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, Heather Wilson and Rosy Higgins. Today we welcome Ted brandt– you can find out more about Ted’s work via his portfolio site (for finished work), Tumblr (for work in progress) and his Twitter:
FPI: What drew you to wanting to make comics?
Ted: I’ve been reading comics as far back as I remember. I was reading The Beano weekly since about 3, and I fell in love with the concept of superheroes at age 5, when I first encountered X-Men: The Animated series. At age 15 I started getting comics on a monthly basis, and it became a real thing for me. I’ve always been fascinated by the storytelling possibilities within comics as a medium; I made a few (very bad) comics years ago, but didn’t feel like I had a good enough grasp of the mechanics of comics. So when I found out there was a degree course available, I jumped at the chance!
FPI: What was your experience of the course?
Ted: The course has been absolutely fantastic. I came in with a poor grasp of storytelling, rather weak anatomy, and inexperience with framing and colouring images, but am starting to find a way of doing all these things that works for me. Partly, it’s just been great to be able to devote three years to practicing without having a day job to distract me, but access to the tutors and facilities that the course provided has really been invaluable. I can safely say that if I hadn’t come, even practicing every day would have gotten me nowhere near the amount of progress I’ve been able to make.
FPI: What are you working on now?
Ted: Right now? Quite a few things, all in various stages of development. The immediate concern has been finishing my final university project (a page of which is being used for this blog post). However, beyond that I’m planning a story to be developed in collaboration with two classmates; preparing my dissertation to be presented as an academic paper at Lancaster University’s upcoming conference on Comics, Politics and Religion; and beginning preliminary work on a big project with other people that I’m not yet able to say anything about.
FPI: What are your ambitions?
Ted: My ambitions largely revolve around telling stories: that’s what drives what I’m doing. I want to be able to make books that entertain people, and make them think. I want to tell stories that help people see the world as being as entertaining and fantastic as I see it to be. I’m still working out what that means career-wise, but I’ll get there!
FPI: Explain your working process.
Ted: My working process is constantly changing in small ways, as I find the best way to do a project. That said, the way I’m doing things right now is best reflected in the images you see in the blog post.
I’ll start with rough layouts, drawn quickly in pencil to capture the right pacing and framing for a page.
The next stage is the digital pencils, which I generally do quite tight. I like being prepared to move forward, and for me that means getting the pencils stage as accurate as possible.
The inks come next – I don’t change much in these, just alter some line weights. I’m starting to think about using more spot blacks in the inking stage, but haven’t on this project.
Flat colours are laid down, to get the basic feel of the page.
I’ll tweak the colours, adding details to provide a sense of depth and form.
Then I’ll finish the page, adding the last details for atmosphere, and finally sorting out the panel borders.