Backgrounder: a transatlantic collaboration

January 23rd, 2012 by Reinder

Remasters on Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan continue at a slow but mostly steady pace. We have now reached the update for May 14, 2004, which had backgrounds by Yonaka Yamako. If we were to do that now, we'd probably have sent digital files back and forth, and worked entirely digitally, but back then, neither of us was comfortable doing that. Here's what I wrote about the process at the time:

In an effort to catch up with Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan's schedule without compromising the art quality, I asked Yonaka to do some backgrounds for me. She'd done this once before, and that was very satisfactory indeed. Working over the Internet meant I could get the page to and from Georgia (the U.S. state, not the former Soviet Republic), but at a price.

This is a scaled version of the scanned page that I sent to Yonaka. I put it on a web server and emailed her the URL plus instructions. I told her I wanted a realistic rendition of the space the scene was set in in all panels except the third and fourth, which should feature a historical narrative rendered in wood carving style, ca. 1000 AD. Yonaka knows from carving, and she knows her history, but I sent her a reference from a Norwegian stave church portal anyway.

Black and white line art without background

Black and white line art without background. Click to enlarge

Yonaka simply prints the scanned page out on an inexpensive inkjet printer. The line quality suffers somewhat in this process, but because the scans are high-res to begin with, it doesn't really show in the final result, at least not on the Web. I may run into trouble if I try to make a print version, though.

Yonaka then simply drew the background in pencil, on the print-out. It's really low-budget.
Because the third panel was so much work, she posted the an intermediate version of the page on her website for me to check out, before continuing with panel 4. The third panel is in pencil, with pencil shading. The other panels, however, are in ink.

Line art with Yonaka's backgrounds

Line art with Yonaka's backgrounds. Click to enlarge.

Once I'd approved panel 3, which I did quite enthusiastically, Yonaka drew the background for panel 4. It's looking quite crowded now...

Final backgrounds including the fourth panel.

Final backgrounds including the fourth panel. Click to enlarge.

The final colored artwork, without the lettering. I didn't have to do much on panels 3 and 4. Even a flat color over the entire area brought out the relief in Yonaka's drawings.

Digital colours by me, as done in 2004.

Digital colours by me, as done in 2004. Click to enlarge.

After that, the page got its lettering, and with that done, the page was flattened (i.e. all the layers were reduced to a single layer), scaled to web size and posted. Eight years later, I revisited it as part of the remaster project, and this gives me an opportunity to show what sort of changes I've made. This is what the artwork looks like now, when its at the same stage as in the previous image, coloured but not lettered:

Artwork with 2012 revisions

Artwork with 2012 revisions by me. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, in this case, changes are slight. Maghreid' hair is recoloured, a number of small lines are removed, some small areas of colour that had been skipped over have been filled in, and most significantly, Maghreid's eyes now have pupils where they were originally blank areas of green. I think it's the last bit that made the most difference.
This is what it's like with most of the pages. Very little is redrawn - all the time goes into cleanup an restoration.

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