If you haven't heard, it seems China may have under-reported the cases of COVID-19 in its country as well as the number of deaths the virus has caused (shocker, I know). Now, in modern times, we've all become somewhat accustomed to China's censorship and manipulation of information within its country, but this situation goes well beyond its borders. The virus is spreading across the globe, and it's approaching the cusp of infuriating to think the seriousness of the situation was downplayed to save political face on the part of the people's republic. And, of course, Iowa's own former Governor Terry Branstad is an ambassador to China, which makes our newsroom somewhat hungry for a personal take on the situation from good ol' Terry – but let's be honest, it's pretty unlikely he's going to cause an international stir by saying his literal good friend President Xi has done something wrong. That said, it won't solve anything to point fingers at this point. It's simply a wide-reaching example of why truth should never take a backseat to any country's flag.
First, I'll apologize. There's no process animation this week. I didn't record my screen correctly this time, so all I had was the first few minutes.
This panel took several tries to turn over a good composition. I went through a couple sketches of medical personnel in clinical coats holding up the Chinese flag to hide the silhouettes of the gravestones, but it just didn't come together once I started inking the sketch – bad line work on my part. I tried a few variations on that theme until I thought of an overhead view, which led me to nix the medical personnel altogether. I found it to be much more dramatic, as I could let the shadows stretch quite a way and give a sense of scale.
The trick was, since this scene is on a bit of a curve, I couldn't just copy the gravestones in a grid. Each one had to be at a slightly different perspective angle. Even then, it was more difficult that I had imagined to render convincing bumps under the flag. It was mostly a shadow vs. highlight issue while I was trying to avoid heavy ink lines for the folds. Ultimately, the lines turned out to be a solution. I'm still not fully satisfied with it, but this approach did the job.
The last piece of the puzzle was to add the small details to the gravestones to really drive home the scale. I scribbled indications of words on them, making sure 2020 was on each. Then I added the grass textures near them – being sure to use a very thin brush point – before adding a few vases of flowers.
I would estimate the whole thing took around seven hours, and was divided over a three days or so. You know, this COVID-19 coverage keeps us all busy here at the DCN.
Thanks for reading.