From there, I tend to jump right to thumbnailing. I used to print out custom sheets that have four pages-worth of thumbnails per sheet, but I’ve since moved that to the iPad, which makes things go much faster. With slower expository scenes, thumbnailing can spiral into self-doubt, at which point I realize I need to work out the conversation a bit more than a bullet point of “They talk about things,” at which point I sit down and script out the pages I’ve done so far before tackling the scene that’s got me stuck.

I say all of that because there was a scene in the first half of Chapter 5 that I was kind of avoiding because it’s a lot of exposition that I wanted to sound natural, it leads into the rest of the book, and I knew drawing it was going to be kind of tough. So, I kind of put it off thinking that stress would cause creation; I have learned over the years that is not the case for me––stress just creates stress.

A look at the thumbnail template I use on the iPad. These are the first three pages for the short story I’ve been working on, “Call Me Home.” (Click for larger version)

So, I rammed my head against the scene and finally had a huge breakthrough a few weeks ago. It’s not going make drawing it any more fun (it’s indoors in a big fancy house, so lots of perspective drawings and set dressing which takes forever), but it’s the biggest hurdle I had in the chapter and I’m excited to get time to sit down and thumbnail the rest of the chapter out.