Patreon Post June 29 2015

posted in: Art Making, Patreon | 0

Super quick Patreon Reminder: You can read all these posts as they become live by donating as little as one dollar to my patreon fund! Every little bit really DOES help!

Now, onto the update:

Patreon 6-29-15 Update:

While I normally update Era on Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ll have to upload the finished page tomorrow. I did just finish inking most of the page (I still have incidental background art to do, the sort of stuff that bleeds over from the facing page and has no bearing on the current page.)

This is where I was starting from today:

I’d finished the first two panels on Friday, and while I should have -easily- have finished the last two today, I spent most of my day chasing down flight plans and hotels. I’m going to be traveling quite a bit from September through late October, and I’m glad I’m planning this all as early as I am!

Above: a scary looking soldier. I’m not sure if he’s a civilian refugee sympathizer, or if he’s pro-military all the way. This lack of knowing where you stand with him is what makes him scary, I think.

I knew I wanted a big image of Eugene’s dad on the phone in the bottom panel, but I wanted to draw it so it was different enough from the panel on the next (facing) page. Below are the two panels, side by side:

I plan to eventually color Eugene’s dad’s hair, so it won’t look as pale as it does here in the colored version, but for now I had to leave it white.

Tonight I will be formatting a bunch of sample art from Era of Great Wonders to include John’s name and contact information. Then, as soon as I get that done, we’ll be sending the packet of art, a pitch, an outline, and a sample script to Oni. I’m hoping that we’re a good fit for them and that they decide to work with us. I really think Era of Great Wonders is the best thing I’ve worked on, in a long time.

Wish me luck, and I’ll see you all around tomorrow!
-Jenn

Patreon Update – 6-26-15

posted in: Art Making, Patreon | 0

What is Patreon?

Seriously, the biggest problem I’m having these days is explaining how awesome Patreon is! And yeah, I’m going to be begging people to go look at my Patreon, but again, this is the closest you’ll ever see to advertising on my site. (I loathe the idea of putting paid ads on here, which is why I’ve never gone that route, traditional though it is.)

Patreon 6-26-15 Update:

I wanted to write a quick post about where I’m at on next week’s pages of Era of Great Wonders:

The above image shows you all the blank pages I have to fill to get the next two issues of Era finished. I’m also feeling pretty confident that after I finish these pages, we can collect our first trade paperback for Era!

You can also see where I’ve worked ahead in the comic, and have penciled (and even inked) in some of the future pages. I’m pretty excited about the one two page spread that comes after next week’s updates – the one that looks like a giant turtle head in the upper left hand corner. That’s the first time we really see much more of the giant monster XXX-Tremor than just her eye, or a pattern of scales in the background.

I’m currently working on the pages before that, and have finished the first two panels:

and:

John tends to leave the imagery of Era up to whatever it is I want to draw, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I thought would show the division of a group of people, without showing them fighting and arguing like I did on the last couple of pages. Barbed wire fencing, trespassing signs, and armed guards were what I came up with for this scene, although I’m never sure how well it works. We’ll see when it’s all said and done, I guess.

What the heck is Patreon?!

posted in: Art Making, Patreon | 0

Hey all!

So as those of you on my Newsletter know, I’ve been doing a Patreon.

And as I’ve heard from a few of you, the most common response is, “What the heck is a Patreon?!”

Patreon is another way to support artists and creators. While John and I make enough money at conventions and various shows to “make table back” as well as buy ourselves coffee and maybe dinner, it’s not a very consistent source of income. It doesn’t really even pay for printing (yet! But it will! IT WILL!)

I make most of my money doing commission and freelance work, which means that when I’m doing that stuff, I’m not working on comics.

Patreon is a way for those of you that enjoy our comics to help support us, even when we’re not at comic conventions. You can pledge as little as a dollar a month, and there’s some pretty decent rewards for doing so (everything from sneak peeks of works-in-progress, to complete PDF copies of our books, to having original sketches mailed to your doorstep!)

Money is collected on the first of every month, and you can cancel any time you’d like, and sign-up is really, really easy! And just so you know, Patreon is a “real thing” that even famous authors, musicians, and artists are using it to help stabilize their incomes.

What do I get when you donate to my Patreon?

Seriously? The biggest two things I get from my Patreon are accountability and encouragement.

More than money, Patreon represents the idea that someone(s) care enough about my work that I shouldn’t give up. Not that I’m going to give up – only that all artists and creators go through stretches of intense soul-searching that usually revolves around the question of “Does anything I do actually matter?!”

Patreon has also helped me with my accountability, and maybe it’s related to that last part: even during my bad days, where I feel like there’s no point in drawing a comic no one ever reads, I’ve found myself motivated to create work, even if it’s so I can show my Patreon people that I’m working, that I have something to show for myself. Patreon has really helped me refocus on my work, and it’s helped me get out of a rut I hadn’t realized I was in.

TL:DR;

All that said, at the encouragement of some of my Patreon followers I’m going to start reblogging (here at Typodmary,) the stuff that is on my Patreon-only blog.

It’ll be on a bit of time delay because while I don’t mind sharing spoilers and in-progress art with Patreons, I don’t want to spoil the comics for those of you reading it here. After the relevant pages go live on the site, I’ll reblog here!

Patreon: 6-24-15 Update

I’m still getting into the swing of things, but I finally finished and posted today’s Era of Great Wonders page. I’m still working on getting the Typodmary eLibrary turned into pdfs and distributed, but it IS in the works, and it will happen! (probably in a week or two?)

I spent most of today struggling with this one panel. Yes, just ONE panel took me all day! I erased, redrew, erased, and finally gave up and drew some guys fighting. Here’s what it looked like this morning:

It’s that top, right corner that was driving me nuts. I finally settled on a fight scene, between two administrators with MP holding them apart:

You can view the finished page on the website, but I’m still not super thrilled with it. I thought I could go in and add dramatic shadows, but I really just want this page to be over and done with. I want to get back to drawing monsters, and I have at least two more pages to go before I get there.

Here’s what I’ll be working on tomorrow. As you can see, I have the top left panels done (more or less). The bottom right is going to be fun to draw, because the boys are meeting Bethany out in the ruins, where they’re going to go get into some mischief! Also, all around the kids in the last panel are going to be baby-handed monsters. I”ll draw some of those for this week’s monster drawings, and you can see how creepy they really are!

Okay, that’s it for Wednesday’s work! I’ll see you all tomorrow!

What I’ve been upto

Sorry about the silences on the site, it’s one of those deals where I’m really not paying as much attention to time as I should be.

I’ve been sketching and doing layouts for the next issue of Era of Great Wonders, and then I got distracted drawing and inking pages that are at the end of the next issue without bothering to finish the ones in between! I’m a bit of an organizational mess right now! Still, I have stuff to share with you:

This is me drawing page 32 of issue 4 (or maybe 5… having 40+ pages in ONE comic seems a bit extreme, so we’ll see where it ends up when it’s all said and done.)

In order to keep the video under 4 hours, I’ve sped it up 16x so it goes pretty quickly. One of these days I’d like to do a more “true to how slow I draw” video, where you can see exactly how much time I spend drawing and erasing, then redrawing and re-erasing things. I wanted to show just how much I mess up, because I think it’s important to show that pages don’t come out perfect from the get go.

Not that they ever come out perfect, but there are some pages I complain about less than others! Which is a sort of perfection!

I’ve also been trying to come up with a shirt design for All the Growing Things.

I want something that says “Monsters and Garden Society” or, “Urban Gardening and Monster Hunting” or something that implies a bunch of old ladies sitting around, drinking tea, and fighting monsters. I just can’t seem to get the wording right. I feel strongly that if I could find the right words, the art will fall in line, but I’ve been struggling. Instead, I’ve been looking at a lot of Mucha’s art, and am thinking maybe I’ll just with something along those lines.

garden-tshirt

She started out as Matilda (or Young Maude as she’s sometimes called) but I’m thinking this might be another gardener, who is maybe also dealing with the same monster infestation! Who knows? I like the idea of doing a couple different designs with different women in the design. Maybe even a dude or two. Print On Demand is an amazing thing these days!

Tomorrow Pen and Stylus will be doing another show at 8:30pm (or more likely, 9:00pm) MST where we will all be showing our responses to Ben’s Random Character Generator. Tomorrow’s subject will be “Male Alien Heavy Weapon’s Expert”.

I’ll be showing how I drew this, as well as probably talking about why I drew a worm-alien. Spoilers: It’s because I received a worm composter for my birthday, and I haven’t shut up about it since!

worm-gunnerFIN

Alright, later alligators! I need to get some more pages of Era done so I can at least pretend I’m going to make my deadlines and start uploading to the webcomic!

Pen & Stylus

posted in: Art Making, comics | 0

Tonight we’re doing another Pen & Stylus podcast, and tonight, we’re interviewing John Myers. (I know that guy!)

He’s a bit of an over-achiever, so he put together a pdf with some notes and a sample of the first few pages of Era of Great Wonders’ script.

Check out the show here

Check out his script stuff here

Edited next day: I sort of figured that maybe not everyone wants to click on a bunch of links, so here it is, all laid out:

Last Night’s Video with John Myers:

John’s “packet” thingy.

  • What is a Comic Book Script?
    • There are no real hard and fast rules
    • It is basically a tool for communication between writer and artist
    • The default is inspired by the screenplay format
  • What Separates a Comic Script from Other Written Entertainment?
    • Novel/Poetry
      • Novels and poetry are direction communication with the reader. There is no
        intermediary party between the writer and the reader (except maybe an editor.)
    • Play/Screenplay
      • Both are interpreted by a large number of people who all bring their own take to the
        story.

        • One actor’s line reading can change the entire way their character is interpreted,
        • A change of camera angle can affect how a scene “reads.”
  • So What Makes a Comic Script Different?
    • It is communication between an artist (or group of artists) whose job it is to visualize the
      writer’s ideas
    • It is filtered though the work of the people responsible for visualizing it. At a certain point
      the writer hands over control of the look and style of the comic book.
    • The is does not change as much as one would expect when working on a script to draw
      yourself. It is is at its heart a guide to turning the thoughts in your head into a visual story.
  • The Fundamental Challenge
    • How do you communicate the ideas in your head to another person so they can in turn
      visualize it themselves
    • Concepts breakdown a little bit more between each person (like the game telephone), this is
      not necessarily a bad thing. This is a fundamental aspect of the act of artistic collaboration

      • Most times talented artists working together will enhance each other
    • Communication is key but it is hard, hard work
    • The writer has to be willing to let certain aspects of the way they see the story go
  • What Makes a Good Comic Script?
    • At the end of the day the only real test for a good script is one that results in a good comic
      book

Resources

Comic Book Script Archive
Decompressed Podcast (in particular #1 with Kelly Sue DeConnick, #4 with David Aja and Matt Fraction and #6 Matt Fraction and Mark Waid)
Scrivner

Script: Terra Farmers

PAGE 1
PANEL 1
Exterior shot of the Grey Corporation spacecraft as it enters orbit around Verdant. It looks tiny in the vastness of space.

CAPTION
How many times can you fall from space before it becomes boring?

PANEL 2
The Smythes are awaking from cryostasis. They are bleary eyed, and stretching as if waking from a deep but uncomfortable sleep.

CAPTION
If you were me you would say you got tired of it by the time you were 12. It was my fourth unpowered fall from orbit.

PANEL 3
Tameris enters an uncomfortably looking chemical shower.

CAPTION
I celebrated turning 12 by falling from space in a shuttle onto the surface of a barren world. So I could spend a few years preparing it for other people who would move in and get to call home.

PANEL 4
The Smythes are suiting up, getting into their encounter gear. They are still sluggish. Like they are sleepwalking through their morning routine.

CAPTION
We’re Terra-Farmers. My family and I seed lifeless worlds and prepare them for colonists. We’ve been engineered with genetic traits to do the work as best as possible.

CAPTION
But we always move on to the next project before we get to settled anywhere.

Script: Era of Great Wonders

Story 1: “The Time of Giant Men Part 1: The Era of Great Wonders”

Description: A interview with Dr. Reese Wesen, Wesen looks like he could have walked out of a 1960’s educational film, over the course of the interview he smokes heavily.

Interspersed with the talking head shots of Dr. Wesen are images of the ruined city of Pangaea, including various giant monsters both alone and squaring off against each other. And reactions from ordinary people to their presence.

Pangaea looks like an old-world European city, where ancient buildings and temples are liberally mixed with modern sky scrapers.

Narration: The following is an interview with Dr. Reese Wesen the foremost expert on the so-called “Time of Giant Men.” Dr. Wesen is professor of Science! at Pangaea University and like many others he spent much of the period trapped in the city of Pangaea, which is still famous for being the site of the most devastating monster attacks.

Interviewer: Professor, what is the first thing you think of when you think about your experiences during the “Time of Giant Men?”

Dr. Wesen: That the name “Time of Giant Men” is deeply misleading. It was a mistranslation that the media ran with before it could be corrected. When the first reports came in from Pannotia they were sending reports of an “Era of Great Wonders” but the news services were in such a rush to get the word out they used the literal translation.

Interviewer: Why is the name misleading?

Dr. Wesen: Well, the cryptoforms or the “Wonders” are not in any way, shape or form “men.” They are biologically genderless and when they do reproduce it does not seem to coincide with anything we would
associate with traditional male/female roles.

Interviewer: Except for Mr. Jumbo

Image: Mr. Jumbo is a giant naked man.

Dr. Wesen: Except for Mr. Jumbo. Still the name conjures images of the kinds of giants we associate from folklore and mythology, titans or frost giants for example. But still the name has persisted.

Interviewer: And now we seem to be stuck with it.

Dr. Wesen: And now we seem to be stuck with it.

Amazon, Smashwords, and Comixology

I am in the process of converting our comics into ereader friendly comics.

The fact that it’s taking me forever to convert webcomic pages into ereader formats is an irony that is not lost on me. (In my defense, there are so many different settings, page sizes, and then the upload process itself. It’s… time consuming.)

A quick run-down of thoughts:

Comixology

Comixology is the reason I started converting all these files to digital.*

Comixology is the big one that I see all my comic friends talking about. It was a bit of a long and involved process (some of it due to their vetting of submissions, but most of it due to the fact that I can’t seem to stay focused long enough to finish any one project in a timely manner.) I finished setting up our profile in late June (or July? time has no meaning to me) and sent in the first Era issue. It was accepted fairly quickly, but then came the long wait while they “processed” it.

While Comixology was setting up the first issue of Era, I was riding high on a feeling of general optimism, so I decided to tackle the “Amazon Problem,” which is it’s own little area of thought that I’ll get to in a moment. Because every optimistic upswing is followed by a devastating crash (at least, for me) I quickly noticed that I’d sent Comixology the wrong file. When we’d first printed these comics, I’d sent a file with a typo on the first page. I’d thought that I’d long since deleted that page and replaced it, but because the process of getting accepted into Comixology was so long and involved, it turns out I’d started building the ebook before I ever sent the files to get printed (where the guy running the printing press found the typo!)

Horror!

Heading back into the Comixology dashboard, I realized that they were dead serious when they said “If you hit the submit button, there is no options to change your mind, you can not re-edit this comic.” So that’s super embarrassing and permanent.

In the time it has taken for me to get one issue accepted and another submitted to comixology, I’ve made some serious inroads into Amazon. The one really nice thing? We can sell our comics for as low as 99cents!

Amazon

Okay. Deep breath.

There are a lot of things I’m not good at, and figuring out (and filling out) forms is one of them. Amazon is a massive sprawling beast, and in order to do one thing, sometimes you have to do another (unnamed) think first. I finally broke down and instead of submitting another useless email help request, I gave in and asked them to cal me.

Another thing I’m not good at? Talking on the phone.

But the lady at the other end of the line told me in which order to set up my profiles and products. Something that was either reassuring, or not, depending on your point of view, was that she was also googling answers to questions that I was asking. I found that particularly empowering because I’m fairly good at googling answers (it’s how I got through my college electronic arts class).

After setting up a seller’s account and putting up the two physical comic books we have (All the Growing Things and Vagus Project**) I was then able to make an author profile at Amazon’s Author Central. From there I was able to dig around and get into the KDP dashboard which is how all the digital publishing magic happens at Amazon.

(My author page, linking to all our uploads at Amazon)

Whereas Comixology wanted high-resolution tiffs compiled into a high-res pdf, Amazon will take whatever you have. I used their Comic Creator to set up everything up, and because double-page spreads are important to me, I had to turn some other features off. There’s also supposed to be a way to insert a page where you can have text (and hypertext) that the kindle can resizes and manipulate, but I was never able to figure that out, no matter how much I wanted to.

The Comixology dashboard is pretty stripped down, while the Amazon dashboard is a maze of choices and decisions. At Comixology I was able to set the price to whatever I want (as long as it ended in 99cents – no freebies at comixology, or at least if there were, I couldn’t figure it out). Amazon on the other hand puts in price requirements based on your file sizes (and my files are huge.) People always joke “why would you ever take a 35% cut from Amazon when you have the option to take a 70% cut?” The answer to that is when you have a massive file (AtGT the digital book is about 70mb) Amazon will cut out all profit, citing that the “delivery” is too expensive if you don’t charge more (I chose 4.99 for the digital book.) While I didn’t lose money selecting the 70%, I didn’t make any money either. I was at a deficeit. But when I selected the 35% option, I now make a $1.70 for every $4.99 ebook that sells.

Smashwords

Pricing! Many authors I follow talk about using Smashwords as a control for pricing at Amazon. It doesn’t always work, and when it does it doesn’t work fast, but it’s still a thing I’d like to try!

I am looking forward to figuring out Smashwords, only at this point I need to use a Word doc to build my comics, and I don’t have Word. I have Open Office, and I guess it inserts a bunch of crummy code when you try to build your book. John, on the other hand, has Word, but only on his work computer… which means I sort of hover around his office, waiting for him to get off work. By the time he IS off work, he’s too exhausted to struggle his way through the Smashwords Style Guide.

I’d like to use Smashwords to offer the first of the ebook issues for free (regardless of the fact that the comics are free on the website), and then drop the rest to 99cents, and I have it in my head that Smashwords is the only way to do price matching with Amazon – I’ve read a lot of stuff about that, but “reading” and “doing” are two different things, so we’ll see what it is I actually “know.”

Another hesitation is that the file size requested for images is something like 600 pixels x 800 pixels, which seems incredibly small to me. I’m not a fan of how small the text looks at the larger sizes, and this seems just way too small to me.

Notes:

* Seriously, it drives me nuts to say that because I drew them digitally to begin with! However, the entire time I was/have been creating pages, I’ve been planning for print, so there is a substantial switch-up with how I’ve had to think/re-think my process.

** These two books are the only ones we make money on. The single issue comics (Era Issues, AtGT issues), were a small print run from a local printer. The cost per unit to print is pretty big ($3.50 – $4.50 per issue) compared to the fact that we sell them for $5 a piece. We make our printing costs back, but not quite enough to pay for printing more.

Well intentioned friends have suggested that we try to sell them for $8 to $10 in order to pay for the books and make a little money, but I don’t think I can sell a black and white 22page comic for that high of a price with a clear conscience. the same well meaning friends have also suggested we color the books, and then sell them for 10$ or so, not realizing just how expensive color printing is, and again, how little people will pay for physical comic issues.

Trade paperbacks (like the Vagus and AtGT book), however, sell fine at higher prices, and are where we make the most of our money back so that we can continue printing and expanding our lines. (I can not wait until we have the first five issues of Era together so that we can print that in one large book!)

Esteem

I’ve been hesitant to post anything  since my hosting provider took my site down on Monday. I have since learned that WordPress multisites tend to be rather CPU intensive, and that some hosting providers don’t even allow them, at least, not on shared servers, which is what this is.

I’ve been looking into various solutions, but if the site goes down again, well, just know that it’ll come up again, eventually.

That said, I’ve been thinking about “self esteem” and “art” and “aikido” and a variety of other things for a while. This is probably all going to come out in a jumble, but I’m going to do my best.

It has come to my attention that several people think I have low self-esteem.

I don’t really argue the point, because, honestly, I’m not really sure I know what self-esteem is. I don’t feel bad about myself. I mean, I do, but that’s usually a depression issue, and I’m pretty aware of it and have other ways of coping and compensating for it. If you were to ask me, “Do you like yourself?” I would say, “Sure, I’m a pretty funny and nice person to be around.” Which sort of leads me to thinking I’m okay on the whole self-evaluation thing.

I think what people pick up on is that there are a lot of things I’m not good at, and I don’t hold back when I critique myself. (And for the record, I mean “critiquing” not “criticizing”). I know I’m not the best artist out there – I’d say I’m not even in the top 30% or 40%. My art tends to be “good enough;” I’d say I’m better than average.

Same with my aikido: I am aware of some of (what I think) are the core concepts, and while I am usually smooth (as opposed to jerking my uke around) and aware (for a given value of “aware”) I am also miles and leagues away from where I want to be. From even where I should be, after six years of practice. I am slow, and I am easily flustered. I forget simple movements, and I concentrate so much on “connection” that I forget we’re supposed to be fighting, not feeling. I think too much, and haven’t trained my body to react properly. Even when I do react well I usually hesitate mid-action and lose the moment.

A lot of this I chalk up to, “Well, I was in school and had to really concentrate on graduating. I didn’t have time to give aikido my all…” But that’s not how it works, is it? You make time for the things, when you really want to.

So maybe, (and here we go, some psuedo-psychology) I identify myself as too much of a person that is “just good enough.” I really do identify myself as “someone who tries, but doesn’t really succeed.” Maybe (and I say this with a shrug) that’s why I’m never able to fully commit myself to aikido as much as I would like to? Maybe it’s why my art has never really pushed past that 30% -40% barrier?

I have found a comfortable area (where I like being me) and where I’m only an average person: not really good at a lot of things, kind of terrible at other things, indifferent about most. Part of this could be in reaction to when I was younger. When I was growing up, I “had to be the best.” No one ever told me I had to, it was just something I was compelled by. I felt that I had to “prove everyone wrong,” and be the most amazing person, ever, in the history of everything.

It was a lot of stress, and I don’t think I ever really excelled at any of the things I tried to do, despite my determination.

When I met John, he would often tell me that things were “okay,” and that projects didn’t have to be perfect. He spent a lot of time wearing away at my type-a personality (and it may surprise those of you that know me now to imagine me as type-a) and while I’m never really and truly “relaxed,” I am happier these days. I’ve learned to accept being average, and that ‘average’ is not a bad thing at all. After all, writing and drawing comics (even if they’re not professional quality,) are things I enjoy.

I know that I no longer have to be “the best” at anything, and while it may seem to some people that I have no drive or ambition, it doesn’t. It just means I don’t get as mad as I used to when I fail, which means (I think?) that I’m more willing to try new things. I’m willing to fail in front of people (even though, honestly, I’d LIKE to be a hotshot and succeed at everything I try, I no longer feel that I have to.)

It also means that I maybe don’t go to aikido classes as much as I should, and that I don’t practice in my sketchbook as much as I want to. Contentment is a mixture of good and bad habits, I think.

This is all pretty long winded. I wanted to write about getting out of an art slump instead, but I think I had to write about this, so you’ll know where I’m coming from in my next post.

 

 

Wrecked Cars

posted in: Art Making, Era of Great Wonders | 10

So I just posted a new chapter cover for Era of Great Wonders, and I was talking to a friend how I put it all together. Depending on your point of view when it comes to these things, I’m either a big fluffy cheater-cheater, or I’m just using references.

A note on references: in art class, it’s not uncommon to use a projector to cast an image onto a canvas and then paint it from there. In comic book circles, this is called “tracing,” and is a bit of a dirty word. What is considered okay to do in fine art is considered tacky and talentless in the illustrator world.

Luckily for me: I stand in both worlds, and don’t really worry about these things too much. (I mean, I do, but only a little.) Also, I have no illusions as to my inability to draw cars. I’m terrible at them.

I used these two references to create this art:

I googled "broken tank"
I googled “broken tank”

and for the cars

I searched for "car pile up"
I searched for “car pile up”

I copied these two images into Manga Studio, and then traced bits and pieces of them. I didn’t want all the details, and I didn’t quite like the “modern” shape of the cars, so in many places I made them curvier and/or boxier – I wanted something that looked like it could have been from 60’s or 80’s in there.

I ended up with these pencils:

Pretty sparse pencils
Pretty sparse pencils

Again, I just really wanted the basic “shapes” of the cars to help with perspective. Also, I wanted to figure out where to put in wheels and lights and things like that. I then deleted the source images from the file because I didn’t want them to influence the “details” stage of the drawing. (Also known as “inking.”)

While inking the image I didn’t worry about getting the lines straight. In fact, letting them wiggle a bit and veer off into wrong angles helped create an illusion of wreckage and bent metal. I don’t have any screen shots showing the inking process, but I started with the tank wheels (and I googled “tank wheels” to see what they looked like. I only looked though, because I didn’t want to get them too perfect.) Then I followed various lines to create shadows.

I really wanted a “bent metal” effect and was really pleased by how it looks like parts of the tank’s top are “peeled” open and showing the insides of the tank. That was all pure luck, but I went with it, and I think it worked.

Finished Inks
Finished Inks

I know it looks like I jumped from really rough pencils to a finished image, but I sort of did. I’ve been drawing a lot of wreckage these days, and I’ve developed a sort of “short hand” for it. It doesn’t hold up if you really LOOK at the drawing, you’ll notice I have angles off, proportions (even with references) are off, and defining shadows aren’t necessarily there.

A lot of what you see in the finished inks is this short hand. Anywhere I could add a “plate” of warped metal, or a squiggly dent in a car, I did. “Tires” are pretty readable, so I threw a lot of those in, or I would put them near areas where I thought it would read as if they’d been “ripped off” the hub. I also added spiderweb/cracked glass in all the windows that were still “intact” (as in, I didn’t draw the interiors of the cars, and I didn’t want to do anymore than I had to.)

Someday I really will show my method of drawing from crappy sketches to finished art, but that requires more planning than I’ve yet done.

I’m just not there yet.

Setup (part2: software)

posted in: Art Making, odds and ends | 2

I typically draw most of my comics digitally. The practicality of being able to copy layers and save files before trying various techniques makes up for almost all the intimacy and pleasure of drawing traditionally. While I still try my best to sketch in my sketchbook every day (and it’s been two months since I’ve last opened the dang thing) I do almost all of my work on the computer.

Manga Studio

I started drawing out my webcomics in Photoshop, but switched up to using Manga Studio 4EX last year. Manga Studio is a complex enough program that I doubt I understand more than 10% of what it’s capable of. I have a bunch of files and templates I made, but in order to make them, I watched a good couple hours’ worth of youtube tutorials.

Any time I start a new project in Manga Studio I revisit these tutorials, and try to relearn just what the heck it is that I’m doing.

On a daily basis, I find myself adding pages to already created files and templates, penciling, and inking books. At some point I set up a bunch of text presets, and I use those to fill in the words for the comics. I am in constant fear I’ll use the wrong text preset for the wrong comic, and that it’ll… I don’t know… reveal to all and sundry that I have no idea what it is that I’m doing.

After I export my “final” image or page, I open it in photoshop.

Photoshop CS2

It’s an oldie but a goodie. These days, unless I’m coloring a cover, I only use photoshop to resize the page file to 760px wide (by whatever it is tall) and save “for web” as a jpg.

If I am coloring a cover then I use a bunch of brushes and layers and stuff, but that’s another post for another time.

WordPress

This is going to also be a longer post of it’s own! I use a wordpress site, with a comicpress theme on it to help make my comics easier to read. It’s a bit difficult for non computer people to set up, but it’s the best (and easiest) set up out there. At least, that I know of.

Setup (part 1)

posted in: Art Making, odds and ends | 4

I need to stop writing posts in the evening, where everything I say is along the lines of, “I’m so tired, blah blah blah, whine whine whine.”

So, I’m gonna write this now, instead.

I’d been talking to a couple of people the past few weeks about my set up, so I thought I would do my best to share it with you all. This time, with photos!

Set up
Super High-tech!

A. Last year, as a graduation/okay-get-back-to-work present (or business expense?) I upgraded from my old Intuos 3 drawing tablet to this monster. It’s a Cintiq 22″HD, and if it told me to murder couples in parked cars I… I probably wouldn’t, but I would hesitate long enough to have a strong sense of shame about it.

The Intuos 3 was just a touch pad and didn’t have it’s own built in screen, so I was drawing on one surface while staring at another surface. After you get used to it it’s not so bad, except for when your pad gets turned just slightly enough to make every horizontal line a diagonal. The new Cintiq I have doesn’t have that problem: what you see on the screen is what you get. The Cintiq’s stand can be angled so that it’s upright (the way I use it) or it can be flattened, as if you were drawing on a sheet of paper (the way my friend Ben Girven uses it.)

B. Drawing pen. This came in the box with the Cintiq. It was so bright and shiny and brand new looking that I tried to get away with using my old, beat up Intuos pen, but I couldn’t figure out how to sync it up. In the end, laziness won the day and I put away my Intuos pen and started using this one.

Ben showed me that there’s a bunch of different pen nibs that you can use, but I can’t tell any difference between them. He showed me how to change the nibs and told me, “Just play around with them!” But honestly… it’s a luxury that is lost on me. A digital pen is a digital pen.. I just can’t feel any difference when using them.

C.  Cleaning cloth. I use this ALL the time. I am a filthy artist, and this cloth is a life saver. Or a screen saver. One of those. Maybe both.

D. You can sort of see the forehead of a dog. My desk is not just a desk, but also doubles as an animal den. If I’m lucky it’s the elderly dog; if I’m unlucky it’s the cat without a sense of humor. (I have a lot of scars on my feet because of that cat.)

E. Hand-me-down Laptop – this beast is the prettiest lap top I’ve ever seen. It’s also massive and burns with the heat of an angry sun. However, its harddrive is teeny, and is filled up with art software. Ben has offered to help me build a better desktop, something that’s maybe a little less pretty and more set up for my workloads.

F. Unfinished paintings, scraps of art, notes from my community college days (specifically “how to create a body of work) as well patches and other odds and ends.

Tomorrow I’ll chat about what software I’m using, and a little more of my process!

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