Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year it's been

As 2009 comes to a close, it's time to look back at what I've done.

A year ago I was sick to my stomach as I uploaded the strips of Precocious' Gender Wars arc. Precocious was about to become REAL! I didn't know what to expect as I jumped into the competitive world of webcomicking. I knew cartooning is what I wanted to do, and I knew it would be a long, tough trip to get myself to a point where I could possibly do this for a living. I needed to build a reputation before I could start THINKING of doing something special.

Now a year has gone by, and I confess that this year has only enabled my dream. I have lots of wonderful, proactive readers. I have a product that I feel is strong. I am good enough to do this. I've still got a LONG WAYS to go, but I have hope! One year only proves that I'm serious about this. This next year is proving that I'm worth the investment!

It's time to reach higher. I've been content to let my product speak for itself, but now I've got to promote myself and push this further. I've got to set up that store and see if/what I can sell. Ideally, I should start work on putting together the Precocious book. (That terrifies me!)

This will be a year of transition. I need to find the right path to success, and I can't sit around and wait for success to find me. It's a scary journey, but one well worth taking.

2009 was the hardest year of my life, but it may also turn out to be the most rewarding. Here's hoping for great things in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You do the action, I'll sketch

I've decided to turn procrastination into a positive thing: I'll sketch! Sketching is so helpful! I get the practice I desperately need, I can work out new ideas and tougher poses before it's go time - and I can look busy when mentally I want to do nothing! It's also something I can do and still appear social!

Today was a family day. The lovely Donna came down from Delaware to take grandma out to lunch. While they were munching and chatting, I hung with the mini bro and sketched up a storm while he played Uncharted 2. I'm a turn-based game player, so a 3d-fest like that is way beyond me. It was fun to watch, though - as I sketched! Later on, it was movie time with Grandma and Donna - Julie and Julia - and I sketched the whole two hours! I was a social sketcher!

Sure, I *should* have been painting or working on the New Year's Copper Road, but that requires my full attention and some alone time. This was not an alone time day. This was a fun family sketching day!

(There are still a few hours post-midnight for me to Copper Road.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I don't know what to do with myself

I am now in DC, and will be here into the new year. I'm happy to visit the family people, but this place is always hard on creativity. All you ever want to do here is relax and eat fattening food! But I must fight on! I do this blog for a reason: The daily deadline ensures that I'm always creatively active! (Because the daily comic isn't enough?) The handful of you who read this are a bonus.

Today I sought inspiration by assaulting my sketchbook with adorable horrors. I had no direction, and nothing worth sharing appeared for quite a while. I cycled through characters, but none of them popped! Panic set in. I wasn't drawing poorly, but I wasn't drawing anything exciting. Oh, inspiration, where are you?

I started playing around, trying to draw "furry" instead of "cartoony" - and failing hard. Sorry, furry fans, but I'm not really that great at anthro art. When I set out to make a comic I had Peanuts in my mind - I wanted a cartoon style, so that is what I learned. I'm weird like that. Most people who draw similar things grew up with animals and slowly cartoonified them. I took cartoony drawing and added just enough to make the animals (kinda) recognizable. I wanted cartoony, with an adorable furry coating as a bonus!

While I do want to keep working on drawing anthro stuff, just for the challenge, I'm proud of the style I have. My big-eyed, fuzzy children are what I wanted to draw. In the end, they're not very "furry" - but that was never the goal. I'll just have to master that LATER. For now, enjoy my cartoony badassery!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Continuing to work

Aaah, there we go! It took all day, but I inked a week of strips! This will give me a nice buffer that I can squander while I'm visiting the grandparents in DC. It's always a joy when I'm far enough ahead that I don't have to lug expensive equipment around!

In DC the goals will shift to painting commissions, comic scripting and general visiting behavior. I hope to get ample progress done on all three fronts. Oh yeah, and I need a new year's Copper Road. Four fronts. I always forget about Copper Road. (I'm like Bud that way.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Returning to work

Well that was a fun diversion, but it's back to the grind! New Year's a-comin' and I've got to have strips ready! It's about time for for me to switch the date over on all my files - and finally move said files to an appropriate directory!

There's a lot to do for the new year, most of which will be the subject of procrastination. The transition will be the easy part. The "put it off until next year" will be hard. I need to update the archive page, redo the cast page and, of course, finally get a store for Precocious. That will take a lot of time, and I'm not yet sure where it'll come from. Ahh, but the new year is for PROGRESS, and progress I shall.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chrispmas v Christmas

Happy various holidays to all! I've tried to avoid it and deny it as much as possible, but as December 25th moves closer I have to admit it: I'm trapped by the holidays too.

The Paulsen family, for the most part, has canceled Christmas. We have no tree, exchange no gifts and refuse to be jolly! But we are not alone in this universe, so compromise is needed. Our solution: Travel around and have various dinners with various family members. The only pressure is getting there... which *is* annoying, considering we're scheduled to have a little icing on our what. Tis the season!

During this traveling, I might not get the time to do my bloggery, so forgive me if I go silent for a day or two. Precocious is far enough ahead that no one has to worry. That's my holiday gift to myself!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And now, the rest of the painting!

I have successfully made a portrait of someone's mom! I told you I'd pull it out and I did. In your face, everyone! Next step: REWARD!

Next next step: MORE WORK! Aww, man. I want to be lazy and goof off! But I guess I've done that for... most of my life. I'll goof off by MAKING COMICS! That'll show you!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I am one important step closer to finishing this commission: The face is practically finished! I say practically because I still need to touch up the eyes, but I'm close enough that celebration is in order!

Once the face dries, I aim to go back and work on the hair and *maybe* the dress. Still iffy on what colors to use, but I have to make that jump today! This sucker needs to be delivered in time to be a Christmas gift! (No delivery until I get PAID though! Daddy needs his paycheck!)

When this painting is complete, it's on to fun Precocious painting commissions. And perhaps that Bob Marley mural. Man, when did I become a professional painter?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow day!

I got a lot accomplished yesterday! I finished all the strips for 2009! Also, I used up all my creative energy in the process. Thus, today is a snow day! I've done next to nothing, and I loved every minute of it! Enjoy this sketch of Bud and Casey, cuz that's all you're getting today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it blizzard! Let it blizzard!

There's a reason I always doubt the weather report. Winchester is located in a unique space - the Appalachian mountains are placed just so that they deflect clouds away from the town. Big storms with big promises often end up bouncing to the north or south. There was one year when a blizzard dumped a foot of snow to the north, south, east and west of us. We didn't even get flurries. It's a horrible fate for a school-age kid who had a habit of not doing his homework. Salvation ruined by a barely-passes-for-a-mountain! If you're a kid in Winchester, you learn quickly you can't count on mother nature to give you a break.

This current storm began the same way. Last night I checked the radar and noticed it was dumping snow everywhere around us - but there was a tiny hole in the storm directly over Winchester. Same old, same old. I went to bed when an inch of snow was on the ground, assuming we'd get a nice moderate snowfall while the rest of the state was smothered.

I was wrong! Overnight and this morning, the storm overpowered the mountain and caught us up with the forecast. There is a LOT of snow outside right now - and more to come? Dang. As you can see in the picture, the snow shovels used this morning are about to be lost as the snow keeps coming and coming. I guess this is the yearly epic storm after all.

Of course, I am well beyond school age at this point, so much of the fun of snowfall is lost on me. Now I have to worry about how long it'll take for the roads to clear up so I can make contact with friends again. I am bound to go stir crazy here after a few days. C'mon, VDOT, do your thing and clear a path to my door!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it snow! Let it snow!

Winchester is supposed to get a huge heap of snow tonight. Already there is an inch on the ground, causing massive panic in the streets, I'm sure. Winchester gets snow every year - not that much, mind you, but enough - yet crazy panic still sets in! OH GOD WE NEED MILK AND BREAD! FIGHT THE OTHERS!

Fortunately, this house was recently stocked with panic supplies. The only shortage I have for this snow-in comes in the liquor department. If my mother's account of the ABC store is any indication, I'm not alone in enjoying a nice nip during a snowstorm. Alas, I am too pretty to buy my own booze, yet so unpopular no one is generous with their spirits! What a horrible fate! So I must face this storm without my precious Captain Morgan. Oh god, I have to find ways to entertain myself! What's this? I have lots of comics work to do. AND lots of new DVDs? Hey, sobriety might not be that bad! (Note: It's been about two years since I've bought liquor for myself. I am not as cool as that last paragraph might make me seem.)

If I am a good boy, I can use this nature-induced time out to be nice and productive. Heaven knows I have a pile of commissions to work on in addition to the comics. If bad, I shall go stir crazy and do horrible things with our precious milk. Don't ask.

At least the isolation will be pretty!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

If paintings were teenagers

As foretold on this blog, the initial stages of coloring the portrait commission are awkward and abrasive - and, wouldn't you know it, it just shuts down with communication! It won't tell me what's wrong and what needs fixing. Damn you, teenaged painting!

All my portraits go through such stages, but it's uncomfortable every time it happens. Some good stuff is starting to happen with the face, actually making it ahead of schedule in that regard. Usually the face is the last thing to fall into place. The hair is a letdown so far, but a bit of white in the paint should even things out the next round.

The background is still a question, and I have no clue where to go with it. Flat color? Texture? What color? Eh, I'll figure that out LATER!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Working for the future

Today was another comic work day, so I have little non-spoilery stuff to show. Aww, screw it, I can spoil you a little. Enjoy a taste of the next Precocious wallpaper, which was made on a whim!

On the comic front, I am plugging away at the holiday story, such as it is. I'm rapidly approaching a point where I no longer have scripts! There's a big brainstorming/scripting session in my future. (And I hope it comes soon. I'm getting worried!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can I have this dance?

Here are some proposal sketches for yet another commission! This time we have Dionne and Max at some formal social event thingy, and aren't they acting cute? Rich people have all the class!

Dionne and Max have an interesting friendship, considering they couldn't be more opposite. I think of it as a common ground friendship common to youth, where friendships are often based on proximity more than anything. It's only when we get older and set in our ways that we become more selective about who we party with. Despite being the embodiments of good and evil, there's plenty of common ground. They're both smart, and in the same smarty class. Both of their families have money, landing both of them in the ritzy Diamond Bluffs. They've probably been put together for as long as both have lived in Gemstone Estates, so why not do something with it! Hey, opposites attract, right?

Actually, let's stop right there. I'm going to sink this ship before it sets sail. When I created these characters, I limited them to doggie or kitty forms. One reason for that was the knowledge that if I added in any more species, people would start identifying them BY species - and I didn't want that. They may have cute animal forms, but they act and are treated like people. That being said, I didn't choose their forms willy nilly. Max and Dionne are both elite animals (wolf and cheetah-ish) because they're the elite kids, for example. Another use of the duels species is that I could determine compatibility. Most pairs are dog-cat for a reason - to stop the shippers! Dogs and cats together = MASS HYSTERIA! They're not supposed to be together IN THAT WAY. Bud and Autumn will never have romantic tension, and neither will Jacob/Tiffany, Dionne/Max or Kaitlyn/Quincy. It is not that kind of comic!

Not that this coding STOPS anyone, but at least I tried!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wintertime in comicland

It's time to put cartoon wardrobe logic to the test: Winter is here! I've already witnessed one snow and one icy mess, so it's time to think about subjecting my characters to frozen water in its zestiest forms! After all, in comics, winter means snow ALL THE TIME! Cartoonists love white, fluffy idea fodder.

The problem, of course, is dressing these kids. They run around barefoot, with tails and ears exposed to the elements. Hats are physically difficult to keep on with that physiology, but snow hats mean winter clothes! It doesn't make sense, but that is how it works in the realm of cartoons, friends!

Should I go with a winter story, I'll need to set up my kids in suitable winter outfits. That seems hard, so maybe I'll waste winter with classroom stories! They can be fun too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eventually progress is made

Here's the paint sketch of the Tiffany as St Lucia commission. I did my best to fit the important parts on the canvas. Did I leave anything out?

It's kinda fun to have three paintings going on at once. It means I can keep swapping them in and out to keep myself fresh and inspired. If I reach a good stopping point, or suffer a bout of indecision, I can still go be productive with another piece!

Each painting is in an iffy state right now, for different reasons. My modernist venture is at the touch-up stage, meaning the next strokes I put on it will be FINAL. Scary! Gotta make it pop, and that means lots of my traditional lining. For the portrait, I am suffering under the "I did it too well" effect. My paint sketch was really good, and the first steps of coloring always makes the piece look awkward. I don't even know what colors to use yet! (That's a worry for tomorrow!)

For this one, I am hopeful. I'm not sold on the sketch, and that means TRY HARDER in coloring! Awkward sketches are ugly ducklings. I will SWAN this painting. Hard!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Any progress is good, right?

Today was the hangover from yesterday's zombie day, so don't expect any artistic miracles. I did manage to ink the rest of next week's Precocious strips, so that's good. I also pulled out my "fun" painting for some work, with not as good results. I blame the mental fuzz.

Today has been an embarrassingly fuzzy day for my normally beautiful mind. Most of the conversations involving me today involved a blank stare and weak vocal feedback. Yeah, this is not me at my best. Sorry, everyone I conversed with! With which I conversed? Bah.

If I succeed in sleep tonight, perhaps tomorrow I will return to my more eloquent self. Today's victory is that I got anything done at all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nap the day away!

It's been a bizarre day, devoted to unconsciousness! Why was I so tried? What the heck do I do? I do nothing! NOTHING! Zzzzzzzzzz....

It's not like an early schedule is vital for me, being unemployed and all, but there is stigma and shame involved here. I really should be awake for daylight activities - if only because that's when the food-providing locations are open. (What do you expect me to do, cook?)

Now comes the big question: Do I roll with the late-night antics, or try to sleep and reset the internal clock? My only confidence is that I will be choosing the wrong option!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Chrispmas!

That's right, folks, it's the holiday season and Chrispmas cheer is in the air! What is Chrispmas, you ask? Chrispmas is a gift-giving holiday for those who are lazy, tired of stress and want to focus on the good. It's the Chrispian way!

Chrispmas actually started on the 8th, but it took me a while to whip up the image. See, Chrispmas is a holiday that lasts MONTHS! No more pressure to give gifts on one damn day! It runs from December 8th to March 24th, giving you a huge window in which to give gifts! Give when you get the right gift, at the right time. If you don't have a gift by March 24th - which is my birthday, by the way - then you really are hopelessly lazy, aren't you?

Isn't this holiday fun? We're not big on traditions in Chrispianity - I don't even set up my parody tree anymore - so you may celebrate as you please. Play along with the others if you want. Have fun!

And you if want to know, here's my Chrispmas list. ;-)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The quest to make money

Hey, look, I'm working on commissions! Maybe one day I will earn more than I spend! Maybe.

I got busy portraiting today after I got approval of my proposal sketch. I have been approved to go wild, and I WILL! It's actually been quite a while since I worked on portraits, so I'm easing back into it. Good linework down? Sweet! Take a break and savor the victory!

Tomorrow is going to be interesting on the commission front, as that Bob Marley mural project is looking more and more likely to happen. I'm meeting with the owner to see if we can reach an agreement over cost. (Let's see if I can screw that up with my demands!) Murals require cash up front for concept development. GIMMIE! Payday aside, the mural thing will be cool because it's a new challenge. I'll have to do some research on how one actually muralizes things...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let's not be blue

Work continues on my latest neurotic painting! As it shapes up, astute observes will note my old friend blue is not hanging out with the other colors. This has been quite the color theory challenge, but it's been fun. I rely on blues far too much and I need to branch out a bit and try to solve, say, the red menace.

Now watch this painting end up with blue as the background color. I have been thinking about it, especially if I do the planned yellow blitzkrieg. As it stands, a neutral color like bamboo of buff titanium would look best, but that was not the goal! Then again, the original goal was purple in the background and I've tossed that in favor of just using the danged thing. Eh, this is what one gets when one improvises in painting. I have very little control over myself.

Now that the base colors or down, it's time to start refining everything. That means lots of black, white and general outlining! It's therapeutic! I may or may not finish this one right away, as I have lots of painting commissions to do. It would be wise to focus on the art I'm getting paid to do, but since when have artists been rational?

Monday, December 7, 2009

I can count to 400!

Today was a great day for productivity. As I type, the ink is drying on Precocious strip #400. In a stroke of good luck, my 400th strip will land on a Sunday, giving me extra space to play around! In a stroke of entirely contrived luck, the latest Precocious storyline will finish up on Saturday, freeing me up to do whatever I want! This won't be like 300, when that storyline ended at... 301. Missed it by *that* much! This 400 will get the celebration it deserves!

Ok, so it won't be a crazy spectacular thing, but at least I get to have some fun. And now it is time for me to get back to work. 400 may be inked, but 399, 398, etc. still need a taste of my pen! Maybe tomorrow I will do some painting and make the world a brighter, happier place.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nothing to cheer about

As it is my self-given obligation, I am doing my daily sketch blog! As you might have guessed from that last sentence, I have very little to share today. I worked on some comics and did precious little sketching. (These Tiffany's are from a few days ago.)

On the plus side, things should be picking up soon! I have lots of painting projects in the queue and they shall provide much blog fodder. For today, FOOTBALL AND VIDEO GAMES! Woo, laziness!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow day!

Winchester got 5 inches of pretty today, and it certainly brought out the kid in me. Snow day = day off, right? A day off from what? My job? Hey, being unemployed makes every day like a snow day!

Today was meant for comic grinding, but I took a day off from that as well. I got one comic done, and it was a STRUGGLE. I am really struggling to ink right now, and I think it's my nibs. I can't find one with the correct feel - even though they're all supposed to be identical. I have one more strip ready for inking tonight. Maybe I'll play with nibs and see if I can find one that doesn't suck. The night *is* still young. Maybe I can get some lettering and drawing done too. After all, now that the sun has set the pretty is no longer distracting.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feasting and fire, a winning combination

Here's the first sketch for another commission: Tiffany celebrating the feast of St. Lucia! All I know about it at this point is that fire and food are involved, which is promising. Little girls wear candles on their heads and serve foodamajigs for some reason. (I have not done my research yet.)

This painting is going to be a challenge. Lots of little lines and details are needed, and I won't be able to fit the full form into the canvas space. I'll have to focus on a waist-up look, I guess. Won't know until I try it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm a miracle worker!

I've started work on a new commission! I'm making a portrait of someone's mother, with full permission to get as stylistically crazy as I want!

There's just one problem: The source image is itty bitty, under-lit and out of focus. IT IS TIME TO WORK MIRACLES, PEOPLE! I scanned the photo, blew it up in photoshop, sharpened, contrasted and printed the result - reversed for style points! I then threw the image on the light table and began drawing on the back. The result is what you see here. NOW I have a decent image from which to start painting! Ta-dah!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's all over, people!

After much delaying I have finally completed my latest sketchbook. I made that sucker last weeks longer than it should have due to drawing elsewhere, being judicious with my scribbles and flat out avoidance behavior. What can I say? I'm too lazy and cheap to go buy a replacement! The only reason I finished now is because I found an old sketchbook with lots of space. If I play this right, I won't have to leave my house for weeks!

Oh, and I'm blogging from my iPhone purely because I can. My perfectly fine computer is right beside me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All I wanna do is paint!

Not much progress to show on the painting today, but that's because of all those other obligations that make up ones life. There's so much I need to do! Most important right now is making sure Precocious has a strip ready for Thursday. Gah, I don't want to make comics today. I wanna paint! Result: Not doing either due to whininess. Brilliant!

Oh well, can't fight it any longer. Tonight is the tedious act of lettering on a week of strip and the start of some drawing. Tomorrow I will ink and finalize what I need, as I have no choice! I'm back to no buffer! How could I? Nooooooooo!