Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Across the Transfinite Canvas”

Day 028

centaur 0
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

centaur 0
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

Day 020

centaur 0
Apparently alt-text can be used as an attack vector if you have access to The Bleed. It's late and I'm tired. ZZzzzz.... cthulhu ftaghn ... zzzz.... Drawing every day until the stars are right again. -the Centaur

Day 018

centaur 0
Batman v Dreamweaver Flats Oy, this guy again. Not a finished drawing: these are "flats", used in digital coloring to isolate different elements of the image for further processing, hence the false colors used to make sure each element can be selected by color - I'm not that colorblind! Hopefully I'll finish up the color composite tomorrow. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 017

centaur 0
Batman v Dreamweaver, v4 Try #4 at the drawing behind this page, using the improved layout from #3. In addition to that trick, I increased the size of the page by 50% so I was effectively drawing at 300dpi, and zoomed in to work on the details, using all three previous drawings composited in increasingly ghostly transparency like an ersatz lightbox. Darker outlines were used for Batman and Zombie Wayne. Altogether, I like how this one came out better. Hopefully, if there are no more disasters with the water or the power or yearly planning, I can color this one tomorrow #dontjinxitfrancis so you can stop seeing this and we can move on to something else. Drawing every day. - the Centaur

Day 15

centaur 0
Revised Layout tl;dr: if the flaw is in the bones of the art, you must change its skeleton, not its clothing Today's drawing is a revised layout for the "Batman 80's style cover" page. While the previous page had more refined inks, Batman's body posture was a bit off, and the Dreamweaver's hands were floating about like he was Rayman. While I could have finished those inks, when I got to coloring the disembodied Dreamweaver would have posed a problem, and the misproportioned Batman would have just looked bad, no matter how much effort I put into the inks or coloring. I've seen a lot of people spend a lot of effort trying to fix things with finesse or technique when the problems actually lie in the layout. If the flaw is in the bones of the art, you need to change its skeleton, not its clothing. And one of the freedoms that working in Photoshop on the Wacom Cintiq is that you can take a problematic layer, reduce its opacity to 25%, slap a new layer over it with its compositing set to darken, and --- BAM --- you have an instant lightbox to help you sketch a new one. When Jim Lee got started, reputedly he spent a lot of time drawing from photo reference to help build up his skills. I'm no Batman, but nevertheless, I spent some time tonight taking reference photos of myself clutching my chest and a throw-blanket, trying to perfect Batman's cape-grab, and other references of me villainously spidering my fingers, trying to imitate this "Dreamweaver" chap. The result is a layout which, at first glance, looks a lot like the old one. Everything is where it was, more or less. But Dreamweaver's hands are now attached to his body, his helmet makes sense, and Batman's arms and cape now interact in a more realistic way. And his fingers aren't rigid as boards, so it actually looks a bit like he's clutching his heart. No amount of refining the original drawing in place would have fixed these issues: Batman's arm was too long and bent, his fingers were in the wrong place, and the Dreamweaver's thumbs were actually out of their sockets - never mind the missing arms and shoulders. Finesse and technique only take you so far: at some point you may have to stop and rethink your layout to make real progress. One step backward, two steps forward. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Drawing Every Day

centaur 0
Drawing Every Day Folder

tl;dr: to get good at something, you've got to put in a lot of practice

Hail, fellow adventurers! You may have been wondering what's up with the "Drawing Every Day" on this website. Or, hey, maybe you just got here. But I've gotten far enough into it that I feel comfortable taking a short break from developing this habit to tell you about this habit I'm trying to develop.

Fanu Fiku Page 49

I've loved comic books since I was a child. I've drawn since I was a young kid. I even started working on comics in graduate school, consciously refining my art until I was able to launch a webcomic, f@nu fiku, partially inspired by anime, manga, and the FLCL anime.

Then I broke my arm. And while I was recovering, someone stole my laptop. I took the opportunity to switch from Windows to Mac, and, as luck would have it, got my first book contract for FROST MOON. By the time I got enough free time from editing and book launches to go back to the webcomic and pick up where I left off, I found out my hand-crafted webcomic software wouldn't work on the Mac.

The real blow, however, was hidden: my confidence in my artwork had collapsed.

I went from fearlessly putting together two-page spreads way beyond my ability, doing bodies and perspective, and changing my layout theory at the drop of a hat, eventually producing pages that appeared in an art show - to being unable, or more precisely, unwilling to draw at all.

I had become intimidated by - embarrased by - my art. My wife is also an artist, and is familiar with the phenomenon. She and I talked about the reasons behind this at length, and like writer's block preventing writers from writers, one of the things that really affects artists is simply getting started.

If you've only done a handful of drawings, well, then, every one is super important, and there's pressure to make it perfect. But if you've done lots of drawings, then each one is an experiment, and if it doesn't turn out good, well, then, you can always draw another one.

the art studio

We moved recently, and I made it a priority to set up an art studio. But things by themselves don't create good habits - believe me, I know: purchasing a keyboard and bass guitar all those years ago didn't turn me into a musician, because I didn't build the proper habits around them.

But how do you build a habit if you're too intimidated to get started? At the Write to the End writing group, we tackle it by sitting down to write for 20 minutes, no excuses. At Taos Toolbox, Walter Jon Williams pointed out that this seemingly small amount of writing per day could produce a novel.

So I started to come around to the idea: what if I drew every day?

There's this theory in cognitive science that quantity begets quality. A famous example from the book Art and Fear alleges a ceramics professor graded half of a class on quality, the other half on quantity - but the students who produced more pieces also produced the better work.

There are no secrets: if you want to get good, you've got to put in the work. (Well, there are secrets, but the secret is, you have to put in a hell of a lot of work to take advantage of them). This is such a common thing in webcomics that it has its own TV Tropes page on Art Evolution.

I really want to draw again. I want to make science fiction webcomics like the ones I grew up loving in the 80s and 90s. But to do that, I've got to draw. So, once I finally got settled here and the holidays were in the taillights, once I finally got the Cintiq working ... I started drawing every day.

14 days running so far (counting complex drawings that took 2-3 sessions as 1 per session). How long does it take to cement a habit? 2-3 months, it sounds like from the online research; so, a good ways to go. If I keep at it, I'll have +70 more drawings, five times as many as I have so far.

I bet I'll see some changes.

Day 3 vs Day 13

I bet if you have something you want to change, start working on it every day, and keep it up for 2-3 months, you may see some changes too.

Best of luck with that! Wish me luck too.

-the Centaur

Day 14

centaur 0
Batman v Dreamweaver, Stage 2 Roughs in Photoshop. Some of the limits of the original composition are becoming clearer here - like, what are the hands of our villain attached to? Has he no shoulders? Is he secretly Rayman? Enough for now. Still, drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 13

centaur 0
Rough sketch of cover for Batman v Dreamweaver Rough sketch for a cover design a la Batman covers of the late 80's. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Guest Post on Speculative Chic!

centaur 0
What makes you hang on the edge of your seat? I call that a favorite, and I talk about some of my current faves over at the Speculative Chic blog! [embed][/embed] Go check it out!