In yesterday's Mystery House Comments I broke down my tips and pointers for first-time script writers submitting stories for this year's 6x6. Today we have a celebrity special guest, Shanae Lavelle, to break down her thumbnails for the first page of a script I wrote for an earlier edition of 6x6 (to read the complete script, click here). Shanae is the Artist and Co-Creator of Shivertown, and serves as Co-Editor and Art Director for 6x6.
Here is an example of how I go about translating Jon's scripts into pages. You'll see thumbnail sketches of the entire page and the way in which I go about breaking down each page before I start the actual finished page.
First, I read the entire script. It gives me an idea of where the story is going and what the characters look like. I call this a preliminary read-through. I get images going in my head; it get's me excited about doing the sketches.
Second, I will get out my sketch book. As you can see from the sketch, I like to draw the outline of the entire page with a margin on the side for me to note what page and how many panels. In the margin, I will do a mini-page that breaks down simple panel placement. Jon wrote six panels, with the last one being eventful, so I wanted to give it a slightly larger panel to help build up the suspense. The margin will come in handy later when I need to notate any changes or feedback that Jon may have when we look at it together.
Third, I do a small sketch of the Weston character because Jon went out of his way to describe what he looked like in the script.
Fourth, I start sketching in each panel. You may notice that the first panel ended up moving off to the left side a little. As I drew the sketch I realized the bubble placement wasn't going to work at first, so instead of re-drawing the whole panel, I just moved the "camera angle" over to the other side so it would fit more.
Bubble placement is something I have to go out of my way to include in these sketches because if it gets forgotten in the early stages, the panels get drawn with a disregard for them which can lead to trouble areas down the road.
I leave little notes to myself through the page, like the word behind on panel three. I did that because the angle changes and in case I forget or Jon has questions, it's a kind of shorthand. Also, on panel six, the tires are very basic in the sketch so I left notes on the angle placement for the tires. This is a big moment, and I also want to convey a lot of speed is happening before the collision is taking place, so lots of extra circle shapes are added too.
After that, I would go through and do the rest of the story and pages. Then, I would walk Jon through it to see if it is actually going to work for him. I can also ask for details on the bicycles and the other little visual things as we go. Any changes he wants to see, I can notate again in the margin that I leave on the side.
JON is tall and skinny. Brunette. He has about a foot on Weston. He has spiky hair and a Hawaiian shirt. Each time we see him, he can have a different Hawaiian shirt to mark the passage of time.
WESTON is short and fit. His style of dress can vary more, but he bounces between sporty and preppy. He’s blonde, wears pooka shells, and has big, entrancing blue eyes. And he’s wicked good-looking.
1- Jon and Weston
Jon and Weston ride their bikes out of Jon’s garage and down a driveway. They are 16 and best friends. Inseparable. They are ecstatic. Not to be riding bikes, but to be sharing epic stories of friendship. Whenever they’re telling stories, they’re wired and over-the-top happy. On this particular day Weston is wearing shorts and a white tank top or wife-beater (though I’m not sure what the politically correct terminology for that is).
Remember that time I tried to-
-jump that ditch and missed? I was thinking the same thing!
2- The boys ride around a street corner. They’re on the wrong side of the road, but on the sidewalk, bikes alongside one another. Jon on Weston’s left, in front by half a foot.
Your foot got stuck in the mud.
I was like, “Ahhhh!”
3- The road dips down steeply. This is a big hill they’re going down.
If you hadn’t twisted, you wouldn’t have sprained your ankle-
4- They’re still on the hill, but it’s less steep. The open mouth of a street has appeared on Jon’s left. They’re coming to an intersection.
This is where I live.
5- Jon on left with invisible arrows pointing his intention: forward. Weston on right with invisible arrows pointing his intention: left. These are conflicting intentions, that will end in a horrible wreck.
6- Close-up of their wheels connecting. Uh-oh.
Shanae LaVelle spent most of her young life wanting to make comics and cartoons, fascinated by its imitation of people and society. She rediscovered hope for this dream with Mystery House Comics. Shanae is the artist and co-creator of Shivertown, and serves as the Art Director for MHC. Her art is featured in Tarzan and the Comics of Idaho and , an anthology of which she is also an editor. Always looking at opportunities as adventure to improve her skills while reaching out to those who hope to do the same.