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Juan Cavia

Behind the scenes

This pile of sketches which was the layout, it’s what I’m about to tell for those who don’t know, the layout is like the pre-visualization of the comic book. It’s something that we’ve learned to do with Filipe (Melo), because at the beginning we weren’t doing it. They are small notes, made quickly about how the pagination is going to be. Why small? Because they’re easier to correct. Because it’s quicker to make them again. Because it’s a period for testing where we often need to see different versions of the same drawing. That’s why I have, well, a large amount of pages that are already divided in two, at this moment they’re an A4 page folded in half, it’s an A5.

I have here, for example, the first page of the book. The first sketch, it wasn’t the first that I made but almost, because of the layout, I do work in a progressive way, in an orderly way. And we constantly find corrections made like these ones, things that, sort of, we put according to Filipe that had to be changed. So over the layout, corrections were made. I worked on this book in an A4 format, because it gave me so much work than to work on it in an A3, it’s like how I work in general, which is around here, and that would be too much work..

Therefore, I decided to make it smaller. This is an original page just like the 140 that I have here. And here are all the pencils that I’ve used on this book. With these pencils I make the draft layer because I can erase it on Photoshop. So the sketches are made with blue pencils, and the last stroke with the black pencil.

I’m going to show you for a bit the process that we do with Filipe. This that you see here is what we call ‘moodboard’, which is the script that Filipe created along with some references that he put to illustrate some images that seemed important to highlight, whether they’re the expression, the spaces, the details, the references to actors who look like the characters that we’re trying to illustrate. When applying this, we make a pre-layout, that is, Filipe indicates the division of how he’d like the pages to be in the book, do you understand? This here is a projection that Filipe made, dividing the squares and saying “here we should see the sky and here we should see the bird”. Sometimes I do it myself, sometimes he does it. But in this book, what’s important is that he can project his timeline on the pages, and this is a very clear format.

Drawing the characters

In parallel, we made the drawings of the characters, with some references from Filipe and some of my references, starting to test things out, until we reach something that we both like. You can also see the character of Julien. Then also a moodboard of this character, where we see all these sketches together. Here you can notice that there are some X marks of the things that I didn’t like so much, and some check marks of those I liked more. Then the layout that is a quick sketch, a draft here there’s a correction. This is the final page, on the right and on the left side is the first sketch, here it has already been corrected. This sketch is passed over with a pencil at the end. Here you see the process, right, how it was designed. Here you can see how I used some references. For example, for some positions, how the corrections were made, we can notice here that the paper was cut. There are a lot of references here, to see how we work. This is very common among illustrators. Well, each one has their own format. This is just for you to see. And notice now how one can predict how the sketch will look like in the final version. Also for you to see what I said about the front and back, how they function. The page that we have on the left and on the right.  Here you can see a bit of the colour. As you can see, the first colour application is flat, the colour that will be the render, which is the colour with lights. And here, you can see clearly on the first page, the progression of the script. The initial sketch. The initial last stroke with the pencil. The flat colours. And the final colours, with the text box (caption) and the page margins. And here is also when the graphic design comes in, when there’s already a contact with the publisher. Well, I wanted to share with you a bit about our work process, which is a process that we have learned from Filipe in the past 12 years that we worked together. 

Here are some of Filipe Melo´s ideas on the subject:

Many, many, many thanks!

Juan Cavia se desempeña profesionalmente como Director de arte e Ilustrador desde 2004. Estudió dirección de cine y comenzó a dar sus primeros pasos profesionales en el medio valiéndose de su conocimiento en dibujo y pintura, disciplina en la que se formó desde temprana edad con el dibujante Carlos Pedrazzini. A los 21 años hizo su primer trabajo como director de arte profesional y desde ese momento a la fecha realizó comerciales, tv, videoclips, teatro y  formó parte de 9 largometrajes en el rol de director de arte y escenógrafo, entre los cuales se destaca “ El secreto de sus ojos” de J. Campanella ( ganadora del Oscar a mejor película de habla no inglesa).

Simultáneamente Juan desarrolló su carrera como ilustrador y dibujante . Entre sus diversos trabajos, se destaca principalmente su colaboración con Filipe Melo, con quien publicaron 7 novelas gráficas publicadas en diversos países.