I’ve been swamped with classes lately (as is always the main reason for a slow-down in updates) but I’m always thinking about comics. One of my projects was to create a tessellation, and to do it, I used Maude, a few cats, and monster. Here’s what I did, more or less, because I didn’t realize I had to “show my work.”

I should first off mention that I drew the grid in Illustrator, and I did all the other drawings in Photoshop, using my Wacom tablet. So it’s all a combination of “computer art” and “hand drawn.”

The most important thing that I did first was at looking at different sites that explained tessellations, as well as going over my notes from in class. The site I found most helpful was tessellations.org. In it they mention a few things like how hair and clothing (when tessellating people) can be exaggerated to fit in the empty spaces of what you’re trying to fill out. They have a lot of different samples that explain how they do what they do, but they didn’t have as many grid selections as I’d hoped for. For that, I went back to our class handouts that explained the different tiling combinations.

The tiling combination that I settled on was the 6,4,3,4 tile set:

I knew I wanted to use my comicbook character Maude, so I first took another drawing of her that I had, and I tried “fitting it in” – it didn’t work, because it was just a random drawing of her swinging her shovel. The left over spaces were really weird. But it gave me a starting point. I drew another Maude in a box, and tried to keep her mostly in there:

Her head poked out the top, but then I figured if all boxes are Maude, then I can have that triangle be all heads. I then had to figure out how to get her left foot to work, because it was obviously going to be intruding into the other boxes. I made a guide dot by her head, and copied three grid lines so I’d be able to line stuff up better. As you can see, I also made a mistake in the grid, but only the first of many mistakes to come!

I copied and rotated her around that triangle. I had a feeling that the shovel would fit nicely in where her right boot was, but I had to a little fudging to get the two other boots to line up okay. I’d make changes on my first drawing and then delete the other three and then rotate them again, hoping that each time I did it, I’d get a little closer to getting it right. I honestly don’t know how people did this stuff without computers. (They must have gone through a lot of erasers.)

Also, I don’t have the images anymore, but when I was working through getting the three Maudes to fit, I drew the shovel tip, but not the rest of the shovel, or any of the hand parts until I was positive I had the shovel fitting into the boot first. That’s why the shovel doesn’t quite line up with the shovel handle as well as I’d like it to.

I then repeated the Maudes everywhere there was a box, still using those dots and grid lines I’d made before hand. These Maudes will be erased after I get my “Master Tile.” For now, they’re just there so I could look at the pattern and see what was going on. It was also nice to take a break and feel like I’d accomplished something.

I decided I wanted to get rid of that space where all of Maude’s boots met up. I tried drawing a flower, but it just didn’t look as nice as I’d wanted it to look. I finally decided on a cat, because the comic is a about Maude’s battles with cats and monsters, and I knew that I was going to add monsters where the big hexagons were, so I might as well add a few cats to the drawing. (This is before I knew there would be cats in the hexagons.) I tried a lot of different cat shapes, but once I drew the butthole in, I knew I had a winner. This is what all my cats look like, right before feeding time.

After drawing butthole cat in, I tried fitting the monster tentacles to fit the edges left over in the hex, but I just couldn’t get that nice curvy shape that I wanted. Still thinking about cats, I figured why not just add a cat barrier between Maude and the monster. I drew the sitting cat and liked him pretty well. I ended up copying him and moving him around to fit everywhere that Maude’s boot and shovel met. Then I saw where Maude’s elbow was poking out and thought that I could fit a scaredy cat in there. I knew I could run scaredy cat’s tail along her dress towards her knee, and have the back hiked up to form a nice curve for the monster’s shape.

Now here’s where things get weird. I drew in the monster’s tentacle and it’s mouth. I drew the tentacle from sitting cats face to where I thought scaredy cat’s back would be, and then down to the next sitting cat’s face, so I thought it would tile nicely. It did not. I ended up erasing the mouth and then using just the tentacle parts for the main “master tile”

I was working on a lot of layers here: the Maudes all had their own layers, and the Butthole cat had all their own layers and the hex cats had their own layers and the monster tentacles had their own layers. When I got everything to where I could repeat it nicely, I made yet another layer for the “Master tile” and then redrew everything so that it looked like that tile above. That’s why the expressions are slightly different and the lines are all just a little different (or really different in some places.)

I then took that master tile, and tiled it everywhere on the page, and then realised I’d forgotten the monster’s mouth! So I went back to the monster layer, and copied that and pasted it anywhere there was a blank spot in the design that needed the monster’s mouth.

Other notes: This (below) is what my combined layers looked like before I drew them and made them into the “Master tile” that I’ve been using to show how I did all this. (I accidentally flattened these layers, so I couldn’t actually use them in the demonstration above, but I still wanted to show how the work changed over time). I had to use colors on the different layers, or else I got too confused as to what was where and why. I also didn’t add details (facial expressions, dots in the dress) until just near the end, right before I started copying and pasting.

The final image of this will be turned into a poster, and (if I can manage it) will be the inside covers to the book. Well, if I don’t draw something even MOAR awesome before I ever publish the dang thing!

I also made some wallpapers, if you’re into that sort of stuff:
960 x 640
1280 x 1024
1600 x 1200