Page Layouts and Thumbnails – How I Started

Planning out pages has been the most challenging aspect of creating reMIND and when planning a good set of pages, I always start with thumbnails. I’ve mentioned it before in the past assuming everyone knows what I’m talking about but since every artist is unique with their workflow I figure I should show the early stages of mine. I also noticed many young artists visiting here, trying to make heads or tails on how to start their own comic or graphic novel so hopefully this can shed some light on the subject enough to get the ball rolling.

After I finish a loose script (and I mean loose. No dialogue. A script with the main plot points. About a chapter per page) I started my thumbnails. Thumbnails are super small drawings just to get the initial ideas of composition and page layouts out of my head and on paper. Sometimes I have a clear idea in my mind but most of the time I don’t. If I have absolutely no idea where to start I force something out, however crude it may be, and this usually gives way to ideas that eventually start to gel.

I usually don’t like to show my thumbnails because they are so sloppy and bad. In the case of the pages above, you can really see where I struggled to figure out what to do. There are a few rehashed versions of the same things. Now days I like to draw my thumbnails with ink. This forces me away from little details. If I mess up then I have to start another one. It keeps the ideas fluid and loose.

Thumbnails can easily get really messy and scattered here and there and lost on small random pieces of paper. To battle this bad habit I’ve learned to keep all my thumbnails in nice tidy sketchbooks. I learned this working with many commercial directors. Many would keep similar hard bound sketchbooks clearly marked for each project in which they could collect all their random thoughts.

I started doing this for reMIND long before it was a graphic novel. The top book with the Fuel sticker is full of storyboards and concept art when I was planning on making reMIND an animation called “Vittles”. Most of these pages are full of clipped sketches and thumbnails, taped down to keep organized. I’m glad I did this otherwise I would have lost track of most of it.

This is the first image of Victuals (Vittles at the time) that I liked. I cut it out and taped it to the front page. Yeah, that says Tender Vittles 3.2 for some dumb reason. I just like that cat food name. I don’t have a cat…really. I don’t even really like cats. I just like drawing Victuals.

Above are some storyboard thumbnails for the animated version in it’s extremely early stages. The yellow panels were sticky notes that I later taped in the book. The lower left page is the first sketch of a lizard man. Sonja was going to be a boy at one point and above is a sketch.

Anyway, that’s my way to develop ideas. I’ve got to keep it all organized or I never get anything finished. And hey, it’s fun to look at later on…or put in a blog.