Friday, December 4, 2015

Elevations Connection: Chapter One Conclusions

This post covers pages 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and pretty much the entire marfing chapter.

Chapter One: October 19-December 4. Little over a month, not bad for timing.

It still feels a bit funny to be doing a comic again, and to actually conclude a little bit of a story that a few months ago seemed like a pipe dream. I'm still trying to avoid this getting to my head. After all, I honestly don't expect much from this project, let alone the first chapter.

Since this is the end of the chapter, why not go into a bit deeper of a reflection and thoughts on the story so far, and productions thereof.

The Production

As planned early on, the comic will go on a break at the end of a chapter to catch up on production and give me breathing room for about a week or two before beginning the next chapter. This honestly is good timing, as I ended up using the entire buffer I built up this past week (the final page, Page 23 was finished and posted 45 minutes behind schedule, and even then it's still a rough draft).

Elevations was not produced in bulk as contrary to what I had planned. I'm human, and I paced myself. The production pattern has essentially broken down to the following:
  1. Arc Outline
    This takes 1-3 years and is where the basic storyline and plot take form. Insofar, the current arc, Sutro, is set in stone. Only a few close friends and myself know the eventual fate of Terry.
  2. Act Outline
    This is where I flesh out the arc and figure out where I want what to happen. Elevations is broken into 'Acts', akin to comic book issues or manga volumes. These Acts follow directly after each other but are paced in such a way that points and moods in the arc will be easily identified by the Act it was in (eg Act One: Premonitions is much lighter and goofier than what follows).  The time it takes to fully lay out an Act varies between 1-4 months, and the contents will change over time. So far, only Act One has its outline set in stone. Acts Two and Three have basic elements and twists laid out.
  3. Chapter Outlines
    More individual details! The Acts are broken down into 4-5 chapters of 20-25 pages. This is usually where a lot of chopping and pacing begin and is usually done in unison with writing the Acts themselves, if not a little longer. This also changes over time, and often in conjunction to the following steps. So far, Chapter 2 and a little bit of Chapter 3 are set in stone.
  4. Chapter Scripts
    This is where I write the dialog and know exactly what's going on! This is done in conjunction with the above and below, and is highly susceptible to sudden changes. A chapter can be scripted out in one hour or a few days depending on the outline and what other ideas may pop up. So far, only Chapter 2 is completely scripted.
  5. Chapter thumbnails
    This is where I interpret the script and the outline to figure out the best way to lay out an individual comic page (like so) before I place digital ink to digital paper. These are very fun to do and give a fairly good idea of what everything will look like. The thumbnails won't necessarily follow the script, and sometimes the final product doesn't follow the thumbnail at all. Production time is roughly 5-30 minutes a page. So far, I got up to page 28 thumbnailed.
  6. Page Production
    This is where I draw the actual comic that you see online. This can take between 1 hour to 3 days, depending on the complexity. So far, I need to draw more pages.
Save for steps one and two, the production process doesn't necessarily stay in that order. Steps 3-6 will often go hand in hand. As such, the final step unintentionally isn't done in order either. Instead of doing everything at once, I ended up drawing Chapter 1 in three distinctive periods (sets of days when I had time to devote to drawing). These periods are as follows:
  • Production period 1 (July 29-September 6)
    • Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 16
  • Production period 2 (October 12-24)
    • Pages 11, 13, 14, 18
  • Production Period 3 (November 8-December 3)
    • Pages 12, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
The one takeaway I've had from pacing these out is that it's surprisingly hard to keep a style consistent. Compare Page 1 and Page 3 to Page 14  or even Page 18 and Page 22. I tossed the halftones out pretty quickly and apparently went for a more inklike/painterly feel. What do you think?

I just wonder how this would impact the off chance of dead-tree publishing when I'm done with this Act.


The first draft of the current script had the school scene and post-tram chase linger on much longer. This also had a much ruder Terry and was split into three chapters. I quickly realized how much space this would take, as well as realizing that a goofier dog was more lovable. Thus, I trimmed the fat to get to the house awakening much sooner. Message me if you wish to see this script, I'm more than happy to share!

Pay close attention to the header banner on the site (the thing on top with the logo) and The Story So Far pages as you keep following the comic. You won't regret it (and props to those who screencap when keeping track).

Chapter 2... what's in store?
We'll find out what Terry was doing in the house, what that canine is, and who Terry has been living with all this time. Who is that horse and what's with the tower, anyway? Will we be seeing that dragon Terry dreamed about on the train? What is with that book? What did that dog wake up with?

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