Carl Rustung

Newton’s Cradle

There’s no such thing as “cheating” to get through a complicated drawing, only tools! Whipped out some 3D software to help me with these spherical reflections.

Continuing my ongoing comic strip experiment, I’ve gotten to a panel where the protagonist sees his reflection in a Newton’s Cradle. Here’s the napkin sketch:

Not everyone can be M.C. Escher, so I made a 3D mock-up of the scene, which I could trace over later. (I feel tracing a photo is no-no, but tracing my own renders has got to be okay, right..?) Quickly slapped the wizard dude together out of some primitives, added some shiny spheres, chucked some office lighting overhead, and hey presto:

10-minute mockup of the scene, screenshot from Cinema 4D.

The camera placement was a bit fiddly, since I wanted a shot that sold the cradle while keeping the reflections large enough so that the wizards face would still read at a newspaper comic strip scale. The spherical reflections shrunk his face a lot, and getting closer to the cradle would crop it out of the frame. The camera ended up sitting right under the guy’s nose, giving me this angle:

There we go! Spherical reflections.

Tweaked the render a bit so if would print well in black-and-white on my crappy laserjet, and marked the spheres with some black circles since their edges are hard to see even in full color. After a tracing pass with the brush pen, it now looked like this:

Step three: Inking with brush pen on tracing paper.

Here are two ✨ free ProTips™ ✨ that I missed the last time I used tracing paper:

  • You don’t have to make backup prints in case you make a mistake and have to start the drawing over, you can just change the overlay.
  • Don’t tape everything to your desk if you get completely helpless when you can’t rotate and move your paper around.

Anyway, I felt the panel could use a lot more black and some cleanup, so I scanned the drawing and opened it in Procreate on my iPad. (Too lazy to trace it all over again.)

Then back to the real world again, via the printer, for a scale test and some quick and dirty coloring.