Spotlight

Webcomic Artists Are Trapped in Their Own Webcomic – Pencil

Gail Ramirez is an aspiring artist who loves colors & fantasy worlds. She is a Visual Communication graduate from the UP Diliman College of Fine Arts and a hardworking individual currently pursuing her passion in storytelling and making comics. She is the creator of PENCIL.

Synopsis: What happens when the comic artists are trapped inside their comic? Arcus Iris is a webcomic written by Mandy, illustrated by Dilan and colored by Rai. Just when Mandy thought she had it all planned out, strange and sudden disappearances occured. As crazy as it sounds, Mandy starts to believe that her friends might be transported inside the bizarre and colourful world of Arcus Iris.

Will Mandy be able to unravel the mystery between the real world and the fictional world she had created?

What was it like going to college for art?
It was fun yet challenging at the same time. Back when I was in grade school and high school there were only a few kids who excel in drawing, then when I entered art school, everyone knew how to draw and were good at it. I admit that it was difficult to stand out in a class full of skilled hands yet it helped motivate me to continuously improve my art skills. Despite the hardship, there comes the fun part of having people in your circle who have a deeper appreciation of art, people whom you can talk to and learn the technical aspects of art.

A webcomic about webcomic artists! What made you think that up?
Well it was out of curiosity wondering what happens when the artist/s crossed paths with their characters and got to interact with them. I thought to myself that what if this had happened to me — if I were the one trapped inside my own story and made friends with my own characters? Would I wish to return back to the real world or stay inside the made up world I made?

How long does it take you to complete one episode?
It depends on the level of complexity and number of panels per episode. If the episode is simple and short, I can finish it in seven working days. For longer episodes with fight scenes and special effects, it might take about 14-20 working days. Episodes in Arcus Iris (fantasy world in PENCIL) setting is more complex and would take more compared to that of the real world setting.

Do you have any favorite artists who influenced your style?
Yes I do! Actually I can name a lot but the first that comes to my mind is Katsura Hoshino, she is a Japanese manga artist and writer best known for her series “D. Gray-man”. Aside from Hoshino, Samuel Deats, director of Castlevania (Netflix animated series) also influenced me in terms of character design and techniques in storytelling.

What is your process like for creating comic pages? What tools do you use?
To be honest there’s no “secret ingredient” nor anything special with my process of making comics. I guess it’s as simple as first writing a script, coming up with a storyboard, followed by penciling and lastly, coloring. I create everything digitally in Photoshop simply because this is what I have and I am confident in using this software for my layout and coloring.

How long did it take you to come up with the world building for Arcus Iris? It looks really detailed!
It really took me many years to come up with a concrete idea for Arcus Iris. Creating an entirely new universe involves a lot of brain cells, blood and tears (haha!) to conceptualize every detail of this vibrant new world of colors.

How long did it take you to plan the whole comic before even beginning to physically create it?
When I had that spark of idea for Pencil and Arcus Iris, I absolutely had zero experience in creating comics. I have the story in my mind and it pushed me to practice and become determined to at least have the guts to start doing it. I’ve had far too many attempts before I was able to tell myself that I am satisfied with the outcome.

In 2018, I managed to complete one episode of Pencil. It was in black and white ink and was heavily manga inspired. It then hit me that I was telling a story about colors which caused me to rethink my output. From then on, I started to learn how to digitally colorize my panels and redo Pencil from scratch. Fast forward to 2020, I have successfully produced a full-colored version of my comics in webtoon format and the rest will be history. (hahaha!)

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making Pencil? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
I guess the hardest part of this whole process was way back in 2019 when I decided to revamp PENCIL into a full colored comic and in webtoon format. I almost gave up on it because I thought to myself that I do not have the skills as an artist to make this dream turn into reality. Turns out it worked well for me when I decided not to give up on my dreams and just keep going. If I could tell myself one thing this will be it: “don’t be too harsh on yourself because practice might not make you perfect but it will surely make you better. Trust the process!”

What is your favorite part about working on Pencil?
It’s definitely the coloring part, without a doubt! Especially incorporating lights and shadows and seeing it all come to life. I also find it satisfying to produce panels wherein all the characters come together in a scene. Nothing more fulfilling than seeing ALL or most of them interacting with each other.

What is your LEAST favorite part about working on Pencil?
I guess drawing backgrounds and establishing shots were my least favorites thus far. I tend to get bored easily when there’s no character in a drawing panel.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
My favorite character to write would be Rai. Fun fact, Rai is my original character which I had created when I was in grade school. I have written many stories with him as the main character. He was in “Space Agents”, where he was a leader of a group fighting aliens who want to seize the earth. He was also in “Slayers” where he fought some evil vampires. Lastly, he was in “Osculate”, a sci-fi comic about a half-human, half-cyborg created to save the world from AI’s secretly controlled by the government. Rai has been with me since childhood and he’s definitely here to stay.

Do you have a LEAST favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us about them!
I don’t have a least favorite because each character in PENCIL plays an important role in the story and they all have a special place in my heart.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
I’m pretty sure that Dave is my favorite character to draw. I worked hard for his character design to made him look as perfect as possible (*spoiler alert*) to fit in a role as one of the main characters in Arcus Iris.

Do you have a LEAST favorite character to draw?
My least favorites would be Kahel and Dilaw because I find I am not good at drawing mature and sexy female characters. Although I am constantly working on that and I felt the need to improve in this area as these characters play major roles in Arcus Iris.

Where can we find you?
You can find me working from home (just kidding!) Below are my social media links where you can find my art account. Enjoy!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gailramirez_art/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gailramirez_
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pencilwebtoon/

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
You may read PENCIL for free via the LINE Webtoon App on the Webtoon Canvas section (link here: http://bit.ly/PencilWebtoon ). If you’re looking for something colorful to brighten up your day and fantasy stories are your cup of tea then PENCIL webcomic is “THE ONE” for you. Cheers!

Have you read PENCIL yet? Let us know what you think in the comments! Or, hey, go to the creator’s site and show some love 😀

Want your webcomic to be featured here? Drop me a line!