Conceive, Believe, Achieve!

Here I am …keeping up my pledge to log my progress in creating a graphic novel.
Rallying cries are always helpful with any grand endeavour. I’m not ashamed to admit that the force of positive thinking is one I call upon frequently.

I found this mantra ‘Conceive, Believe, Achieve‘ in a coffee table book of beautiful typography …sorry I can’t remember the title. The artist was drawn to the words for their power in meaning and in look.

Laura poster
‘Conceive’ has lovely feminine curves, the nurturing principle is at work …’Be-lieve’ has the existential resonance, that by our very thoughts we can make something so …and then the magnificent ‘Achieve’ which speaks to me of ‘Ace’, the best of cards, the ‘nailing’ of it, the ‘Actualness’. That’s not what I thought when I first saw the words but my current education in visual language is changing my perception of things.

This looking at things attentively is good but of course it means that perfection is ever further out of reach.
This week I’ve prepared six model sheets for my ongoing ‘Illustrating the Graphic Novel‘ with Andy Fish. We spent the last lesson analysing thumbnail composition which is like setting up camera shots for the comic page panels. It’s a very intense process for what effectively looks like a few scribbles in a square. The positioning of characters, environment and the placing of the word bubbles have all got to be meticulously planned out for maximum dramatic effect. By some simple adjustments to my thumbnails Andy showed me how it could make a significant difference to the overall effect. The thumbnail exercise saves so much redrawing at the end and requires you to apply your visual thinking to a pictorial puzzle.
The model sheets are about what your characters will look like, what they might wear, expressions, different angles all of which will help keep your portraits looking consistent. After all that rigorous, technical thumbnailing I thought this part would be a breeze.
It would have been a walk in the park if I didn’t know what I know now. The knowledge that you are drawing characters who must really exist in a possible world means that you can’t fob your audience off with an easy cliched front- on ‘cartoon’. I went through hours of drawing figures, going off for a coffee break and then coming back and looking at my ‘masterpiece’ with derision …and regretting that I’d had the audacity to draw with anything darker than a 2H pencil!
The whole ethos of ‘Conceive, Believe, Achieve’ was pushing me forward in this work. I had the notion in my head, I had to trust in it and keep referring to it as I reworked my models and eventually I achieved.
And that’s just the prep!

More to report next week. I’m going to see a BFI screening of Otto Preminger‘s ‘Laura‘ this week so I’m hoping for lots more ‘Noir‘ inspiration. Never knew that my love for old movies would be significant for my comic work. I always love it when you can extrude a practical end for a natural passion.

Bye for now.

About Jessica

Jessica Martin is a multi-talented performer whose career has taken her from comedy impressionist to musical theatre leading lady and scriptwriter.
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One Response to Conceive, Believe, Achieve!

  1. Andy Fish says:

    LAURA is fantastic inspiration.
    “FOB” is my newly learned english phrase. Thanks for that– great word.

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