Gray Cells | Initial Designs

Concept Art

Developing Gray Cells

Back in October 2020, I started to sketch out our comic. I’d already knew the story that I wanted to tell, I’d planned out the key story beats, who the characters were, and what would happen to each of them across the book. Originally I’d planned to draw it myself but quickly hit a wall. I liked the pencils I was creating, but I didn’t love them. They were missing some magic.

After seven pages, I decided that I had to reach out to a real artist. Luckily for me, at the same time, Kay had just finished a project and posted his portfolio online. He was exactly what Gray Cells needed. I pitched him on the book and sent over the material I’d put together, and very quickly after, his version of the pages came back with that magic. His art had a creative spark, a unique way of presenting the material, and much tighter story-telling. Later we brought in Corey Ranson who elevated the art to another level with some epic colors.

Early concept art

Possible design ideas for Lina and Dante by Kay
Possible Lina design by Lawrence

We started by nailing down the character designs, working out how best to showcase the characters and their personalities.

Possible Dante ideas

Some designs remained similar to the originals while others got a much needed boost. For example, Kay gave Frogman an added creep factor and developed the concept of him projecting different versions of himself when using his powers.

Perfecting the imagery

Creating a visual language for the supernatural elements was a key focus. We wanted to avoid the cliched, Professor X grabbing his temple imagery and create something more unique and interesting.

Kay cracked the code, developing a beautiful solution to the challenge by combining ink-washes and symbols that would appear.

Visuals for powers

Corey’s colors added another dimension to them inspired by patterns seen on scorpions under UV light.

The next focus was to tighten up the script. Kay reworked my original pages, creating a better flow and focusing in on the important beats.

As a result, I edited the dialogue and make that tighter as well. Everything improved, new opportunities for story appeared and the book evolved into something greater than it would have been otherwise.

See the final art