This article right here is a practical breakdown how Miura’s processes might look like. The stages he is going through are described in more detail in an article I’ve written here, heading “Stages of Planning”. Between each stage, he is copying/tracing his own drawings using a backlit tablet or table. This process ensures he always has a clean sketch to work with as base and is capable of adding more and more detail each step. The hours are rough time estimates. Note: the page I’m analyzing is the one in the header!
Miura must consciously decide this page at this stage of the story/chapter is necessary. The drawing in this stage is mostly circles and rough lines.
Duration: 2 h (assuming it takes ~2 h on average for each page to plan an entire chapter, this includes drawings that will never make it into the final product)
Posing & Construction
Multiple sketches are being created to substantiate what is being shown. Basically rough circles and lines are turned into actual posing dolls that serve as base for the next stage. This is also where the black/light balance and perspective is being defined and a rough background is being created. The construction here must have taken ages: just look at the crystals on Grunbeld (as far as I am concerned, the other apostles shouldn’t be as much work in comparison)
Duration: 10 h (normally it takes less but oof, those crystals….)
Surfaces are being textured, clothes and armor are added. Example: Grunbeld’s scales are being refined (e.g. adding bumps into a straight construction line to shape the scales on his neck), or the spikes and teeth on the other apostles. This is the stage where Miura splits up his drawings into different layers enables him to draw very detailed and properly constructed people/characters that are behind other objects or characters. After that, he puts all layers back together in a clean pre-ink draft. As such, this stage takes most of time.
Duration: 20 h (given the detail and complexity of the page)
Miura’s taking a clean sheet of paper and traces his pre-ink draft with ink. Given the amount of ink on this page this can take a while, but not as much as posing and detailing together. Because Miura has already drawn the details before in the previous stage, drawing them again goes a little quicker, and he also knows how to do the strokes already, too.
Duration: 15 h (make that 50% more if you take major fuck-ups into account)
Someone has to scan in the pages and add some toning to them. I only did this digitally so far and am not familiar with traditional means. It can get quite cumbersome depending on the page.
Duration: 7 h
Miura takes a total of approx. 55 hours for this particular page.
Congratulations, we have obtained an estimate how much time Miura takes for a single page! That being said, the amount of time can vary greatly as well depending on how complex and dark a page is. When an entire panel fills up the entire page and pages with just few panels and only little ink on screen, they are usually much quicker to draw, especially if the motive is simple with only little black space.
I personally think 55 hours is good estimate – in my experience, I have also attempted to imitate his planning processes and art style creating my fancomic, and a single page with much less complexity takes me around 14 – 20 hours. I am also under the impression that a lot of time goes into refining the pages, getting them to the quality they have, and my time estimation reflects that.
If we assume it takes Miura 55 hours to create a page as complex as this (think of the sea god chapters, where almost all pages look as detailed ) we can estimate a couple of other things:
How many working days does Miura take to finish a single page?
If we assume he works 12 hours a day , he will be taking
55 hours / 12 hours = 4.58 days
to finish this page in particular. That’s almost an entire work week (without breaks, too). And it’s not taking necessary creative breaks into account, either.
How many working days does Miura take to finish an entire chapter?
Now if we assume that
- each page takes 55 hours to complete
- he needs 4.58 work days for each page
- each chapter as around 21 pages
we can estimate how long an entire chapter takes:
4.58 days x 21 pages = 96.18 work days.
Now let’s translate work days into real time: each month has 21 work days on average. That means
96.18 work days / 21 work days (= a work month) = 4.58 real time months.
Miura takes 4 1/2 months to finish an entire chapter.
Again, this is NOT taking any necessary creative breaks into account. This is assuming he is capable of working with 100% productivity at all times (which is not very realistic given it’s an artistic task).
Jesus Christ. And this is why hiatus exist.