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Art Educator Adam Rogers believes an artist is never done growing and is dedicated to refreshing his own skills and passion. The result? A great example for his students and a dynamic, compelling comic. Check out Adam’s breakdown of The Darwin Bomb, including:

  1. The Script
  2. Setting the Scene
  3. Complex Characters
  4. Dramatic Page Composition
  5. Gritty Coloring
  6. Final Project

Hi, my name is Adam Rogers and I’m one of the Senior Art Educators at Trinity College in South Australia. 10 years ago, I met Simon Scales as a part of a new Concept Design school called CDW Studios. This was a landmark moment for me and ever since then I have developed and honed my digital skills. Since then, I’ve worked in London, Turkey, Thailand, and the Philippines. I’ve worked on a number of projects over the years including designing hot sauce labels, illustrating cut scenes for a Half-Life mod, and plenty of freelance illustration jobs. My initial degree was in fine arts, specializing in painting and sculpture, but my true love has always been the entertainment industry and in particular… comics.

1. The Script

The idea for the script has been floating around in my head for decades… always with the title ‘The Darwin Bomb’. In many ways Professor Bernard Main is me. Throughout my life, I (along with the vast majority of the planet) have faced heartbreak, shame, and frustration by the wanton, self-destructive nature of the human race. I just wish there was something I could do to remove whatever it is in the human psyche that pushes us to deliberately subjugate and destroy our fellow man. That’s where the idea of the Darwin Bomb comes in.

What we need is a chemical compound that destroys whatever part of the brain that leads to hate. With these supposedly good intentions, Main successfully develops the chemical and faces the moral dilemma of, now that I have it, should I use it? In an accidental encounter with his antithesis, the hate-spouting fundamentalist, Father Simon Balthazar, Main discovers that not only does the drug work, but it also turns Balthazar into his strongest advocate.

Enroll in CGMA’s Comics: The Art of Storytelling course taught by Comic/Concept Artist Miki Montllo and Mind Candy Senior Illustrator Katja Hammond.

2. Setting the Scene

Using influence and reference maps was essential to my workflow. It’s pretty simple, to create believable and relatable situations and characters, you need to base them on reality. So, my work depended on a lot of research, searching for appropriate poses, costumes, and settings.

In regards to references for my settings, I was on the lookout for a grubby, downtrodden cityscape. I decided to base Main in Queens NY, so I try to make my research very specific and real.

3. Complex Characters

The characters were drawn from pretty obvious stereotypes, I looked at warrior monks for Balthazar (I wanted him to be a powerful, intimidating character).

For the tall, ungainly Professor, I used the gait and posture of teenage boys. For his clothing, I imagine a shabby lord, with a tweed jacket and leather patches. My initial Professor was the mad scientist kind of archetype with a god complex whereas, after getting feedback from my colleagues and Miki, he grew to be more the accidental genius, not concerned about the ramifications of his experiments… at least… not a first. Their overall aesthetic was based upon the gritty realism of the script.

The characters themselves were great fun to develop and really highlighted the importance of exploration.

Read “5 Steps to Creating a Spielberg-Worthy Comic” for a very different set of comic characters.

4. Dramatic Page Composition

Learning and understanding page composition was essential to the legibility of the content and how my narrative was paced. The slow build-up to crescendos on the pages and through the overall story reflected the tensions in the narrative. While varying the compositions to maintain visual interest, I also wanted there to be some cohesiveness to the overall aesthetic.

What I really learned about the different types of shots was how they can be used in conjunction with each other to create a really dynamic narrative.

So, for example, on Page 4 where Professor Bernard Main faces a moral dilemma, I’ve used close-ups and extreme close-ups on the antagonist and protagonist, medium shots on an incidental character that all overlay the main shot, and a long shot that utilizes perspective, highlighting the Professor’s unease.

Want to improve page layout? Return to the basics with CGMA’s Composition for Concept Art and Illustration taught by Freelance Concept Artist/Illustrator Axel Sauerwald and Art Director/Concept Artist Mauricio Abril.

5. Gritty Coloring

The overall palette is quite grimy and grungy, fitting the overall narrative of a society on its knees with a precursor of worse to come. I opted for a largely monochromatic palette featuring browns and blues, with the occasional pop of color for emphasis.

Check out this process video for page five, panel five.

6. Final Project

Seeing the evolution of my pages from initial concept to finished artwork is very informative and a great guide for demonstrating the creative process to students. It also helped me really refine and define my style.

Scroll down to see the first five pages of The Darwin Bomb.

I continue to work on ‘Darwin Bomb’ and have passed it on to a number of publishers, with some mixed reviews. All a part of the learning process though. But if anyone is interested in taking it on, hit me up! I am also working on a comic called, ‘The Burton Equation’ which will be released when it’s finished!

Final Thoughts

  • During the lockdown in Manila, which was a hard lockdown, we couldn’t even leave our apartments. The school I was working at kindly offered its staff a stipend to spend on professional development. I chose the CGMA course, “Comics: The Art of Storytelling” with the illustrious Miki Montllo.
  • My biggest challenge in the course was time management. I struggled to define my style but I was determined to keep working through it and refused to be ‘satisfied’. Naturally, this lengthened the process but ultimately it was worthwhile and led to a much more satisfying end result.
  • For future students, I suggest accepting constructive criticism and following up on feedback. It’s a time-consuming process, but all the better for following once you look back at the end products. Having a background in fine arts and photoshop certainly provides an advantage, since the course moves quite rapidly.
  • I felt so privileged to be working alongside many talented artists. The feedback we shared with each other was honest and productive and, despite living in isolation, I never felt isolated. Even though the course finished about a year ago, we still keep in touch and it’s great seeing their work continue to evolve. I have done a number of online courses, but in this regard, this was clearly the best.
  • While from an illustration perspective this course gave me a lot of starting points, I think it was more in the development of understanding how to compose effective scenes and pages that communicate clearly that I learned the most.
  • I would unreservedly recommend this course to anyone interested in developing skills in creating dynamic visual narratives. Through Miki’s passion and expertise, this course has helped, not only my understanding and development but my own students. The work I produced during this course and the encouragement and support I received not only from Miki, but my colleagues, have directly led to me gaining work within the industry. For this, I could not be more thankful.

LEARN MORE

CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for Art, Games, and VFX industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.

RELATED LINKS

Find Adam’s other work on his ArtStation, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

Enroll in CGMA’s Comics: The Art of Storytelling course taught by Comic/Concept Artist Miki Montllo and Mind Candy Senior Illustrator Katja Hammond.

Read “5 Steps to Creating a Spielberg-Worthy Comic” for a very different set of comic characters.

Check out this process video for page five, panel five.