Home > Art, Thumbnails > Underwater – Rough Thumbnails – With Notes!

Underwater – Rough Thumbnails – With Notes!

Hello fellow Holmesians.

Though I have completed and finished my final thumbnails for Yolanda Cheung’s story Underwater, I did submit extremely rough initial thoughts to Ty last week.

And since the notes on those are valuable, I will suck up my wounded pride and share them (despite the fact that I’d prefer to only share the new versions!)

So here are my one evening thumbnails, warts and all. I did them mainly to get a sense of what all was needed on each page so I could start to find the right balance of action, emotion and setting. I didn’t make much of an effort to keep to the comic page shape as I drew and Ty dinged me for that but that’s my process!

So before I post the finished versions, here are the rough roughs!

Page one was my “IN”  to the story. I had this image in my head from the start to guide my approach. I think I may have been inspired a bit by Rain’s opening panel, along with all those Jim Aparo/Nick Cardy Aquaman comics I grew up reading!

Pg 2 and 3 – As you can see, I was more concerned with the panel tiers than page shape at first.

Partway through sketching out thoughts for page 4 I realized I had no design for the evil part of the underwater lav where they are cutting up dolphins! So I was trying to guess what it looked like and how to present it.

I had a vague wide shot in mind then tried adding in larger figures in the FG, in essence having two panels happening at once.

Epic. Fail.

And here was my final page (5).

Ty kindly weighed in on the mess above and gave me some terrific food for thought.

Thoughts and notes.

First off, I love the level of sophistication you’ve brought the page designs, Yolanda would be proud, especially the first and last ones.  She’s also someone who does playful, off beat page designs, and you’ve captured some of her energy, at least I think the energy she would have brought.

Be careful of doing tumbnails that aren’t conforming to the actual shape of a page though.  Some of your thumbs are much wider than a regular page, and it means you’d have to essentially redesign much of it when it comes time to do the actual layouts, possibly to the point that your original thumbs might not be translatable.  

Page 1)  I love it, especially the second version where the bottom panels take the rounded sweep of the water.  Nice energy, great reading and flow.  Easily my favorite page.

Page 2)  Yup, I’m with your instinct of letting the readers see the chair unfold like that.  I think I even suggested that to  Yolanda at one point, so your instincts there are correct.  Try to work that in.

Page 3) It’s difficult to see this page as it’s currently a set of panels spread across the page, some of which are a bit to scratchy to decipher (the middle two).   I don’t mind her pulling the gun here in the last panel, especially to give you more room to reveal the big reveal of the issue: the lab of dolphin torture.  That’s a good thought. 

Again, I’m not sure I love the flow of the middle section, but if you did it as cascades, it will likely all work out (as cascades, and panel exits are a saving grace for almost any panel layout). 

I think I like the roundhouse kick that I’m seeing in the panel you’ve scratched out, which shows up again in mirror image as panel three?  From a page layout POV, it probably feels better where you had it originally, as it would bring the action from the left to the right rather nicely.  As is, it’s going to lead the eye off the page in the middle.  Again, cascades will probably solve this.

Page 4)  In the middle section, they seem to be walking in front of a mural of themselves in panels 3/4, which falls into the place I’d rather see the BIG reveal of the torture room.  Also, this is another page that’s not close to the proportions of a comic page, and would require a re-design of that middle section as it will cut off the framing characters to trim the page closer to a 2×3 proportion.  I think I dig the idea of inserting a panel inside it, but they way you’ve got it, I’m not sure I understand it.

Page 5)  The other page I really like, especially the top panel (which I think is being seen through the water in one of the tanks, no?).  The rounded section in the middle has a nice energy, but I’m worried it leads the eyes away from the nice close up in panel four.  The jump from 3 to 4 requires us to jump over panel 5 to get there, and the eye is going to stop on panel 5 on the way.  Doubly so, as it contains a full figure walking away from us that mirrors a bit of the figure in the panel directly above (panel 3). 

Perhaps widen that close up in panel four so that it occupies more of the center of the page, requiring less of a jump over 5 to get there.  Also that would allow the female forms from 3 and 5 to not line up so much.

Sorry this was four days later getting to you than I intended, but as I said, my workload has become crazy this week, and I’m trying to leave TCW stuff to the days of the week I can spare.  I hope this isn’t a hardship in getting started on finished layouts.  There’s some GREAT stuff in here, and I love how ambitious it is.  Do you have your own set of layout sheets?  If not, I’m attaching some so that the proportions will be bang-on for the next draft.  In general, the basic panels are all good and tell the story well, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble to translate this all to the correct size of a comic page.  

Next time, I’ll give you notes a hell of a lot faster.

Ty the Guy.

PS:  I’ve cc’d Yolanda in case she has anything to add to all this.  Yolanda, if you’re too busy to take a look, I completely understand.  But you should still have the opportunity to nod in, should you wish.

Yolanda hadn’t seen the roughs but she did see the opening page and was inspired to change her captions to fit! 

I really love it! We could even take out the dialogue Elizabeth has at the last panel and do the entire page in captions, that way the whole page convey more of an “underwater” feeling. It seems unrealistic that she could speak underwater. The captions could be something like this:

—-Panel 1—-

Caption (Elizabeth)
The old man’s out of his mind.

—- Panel 2 —-

Caption (Elizabeth)
Taking on a case of missing divers and coral, then saying you’ll personally look into it…

 —- Panel 3 —-

Caption (Elizabeth)
 … what in god’s name are you thinking?

 —- Panel 4 —-

Caption (Elizabeth)
Screw your Holmesian pride an’ your secrecies.

—- Panel 5 —-
 Caption (Elizabeth)
Ya ‘ought to trust that ah can spot a fake when ah see one.

Panel 5 should frame Elizabeth and the pirates a little more, to suggest the pirates are fake even if she meant Old Edgar.

Please send along the rest if you have time! I’m really excited to see more!


Terrific ideas.  Yolanda’s time is limited but I am pretty jazzed to know she will be contributing her thoughts to make this a true collaboration.

And brother, she definitely weighed in on the final thumbnails, which I shall post, forthwith!

Cheers! – Pinc

Categories: Art, Thumbnails
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