Story & Art by Carl Tsui

The Ill Fated MICE Process Exhibit

This weekend MICE 2011 goes live. It going to be a great show and I've signed up for a variety of tasks. Last Saturday the MICE Art Show reception opened with 100 pieces of original comic art. All of my Rocket Angels pages to date made it to the show including a special process piece I did for the newest page. Everything will be up until October 16th 2011 so if you are in the Cambridge, MA area I encourage you to check it out.

Why ill-fated? A dog ate my newly printed process pages (I mean printed on card stock 15 minutes ago new) and the mounted 3D samples page ended (mildly amusingly) upside down. My own mounting of prints using spray glue for the first time was a bit of an adventure as well. In any case, here in the digital realm you can see in it's un-dog-bitten, right-side up, unwrinkled glory of how I'm working to put together some of my comic pages. The captions in blue are the art exhibit captions.

MICE Exhibit 01All 2D art, including the initial layout sketches, are drawn in Corel Painter 12 using a Wacom Cintiq 21UX tablet. Fat brushes using a single color help keep the focus on layout and composition and discourages premature detailing.


MICE Exhibit 02Aircraft are created using references; modeled in Lightwave 3D 10; and are “unwrapped” as a UV map for painting. Using 3D models allows easy exploration of perspective shots.


MICE Exhibit 03The 3D aircraft are staged, lit, and rendered in Lightwave. They are then composited in Painter with reference to the initial page layout. Relatively tight blue line pencils provide the foundation for the inking stage.


MICE Exhibit 04The digital “inks” focus on providing dark values that give the colors an action comic boldness. The line and hatch work help unify the renders with the drawn art.


MICE Exhibit 05Mid-tone and highlight colors are applied in a single layer beneath the inks using a combination of Painter’s digital airbrush, tinting, and flat oils brushes. The saturation and value of the 3D renders are adjusted using Painter’s tonal control tools to suit the look of the manually applied colors.


MICE Exhibit 06The art is transferred to CorelDraw X5 for writing and text layout. The final sound effects, thought balloons, and captions are all written after completion of the art as only the overarching plot points have been determined ahead of time.

Despite all the adventures these pages were fairly well received at the reception. It was odd and mildly uncomfortable to find complete strangers staring at what I very much consider works in progress and an art "style" very much under development.

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 11:06 AM (Eastern Daylight Time)