The artistic process was fairly simple and made easy because I had scaled down the original image. The sketches were actually twice as large, but SAI couldn't handle that size. Reducing it helped me significantly, since it was what made the whole process really fast and done in less than a week.
- It starts off with a basic sketch; most of the scenes had already been imagined in my head, with just the ending sequence being sketched out on the whim.
- Outlines were refined, as well as black borders. I just filled the entire canvas black and cropped out squares for the panels. Not a really good idea for comic making, but I never needed dynamic panels so it wasn't too bad.
- Colour was added. Again, this process was really quick because I scaled everything down. My main regret was not having high resolution images to end off with, but the time saved was well worth it.
- Small details; the glow of Rarity's magic, eye reflections, etc.
- I added a red overlay and some text. I almost always use overlays in warm colours because they help make the colour scheme consistent and give a less hostile feel. The text positions had some minor changes simply due to readability.
Again, amazingly it was all done in a week (being pressed for time helps, even if I didn't make the Valentine's Day deadline). The writing process actually took the longest, which surprised myself. I had immediately picked up the idea of a Rarity-Spike ship comic after Secret of My Excess aired (who didn't love that episode?). After briefly reviewing my choices, I decided to base my comic on three foundations: it had to have the Heart's Desire, it had to have time skips, and it had to be sad. With these ideas put together, I drew a sketch at the end of 2011 for Spike's growth:
Notice, though, that Spike had wings. The original ending was very different, and I went through a whole bunch of revisions before I settled down on one. Some of them were actually quite nice, but after much consideration I decided against them. Some alternatives were:
- Spike uses it from the very beginning. The mountain sequence was originally a result of HIS use of the Heart's Desire. This is really not that much different than the current version, but everyone already knows Spike has been chasing Rarity for a long time. Having to resort to the Heart's Desire kind of cheapened to whole relationship. I was far more comfortable with the reverse happening, especially since Rarity didn't know it would end up being Spike.
- Spike uses the Heart's Desire to grow wings. Rarity was disabled after many years passed and couldn't walk. The last thing they did together before she died was fly off into the distance. Ditched because: I wasn't too fond of Spike growing wings, and it was a bit odd that I had to introduce the Heart's Desire at the very beginning only to have it used at the end. ALSO, it raises a bunch of other questions: why didn't Rarity or Spike just use the Heart's Desire so her legs would work, or something?
- This ending is similar to the previous, but instead of wings, Spike uses it to cure Rarity's blindness that is developed as she ages. Rarity grows old and Spike is desperate for them to see each other before she dies. Rarity refuses to take the Heart's Desire, saying she can already see him (she has learned to see with her heart). I actually REALLY liked this one but there was so much I had to convey, and it would have been very difficult to do with narration. I would have to bring in dialogue and a lot of explanation (also, why is Rarity getting so many disabilities?!).
- They BOTH use the Heart's Desire on each other, without each other's knowledge. It would have been a nice twist, but I felt if they BOTH kept the secret for so long, there was too much insecurity and dishonesty between them. I already felt bad for having just Rarity do it.
- This one isn't so much of an ending as it is a left out scene of the final version. Spike would have said "And that kind of love lasts forever"...followed by him mourning over Rarity's grave as a much older and larger dragon, and him saying, "...sometimes, I wish it didn't". This was too much of a sad ending in my opinion - dragons live far, far longer than Unicorns. So I stuck with the original ending, since it ends with them sharing the last moment of their lives together. Apparently that was still too sad for a lot of people, hehe.
My main concern was that the Heart's Desire couldn't actually do what it did in the story. I just played with the words in the first few panels so that they would say what they wanted, but also stay true to the Heart's Desire presented in the show.
The rest of the story was more or less predetermined. I pretty much KNEW I would have the whole growing up together sequence from Up (originally this was wordless, but certain ideas later required more information to be conveyed, so I ditched the wordless idea). I worked around a few other scenes along the way; Spike's mountain message was based off of the Futurama episode "Time Keeps Slipping", there were many references to The Little Prince, etc. Pinkie Pie's cameo was one of my favourites, and was added in later in development. It was originally just a normal restaurant, but then I thought, "Hey! why not make it Pinkie Pie with her chimicherries?". Other scenes in the growing up sequence were thought of from the very beginning. It took little time to think of them, but a lot more actually putting them together in a nice little order.
So, what's next? A lot, actually. I plan on doing similar comics with the rest of the mane six (most of them I have already planned extensively). I recently put up a poll asking which comic people would like to most see. Apparently that's Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo...the ONE story I'm least comfortable with! I'm right now in the process of all that editing so that their story will be as seemless and in-character as possible. Expect it in May...but there are no guarantees. Will you bawwww? Hopefully. Only time will tell.