Happy pub date to Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith! To celebrate, Matt shared with us an inside look at his process (below). Enjoy!
First off, Barbarian Lord is primarily drawn digitally. I set out with the best intentions to move in one direction with clearly defined stages of progress. These being to write a script, create thumbnail sketches from that script and move into final art from those thumbnails, but throughout the process I made a lot of changes—a whole lot. Pages were dropped, added, sequences rearranged and characters redesigned as needed to best tell the story I imagined right up until the last day. Working digitally made this fluid process go a little easier and luckily I had fantastic editors, wizards, really, who were unfazed by this approach.
Having said that, things always began on paper. After writing the story out in a script form, I would see what the page spreads would look like by drawing a column of little boxes for each chapter. Brief notes would be added of which part of the script should fall onto each page. (first image) Next would come rough page layouts of each page. (second image)
Images 3 and 4
The next step moved over to the digital drawing tablet to work out a refined sketch from the initial roughs. Important at this stage was to place the text before I went any further with the sketch.
Next would be to “ink” over the refined sketch. This would be achieved by lowering the opacity of the sketch so that it would be visible and not interfere with the finished line work. I would generally keep a few pages from the book open on a second monitor while inking to make sure I was keeping the characters consistent from page to page.
The last step for each page was to add the gray tones. I kept a palette of a half-dozen grays so that I could keep some measure of consistency throughout the book. At times I would reduce the opacity of some of the line work, such as with the crashing waves at the base of the cliff.
The cover follows the same process, only without word balloons and with a bit of color.
First came three different designs with a similar composition.
I ended up favoring the middle design as I felt it best conveyed the aspects I wanted to put forward most about the book. I also preferred the relatively simple play of shapes in this design. The next step was to establish the line work.
Following the line work, the gray tones were added in.
Lastly, the color.