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View Full Version : The problem with lightboxes......


Propsdue
06-26-2006, 05:27 PM
Been using this tool for about the last 4 years now..You know the drill.... make a cool sketch, photocopy it to a larger size and then trace it to your finished page?...right?...But I've also done pages (splash or cover usually) by drawing them directly to the finished page..Starting witha blue pencil and finishing with an H or Hb or something....Heres my new dilema...

Theres a much more loose and "natural" feel to the process of drawing straight without the "box"...And here recently when i finish a lightboxed drawing it feels stiff, and lets call it what it is...traced....Any Joe shmo looking at a "boxed" and a straight drawn pic would probably never know the difference...But i can feel it...I've tried to remedy the situation by making extremely loose sketches...I mean bare minimum lines So that I can "think out" what needs to go where...but it hasnt worked that well...So i ask..

Do anyone know what I'm talking about?
Does this happen to any of you guys?
What other options are there to make lightboxing seem looser?

j giar
06-26-2006, 05:54 PM
I'm curious to see the answers here. I now have a piece taped to the light box on my board. Even with the lights on It's tough to see some of the details. Maybe the tracing step you're referring to might be the answer for me. That's right me..me..ME!! It's all about ME! :p
But like you, I'm afraid to lose the fluid look of the original pencils!

BKMDog
06-26-2006, 06:30 PM
What other options are there to make lightboxing seem looser?

100% accurate points in your initial post, Propsdue. The only thing I've ever found is to simply not stay on the LB too long and don't get bogged down in rendering too much detail.

My best suggestion is to get the barest sense of a breakdown happening, then move off the LB and finish / draw the page the way you normally would. That way, you'll get the best use of the lightbox, get a cleaner page, and still maintain a good deal of the spontaneity.

Toyandgadgetguy
06-26-2006, 07:32 PM
Just shape out the drawing... un-light it, and fill in the details... keep it loose.



On another note, a great way to make an awesome lightbox is to cut a big hole in the middle of your table... and mount a flourescent light under it... then cover the table with white plexi.... bam! Instant light table. Huge light table. Experiment with the amount and type of light you want, but be sure to keep your distance from the plexi... wouldn't want heat issues... plexi will warp if over-heated.

dano
06-26-2006, 09:57 PM
don't use a light box! Learn to draw big.

Jason Copland
06-27-2006, 01:39 AM
Here's how I work.

I scan the drawing/sketch into photoshop, turn it into a blue line drawing, print it out onto my drawing paper, then pencil right over top of the blue line drawing. And then, you can do the same thing for inking the pencils, too.

It works like a charm and you never have to worry about screwing up the original drawing/sketch!

But, of course, this means you'll need to buy a large format printer! :slap:

JasonM
06-27-2006, 10:44 AM
Here's how I work.

I scan the drawing/sketch into photoshop, turn it into a blue line drawing, print it out onto my drawing paper, then pencil right over top of the blue line drawing. And then, you can do the same thing for inking the pencils, too.

It works like a charm and you never have to worry about screwing up the original drawing/sketch!

But, of course, this means you'll need to buy a large format printer! :slap:

Damn, thats almost what I do! And I thought I was original!

Basically I leave the figures at 10% opacity, print it out and draw over them. It's easy to play with perspective and such when scanned in making for fewer mistakes later and it's faster to rearrange then to redraw a sketch. With such low oppacity, you don't trace so much as just have a few points of reference for proportions.

jimmycakes
06-27-2006, 11:55 AM
don't use a light box! Learn to draw big.


You should definatly learn to draw big.

But I also use the light box in jams. I'll usually have a loose idea of paneling, shapes and composition at about... I dunno, 4"

I blow that up to full size, print it out and put that vague sketch onto the board. At that point I do the real drawing, using the compositional elements and panel layouts that I created in the rough. I find it helps me create more detail.

Sometimes when you draw on 11x17 you aren't sure what will show up well.

If you sketch small first, you know what will be visible. In time you'll be able to just bang it out full size and know what is too small or too large.

But that might help you get the loosness.

j giar
06-27-2006, 12:03 PM
You should definatly learn to draw big.

But I also use the light box in jams. I'll usually have a loose idea of paneling, shapes and composition at about... I dunno, 4"

I blow that up to full size, print it out and put that vague sketch onto the board. At that point I do the real drawing, using the compositional elements and panel layouts that I created in the rough. I find it helps me create more detail.

Sometimes when you draw on 11x17 you aren't sure what will show up well.

If you sketch small first, you know what will be visible. In time you'll be able to just bang it out full size and know what is too small or too large.

But that might help you get the loosness.
I do my roughs in 2x3 or 3x6 thumbs and then blow those up and tape those to the LB. I lay the boards over, get the rough composition ideas and take them off the board and finish them. My problem is either due to poor eyesight(I'm gettin up there by cracky)or I'm not drawing dark enough. I'm having a hard time seeing through the boards. Any suggestions?

Scaleyinx
06-27-2006, 01:26 PM
.........My problem is either due to poor eyesight(I'm gettin up there by cracky)or I'm not drawing dark enough. I'm having a hard time seeing through the boards. Any suggestions?


You can darken the lines in Photoshop by going to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast settings. Bring up the Contrast to a point that makes the lines dark enough to look almost like ink work. Then print out your blown up version. Works for me everytime. :)

Scott Story
06-27-2006, 02:03 PM
I used to use the light box, and go through all that rigamorale or drawing small, blowing it up, lightboxing, etc. It made me anal retentive and the art stale.

Nowadays, I'll work out the pages composition in terms of panel numbers and shapes and relationships, but then I'll go straight to final paper with a 4H pencil. I want it to be the first drawing I draw, because that's where all the energy is. Yeah, sometimes I have to erase, so I draw lightly, and my pencil boards get a little messy, but it's the inks that count.

This same approach is why I don't do finished pencils for myself anymore. I don't set line weights, or spot shadows, or textures or anything like that. I go straight to ink and do all those finishes in ink. How incredibly boring is it ink over finished pencils you've done? Too boring for me. I want the art to be fresh and explosive.

When they do their layouts, some artist do all this armiture and cone shape build up thing like you see in so many drawing books. Not me. I get a vision of what I'm drawing, and go right drawing. First, a rough outline, check the perspective and proportions, then straight to details. Building up a figure in layers like they teach is just too anti-intuitive for me.

Ingrid K. V. Hardy
06-28-2006, 07:46 AM
I do my roughs in 2x3 or 3x6 thumbs and then blow those up and tape those to the LB. I lay the boards over, get the rough composition ideas and take them off the board and finish them. My problem is either due to poor eyesight(I'm gettin up there by cracky)or I'm not drawing dark enough. I'm having a hard time seeing through the boards. Any suggestions?

What kind of light do you use? I have a homemade lightbox that uses 2 long (about 14 inches) 15 watt florescent bulbs and it works great for my old eyes :) . The board I use is not too thick either.

Poboy
06-28-2006, 09:38 AM
I don't do the re-sizing thing, I use the lightbox with a sketch drawn in the right scale. Unless it's a splash page, most of the time the panels would've fit on a regular piece of paper anyway.
I've also noticed the stiffness problem a few times. What I do to avoid it is not trace the rough sketch. I'll keep my hand moving the same way it did when I drew the sketch. My sketches are pretty loose and scribbly, so I can't really follow a specific line anyway. I use the lightbox mostly for placing everything where it's supposed to be with a minimum of messy lines.

jimmycakes
06-28-2006, 12:54 PM
I do my roughs in 2x3 or 3x6 thumbs and then blow those up and tape those to the LB. I lay the boards over, get the rough composition ideas and take them off the board and finish them. My problem is either due to poor eyesight(I'm gettin up there by cracky)or I'm not drawing dark enough. I'm having a hard time seeing through the boards. Any suggestions?


yeah, adjusting in photoshop will help and i have a super bright light in my box. i just cut a hole in my counter top and put a flouresent box up against it. I use glass to avoid the warping plexi thing.

and i usually work in dim light if i'm having trouble seeing my lines. I have one of those magnifying glass circular flourecent lights and i just move it further away from my board if i'm having issues.

Propsdue
06-29-2006, 10:48 AM
lots of cool ideas...But i see loads of peeps simply saying draw it big to the final art paper...Herein lies another problem...The human eye can only take in about 3/4 of an 11/17 page before the remaining portion gets skewed or distorted...This was a prob i ran into before i started "boxing" in that i would thumnail what i wanted to go on a page and then i would literally draw myself into a corner while trying to put it on the final paper...like i said it works to go straight with a splash or pin because the only thing at the bottom of the page is usually some feet...but an 8 panel page might require the last panel to be a group shot or something.......Tell me if I'm talking stupid....feels like it :(

joshm
06-29-2006, 11:42 AM
Not sure if this will help, but when I'm drawing straight on the 11 x 17 board my drawings look better. I've never blown a drawing up from a printer; I'll just redraw it as best I can from the smaller version. I use a light box when I go crazy with sketch lines. Rather than darken the lines with soft lead I just use a sharpie and clean it up. Then I put it on a light box and just do minimal lines with no weight to them. I still have an issue with stiffness when I do it this way (it could be just me too), but from time to time I do this. For the most part I'm sticking to drawing straight on the board with a light blue pencil. One thing I'm trying is having my light box high so I have to stand and draw on the LB. This allows me to see the board more clearly and helps me to judge whether the page is clear or not. Hope this helps.

Josh

Scott Story
06-29-2006, 12:03 PM
Most individual panels are within the range of relatively non-distorted human vision.

Poboy
06-29-2006, 06:08 PM
i would literally draw myself into a corner while trying to put it on the final paper...

You avoid that by a) laying out the whole thing instead of starting in a corner and drawing, and b) - what was my biggest problem before lightboxing - making thumbnails in which the page/panel proportions were different from the 11x17 board. I'd thumbnail the page with just a rough length/width ratio. Naturally a panel that fit width wise in my thumbnail wouldn't fit on the 11x17 page.

Propsdue
06-30-2006, 06:47 PM
Thanks for the input gang..Great ideas gonna be experimenting a bit... :)
Back to the drawing board....or Box :p

jimmycakes
08-05-2006, 04:05 PM
You avoid that by a) laying out the whole thing instead of starting in a corner and drawing, and b) - what was my biggest problem before lightboxing - making thumbnails in which the page/panel proportions were different from the 11x17 board. I'd thumbnail the page with just a rough length/width ratio. Naturally a panel that fit width wise in my thumbnail wouldn't fit on the 11x17 page.

Yeah I avoid that by printing tiny versions of boards. I made up a sweet little illustrator file that is the same proportions as my boards. so i just scale them to whatever rough size I want and bang a bunch out. Then i sketch to my hearts content till I'm happy with the composition.

j giar
08-05-2006, 04:43 PM
I actually over came my dilemma. My problem was trying to ink my pencils with the board taped over them on my light box. Other than the sight problem (just found out yesterday...need bifocals. Damn old age!) Let alone the fact I had made one attempt and found it confining not being able to move or spin my art board as I inked. I had read somewhere in a thread here about converting pencils into blue line and printing them out on boards. Since then I've scanned two pieces in.. One cover and a promo poster, converted to non photo blue. I saved them on disc and negotiated a deal with my local Officemax to print them out on 11x17 boards for me at a buck a pop. It will do for the time being until I can negotiate with my financial advisor (The Mrs.) to purchase a larger scanner and printer. But now I can ink them on my drawing table and move as I need.

monkeyboy
08-05-2006, 07:38 PM
I do a page layout on 8.5x5.5 (I had a bunch of copies made up and can get 2 to a page) but not too detailed. Then i blow it up light box the basic shapes and then do the detaile work. When I work small I can move things around a lot easier than if I go straight to the final board.

Tyrant's Heart
08-06-2006, 05:13 AM
Speaking of blue (& red) pencils, for those who can't afford the mechanical pencils, are plain colour pencils enough?

DungeonMasterJm
08-06-2006, 07:38 AM
I know blue pencils are used because old camera shot film wouldn't pick it up thus eliminating a lot of erasing and/or touch-up's during the stripping of the film but what are red pencils used for? Is it the same for red pencils? I'm half thinking maybe it is since darkrooms often use red lights for strictly black and white film?

DM Jim the ignorant :confused:

Scaleyinx
08-06-2006, 02:22 PM
.... It will do for the time being until I can negotiate with my financial advisor (The Mrs.) to purchase a larger scanner and printer. But now I can ink them on my drawing table and move as I need.


A few weeks ago I purchased an HP 9800 series printer (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF05a/18972-236251-236261-14438-f51-439153.html). I figure the $269 price will more than make up for itself, considering kinko's charges $2 a page to print on 11 x 17. In the long run I averaged that for a 200 page GN, I'd be paying Kinko's $400 per book. And since I plan on doing six books, I'm saving myself quite a few dollars.

Two things I love about this printer is the control I have at the percentage of Cyan color I can set, the other is that it prints BEAUTIFULLY on Strathmore 500 series 3-ply Bristol Plate surface. Initially I was concerned that it wouldn't print that thick of a board. But now using this method my inks have improved tremendously in comparison to using a lightboard. I only use my lightboard now for the occasional fixes on my pencils, and roughs.

j giar
08-07-2006, 10:44 AM
A few weeks ago I purchased an HP 9800 series printer (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF05a/18972-236251-236261-14438-f51-439153.html). I figure the $269 price will more than make up for itself, considering kinko's charges $2 a page to print on 11 x 17. In the long run I averaged that for a 200 page GN, I'd be paying Kinko's $400 per book. And since I plan on doing six books, I'm saving myself quite a few dollars.

Two things I love about this printer is the control I have at the percentage of Cyan color I can set, the other is that it prints BEAUTIFULLY on Strathmore 500 series 3-ply Bristol Plate surface. Initially I was concerned that it wouldn't print that thick of a board. But now using this method my inks have improved tremendously in comparison to using a lightboard. I only use my lightboard now for the occasional fixes on my pencils, and roughs.
Thanks for this info..I'm going to check around for pricing. I negotiated with the folks at Officemax and they're printing mine for me at $1.10 per page. The only short coming is they can only print them on heavy card stock...not on my boards. :yawn: All I have to do is scan and switch my pages to blue and save them on disc. Just recently I did this with covers 1 and 2 and was able to e-mail them the files. But like you said..with 100+ pages the printer would pay for itself. Thanks again for the info.

Biofungus
08-07-2006, 09:48 PM
Didn't read through this entire thread (but Toyotaguy and Dano gave good answers). But, drawing big is difficult (unless you have the space to stand back from your work often). For actually drawing, I think a lightbox should be used for NOTHING other than recreating a blownup thumbnailed layout on a page (or adding a photo background). After that, you do what Toyandgidgetguy said, you just get the layout/shapes, then work away from the lightbox on the rendering/finishing.

Lightboxes, IMO, are best utilized by inkers for well... tracing! :p

I kid. I mean inking, of course.

Nick Pitarra
08-09-2006, 03:38 AM
Try to keep the "lumps" and fun curves that make the drawing have that loose/organic feel in the first place. Allot of times the sketchyness of the rough has allot to do with movement,you can try replacing the sketchyness with some motion lines. If all else fails....just follow the line of action through the figure. Personally...i blueline right onto the board...flip it over, tighten it up, then reflip it and lightbox the polished version. I don't downsize anymore...takes to much time, plus i don't always have a copier.

kong
08-20-2006, 01:00 PM
Props maybe you should not do such tight sketches with so much details. But just get the movement down and basic shapes and such. Then blow that up and use it as the underlying structure and get your funk on top of that!

Hyenadoc
08-21-2006, 01:44 AM
This thread has me confused (a common state of affairs): why are 11x17 pages even used? As I writer, I always assumed that artists preferred to draw at that scale so the work would look better shrunk down. But this thread implies that most artists don't like to work that big. So it raises the question: since most of these books won't be 11x17, why blow the artwork up at all? Is it just a "legacy" practice? Maybe stemming from when colorists used to paint the work directly? Or is there a reason involving the printers?