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Topic: Thinking About Penciling (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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John Byrne
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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 7:28am | IP Logged | 1  

I have related more than once the legend of Joe Simon admonishing Jack Kirby never to pick up his eraser, since "you don't get paid to erase." Whether the story is true or not, if had a deep impact on my formative years as a comicbook artist (I probably first heart it around 1977 or so), and I am often glad that I used, as a kid, to draw directly with pen, so that making much use of an eraser was not really part of my repetoire.

Some artists use erasers more than others, of course. You might be surprised, for instance, how much a master such as Steranko used to erase in his early days. Tom Palmer has spoken of working on Sternako pages that were almost as thin as tissue paper in some places, there had been so much erasing.

The middle ground is where most of us live. I pick up my eraser occasionaly during the layout stages, when I discover that the image in my head won't, after all, translate to the page. But where I have found the eraser to be most useful -- and this is something I have mentioned before, but decided this morning it was worth revisiting, for emphasis -- is as a drawing tool.

I began using the eraser this way when I was last working on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. In the past, when I had drawn Doctor Octopus, I would draw his arms and then laboriously pencil in the background around them. One day, I looked at a panel I had laid out and realized that it would make much more sense if I drew the background first, and then erased the parts where the arms would go before adding the arms. This means drawing elements that get removed, to be sure -- and it taught me to pay attention to where the arm were going to be, so that nothing important ended up "behind" any of them -- but I quickly realized that there were many places where this technique could produce a better result, and even, in some instance, save time.

Just yesterday, for instance, I needed to draw a huge burst of light above a city. Not an explosion, which would requime smoke and flame, but pure light. So I drew the city, then I blacked in the sky, save for a strip of white that vaguely defined the light burst -- and then I picked up my eraser. A few quick, rough strokes, and there was the effect I was looking for.

It is very counter-intuitive for me to find myself working this way. Many inkers make use of copious amounts of white-out to achieve certain effects, but I have never been really happy with the way the printed page looked when I did this. Using the penciling equivalent of white-out (the eraser) was something that it took me a while to get to, but the end result is very satisfying.

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Darragh Greene
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 7:39am | IP Logged | 2  

Do you ever use those blue nonprint-reproductive pencils when laying foreground images on background ones?
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Roger A Ott II
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 7:40am | IP Logged | 3  

I have actually used this erasing technique myself on a couple of occasions, but usually when I had changed my mind about something after the backgrounds were drawn and just erased the area where the addition would be made.  I never thought of the eraser as a tool I would use on purpose.

Great insight!

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Brian Miller
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 7:42am | IP Logged | 4  

It was only recently that I realized a lot of the effects inkers were getting were because of the white-out. I had always thought that broken lines and such were simply that. Like your earlier Sue Storm "invisible" effect. Up until a few years ago, I simply thought you were drawing a lot of little lines that formed the overall image. It never occurred to me that you simply drew one line then used white-out to "break" the line. Genius.
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Todd Hembrough
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 7:44am | IP Logged | 5  

Is that what you did to draw invisible Sue, JB?

T
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Gerry Turnbull
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 7:54am | IP Logged | 6  

has anyone seen the George Perez dvd?

he erases almost everything he draws! i was quite surprised to see how much he rubs out. the end results are worth it though!

Gerry

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Andrew Hess
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 8:15am | IP Logged | 7  

JB - brilliant! as you say, counter-intuitive.

Any chance you could post a scan of this image?
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Lars Johansson
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 8:36am | IP Logged | 8  

Mr. Byrne, how do you prevent the sheet from getting wrinkled when erasing?

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Moyer Hall
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 8:50am | IP Logged | 9  

I was mildly shocked when my first art instuctor in college made us
"color" a whole sheet of white paper a middle grey value with charcoal,
and then draw with our erasers. She wanted us to draw with light first,
and fill in the rest. Took a couple weeks to get the hang of it, but the
results were very rich. I miss those days of early art school...
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Juan Jose Colin Arciniega
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 9:07am | IP Logged | 10  

Whatever gets the job done....
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Matthew Hansel
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 9:09am | IP Logged | 11  

As I've been drawing recently...I've really, REALLY been taking some advice that Joe Kubert gave to me about 10 years ago..."Draw with you HEAD first and then with the hand."  I guess I always 'kinda" knew what Joe was talking about and tried to follow his sage advice.

Then, a few weeks ago, JB made mention that our own beloved Jeff Fettes had observed that while watching JB do sketches it appeared that JB was 'tracing' an image on the paper infront of him.  So...I've slowed down a bit and actually THOUGHT about what I wanted the image to look like...really, really thought about it and then started drawing and I was much, much more pleased with the results.

The point of all this is that I ERASE a LOT less than previously.  I have JB and Joe Kubert to thank for this.

I'm now going to try this "eraser" technique that JB is talking about.

Did you use this in an early DP issue with a helicopter flying around and you used it for the search lights as I recall (in maybe issue 4 or 5)???

Matthew Hansel
matthewphansel@mac.com

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John Byrne
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Posted: 24 October 2005 at 9:59am | IP Logged | 12  

Mr. Byrne, how do you prevent the sheet from getting
wrinkled when erasing?

******

Don't press too hard, and don't erase too much.
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