Drawing Academy X

Pre-production

The process started with reading the scripts that Adam delivered by email, sometimes along with some reference sketches that he drew himself (for new characters), or reference photos he found on the web that illustrated a specific detail he had in mind, such as a building.

Main bldg reference photo
Fig 1a. The reference photo for the main building of Exhampton Academy.
Main bldg from issue 1
Fig 1b. The final drawing from issue 1.

Reference Sketches.

When I started work on AcX, Adam had most of the character designs already worked out, and he drew quick sketches of the characters to show me what they should look like. I did my best to draw them faithfully, but every artist brings his or her own interpretation to a character because everyone draws in their own way.

The first thing I did was make study sketches for each of the main characters, facing forward and in profile, like mug shots. For some of these, I feel like I nailed the characters the way I wanted to present them, and have been groping around since, unable to recapture what I managed to get on paper the first time. (Specificallly, Magnat himself.)

Adam's sketch Mugshot sketches
Adam's Magnat Magnat mugshots
Adam's Wanda Wanda mugshot
Adam's Blake Blake mugshots

The only character that Adam did not specify a look for was Simon, whom the script described as an "Everyman" character. Simon has since settled into a kind of round-headed guy, one of the most cartoonish of the cast, but looking distinctively like other characters I've drawn over the years. So, he's really the only one that's really my design. Adam said that my conception of Simon wasn't what he was originally thinking of, but that it worked, so I should go ahead with it.

You might notice that there's a problem with the sketches of Wanda and Blake (especially Blake), something Adam pointed out as soon as I started working on the first issue: they're way too old. They look like they're college-aged, if not older, in which case they're almost twice as old as is appropriate. By the time I started work on issue 1, they were already looking younger than they do here. I continued "younging them up" as I went along, until finally, by the time I finished the first issue, they looked fifteen.