Jenn Manley Lee


Yes, I use photo reference

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Jenn's penance present for missing updating Dicebox this week! I'll be updating this process journal three times on Wednesday, May 9th and then once a day for the next week with sketches, thoughts, and, well, my process notes for how I go about creating Dicebox. I'll also be updating the Dicebox Explication Page a similar amount. And I'm taking requests, either via email or in the comments below, for explication points, story notes or even which concept I should sketch next off of my Sketch Table. Anyway, like I said, here's my first offering, and as you might have guessed, it's about how I employ photo reference.

Above you see a pretty straightforward use of photo reference featuring my latest lovely model, Dylan Meconis. The main reason I asked her to strike this pose was so I could check that I had the shoulder action correct ( I did, actually.) But I got an extra bonus in how Dylan's left arm ended up underneath her and the lazy elegance her left hand over the edge of the bed. This is a detail I wouldn't have necessarily thought of on my own, and it kind of makes the panel for me.

I can go pages without having a strong desire or need for photo reference; the time I desperately want it is usually is during a conversation heavy scene. I want to make the figure drawing as interesting as possible with all those odd off hand details that occur in real life, those touches that give real life and personality to a pose.

Another big reason reasons I want photo reference is to illustrate for me how a person actually, say, rinses a cup out in the sink.

As you might have noticed, I ended up drawing a totally different view than the one I got of Dylan at the sink. And yet, this photo still gave me all the information I needed to execute the drawing. Which is good, as I often try to plan in advance what I think I'll need for photo reference as to not overly impose on my gracious models' time. Then, as often as not, by the time I layout then draw the page or scene in question, I've rewritten and re-staged the scne or page in question.

Case in point, I actually took reference shots for Chapter 7, Scene 3 more than a year in advance with Dylan and Erika Moen. Yeah, well, beyond actually moving this scene from Chapter 6 to Chapter 7, things got rewritten by the time I actually drew them, as is my wont. Still, these photos were incredibly useful despite not following precise layouts.

As you can see, I shifted who struck what pose and created my own. Still, having two people interacting was invaluable. My biggest complaint about pose books, even my favorites, is the lack of person/person interaction, that's some of the most time-consuming stuff to figurre out.

I've really been fortunate with having such willing, co-operative and talented models. Rebecca Woods is an amazing and dynamic model for the comicker--heck, she was willing to pose on a step ladder so that I could actually get the pose and angle I wanted for a scene.

And last, but not at all least, there's my constant in-a-pinch-model and in-house editor who does the absolute best Griffen hands: