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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Make a Mini-Comic

Exercise 2

For this exercise I have chosen to base the story on a dream I had not too long ago. It was quite a vivid dream set on a boat. To create the story for this comic I developed the dream further so that there was some kind narrative, though it is quite an obscure and somewhat random narration.

Originally I had planned to use the story that is now the final assignment, however for such a small comic I think I needed to simplify the story dramatically so that it could be almost one frame per page. This idea that I have chosen instead, although originally imagined as a very detailed comic, I think can be simplified much easier yet still keep some of those details.

I began with putting the story down on "paper" using the iPad so that I could quickly cut and change things.

The story went through a series of changes, having not really thought about how it was going to end, or in fact what was going to even happen after the alien demon turned up. I did begin to become more confident on the idea after the notes, and had an idea of what the characters were going to look like.


I collected a bunch of reference photos for this story. As it was based on a boat, I need reference for how the boat would look on deck, and from afar. I found a great yacht sale website which provided a great variety of boats from different years. I wanted the boat to be less modern in design, and found a great boat that really fitted my vision. There were so many perfect images available which I was able to "borrow" for a moodboard. I didn't want to make a complete copy of the boat, but it was certainly useful to have the variety of angles to work on perspective when needed.

The evil character / alien joins the story in a rather unusual way - from inside a shark. The shark is seen often at the beginning as it is the creator of the chaos onboard whilst also bringing the alien into the scene. To help with the anatomy, I collected a variety of images of sharks that would be showing different angles. I mostly wanted to have an understanding of how I should draw the mouth, as I imagine a close up of the mouth wide open and seeing the alien inside.


I had a loose idea of the characters I wanted in the story. My dream that I am basing this on did have some vivid parts to it, and the rest I just filled in with some inspiration and imagination. One character that kept coming to mind for reference was Abe Sapien from Hellboy. His face and figure were certainly close to what I had envisioned the demon character.

I started with sketching some terrible concepts which I hated. I scraped those and decided to go straight in with a colour rendered image, which went on to be my own reference for finalising design.

Besides the demon, I wanted a protagonist who would go on to be the "chosen one". As I was building quite an intense demon, I wasn't sure what style I was going with. I again sketched ideas that I hated, turned everything off and left the drawing until it felt better. I then came up with this character sheet, which doesn't quite match the style of the demon I had created, but I did like the way he looked.

The Pages

Once I had established the characters and in some roundabout way, got a story set, I was able to start working on the pages, i.e "frames".

As this is going to be at such a small scale in the final piece, I wanted to keep the frames minimal to one per page. In some cases I do go over this so I could better tell the story.

I was beginning to get really frustrated making this piece. I had spent so long on preparing yet still had no idea on how to end it. I had the idea there, but trying to squeeze it into a limited number of pages was testing my patience. I had no idea how to make it flow, and the last 3 panels above were not cutting it for me. I needed to juggle things around and perhaps scrap some.

I decided to try combining a few panels to see whether this could help reduce the pages and move the story along.

I didn't hate the combination, but still wasn't convinced. Also, although I like the final panel, it feels like a waste of space that could be used to push the story along. It was crunch time, I needed to make the last 4 frames count in terms of progressing the story quicker. Not only that, but there was another frame that was disturbing me, I highlighted the panels I was still debating. I gathered I could speed along with the panels that I was happy with and then perhaps the changes I needed to make would be come clear.

The finale was going to be that the demon would choose the next host for its parasite, a new shell to help feed and grow its species. Having come from the shark, it needed to plants the seeds in another organism. How was I going to show this, I had no idea. One thought I had, to help speed things along, was to have one page appear fast moving, to appear that the demon is slaying the weak bodies. I wanted it to be a shortcut really, something that didn't require much detail and more speed lines. I'm pretty pleased with the result.

I realise that some shots are difficult to see, though I do hope it message is put across. I kept the background grey to represent the darkness as this is set in the early evening.

The printed mini-comic


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