top of page
  • Writer's pictureR Cipolletta

e15: The Mermaid (It_2)

Storyboarding & Fine Tuning 12.10.20

Turning the Bullets into Beats

Procreate vs Photoshop:

As I will be transitioning between these mediums for this module, I thought it wise to dedicate a small portion of this journal entry to thinking about how and when I am going to begin switching to Photoshop. So far I have spent at least 20 minutes of my would-be story beat drawing time interacting with the interface and investigating the differences between the softwares. I think it wouldn’t be a huge leap based on my brief poking around to describe Photoshop as ‘Procreate with extra (fancy) steps’ so I’m not altogether too frightened to make the switch however I may want to check out a few tutorials to get an idea of what those extra (fancy) steps are. The base programme comes with an alarmingly limited set of brushes but I have been reassured that additional ones can be bought or downloaded for free from various sources. Let’s hope this applies to the iPad version as well.

As I conduct this research, I didn’t want to completely halt my progression into developino the Mermaid beats, so I’ve started off the process in Procreate. I will either transition at some point halfway through the beats or save it for when I move onto the high-res character designs in the next step.

Beginning to Draw:

As I was watching the Gnomon Workshop tutorials, I wrote myself some questions as notes that I would need to answer right before I started to draw. Here are those questions, followed by the answers I have come up with now that I am about to start:

  • Iain McCaig has all of his drawings in front of him for reference. This is simple enough to do when you draw on loose paper but how do I do it in my medium?

The answer came to me immediately when I opened up my Procreate app and did what I always do before beginning to work on anything new: create a project file. By organising my main Procreate menu by story idea instead of just grouping everything into ‘Masters Project’, I am able to have a look at all my work for one concept simultaneously, zoom in with a click and hold, and edit the order of my story beats in a quick and easy way. If and when I transition to Photoshop, this technique may have to be adjusted accordingly, but for now I can comfortably work to McCaig’s format.

  • How do I confront the edge of the paper issue when I can't add another sheet to the bottom of the one I'm currently working on? I could just shrink the image in Procreate, but if I over-shrink and try to size back up again then it'll lose quality.

I recently discovered a handy trick on Procreate, to stop the quality reduction issue from happening anymore, so resizing until everything fits on the page (and then maybe cutting unnecessary details later) seems like an efficient-enough solution for the moment. Additionally, I am comforted by the fact that I tend to block out a lot of my base shapes in a larger, thicker brush first before putting down the finer details so, even if there were a quality reduction issue, I could combat it by waiting until after I have resized everything up from the ‘extra paper’ version before putting in those finer details.

Finally, in digital media like Photoshop and Procreate it‘s not so much an issue to drag your tip off of the page when you’re drawing because there is no ‘table’ underneath to scratch up with your ink or pencil lines, so edge-of-the-page-shyness hasn’t seemed to be much of an issue for me in the past.

  • What if my concept doesn't consist of characters? What if it's objects or cases or plants etc? What will be my individual sketches phase?

Since writing this, I feel like it has become a bit of a non-issue because, at worst, I’m usually dealing with a small cast, rather than a non-existent one. I also now believe I can happily follow along with the workshop’s recommended development line with objects just as easily as I could with humans.

Chiara Bautista:

In his videos, McCaig mentioned a few times the fact that he often kept his favourite artist's work to hand at his drawing desk to function as a constant source of inspiration throughout his artistic process. His recommendation to others to do the same has stuck with me.

Unsurprisingly, given her internet fame and high emphasis on story, I have been a long-time admirer of Chiara Bautista’s work and I think it’ll be her pieces that I use to pursue Mr. McCaig’s advice. In particular, I’ve always loved her use of female anatomy, composition, and of course her interweaved story lines.

I’m not sure how the rest of the world consumes her work, or if she even ordinarily provides any explanation for her thoughts to begin with, but I have always preferred to deliberately avoid public analyses or information about her life, in favour of putting together my own theories of how the different pieces interact with each other. The intoxicating feeling of chasing a lead and finding the resulting information/confirmations hidden in plain sight in her other pieces is what I would love to emulate in my own work later this module, with my cryptographs and interactive installation. I will make sure to keep a side eye on her work as I venture into mine.

Now, onto the next iteration; turning the previous story into individual, tangible story beats to draw...


The Beats:

Version 2:


  • ESTABLISHING SHOT: All mermaids of different ages, shapes, and sizes live in the sea <-- make this distinguishable from anywhere else (maybe frolicking near a coral reef?).


  • ESTABLISHING SHOT pt2: One mermaid (the little mermaid) lives all alone in the shallow river bed <-- show the difference in the underwater fauna & flora.


  • It begins to rain, and we see her excited reaction to the agitated water (this would be where my original image comes in).


  • Show how she is fascinated by the idea of anything that could breathe through this water? An image of her funnelling the water into her gills, with an unhappy facial expression as it doesn't work.


  • 50/50 shot with water level at the horizon line. Underneath: her watching the horse's long hair make rings in the water. Above: the horse drinking peacefully unaware of her presence.


  • A side view of the horse kicking the air (bucking) as it flees and her shocked reaction (only her head and torso sticking out of the water).


  • A shot of our mermaid talking to the others at the edge of the coral reef. They are all laughing and jeering and she is flustered and upset. A speech bubble with a crude illustration of a horse in it is visible. The 'horse' in the bubble is a butchered approximation of the real thing to indicate her failure to describe it properly.


  • She goes back and tries to lure it down with grass (immediately establish her intentions). A large thought bubble shows us her intentions to show it off to the other mermaids (alive) and prove to them she isn't lying.


  • A shot of her launching herself out of the water and wrapping her fins around it to drag it down.


  • ESTABLISHING SHOT: A shot of her pulling it deep under water and the horse legs struggling.


  • A shot of her noticing that it stopped "swimming". Unveils to see it dead - eyes glassed.


  • Bargains with the sea witch at the under-water river.


  • The mermaid drags the horse back onto shore.


  • Goodbye moment. (?)


  • Horse gets lassoed by humans to the shock of the mermaid as she gets sucked away.


  • Horse getting dragged across distance on its lead.


  • The horse reaching the human camp with all the other horses sheered and sad.


  • A crack in the ocean floor.


  • An enormous wave bearing down over the human camp.


  • The wave washes away all of the humans and leaves the horses unharmed.


  • Our horse stares up at the sky as the water evaporates and turns into rain.


  • The little mermaid's form watches over it from the raining clouds.

- R Cipolletta



bottom of page