by Rob Croonenborghs
Welcome to another inside look into the creation of Scum of the Earth, published by Action Lab‘s mature imprint, Danger Zone. Here we get to see the whole process of a page, from script to finished artwork. Missed the first one? Go right here.
For starters, the good thing about a Mark Bertolini script is that you know he loves comics and has experience in writing for the form. A clear script with good pacing and little nonsense, he leaves a lot of creative freedom for the artist. It’s a matter of trust. And hey, when something doesn’t feel right he can complain, although I had no complaints with this book. That’s good, because I hate changing art!
The page we are about to dissect is my favourite page of the second book, which should be Chapter Three when reading the book digitally.
I usually start by reading the script (duh) and work in batches of 6 to 8 pages. I finish and letter the pages, then start on the next batch.
My first concern is the pacing and lay-out of a page or scene. Scribbled in small incomprehensible sketches, these are drawn on the printed-out script, which, after a while, I throw away. So I don’t have any pictures of it.
When thumbnails are complete, then these small sketches get more concrete and legible. I send these to the writer for approval before jumping into the pencil stage. These layout sketches are my steady base, which I enlarge to match my drawing format. I use my own page template in Adobe Illustrator.
I can’t really say there’s some kind of theory behind how I do my layouts. I take the number of frames that Mark describes and add or subtract sometimes, to enhance the pacing. Here I added the circle with Karth’s face in it to add contrast to the page. I loved how this page turned out: it’s all about feeling, baby!
I lightbox the enlarged sketches and start penciling, when the art gets more detailed, clear and corrected.
The real fun starts with inking, which can make or a break the pencilled art. I only used a brush on this page. Again, notice small changes – hopefully for the better!
Great! I used no whiteout on the page except for the lines in True’s black face. Nowadays I use very little whiteout and correct the pages digitally in Photoshop. I usually mark the frame where some changes need to be made.
I then apply layer upon layer of colouring. I start out with structured layers in Photoshop, but mostly end up with a bit of a mess and too many layers. This page is what it looks like without ink on top of it.
And then the grand finale: the lettering and conversion to whatever format is desired: TIFF, Jpeg, PDF or RGB.
Scum of the Earth is available via Comixology. The final part goes on sale at the end of March. Below is a 6-page scene from the series to whet your appetite…
Rob Croonenborghs is the co-creator and illustrator of Scum of the Earth. His work appears in his own self-published funny books but more prominently in the WWII zombie anthologies FUBAR and the upcoming Apes with Uzis. He also did the art on the first two volumes of Jesus Hates Zombies: A Jurassic Kinda Life from publisher 215ink.