Old Oak: A Junior Visual Narrative Comic by Anna Larson (2017)
Click to read Artist Statement
My comic illustration was based on the rising action and resolution sequences of my flash fiction. In the story, a squirrel caught outside in a vicious storm finds shelter in an oak tree. The tree comes to life in order to fold its branches inward to protect the squirrel, and keeps it safe from the storm. The squirrel then leaves the oak to return home in the morning. I selected the rising action and resolution pieces of the story, including the part where the squirrel finds and climbs the tree, and the tree shelters it.
We created the comic in Adobe Illustrator. Within the program, there were several different methods for line art, shading, and the like. Most of the illustration was made with simple colored shapes, and lines and details were added on top of them. In some panels, I used Illustrator’s mesh tool to create gradient maps for soft shading. In others, I layered slightly darker-colored shapes on top of my main base color in order to create the illusion of cell shading. I also learned the line width tool and used that quite a bit when creating my line art to make it look more dynamic. Although I already knew the basics of Illustrator when I started, I did learn a few useful things during the production of my comic. I was also able to practice the art of visually telling a story through comics. It was surprisingly challenging to convey movement in this medium. Overall, I think I would have preferred the artistic freedom of Adobe Photoshop to the unyielding rules of Illustrator. Photoshop’s engine allows for more deliberate, dynamic strokes than Illustrator, and it also is much, much easier to shade in Photoshop, as it is simple to layer the shading between the base color on the bottom and the lineart on the top. However, I am quite proud of my comic’s end result.