The Process Behind Oh Hell, Donna!

Happy February, Team!

I finally put all of the Oh Hell, Donna! pages into a binder, with Rob’s help.

(spring toys there to avoid this post being NSFW)

You may notice that the book is on the floor. This is because I couldn’t actually lift it up to put it on a shelf.

It’s big, and not even done.  There is still ONE MORE chapter of Donna for me to draw.

The one I just did was Volume 3, Chapter 4, and that still needs to be corrected, colored, background…ed, and so on before I can post it.

Right now, the website at www.rowyngolde.com/donna has comic pages going into Volume 3 posted, but won’t get quite to where I currently am until the end of the year.

For those who don’t know what this comic is, it’s about a dead girl who has come up to the land of the living for a vacation.  However, she doesn’t get to spend much time relaxing before a universe-threatening cult shows up.

It’s an often NSFW tale that blends comedy, horror, and romance.  There’s themes of mental health, processing trauma, learning to love oneself, and there are a few gay characters.  This means the comic is either TOTALLY FOR YOU or extremely not.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground.

Knowing all that, I wanted to share some of the behind-the-scenes process of Oh Hell, Donna!

My first webcomic was Deddrie: The Cornsbrook Killer.  That went for about 13 years on and off online, and I’m currently collecting that all into a book.  I’m not quite through with the characters yet though, so my hope is to get a cartoon going eventually.  Deddrie will also be a character interaction in a game Rob and I are working on!

Donna is my second webcomic, and the first to have a real storyline.  It wasn’t intended to be this long, but little throw away jokes at the beginning of the book became plot points or simply characters I wanted to explore.

A good example is Mary, who was going to be there very briefly, MAYBE getting her own comic eventually, and now she’s a central point of this third and final volume.

I bring Mary up because I had a few pieces of older work that I wanted to bring back and make a part of this comic.  This meant tweaking some things to make the old art work in the new context, both for Mary and for Queenie.  Here’s a good example of how some pieces weren’t completely redone, but finished and altered for the sake of the story:

Donna, Zippy, and Todd were all characters I had come up with a very long time ago, even before Deddrie was a thing.  I had put them away in a filing cabinet I call my morgue, only to bring them back from the dead when the time was right.  Then this version of Donna spanned over so many years that Donna as we know her today looks a little different than she did even at the start of this book.

In fact, I first drew Donna meeting Todd in a poorly put together one page comic when I was a pre-teen.  As hard as that is to look at now, the premise and even some lines from that made up the first chapter of the comic as we know it today.

Donna has been good for me in terms of learning the ways around the medium, and finding ways to work around my wrist deformity.  To do a commission is one thing.  To do a 400+ page graphic novel is another.

So I do this by first coming up with a script, then dividing that script up into pages and panels, then doing my little scribbles on the side of the script until I’m happy with a thumbnail.  That thumbnail will become the general layout of the page.

After that is trying to draw straight lines with more than one ruler at a time.  I’m not going to show you that process specifically because it gets a little embarrassing.  Future comics aren’t planned to be so analog, so this should be the last time I’ll need to worry about gutters in this way.

The key is a T square.  Just letting you know.

Then I gently sketch where the characters are going to be, and do the words and word bubbles.  This is also a process that will be easier in future projects, as I had a font made out of my handwriting.  It is much more legible than my actual handwriting.

Next is inking, where I will screw up at least five times per panel, regardless of how detailed my pencil was.

Backgrounds are done separately for Donna.  It saves my arm a bit if I do it the way cartoons were done back in the day.  You’d have your one painted background for a scene, and then your characters would change on a separate plate on top of that.

Most of the Donna backgrounds are watercolor pencil.

Some are digital…

I even have a couple of outright photographs for key scenes!

Mostly though, the backgrounds are watercolor, and I started doing a widescreen canvas for it to make it a little easier to see more of a room per painting.

Finally, I edit everything together.  This means scanning the backgrounds and line art, (once Rob erases all the pencil for me) and correcting any WRONG parts of said line art before coloring the whole thing digitally.

And there you go!  How To Make A Donna.

 

Rock on,

-Rowyn

The Journey of a Book

Hey, Team!

We recently sent out our first children’s book, Peas and Luv, so I wanted to use this week’s post to go into the adventure of making it.

I had posted this to our Patreon before the Kickstarter, just to show the process of making the pages of the book itself.  Well, the art at least:

The prose had been edited by my mother, along with a few friends…  But I was still really nervous about it.  I was nervous about my art too.
I tried my best to have contingency plans for every step.  That meant scanning every single pencil sketch into my computer, JUST IN CASE I messed up the watercolor so terribly that I’d have to do the whole thing digitally instead.

This was an actual thought that lived in my brain.  Thankfully, that isn’t how it went down.  Either way, I had to power on through regardless.  It had become a matter of principle.

So, this happened:

By August 2nd, we were already at 36% funded for Peas & Luv!  And I was STILL really scared.

I used that first Kickstarter update to say thank you and to show everyone something dear to me.

See, a million years ago, Mom and I took a knitting class together.  My goal was to make arm warmers, but I wound up using it to make the body of a self-portrait doll instead!  (I had streaks of red in my hair at the time.)  I suppose it’s another example of how arts and crafts were always such a big part of the time Mom and I spent together.

I thought about using this image as my author picture toward the end of the book, but eventually opted to put the dedication to Mom there instead, and kind of leave me out of it.

The dedication itself mentions Mom’s love of teaching and the lives she changed along the way.  I made the corresponding picture as though I’d made a doll for her.  It’s digitally done but still in the style of the book as that’s… just how I draw, regardless of medium.

Orange was Mom’s favorite color, with blue as a close second.  I took care to pose the doll to have her look curious and friendly.  Above all else though, this doll needed to have a BIG heart!

We were 45% funded at day 5, which was amazing.

The Kickstarter update that day was about the cover design.

I mentioned that the most editing done was eliminating some errors from scanning, or any glaringly obvious pencil marks in the original paintings, but otherwise the pages were as painted.  The cover was a little different.

The cover needed something to really pop.  As a result, the original painting for the cover wound up more like a painted sketch.

I wanted the text to be bigger, and my husband realized that the background was awfully plain, given that the pages inside are all full illustrations.
Also, the original has my pen name on it.  I used my real name for this project because so much of it is for my mother.  Since marriage, Micki Groper and I obviously don’t have the same last name anymore, but it still seemed like the right way to go.

Eventually, my husband Rob and I (mostly Rob, but he’ll say it was mostly me) came up with this:

Otherwise digital, the heart itself is still watercolor scanned in.

This worked as a nice medium ground too, because the dedication for my mom has that digital image near the text.

On day 7 and we were 50% there!  This didn’t keep me from feeling overwhelmed and terrified.

Since Team Manticore is known for making plush toys, having dolls in this campaign was no surprise.

Here, you can see the process of prototyping until we get our final version:

Ultimately, the final is somewhere between the painting and the prototype, with a better overall shape, and eyes that fit the head a bit better than the painting actually had.

By August 25th, your support helped us reach our goal!

After that, we didn’t reach our stretch goal, but that doesn’t really matter.  The book got made, and we still have enough books on hand to give to charities like I wanted, even if it isn’t as many as I would have liked.

Then, we got the PROOF!  Kinda.

Generally, a proof means it would be exactly what we’d be getting 500 copies of, so we approved it.

The company then let us know of some possible printing issues, and asked us to fix the files.  This was a little confusing, as it meant the proof was not actually manufactured the same way the final books would be.

The company was very helpful though, and did eventually send “samples” from the larger print load… but by then they were just nice to have, and not actually useful as a proof per se…  BUT WHATEVER, they got here and they are good.

The printer was in China, which meant the books would need to go through two different sets of Customs before they made their way to me.

It was a long wait, but we used the time to get to work on the dolls to accompany the books for those who gave for that tier:

There were eleven pairs of dolls to do, plus a couple custom (not Peas and Luv specifically) dolls to make.

All the books got here, safe and sound.  16 boxes total!  I was worried about water damage from the snow, but this printer packages everything with a separate layer to prevent exactly that!

Books for daaaaayssss.

So that was it!  We packaged everything, shipped everything off to where it needed to go, and I’m exhausted.

In March, there will be a reading at my temple, and the Parenting Center will be dedicated to Mom.  Let’s see how well I hold together for that.

 

OH!  If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still buy the book at www.peasandluv.com !

 

Thank you and rock on,

-Rowyn

New Comic and an Update About Our Patreon

Hey, Team!
Rowyn here with some fun news!
We’re revamping the Patreon a bit for 2018, (by the way, we HAVE a Patreon for those who didn’t know!) and using it to concentrate more on upcoming projects.
In order to do that, that means our “behind the scenes” will be on lower tiers, so more people can enjoy them!  We’ll also be simplifying the tiers in order to do that, which will be good all around.
This ALSO means that for a while, the Patreon will be all about Boop in the Night, which is a family friendly comic Rob and I are collaborating on. 
It’s the story of a little girl and her monster-from-under-the-bed.
We’ll show you all the character sketches as they are developed, and you’ll see the finished comics posted here before they go to LineToon/WebToon.
As an example, you can see some back and forth between the two of us about the monster, Icabod:
He goes by Icky.
You’ll also get a chance to help us decide what else the characters should be doing!  We’ll have a vote now and then when we’re stuck on which we should do next.  This will also include votes on what kinds of monsters we should see in the comic!  After all, Icky isn’t all alone, is he?
Rock on,
-Rowyn