Unearthed 2-D - Frame One

Here is the first frame of my charcoal animation.  I haven't actually started animating yet, but it begins here.  When working out the story, I ultimately decided to start with a crucified man.  The religious imagery came naturally, organically, even though I am surprised by myself because I am not a religious person per se.  I was raised Catholic and have serious issues with institutionalized religion.  Nevertheless, beginning the story here at this recognizable image gave it a mystical vibe right off the bat.  Quick impact, get the story going.  Its been difficult nailing down the specifics of this story because of the nature of what has to happen in the 2-D sequence.  It is, essentially, exposition.  I am explaining the history of a particular artifact that Herbie is after, that he has killed for (I have described Herbie in the past as a Darth Indiana).  I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to portray the item's history without dialogue, with only visual information.  But by George, I think I've got it.....maybe you'll understand better when I have something moving to show you :)

I left a few inches of paper around the taped-off image space, a gutter, so that I can work charcoal there if I need to.  A lot of times when I am using charcoal, I like to use my fingers to smudge for delicate shadows.  By drawing heavily in the gutter with my softest stick, I basically give myself little piles of charcoal dust to dip into when I need a subtle tonal shift.  I have a jar of charcoal dust also, but that stuff is messy, especially with a ceiling fan going, so I usually prefer this method.  All of the "dust" sticks to the paper until I rub my fingers into it.