Entering the thumbnail stage

Well, after two weeks of dragging my feet, the Blythe vs. the Werewolf thumbnail sketches are underway. I’d measured out boxes in my sketchbook sometime last week, but it’s taken me until now to sit down and actually start them. I guess the fact that I’m one step closer to drawing actual pages gives me the jitters.

A lot of that also comes from the fact that I’m revising as I go, and let me tell you. The order of my scenes is a mess. I’ve been dreading the process of wrestling the whole thing into a comprehensible plot since the day I finished the first draft. Luckily, I’ve got a bit of a process to help things along and fill in those blank boxes.

A series of 8 rectangles arranged two by four, labeled “cover” and 1-7

The Process

In order to simplify things for myself, I started off by listing out the scenes in the draft. The point of this was to help me fix the order of events, but it also pointed out what just isn’t working. The latter half of the draft more or less flows together since that’s where I hit my stride, but the first half is going to need major tweaks. It got a bit overwhelming, honestly.

I needed to start on the sketches, so I set aside figuring out the exact order of everything.

First, I opened up a new Word document and created two tables: One for the main purpose of each page, and one for the most important image on each page. The latter was to determine which panel will get the main focus when I actually draw them.

A numbered table that lists the main purpose of each comic page.
(The page purpose table. I’ve shaded the rows in pairs to show which ones are part of a spread.)
A numbered table that lists the focus image per page.
(The as of yet to be filled focus image table.)

Again, though, I hit a wall. Because my draft is such a mess, I’m worried about choosing the “wrong” image as the most important one. I haven’t even filled out the entire “page purpose” and “focus image” tables yet. That’s me overthinking everything, I know, so I chose to dive in.

Doing the thumbnail sketches is where I feel the real revisions started happening. Taking the descriptions in my draft and fitting them into tiny versions of the pages helped me pare things down, decide what was important, and what I could leave out. That’s the goal of this step. Cement the order of the most essential images, distill everything down to necessary information.

Four out of eight drawn rectangles filled with thumbnail sketches, plus notes and numbered lists of panels.
(Thumbnails for the first four pages of Blythe vs. the Werewolf, and notes!)

I’ve only sketched the first four pages of Blythe vs. the Werewolf, so the first scene plus the first page of the second scene. I’m trying to keep the sketches loose and not too detailed. They’ll act as the underdrawing, and I’ll be penciling and inking over scans of them when it comes time to make the actual pages. The most important thing about these thumbnail sketches is to get the basic idea down. Angles, staging, shapes, focus. No getting bogged down with the details. Details are for the inking stage.

Close up of the focus panel of page 2. A creature huddles over something it’s eating.
(Close up of the focus panel for page 2)

Blythe vs. the Werewolf will be my longest standalone comic when all is said and done, so it’s a bit intimidating. That’s a major factor in my hesitance with this project, I think, and I’m dreading the revision process as a whole.

The changes I’ve made so far in my sketches are hopefully a good sign as far as fixing things as I go. Still, I’m worried over whether or not I’ll have the thumbnails done by the end of the month. Maybe if I take a little more time to do a first pass revision of the script, everything will fall into place? I’ll have to see how that all goes.

I’m only shuffling along, but that’s still moving forward.

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