Barrie White is the creator, writer and illustrator of The Sea Book and The Ballad of Rusty Groynes. He grew up on the Suffolk coast in a family rich with fishermen, ferrymen, harbour-masters, sailors, boat-builders, landladies, fishwives, Labradors and other assorted salty types . Much of the inspiration for The Sea Book comes from that background as well as the vivid and cinematic landscapes and seascapes of the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts.
Barrie is also a filmmaker, editor, camera operator, scriptwriter, animator and storyboard artist, with experience of many areas of the film and television industry.
If you wish to contact me please use the email address or form on the Contact page. You can also contact me through the Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages of The Sea Book (click the icons at the bottom of the page).
THE SEA BOOK
The Sea Book, my first webcomic, was my attempt to create a playful, immediate and throwaway story that is true to who I am and where I'm from. It's an extended creative endeavour, and a self sufficient experiment. I could write, draw, master and distribute the whole thing without the need to collaborate, either for assistance, equipment, permission or editorial input. It is a purely digital experiment, moving from first outline to distributed panels without the need to ever touch paper. With the modest technology I now have at my disposal, and with minimal setup costs behind me (domain names, apps, website themes, etc) the comic now costs me nothing to produce, except for my time, energy and attention.
The Sea Book was drawn on a 9.7 inch iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil before being mastered on a MacBook Pro. I exclusively use a drawing app called Procreate. I've tried a selection of other drawing applications but Procreate works well with the Pencil and has the best balance of tools, customisation and a simple uncluttered interface. Adobe Sketch would have been another good option, but I was already up and running with Procreate.
I initially created a four panel page in Photoshop, 1920 by 3600 pixels, a simple white page with four transparent windows, then exported this as a png to import into a Procreate canvas of the same size (could have worked bigger for more detail, but I'm happy with the memory/detail balance). Once in Procreate I 'distress' the edges of the borders with an eraser set to the 'Nikko Rull' brush (a particular favourite).
Aside from a background colour layer (set to a tan paper tone) I have five other layers set up in my page template - (from bottom to top) Texture, Colour, Half Tone, Sketch and Line Work, although I often add a second Sketch layer when pencilling and a Highlights layer at the end. The imported distressed Borders layer sits on top. The Half Tone layer includes an imported sheet of half tone dots (found on the internet), set to 'Colour Burn' which eliminates the white background and makes the dots combine nicely with my colour layer. I keep this turned off to start but later use an eraser to rub away areas of dots I don't want to create an 'old school' shading effect.
I start simply, sketching with a pencil tool, working on the four panels at once to create a coherent and flowing page (for the benefit of the 'eventual' book). Great tools in Procreate allow you to cut, expand and move bits of your sketch around until you get the composition right. Once happy with the Sketch layer I set its opacity to about 50% then start on the Line Work layer with black inking (I use the 'Studio Pen' brush, with some customised pressure settings). I also use some subtle ink splash effects, Calligraphy Pen for heavier blacks, and eraser set to Studio Pen to work through the inking stage.
Once happy with the inking, I'll turn off the Sketch layers and start work on the Colour layer (set to 'Soft Light', this reacts nicely with my background 'tan' colour to give more muted pastel shades). I use a 'Medium Hard Airbrush' brush and work with a palette of about 20 key colours, but also tweak and add as I see fit. Half way through colouring I'll generally work into the Texture layer. Using a large 'Concrete Block' brush, and with the layer set to 'Luminosity', I paint some texture (in red initially, but later in black and white for darks and lights). The luminosity setting makes the texture intensify my colouring from the above layer (found this by accident, but it gives lots of quick control over colour density, and an organic painted feel). I often then move between the Texture and Colour layers until I am happy with the colouring.
At this point I turn on the Half Tone layer (set to about 40% opacity), erasing areas I don't want (often nearly all of it). All that is then left to do is to create a Highlights layer, on which I add white highlights using a fine 'Pencil' brush. Also add sound effect words here too.
Once happy with the complete page I will export as a png to iCloud, then move to my laptop to master. I import the page into a Photoshop document template (page set to 1920 by 3600 again). The document has three guide lines that split the page into the four panels. You can choose to output these as 'slices' in the 'Save for Web: Legacy' export window. I use Photoshop to add Seaman Able's speech bubbles, and Zulu's thought bubbles (his thought pics have been created separately in Procreate) and have a selection of bubble sizes, text (Classic Comic typeface) and arrows already set up in the Photoshop template so I don't have to create them every time. Once this is all done (lots of fiddling here before I'm happy) I can export the 'slices' to give me the four separate panels of that page.
I've worked out that this whole process takes about 6-8 hours per page of four panels. Being that I needed to produce roughly 2 pages a week, that's a good chunk of evenings and weekends to keep up with my 'one panel a day' schedule.
When it came to creating my book, I used an online publishing platform called Blurb (www.blurb.co.uk). They have downloadable software called Bookright or templates for InDesign to enable you to build your book (ebooks too). They also provide an online selling platform, although customers will effectively pay for the cost of printing a single book to order, and their delivery charges are high. I opted for Etsy to sell my books online.