Dan Berry is a comics creator and artist we’ve long admired here on the blog, but he is also a lecturer at the North Wales School of Art & Design at Glyndwr University(where he is the Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication, lecturing on the BA (hons) Illustration, Graphic Novels and Children’s Books degree), helping the next generation of creators to hone their skills and find their voice in the medium. Any artform needs not only established, experienced creators, it requires a constant infusion of new talent, fresh blood, to keep the medium invigorated, and one of the pleasures of working on this blog isn’t just looking forward to new work from the writers and artists we know and love already, it’s coming across interesting new talent. To that end Dan has been kind enough to collaborate with us on a very special themed set of Director’s Commentary guest posts; we put a set of questions to Dan’s students, and over the next few days they will be talking to us about their work, and hopefully this will be just the first time we hear from some of these creators, and we’ll see them back in the future with more work. You can read the previous guest posts in this series with Tom Harley, Andrew Thomas, Brian Burke, Daisy Hillyard and Heather Wilson. Today we welcome Rosy Higgins – you can find out more about Heather’s work via her site and her Twitter:
FPI: What drew you to wanting to make comics?
Rosy: Quite honestly, comics wasn’t the direction I initially intended to go in. I started off wanting to do animation, and when I first started uni I started at a different school to Glyndwr on an animation course. About half way through that first year I realised I wasn’t doing the right thing, my main problem being that I simply don’t have the patience for full on animation. I did find out, however, that I really enjoyed storyboarding and so when I found the graphic novels course on the internet I thought that could be an interesting avenue to explore.
FPI: What was your experience of the course?
Rosy: I’ve definitely progressed artistically over the term of the course, and that’s no doubt thanks to the tutors. Dan in particular is great at pointing out things that can be improved upon. The most interesting parts have probably been the lectures on how to structure a story, both in terms of plot and visual pacing. I’ve learned a lot.
FPI: What are you working on now?
Rosy: I’ve got a couple of things to be working on, one of them is a short comic based on the idea that there isn’t one type of person to be attracted to and beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Along with that I’ve got a series of Doctor Who prints I need to finish as the ones I’ve done so far have proven quite popular.
FPI: What are your ambitions?
Rosy: I’m going to be very boring and say at this point I’d just like to get some work! But concerning the future? I suppose I’d like to get to a point where I get invited to Comic Con as a guest or something like that. That’d be pretty nifty.
FPI: Explain your working process.
Rosy: I’m going to assume you mean artistically because no one needs to know how I come up with stories; I’m much better at working up someone else’s story.
When I make comics – or any other picture, actually – I work almost exclusively digitally as it allows me a lot more flexibility. I work in Photoshop CS5 with my Wacom Cintiq 12WX. I start off with the most scribbly, blobby sketch imaginable just to figure out roughly where everything is going to go on the page. I then work it up into the equivalent of a ‘pencils’ stage, tightening up people into having actual anatomy and putting the proper perspective in. At this point it depends on how well the last stage has turned out, sometimes I add in another stage here to bring in more detail or fix facial expressions and generally tighten up the pencils before I move onto the inking stage.
I’ve found with inking that the smoother I try to make a like the less life the picture ends up having, so I have a slightly scribbly way of doing lines, but it works and more often than not I end up happy with the results. After inks it’s onto the colours and that usually involves flat colours and the addition of many multiply and/or colour dodge layers to give an atmosphere. I finish up with some final colour tweaks using colour adjustment or the hue/saturation tool just to bring everything together.