For this exercise I used a range of sketches from my sketchbook that were drawn during the commuting times before the Pandemic occurred and the various lockdowns occurred. I’m currently in lockdown so the whole idea of a commute is still a bit away, and as I had a range of sketches from bus journeys, I wanted to see what could be done from these sketches.
Firstly, I went through the sketchbooks, some as far back as 5 years ago, and picked out the images that I liked. The idea was to gather the images that appealed first and then arrange them into a format that would help document the journey of a commute to Dublin.
One of my favourite comic books is Paul Auster’s City of Glass. There are pages of beautiful panels without words, and I love how a fingerprint morphs into a panel of the route taken for the characters walk. I wanted to try and achieve a full page of panels without words and document a walk on the way to work.
I normally take the bus, but because of traffic I’m often looking out the window at commuters walking to work and can pass the same person walking a number of times. I wanted to assume that the perspective of the walk would be from the person looking out from the bus and not the person walking. That way, there are images that are captured briefly that are seen when travelling along the motorway and roads into the city centre, that might not be seen by a walker, but yet our journeys overlap because of bad traffic.
From the images collected I created a number of panels in Procreate and moved them about until I got the sense that the page was working. The panels were filled in orange as this was going to be the final colour overlay for my comic page.
After this I created another layer and inked over it and adjusted as I went. The original first panel wasn’t working with a single crow, so with decisions made as the page was developing, I felt it worked better with a trio of crows observing the walker in the first panel. We see them flying off in the second panel.
By the time I got to the ninth panel, I felt that the car wasn’t a good enough observational sketch and so used the fourth panel to create a series of cars to indicate the build up of traffic.
The cranes in the skyline are deliberately left as lines, as there are moments in the traffic when the lights turn and you can’t get the full sketch done so you resort to the essence of what you see as a result. This was one such sketch in my sketchbook.
The final panel wasn’t working for me either. I found it to be inconclusive for the one page comic and it didn’t work. Instead, I returned to the walker and had her leaving the panel to indicate that her journey continued.
After finalising the images in the inking layer, I went back to my texture layers and added a few to create a crayon-like effect on the page. I wanted to add noise without inking the panels. As it was, the panels that had the heavy lines added, felt a little too heavy, so I wanted to soften that with a textured layer.
The orange worked well but it didn’t feel like a good fit for the page. I wanted to try something a bit more colourful, so I went for a pink instead.
The final result is a twelve panel comic page of a walk from the perspective of a commuter on a bus. The pink toned down the bright textured layer I had and I feel it adds a warmth that would echo the day beginning.
It feels like a successful exercise because:
- I used sketches from my sketchbook from a number of years back, something which I have never done before.
- I conveyed a journey but without giving it words.
- It feels real to me because for years on my commute, these are the type of things I’ve observed.
This option had the last panel leaving the page to indicate the continuation of the commuters journey. I wasn’t sure if that was conveyed fully so opted for the enclosed panel instead.
This works better as it feels more complete than leaving the image falling out of the panel and onto the page. It keeps the coherency of the piece rather than creating a different vibe.