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Posts tagged as “Across the Transfinite Canvas”

Day 058

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gearhearts sketch

As it says on the tin: trying to get to bed earlier and did a quick sketch. From the cover of a random comic "Gearhearts" in my inspiration pile. The sketch didn't turn out ... terrible ... in fact, the arms almost came out right, and it sort of looks like the cover. But as usual, doing one or two iterations of roughs would have helped the layout of the head and face. My eyes just seem to move around, man.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 055

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momoa sketch

Quick sketch of Jason Momoa, the reference for my Jesus sketch earlier. That sketch I started from scratch and only loosely used Momoa's mug to touch up some details; it still didn't come out great. Also, I sketched it on the Cintiq in Photoshop. This is also a quick sketch, but on Strathmore 9x12 with a Faber- Castell "B" Pitt Artist Pen Brush - and just that. Given that it was pushing 4am, I wanted to try using a simpler technique, to see how much I could extract out of just one pen (well, brush) for the render. As for how much the face looks like a face ...

momoa mug

Not ... terrible, but the proportions are still off, and my sketch gave him way too big a schnoz. Jason Momoa is a good looking guy, and unfortunately my sketch makes him look more like a rejected villain from the Princess Bride. Ah well. Perhaps I'll eventually be able to sketch good looking superheroes ...

... if I keep drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 053

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sketched face

Sketched faces from tonight's Write to the End session. No comparison photos, because my fellow writers deserve their privacy (especially since I used a screen shot which caught one of them in a scowl and the other while speaking), but I know enough to rate this as "meh". The face above expands the hair and squashes the lower face - same mistake from Spock yesterday, so it wasn't just head tilt - and a little of that's going on with the face below, though the biggest problem there is the mouth is too narrow.

sketched face

The ultimate goal of these drawings is to rekindle my love of my art and to sharpen my abilities to the point where I can once again resume f@nu fiku, finish my science fiction comic projects, and move on to other comic ideas I have scattered through my notebooks.

My inspiration for this project comes from a young psychology student who took a drawing class just as he was about to graduate, and, inspired, put off medical school with a crash course to break in to the comics field in just one year. He succeeded, and his name is Jim Lee, now Publisher of DC Comics.

I don't expect success in a year - I have a day job and a novel-writing career, not to mention a family - nor do I want to be Jim Lee. But I do want to be Anthony Francis. And Anthony Francis, by day, builds intelligent machines and emotional robots, and by night writes science fiction and draws comic books.

I've built intelligent machines. I've worked on emotional robots. I've written and published science fiction. But the comic books, other than my short stint on f@nu fiku, have eluded me. Connecting thoughts and images is a huge part of my creative expression, yet I seem to have let it fall by the wayside.

But I'm bringing it back by drawing every day.

-the Centaur

 

Day 050

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Xiao from Fanu Fiku

As it says on the tin: a quick sketch of Xiao from f@nu fiku, my quasi-defunct webcomic. I forgot how complicated her character design is, and I left out a lot of it. I mean, I had forgotten that she carries a damn water bottle with her. Knowing the comic, that was probably meant to be plot significant:

xiao from f@nu fiku

I didn't make her easy to draw, and her outfits only get more complex as the series progresses.

Ah well. Here's hoping those sketches and thumbnails once again turn to webcomic pages.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 048

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tigress queen sketch

As it says on the tin: I've been trying to improve my artwork by studying how other artists plan for success with technique and thumbnails. The author of Tigress Queen (it's great, it's my latest fave after Kill Six Billion Demons, you should go read it, heck, go read KSBD too) has a Patreon where she posts thumbnails of upcoming pages. What I love about seeing these is that she explicitly draws not just the panels and characters, but parts of the shading and spaces for the word balloons.

I think part of my artistic problem is that I rush and skip steps. Outlining is difficult since I typically do narrative outlines in my novels, so I skip to thumbnails; but pencil sketches don't look right to me, so I move too quickly to drawing inks, and thus my thumbnails aren't at a high enough level themselves to serve as useful thumbnails. Combine that with not enough practice with faces, figures, hands, and feet, and it's hard to get the needed structure in place to make the art come out as success.

Again, I keep coming back to, the solution is ...

... drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 042

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Sketchy Porsche

A deliberate attempt to just sketch in pencil and not ink. I decided to sit down and methodically start working through Wizard's How to Draw: Getting Started, working on roughs, when I noticed that one of the things I like about the book is that it has a mental model of artwork.

That inspired me to dial it back even further and to try to generate my own theories of art. I measured a Green Lantern figurine and a drawing dummy looking at proportions (hips are about midway in the figure), then examined old Superman comics and sketched one trying to see what I'm doing wrong.

Since I cut my chops inking my own webcomic, as fast as I could manage, wherever I draw it, I got in the habit of inking right over my own pencils, trying to get a good rendering in one go, which is a thing people do. But I've noticed many great artists use roughs to plan for success in their drawings.

rough of superman

These roughs often have several levels of shading, which right there is an improvement over my "everything is an outline" style, when in reality, outlines are mostly in our minds, not in reality. So I sketched out a few figures, with shading, in greater detail than I normally would in pencil.

I can't tell you how hard it was to NOT start inking.

Still ... drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 037

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Cinnamon Sketch

As it says on the tin. Fell down a rabbithole trying to clean up my files prior to doing my art, decided to cheat by posting a sketch I did earlier today, then fell down more rabbitholes since I apparently can't not experiment with coloring a sketch. For reference, here's the sketch from earlier, the first entry in a notebook that I hadn't written in in over 18 years:

Original Cinnamon Sketch

I came across this notebook just trying to find an appropriate notebook for a science idea (my sketchbook is at hand, but the science notebooks are ... buried in boxes?? Not sure) and found this one, a "commonplace book" filled with various ideas, including a life review from almost 20 years ago. I'm ... actually pretty happy with how things turned out over the last 20 years, between my wife, my novels, my comics and Google, but there's so much more to do.

Finally, for reference, here's a piece of art I found while I was re-organize my files. This is from 24 Hour Comic Day, mind you ... a bit ambitious, I think, but this pre-break art I think shows the kind of work that I'm intimidated by when I try to get back into drawing:

Porsche from the first 24hcd

Yes, there's a lot to be improved with this art, but (a) my inking was a lot better, and (b) wow, I had forgotten how much the Porsche St. George character was supposed to be a "knockout". So much of what I've written / drawn about her since then has been the workmanlike space warrior stuff, not so much the original romance between the twentieth-century time traveller and the thirtieth-century centaur.

Ah well. Lots of work to do before I can get back to that level of quality, even though I see a lot of work I need to do to improve upon that once I get there.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 030

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Rough Sketch Practice

Well, this may have been quick, and it may look sketchy, but actually, this is real drawing practice. I've long had a copy of How to Draw: Getting Started book, a meaty slab of hot drawing tips ripped from the pages of the now-defunct Wizard magazine. This "Basic Training" compilation still remains my favorite one-volume collection of comics techniques, deftly combining breadth and depth through short mini-lessons from top comics creators (I mean, come on, they've got Adam Hughes, pinup-style cover artist extraordinaire, drawing the section on "Sexy Women" followed by Terry Moore, character-driven independent artist, drawing the following section on "Realistic Women", and that's just for starters).

I've read it many times, but I've never really sat down to methodically do all the exercises.

Until now.

Pictured: roughs drawn from five comic book covers picked pseudo-randomly from my inspiration stacks: Xanadu #1, Dreamery #4, Eagle #3, Superman #39, and Cloak and Dagger #1. I figure I should do ~5-10 of these from existing covers and/or reference drawings, then ~5-10 of these from my own previous drawings and/or my mental character gallery. Then I'll move on to the next section.

Drawing every day.

-the Centaur

Day 028

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transnewtonian overdrive logo v2

Well, not a "drawing" per se, though I went through four pages of sketches of this comic book banner logo before I cracked open Illustrator. (Here are a couple of those, not very impressive though).

Sketches for the Transnewtonian Overdrive logo

I'm still not satisfied with how this turned out ... there's some image in my mind with this logo which I haven't been able to translate into an actual drawing, much less a realized logo.

But what's up with this logo, you may ask? Well, it's from a 24 Hour Comics Day comic I did, way back in the day, but never finished - "Transnewtonian Overdrive: The Front":

3 pages from Transnewtonian Overdrive

The "transnewtonian overdrive" proper is that little device in the last panel, an aftermarket component to our protagonists' Porsche Hexwing staryacht (first panel) which enables them to go places where other people can't. The idea, you see, was that in an era of faster-than-light travel, no-one would seriously be interested in the relativistic corners of our universe - but by inverting a normal hyperdrive to go just slower than the speed of light, our heroes could dive headlong into places with weird physics.

When I revisited the logo, my sketching - and looking at other logos of other comics - led me to the idea of the Hexwing cutting across the logo, with a thin line connecting it to the "O" of overdrive representing the invisible hypermass that our heroes are bungee jumping off of (and back to) to travel. I feel okay about it - the logo could be sleeker - but I can't quite articulate what the logo as drawn is missing from the image I have in my mind. If I could "see" that, perhaps I could fix it. This will require research, I think: I didn't figure out what was wrong with my Batman page (don't worry! I'm not going back to it) until I looked into DC Comics' book on coloring and lettering and realized I hadn't properly exploited value to make different planes of the page stand out from each other. Fixing this logo will require doing some research (and, likely, coming up with my own logos for other things first, before coming back to this, so I'm not working the same piece of art over and over again).

I didn't finish "The Front" that day - it was WAY too ambitious for 24 hours, and I think I only got 7-8 pages in. You know, in a way, I think 24 Hour Comics Day hurt my creativity as much as it helped it. It pushed my boundaries in a way I never had before, but the speed at which you have to work mean that my artwork wasn't up to the standards that I'd set for myself with f@nu fiku. Five years after breaking my arm, when my art was still rusty, I bit off more than I could chew, and may have hurt myself more. Not sure I'd go back and change it, but if anything, I wished I'd taken on a drawing discipline like I have now.

Drawing every day forces you to get over yourself, the good and the bad, and to move on to the next day.

-the Centaur

 

Day 021

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Batman v Dreamweaver, Final

tl;dr: sometimes the solution to a bad drawing is to practice on something else

Finally, the completed page. Frankly, meh.

I could have done a lot more work on it to clean it up, add some pop, fill in some more cloud layers, etc., etc., but diving into the fiddly bits on this particular composition would not fix the deficiencies in the core drawing or in my abilities to realize it.

The solution, I think, is not to overwork a single piece of artwork trying to compensate for its deficiencies, but to instead identify those deficiencies, to practice to eliminate them on different drawings, and then to return to the original subject matter with a wholly new concept and composition.

In this case, the deficiencies - oh, I don't know where to start. My poor hand drawings, my lack of details about body anatomy, my poor inking skills, my lack of strategies to overcome my slight RSI tremor, my poor page layout, my lack of knowledge about digital coloring techniques, or my need for strategies to overcome my moderate color blindness? But identifying even a few of them starts me on the road.

Note fixing these issues requires a comprehensive approach: some involve practice, like drawing hands or working on inking. Others require research (and practice): learning more anatomy or digital coloring. Others require actual strategies: if I want to clean up my inking line, I need to focus on ways that do not irritate my RSI or trigger the slight wobbly tremor, and if I want to deal with my color blindness, I need both more knowledge of color theory and a plan to deal with it. But now I have GPS directions.

Time to get started. And at some point, when I've traveled around the country of comics and returned to the start with a better set of tools, perhaps I'll draw another Batman cover. Or a Green Lantern page.

Or ... maybe ... a comic of my own design. Not that I have one in mind or anything.

Till then, drawing every day.

-the Centaur