Monday, November 30, 2009

The series continues

Wow, what a blah day this turned out to be. There is only one solution for the blahs: PAINTING! So here we have the sketch of the next painting in what I am currently calling my "little anxieties" series, as all are based upon whatever was nagging at me during production. So far I've covered wanderlust, dental pain and not getting enough attention. This one? So far it's frustration with productivity. I'm moving and a fine pace, but I always want to do more! This painting purge is meant to help me enjoy the process and stop worrying so much about the future. I should have fun playing with this!

Edit: Here are the finished paintings on display. It makes me happy to show 'em off!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Painting at the speed of snail

I'm entering the home stretch with the latest painting - after much much delay in production. Hey, I've been doing comics! It's not like I'm being lazy!

This one took a while because it fell into the typical painting trap. Great paint sketches are tough to turn into great paintings, while lackluster sketches make one want to improve! This one isn't going down as one of my best, but I think it'll come out solid. When combined with the others this size, I should have a beautiful show ready for a gallery near you!

When those other paintings are finished, that is. This is painting #3, and I have 5 canvasses to go. I need to paint FASTER!

As I progress, I do get excited on having a new series to show off. Imagine two walls of four, with a the rest of a gallery peppered with bite-sized paintings and my massive four-footers! Now if only this economy was doing better... Eh, by the time I get this series finished, there's a chance the art world will be welcoming again!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Family is exhausting!

I'm finally back home after extended Thanksgiving festivities. Status: TIRED! Combine a Thanksgiving which had me up until 3am chatting with the cousins and two early mornings in a row, you get a Chrispy in need of a good, old-fashioned SLEEP IN 'TIL NOON DAY! Oh, tomorrow, I don't want to see any of your beginning!

Tomorrow must be the day I finish up drawing this current storyline and shore up the scripts for the next week. Tonight is not for thinking too hard.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The time of gluttony is upon us!

As it we Americans needed an excuse for conspicuous consumption, it's Thanksgiving; a day in which we go through great lengths to avoid too much family interaction by eating ourselves into a coma and enjoying distracting football games. I don't knock it, mind you, as I am ALL ABOUT food and football! (And occasionally family!)

Thanksgiving is a kick ass holiday and I intend to enjoy it to its fullest! I will WIN Thanksgiving! Think you will be able to go back for leftovers? THINK AGAIN! You will leave me alone with the turkey and all those delicious turkey accessories, thank you very much. And I will be taking the center spot for football watching, even if I hate all the home teams with a passion. It is still coma background, and that is a vital component of Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to get a post up on Thanksgiving (and possible Friday) as I won't have access to a scanner, and probably little time for my useless and unenlightening blogging anyway.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Proper swatching, for the people!

Almost lost track of time! I will not miss another day this week, darn it!

What I have to share today is my current progress in making a new set of swatches, that I use in coloring Precocious - or, rather, that someone else can use in coloring Precocious. The swatches I had been using were good for me, as I know where the colors go - but they had no labels! Now that someone awesome is helping me color, those swatches just won't do!

Doing this again has allowed me to revisit some coloring choices - namely the inner ear color of several characters. I've changed a few and unified some others. No telling how that will actually look until I color 'em for real, though. The joy of swatches is that I can change them if I want to!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm still sleepy!

My early night plan backfired horribly. I went to bed at midnight and went into what would be better called a dreamless coma than actual sleep. It was about 3am when I gave up and started my day. I haven't slept since, which means I spent the entire day in a daze.

No work got done, but that's ok. If I have one day when I don't work, that means I WORK HARD EVERY OTHER DAY! Remember that! Knowing I was going to be useless, I decided to relax and see where consciousness took me. I played some video games, did some reading and didn't stress over it. If I can get some sleep tonight (big IF) then I hope to catch up tomorrow. If not, oh well - I'm a week ahead in the comic, so one day won't kill me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nap time!


Sorry about missing yesterday's posting. I was... unconscious! I don't know what's gotten into me, but I am suffering from chronic nap attack as of late - and I never normally take naps! Actually I *can* make an educated guess as to what's happening to me. My sleep schedule is crap right now! I pulled a few super late nighters this week with the working on the comic buffer and just let my schedule shift and shift and shift...

So I apologize again for not having any sketchy goodness today, but I'm going to pack it in early tonight (in theory) and see if I can catch some consistent Z's! I promise to have something fun tomorrow! Maybe!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Productive Procrastination

I'm doing my best to build up the comic buffer, so that I might waste it away doing fun things! What you see here is a logjam forming as I keep procrastinating when it comes to scanning the comics and finishing them. Eh, I'll just scan and upload 10 comics at once. It sounds more impressive that way!

Shameless self-promotion!

This is not my official blog o' the day, although I wish I could cop out like that. ;-) This is me attention whoring to the fullest, with images for you to share on your websites if the linking page on Precocious is not enough. I'm shameless, so I take all the good attention you can give me!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Caribbean vibes

Behold, an hour exercise attempt at drawing Bob Marley. Why am I drawing a reggae god? I didn't even know how to *spell* "reggae" until Firefox's spell check helped! I'm entertaining the idea of painting a mural at a new Caribbean restaurant. It's unlikely this will happen, but I might as well TRY to grab some art-based income. My style is colorful and bold, which is a great match with contemporary Caribbean art, so this could be a good match! There's just that pesky Bob Marley getting in my way. I've gotta render him better than this!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The missing link

Having rushed though *my* obligations this week, I didn't get around to a special coloring of today's strip, which makes it a little harder to grasp. Thus, to make up for that slight, I present to you... UNCLE MIKE IN COLOR! Well, as much color as a white cat can have. The panel I used is from tomorrow's strip (also not in color) so, um, spoiler alert?

Mike being the same color as Joseph goes a long way to proving he's the missing link. Mike's build is also in between the massive Joseph and scrawny Gene, but that didn't come out in the drawing well. (Proportions are hard, kids!) If you can't remember the other fathers in color, here you go:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The season is changing

No, I'm not talking about how it now gets dark at 5pm (although that sucks too), I'm talking about the beginning of the blight that is college basketball.

As a dude, I do enjoy sports - but basketball ain't one of them. It just gets in the way! I like to work on my arts and comics with sports in the background, and I've come to rely on the GOOD SPORTS (and baseball) for that. Basketball means there's a chance BAD WILL BE ON MY TV! I had a good run, with football or hockey as reliable standbys for background while I worked, but now it's ruined! College football > college basketball, dammit! And college football is stupid too, because college athletes are largely wastes of humanity! (But I'm a football fanatic, so I'll take it.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Look a gift horse in the mouth!

A momentous thing has happened: I may have a colorist! Matthew of Sometime Alone has offered his time to color my Sunday strips until I drive him batty with my corrections and nonsensical swatches. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to not abuse this generous offer. (It's not like I can *pay* the poor lad, as I have no income myself.)

Naturally, the second Sunday strip that pops up on the list is one that can be *very* elaborate, with lots of characters. (These sketches are me fleshing out ideas.) Hmm... what to do? Will this be the strip that drives him mad? LET'S FIND OUT!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bud has a sister?

I debated not sharing this, but it's all I've doodled recently and the clock says I need something to post - besides, it's not like I haven't posted Bud's sister on the blog before.

No, this doesn't mean she's entering the strip soon. It was more of me realizing I haven't drawn Casey in OVER A YEAR. My skills have certainly improved since then, so let's do the Casey Oven update! It took me a few tries to remember how I did her hair, but I like how it came out. The wardrobe and accessories aren't standard yet, as she's not official until she enters the strip.

Anyway, it's good to practice new characters before they appear in the strip, so I can work the kinks out. The new character who appears Wednesday is one whose first and final design came on the comic itself. That's very daredevil for me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Comic overload

I've been on a tear this week, with the goal of building up my damn comic buffer. What you see here is the product of the last few days of intense work: 15 pages of comics. (Sadly, only 8 comics total, not including the Copper Road.) I have a whole pile left to ink, but it's still good progress.

The goal is get to myself two weeks ahead, and then use said weeks to get the application process in motion for my eventual grad schooling. That's the goal. We'll see how it plays out. I did get an added bonus in that Matthew Dawson of Sometime Alone has volunteered to do my Sunday coloring. That frees up a lot of time. The coloring itself only takes an hour or two, but I loath it so there's also many hours of griping and procrastination.

Can I do it? Can I get my conic ahead enough to get my life in order? PROBABLY NOT, but I'm gonna try anyway!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Win, lose or dominate?

At risk of ruining the discussion, I didn't really mean for today's comic to be as vague as it's been interpreted. Still, I've greatly enjoyed the results and I can't bring myself to chime in and confirm it either way, so I'll do it hear. (You few blog readers out there, let the people have their fun. It'll be very clear in tomorrow's update anyway.)

If I had thought about it, I would have switched the hover text to something less... conclusive. Oh well, it was a fun result anyway. Sometimes it's best for me to sit back and let the fans take over. The only downside is when their pet theories get busted. Sorry, people! Sometimes it's a timing thing with the comic. I like to keep moving and keep it fresh!

THAT BEING SAID, the next two weeks relive some past glories and indulge in some Tiffany antics, but we can all enjoy that, right? I've been sitting on this story for a long time, and it's time to break the glass and tell it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wasting time, sitting still

I've been rocking out today to R.E.M.'s latest live album release. Note that I didn't say "working" - I'm not good at working to music, as it makes me bop bop bop around the room. Also, by "bop bop bop" I mean "sit down at one station after another." Don't confuse it with actual physical exertion. I'm not smart enough for that today!

It was still worth it! I'm a crazy R.E.M. fanboy, so this album was bliss. It consists of "rehearsals" of the material that would eventually become their AWESOME album Accelerate. It's fascinating to see what the songs were before they were finalized. I could geek out more, but I haven't even read the liner notes yet. More music geekery is in my future!

As you can see, work did in fact get done today. Eventually I did shut off the music and move to more traditional working methods. I wanted to sketch out eight pages, but five is still pretty good, with possibly one more to come! Tomorrow: Inking bonanza!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reunited, and it feels so good!

I'm back home, with my beloved no-copy blue pencil. Oh, how I missed this little bugger! Fat mechanical pencil, you were a poor substitute!

Anyway, daddy's tired from a hellacious drive home during a dreary, rainy day. I'm too lazy to hook up my scanner, much less sketch something fun for the day. Instead you get to bask in the glory of my bloated ate-out-for-20-straight-meals face! Sexy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Closing out the storyline

Yes, folks, the current Precocious storyline is coming to an end! Can you believe this thing has been going on longer than seven weeks? Wow. It's going to come out *just* short of Gender Wars as the longest Precocious storyline, but I don't feel like stretching it out any longer to grab that title. I love you, peanut butter politics, but I won't drag this out.

Since I want to finish this up on Sunday - because the next storyline needs a Monday start - that means cutting a little bit of excess from the script. One deleted strip was converted into this weeks vote incentive. (Once you read it, you can see it was cut for a reaso - but, hey, it's still a bonus strip!) This image you see here was a punchline in search of a set-up. I never found a set-up that worked, so to the cutting room floor you go! You can see what replaced this strip in tomorrow's Precocious update.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Every nib has a story

Be warned: There is artgeekery coming. Even better: AMATEUR art geekery! Oh noes!

I use only one type of nib with my inking pens: A Hunt globe tip 513EF. I have several copies of said nib. I should be set, right? Wrong. Every nib I have reacts differently to ink, and that means the act of switching nibs comes with an awkward transition period. Hey, guess what I did today!

I'd been using an old nib for a while, as recent attempts to swap in new nibs have been disastrous. As a self-taught art guy, I barely know how to keep/treat this things, so I flail around until one works. This old nib, though, was really slowing down. It was a stiff nib, meaning it let me stretch my ink significantly with linework - and making the inking of large black areas hell. Keep in mind, this is a Roddy and Dionne-heavy storyline. So. Many. Black. Ear.

I'm still getting used to this new nib. It's a lot looser with the ink, allowing me more flexibility in line width (even when I don't want it) at the cost of increased ink usage. To adapt myself to inkability, I chose to go back to my no-copy blue test drawing of Kaitlyn and play with inking methods. That's why the inking is not "finished" - gotta test lining ability.

Now comes the real test: Actual inking! I have three strips to ink before I head back home on Wednesday, and I'll need to get them done tonight/tomorrow. If Thursday's strip ends up looking a bit different, now you know why. Also, it really shouldn't, because that would mean I've lost all control!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Posted from my iPhone

Since I won't be home in time to blog properly, I'm testing out the iphone's blogging capability!

Enjoy the background image of my phone! Ooooh!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Slow motion day

I woke up today and... well... didn't wake up. Despite going to bed early, nothing I could do would get my brain in gear. A few hours later I came to the horrible conclusion: I was sick. Now this is nothing major, friends - in fact, it is the smallest amount of sick one can be to still qualify as sick - but it's enough to make me very, very sluggish.

Everything moved in slow motion today. Coloring the Sunday strip took MANY hours, and work on the next week's stuff was painfully slow. I had been hoping today would get me ahead, but my sniffly head moving like molasses on a cold day was not allowing it. I did get two more strips done, and I've started work on two more. After that, I have to go back to scripting, and that's probably not gonna happen. A soupy brain does not creativity make.

I expect this bug to be out of my system by tomorrow, so maybe all the work can be done then. If it persists, I will be very upset. This is barely enough sick to complain about! Had I been a student or salaryman, I would not have been able to call in sick with this. Give me disease I can rock for pity or, better yet, LET ME BE HEALTHY, DAMMIT!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inner peace. Outer violence.

Today's sketch idea is courtesy of my brother, who suggested I draw a martial arts scene with Jacob bowing in respect and someone (had to be Suzette) giving him a boot to the head. The final result is... close!

I could use some inner peace right now. I'm slacking hard on inking next week's comics. It'll get done, just not as fast as I'd like. Tonight the goal is to get five pages inked, resulting in three strips total. Tomorrow I color the massive and complex Sunday and then it's smooth sailing for a while. Of course, as soon as one thinks that... BOOT TO THE HEAD!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getting back on track

I've said it a thousand time, and I'll say it again: It's HARD to get work done here!

But work must get done, so I press forward! Today, as you see, was lettering day! Now that the lettering is in place, it's time for the long, arduous drawing session. As always, when I'm down to the wire, bonus-sized strips are scheduled. All those pages represent four strips today. Wheee!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time sneaks up on you

Time is a nasty monster. No matter how fast you run, it always pursues! You can't outrun it. You can't out maneuver it. It will get you! The only way to survive is build a lead and keep your pace. For a daily comic, that means HAVING A BUFFER!

I came to DC, a place that's not so conducive to working, with a four-day buffer. That's the biggest buffer I've had in a while... and it's disappearing at the speed of time! I gave myself a few days to settle in, but now it's time to take on the next set of strips - especially since Sunday's strip is MASSIVE and will take as much time to do as this entire week of dailies. (Stupid Sundays.)

Bigger problem than a massive Sunday? No script! Can't start catching up if I don't have scripts from which to make comics.

Good news! I finally got the script done! It only took half a week to formulate! That means no more time for pouty writer's block. Time to get some strips in production! Aww, man, that means I have to work now! I miss you, procrastination!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The perils of traveling

I am back in DC for an undetermined amount of time. That means it's time to move the studio from one basement to another!

The whole drive down I had that eerie feeling I forgot something. Mentally, I went over it all. Got the templates. Got the scanner. Got the laptop. Got the ink. Got the pen. That's all! Or... not. Having read over my process post below, can you see what I forgot to bring?


Ok... minor crisis. I fortunately had a spare refill of the blue lead with me, so all that I needed was the mechanical pencil to hold it. I pulled out every pencil I could find. All .07 lead size. My lead is .05! Crisis!

I had to dive deeper into the bowels of the house... the DARKROOM! *thunderclap*

Much to my benefit, the room has art supplies scattered about it - including a .05 mechanical pencil! The day is saved!

Now if only I had an idea for something comicy to draw...

Monday, November 2, 2009

How a comic is born

I was looking over my latest batch of comics and I realized I had a nice step-by-step look into the Precocious process. So here comes the indulgent post about comic creation! Enjoy!

1) Before I do any drawing, I want to have a script in hand. It doesn't have to be a final draft (and it rarely is) but having a rough script allows me to figure out where dialog bubbles and characters can be placed in a strip. I do all my scripting in Word, then print it out so I can have it by my side when I go to the light box.

2) Once I have a script, it's time to prep the template. I use Canson daily comic templates, mostly because it's the standard comic size AND I can't draw straight lines on my own to save my life. Having a pre-printed template cuts out a lot of hassle. I start by lining the strip in no-copy blue. (This is my choice for pencil lead.)

3) Once the panels are line, it's time to add the dialog. I need dialog in place so I know exactly how much space I have for drawing. I created a guide I use for letting, that keeps everything even and straight. I place the guide under the template, fire up my light box and letter away. At this stage I alter the script to make it snappier or fit better in the panel.

4) Now that I have the dialog roughed out, it's time for drawing! Again, I pull out my trusty no-copy blue! This is the most time-consuming portion of creation. I lightly rough out where the figures go and then get to it. I start by drawing the eyes and work my way out. I want my final drawing to be as complete as possible, as I'm not confident to go rogue inking yet.

5) With a solid drawing in place, it's time to ink. I use a traditional dip pen, with Speedball super black ink. My nib is a Hunt globe tip 513 EF. First thing I do is ink the borders and dialog bubbles. This is a time when it's fun to work in batches. If I'm working on a bunch, the first one is nice and dry by the time I finish inking the borders on the last. Then I can go right into the big show!

6) For inking, it's a simple act of tracing at this point. I go over my lines, making corrections and tweaks accordingly. I save the minor details for later, as my nib isn't capable of fine lines. I leave the dialog uninked, as I do it digitally now. I do still ink whispers and shouting if the needs arise.

7) With the main inking done, I break out the tech pens for the details. This is for smaller figures in the panels and all the shading.

8) Once inking is done, it's time to scan the strip! I have a super-awesome Mustek A3 scanner, which is big enough that I can scan two strips at once! It also cuts out a LOT of intermediate steps in scanning, as it filters out my no-copy blue automatically, leaving only the black. I scan it into photoshop at a high resolution, then apply a contrast of 50. This reduces the image down to just black and white. I delete the white and drop the black into my photoshop comic template.

9) Once the comic's in the template, it's time to letter. I created a Precocious font using my own handwriting, so at least it LOOKS like it's done by hand - with much more accuracy than if I had actually done it by hand. (Typos are a problem, though.)

10) With the lettering done, it's time to merge all the Photoshop layers into one, shrink it down to its standard 800 pixel width and plot it into the final daily template. Ta dah!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Run from responsibility!

Ha! I will be responsible and make my dodging into a blog post! Today is another comic work day, followed by mild socializing, so any extra bloggability is out. Thus, I select a fun sketch from the sketchbook and GO WITH IT! Wheeeeeee!