On a small sheet of paper, I quickly sketch the panel layout for the comic. As I do this, I’m reading the script, considering Jack’s instructions, the characters’ dialogue and inner states, and the best way to frame each moment so that the story moves along and is easy to follow. I may go through a few sheets to come up with a page I like. I then fill the panels with gestures/scribbles that indicate character placement, action, emotion, word balloons, etc. As I do this, I’m looking for sticking points– places I expect I’ll have trouble rendering. I’ll shoot reference for those as soon as I can corral my wife or son. I usually do this on a Friday night, just before gaming with Jack and the others– so it’s often rushed. My thumbnails tend to be so abstract that if I look at them a few days later, even I can’t interpret them– so it’s important to move on to the next step soon.
These preparatory drawings are called ‘thumbnails’ because often that’s how big they are. Working small allows you to easily plan the overall composition without getting bogged down in small details.