A Conversation with Duncan Fegredo
In the following interview, we cover very mundane topics that may only appeal to other artists. Be forewarned.
Brian Churilla: I'm a process junkie and lately have been looking at your HB pages quite a bit. I'm very impressed with the quality of the line and found myself curious as to what you use. What material do you prefer to work with? What's your process generally like?
Duncan Fegredo: Prepare to be disappointed by my crap choices of materials! I generally pencil with a standard b/2b, either a real or mechanical pencil, 0.9 mm.
It changes from issue to issue but right now I'm laying pages out at printed size, quickly 'inking' them with the same fine line markers I use for inking the final art. Next, scan, Photoshop and print out in blue on the back of the art board at art size... where it looks messy as heck and in need of refining so I go in whit Colerase blue pencil. I used to have both pencil art and ink art to sell but no longer, inks just over the blue lines.
For inks I used to like the Faber Castel Pitt series, 's' size for the line work and the brush tip for all else. I loved he brush tips but even with reversing the nib they crap out way too quickly so now I'm using a Japanese Pentel cartridge brush pen. It's taken a bit of getting use too but now I really like it. I should use a real brush but that never seems to work for me and I just fuck 'em up too fast! For the line work I'm using Faber Castel Ecco Pigment pens, mostly a 0.3 but also a 0.4, they have a slightly rounder tip and feel a bit smoother to use. Or it could be my imagination, who knows?
The one thing I've learned over time is that it never helps if I get too precious over the materials... if I use expensive materials I'm more likely to fuck up, weird but true!
BC: Yeah, those Pitt brush pens are a laughable, they keep a nice tip for about one minute, then they're blasted out and have to be thrown away. I've been meaning to try out one of those Pentel brush pens. People rave about them. Even though I like using a good ol' sable for all my inking, I still experiment with new tools.
DF: Ultimately if you are comfortable with a real brush I'd stick with it, and judging by your inks on the Anchor pages on your blog I'd say you look pretty comfortable- looks a lot of fun by the way!
BC: I really admire your ability to lead the eye through the page (just as an example: Darkness Calls #3 pg 15, #4 pg 1). Beautiful combined use of structural elements, framing and shadow to lead the eyeball through... Do you put much thought into this? Or does it happen naturally after so many years?
DF: I always have tried to do good storytelling but it usually gets lost under cluttered inking and balloon placements caused by me not leaving enough room and bad letterers! Hellboy is an odd case though as I have had to reign in some of my wilder tendencies for throwing the camera around- Mike has his own techniques that I have had to meld with although it is mostly for the better, more in keeping with HB. Mike used to do a lot of thumbnails for me as he found it easier to explain what he wanted, now though I'm left more to my own devices and get notes from Mike on any problems.
BC: When you lay out a page, what things run through your mind? Is there a pragmatic process, or is it something more instinctual?
DF: I think it is more instinctive now, I used to think of it as performing all the parts in a play, let it act out as I read the script, try to spot the key focus of each page/scene -it's all about pace and mood. There are always pages that are harder to solve though, a real pain but satisfying when you crack it.
BC: Are you an artist that sees something in your mind's eye quite clearly and can convey it on paper with little trouble (à la Moebius), or are you someone that has to grind it out, drawing and erasing over and over again in order to get things right (more akin to Mignola's process)?
DF: Very much a case of both. Sometimes things just flow, right up until the point when they don't. That's a real drag and not an infrequent occurrence unfortunately. I've wasted countless hours (months over the years!) trying to solve an issue or simply remembering how to draw, it's horrible. The idea is that should inspiration fail you should be able to fall back on craft but thats a bunch of crap most of the time! Sometimes it's best to put the pencil down and go play Halo to clear your head instead!