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Wolf's Head first issue pencil roughs for page one


I'm currently working away on my new comic, WOLF'S HEAD, that's going to be launching soon. While I can't say too much about it yet*, I do want to start sharing some things. So, rough pencils! Yes! Sometimes I pencil fairly loosely and sometimes I'm somewhat tighter. This is an example of the latter. Since I ink so much of my own work, I generally pencil just enough for me to ink it. It's mainly a time issue; drawing can be slow and perfect pencils are that much slower. I rarely pencil in the way "pure" comic book pencillers do, but then...it's art. Whatever gets you to the end is just fine.

* By the by, I'm not being secretive deliberately. It's mainly because a few things are still up in the air right now that need to be worked out. Rest assured, when I know more I'll be posting it!

Rough pencil sketch for Wolf's Head Issue 1 by Von Allan

Ottawa Citizen front page article on Von Allan



Well, this is pretty neat! Reporter Blair Crawford along with photographer Julie Oliver from the Ottawa Citizen did a feature story on yours truly. The story explores my childhood, my mom's struggle with mental illness (specifically schizophrenia), my graphic novel the road to god knows..., and the documentary film I'm involved in titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD.


The full article can be found online at the Ottawa Citizen's website at http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-child-of-schizophrenia-graphic-novelist-von-allan-on-growing-up-with-a-mentally-ill-mother


I should add that the online article also contains a short two minute video interview with me. Plus the great and mysterious Corbin makes a surprise guest appearance!

Scans from the Ottawa Citizen are below:

Ottawa Citizen article by Blair Crawford on Von Allan, the graphic novel the road to god knows, and the documentary I Am Still Your Child

And the interior page (the scan is a bit hard to read, but the full article can be found online here):

Ottawa Citizen article by Blair Crawford on Von Allan, the graphic novel the road to god knows, and the documentary I Am Still Your Child

Potential Repercussions - Documentary Short



As I noted previously, the filmmakers behind the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD have released a number of short supporting videos, including the one embedded below. The entire series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

In this short, the three subjects of the film (Sarah, Jessy, and myself) all talk about the repercussions of living with a parent who has a mental illness.

What? More Dwarfs?


Yes! More dwarfs. I love dwarfs. LOVE THEM. And, when I get a chance to game, guess what I play?

Inked Illustration of Two Dwarf Killerbeards by Von Allan

Inked Illustration of a Feisty Female Dwarf Killerbeard by Von Allan

I also like playing around with stereotypes when it comes to illustrations like this. Often (not always, but often) dwarfs are depicted as males. It's really fun to invert that and have very feisty female dwarfs. Why the hell not?

Maintaining a Relationship with the Ill Parent - Documentary Short



In conjunction with the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, the filmmakers have released a number of short supporting videos. The entire series can be viewed on their Youtube site and add up to over 30 minutes of bonus content. While the documentary is only available for streaming inside Canada right now, the short videos should be watchable anywhere in the world.

I embedded one of these shorts below. Titled "Maintaining a Relationship with the Ill Parent," it showcases all three subjects of the film. For my part, I talk about my mom and her sensitivity and compassion. And, as a special bonus, Corbin makes an appearance!

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Young Girl and Father Poster Process


Continuing the series of background "process" art for the poster series for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today's poster features a young girl handling her father's medication. I knew clarity would be a problem, so I decided to go with a low "eye level" or horizon line. In this case, right at the ground plane. Why? It allowed me to put the medicine bottle strongly in the foreground and hopefully clarify what's actually happening. It also allowed me to make the young girl slightly bigger (closer to the viewer) than a more normal eye level would allow.

In discussing it with Stéphanie Couillard, my contact at Catbird, we decided that it still might not be clear enough so we added dialogue for the father just to be safe. There are no "right" answers with this; sometimes you want to be subtle and suggestive and other times you want to be crystal clear. In this case, clarity was one of the most important criteria.

Again, here is the Final Press Version with logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Young Girl and Father for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (approximately 2 inches in height). You can also see that I was initially thinking of making it daughter and mother:
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

A tighter rough, though still very small. The father was giving me some drawing problems at this stage, though it works itself out soon enough:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils along with perspective grid and background:

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:
Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

As always, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Upset Girl Poster Process


As noted yesterday, I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film "I AM STILL YOUR CHILD." Today I'm looking at the development of another poster for the film and the support website. This one is a good example of how the process develops from rough concept to final version.

My initial thinking was that I wanted contrast between a very upset girl in the foreground and an adult, possibly in trouble, who isn't even paying attention. Initially I thought she'd be starring at the girl, but not really seeing her. Later, I changed my mind and had the adult sitting with her back turned. As the process continued and I received feedback from Stéphanie Couillard, my main contact for the poster series for Catbird Productions, the poster evolved. You can see that in the following sketches and I think the piece is much stronger based on Stéphanie's comment. 

Again, here is the Final Press Version with that great logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version of Upset Girl for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (as always, this is done very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Slightly tighter but still very loose figures. And again, illustrated pretty small. You can also see that the foreground character is slightly off-balance here. It happens, but it's the kind of thing I correct as I go:
Second rough layout sketch for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils:
Somewhat tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with that original concept of a "neutral" adult in the background:
Still tighter pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

This is where a number of things changed. A very different adult figure appears. She was roughed out and tightened separately and then digitally added into the piece. And the background finally shows up, too. Little bit of cheating here, but you can't tell. I hope!

Final pencils for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

And the final inked version:Inked final illustration for Upset Girl poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

You can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

I AM STILL YOUR CHILD Poster Process for Girl In School


I was commissioned to create a series of posters for the documentary film project (titled “I AM STILL YOUR CHILD”) that I've been involved in. The goal was to create a series of stand-alone pieces that feature characters dealing with parental mental illness. Unlike traditional comics, these wouldn't have a narrative save for that unifying theme. And they would also need to be very bold and graphic to catch the eye and presented in black and white to ease desktop printing. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. The full poster series can be found at the documentary's official website.

Beginning today, I'm going to go through the creation of a few of these posters. I was given a great deal of creative room by the production crew; they encouraged me to draw on my own thoughts and feelings, especially relevant given my own background with my mom's schizophrenia (developed more full in my graphic novel “the road to god knows...”). Some of these images were inspired directly from my own experiences while others were “pushed.” In other words, still drawn from my own life but dramatized to some extent.

The one below is a good example; I was very shy at school, especially at this age, but showing emotion was something I tried very hard not to do (though how successful I was in a different question). This girl, on the other hand, is very upset. That was something I tried very hard not to show at school.

What follows, then, is a pretty good breakdown of how this poster came together.

First, this is the Final Press Version with a terrific logo designed by Sara Morley of Design Postimage:

Final poster version for the documentary I AM STILL YOUR CHILD

Initial Rough Layout sketch (very small, approximately 2 inches in height):
Initial rough layout sketch for poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils (figures only; this is slightly deceptive since I drew each character separately and then digitally composed the image to finalize their positions):
Initial rough layout sketch for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Tighter pencils with loose backgrounds and perspective grid:
Tighter pencils with loose backgroundsfor Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan

Final inked version with completed background:
Inked final illustration for Girl In School poster from I AM STILL YOUR CHILD by Von Allan
I should add here that sometimes I do pretty tight background renderings and other times, like here, I keep it pretty loose and finalize in ink (albeit digital ink since I use Manga Studio EX 4 for inking). Manga Studio also allows for some really nice shortcuts for tones, hatching, "zipatones," and splatters. I've done them manually (the ol' toothbrush and ink immediately comes to mind for splatters) but I much prefer doing them digitally now.

And that's that. Again, you can see the entire poster series at the film's official website. And don't forget that the entire film can be streamed online at the CBC's website at http://watch.cbc.ca/absolutely-canadian/-/i-am-still-your-child/38e815a-00cec9fd824

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