Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mega comics day!

Yes, it's another one of those "take a shot of my drafting table" days! Forgive me! I meant to do card stuff, but then I remembered a Copper Road was due. Priorities, people!

I have a trip to DC coming up, and my plan was to get a full week ahead before I went down there. That's probably not going to happen, but I'm putting up a valiant effort! As you can see, that's 12 pages (8 strips) in production. Some are done. Some are drawn. Some are merely lettered. We'll see how far I can get before I leave.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A forest of mock-ups!

All the new stuff is in the sketch book, but it was more fun to take a photo of all the mock-ups I've been creating for the card projects! I'll keep churning these buggers out too. It's kinda fun!

I tried working larger in the sketchbook, with the potential of scanning 'em, shrinking 'em and printing 'em out for tracing, but those large drawings didn't have the charm as the real-sized. I think I'll keep tracing and perfecting. Bonus: More tracing means more mock-ups!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Curse you, scanner!

So, hey, I have this awesome scanner designed for print stuff. So, hey, this awesome scanner is automatically set to filter out light-colored pencil, leaving only beautiful black lines. So, hey, this causes a problem when I try to scan colored pencil drawings. So, hey, I went with the inefficient webcam instead!

Work continues on the Mothers Day card. Today I did some tracing and worked on the interior image. It let me refine things a bit and gave me a chance to play with coloring. I traced in no-copy blue, inked with a tech pen, erased the no-copy blue the best I could and then cursed a bit as the blue wouldn't always erase nicely! While it's barely noticeable up close, it's enough to make me not want to do it for the final. I may anyway, just because it's far easier to ink with guides, but I'll give ink tracing a shot first.

I only did half of the interior because that was close to looking like I wanted it to right away. The complex family shot will need some reworking to get all the proportions right. With five figures at four or five different heights, a bit of prayer is needed. Good thing I have a nice new sketchbook.

There's a lot of development stuff still to come. I've got to play tracemaster again and again on the front images to make sure they look perfect, and *then* I have to start throwing it all together. Things are progressing nicely, though.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hours in the day

I wanted to have a Mothers Day card update here for you, but instead you get to hear about me making more Precocious. Uh, sorry?

I've been playing a losing game of sleep math, and eventually the remainder was going to get me. Oh, sleep, how I hate that I need you. I am no longer young, and daddy needs proper sleep or he goes bye bye in the head. Today, instead of more drawing of Sky cooking, I wonked out for a few hours. I've gotta get back to the card thing very soon - like tomorrow - and straighten a lot of stuff out with it, but today is for Precocious.

I'm trying to build up a buffer to cover my trip to DC for my grandmother's birthday so that means work work work. Fortunately, scripting has been going well. I have two weeks ready to be produced, and lots of potential for a third, so produce I shall! I'll feel a lot freer to do the card stuff if I can get a week of strips inked tonight. It's amazing how better one functions with the security of a comic buffer! Working day to day is far too much stress!

What's fun is that we're coming to an exciting point with Precocious. This whole group project storyline is finally going to start paying off! Uh, after this next week. We still have one group left to cover before it all goes to heck. :-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunday, bloody Sunday

Today has been a struggle against the upcoming Sunday's strip, so much that I nearly forgot about my daily dose of inane blogging!

The reason for my troubles: Vincent. He's a fun guy to draw, but it's never easy to do it. That's fine, as long as it's from the standard angles... but what if a scene requires a shot of Vincent from behind? I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE! Oh yeah, and what if this angle is from a distance? Gah! So I have to cop out and find ways around it!

I hope the Sunday comes out ok, with it being clear what is going on... but at moments like these I have my doubts. On the plus side, it's a bonus-sized strip, so there's more awkwardness to LOVE!

Tonight the war begins: Me verses Sunday. It has to go out to the colorist by morning, so this battle must be won! In related news, I have a Red Bull in the fridge. Considering I've had maybe three Red Bulls in my life, it should pack quite a punch if needed.

If the Sunday's ink lines are all shaky... well, now you know why.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birthday partying! Or not.

It has been a... dull birthday. The highlight of my day was an uneventful trip to the DMV to renew my license. Wheeee! Overall, it was just another day. Ho Hum. I did get some comics finished, so my obligations have been met. Otherwise, I'm going to close out the day by eating/drinking whatever the hell I want! MEXICAN COKE AND AMARETTO CHEESECAKE! Yay!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hey, four-eyes!

So my first birthday treat was.... an eye exam? As was expected, I do need glasses, and I need them TOMORROW if I want to pass my driver's license vision test. Blah. I also got my pupils dilated, which means I get to rock AWESOME SHADES for a while. I look just like the terminator!

Actually, I think I'd look sexy with some glasses. It's the hassle of getting them that annoys me. Where's my angel helping me pick out sexy glasses and providing moral support? It's my birthday tomorrow - I demand the world on a silver platter! I'll be 30, and I think I deserve a reward for surviving this long.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Note to self: Make plans, then art.

I couldn't figure out what to do for the blog today, so broke out the colored pencils again and drew a picture that... looks like I couldn't figure out what to do. *shrug*

Colored pencil can't be rushed, and you can't go into it not knowing where you'll going. If you press slightly too hard, things are ruined. If you make one errant mark, things are ruined. If you are improvising, you play it safe and... things are boring. Woo!

It's been a sleepy day in general, but at least minimal comic work was done. My continued existence has been justified! (Even if this post is just barely passable.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Love: In Color!

As the prophets foretold: The next step was indeed colored pencil tracing!

Here we have the happy color in color - quickly hashed out color, but color nonetheless. I tried a few things in drawing this one, namely tracing using the color of what I was tracing instead of black. Mixed success. The downside to black is that once it smears, it's there forever (see Harvey's foot); the upside is that comics work well with a strong black outline.

Best results might be in attempting to do the outline last instead of first, limiting the smear. That would be rather difficult, but nothing about this project is that easy. Another solution is to simply go with a pen and ink outline. The only downside to this is that ink shows through the card stock, so the card will have to be one-sided or the stock will have to be card-ier. This is why we do mock-ups, people! Things are learned!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Twue Wuv

It's the new skill-building exercise that's sweeping the nation: TRACING! Seriously, I've got to get good at that if I'm going to make these cards look right. I can have lots of guide marks on the DRAFTS and TEMPLATES, but finals need to be done right the first time, with no extra lines! I must learn to trace like a GOD! (Also, drawing a perfect heart is impossible, so let it go already!)

This wuv incarnation attempts to swap the Linkletters' attire to something more wedding-appropriate. It should be obvious I did not use a reference for either the tux or wedding gown, but that's fine for now.

I may go back and try coloring this, to make it look snappier, but this is where I am at the moment. For my next trick: Tracing with colored pencils to see what I can do!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stop playing games!

Where's the damn Copper Road strip, Chrispy?

The answer... I dunno? This is a problem I run into whenever I integrate the Copper Road kids into the main Precocious strip... they're too occupied to have adventures on their own. Yes, I suppose I could simply focus on the Copper Road-only characters, but I'm lacking on ideas there too. I'm sorta all in with this group projects storyline. Sorry!

The other side of Copper Road is that it can serve as a running commentary on current events or my life... a life which has been nothing flashy of late. Woo! Hey, at least there's always current events... which I'm barely keeping up on. This is self-sabotage!

I'll have something up for Copper Road soon enough. At worst, I'll use the "in case of emergency, break glass" idea I've been sitting on. (It's only meh, so I've been procrastinating on it.)

Maybe I'll lift up my head and start noticing things around me soon. But, hey, while my head is down I AM MAKING AWESOME PRECOCIOUS STRIPS! Starting Monday, all the set-up is over and the long story begins to draw to its epic end! (We still have around two months to go. As I said. EPIC!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


More potential card ideas! This one goes out to the romantics out there. Of course I'd have to bring in the lovey-dovey Linkletters for this one.

What I'm saying with my card of love... I dunno. Haven't thought that far ahead. We are solidly in the doodle stage and nothing more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prepare to celebrate!

I have two big occasions coming up next week. On Tuesday, Precocious' 500th strip will run. On Wednesday, I turn 30! So.... what do I do to commemorate such events? Hell if I know! All I can say for certain is that you are encouraged to give gifts. ;-)

Every year, I use my birthday as an excuse to splurge on something needed. On year I got the light table, which is infinitely valuable to me! Another year I bought a TV to use as a monitor, which is also fully beloved. Another splurge of this kind was in getting my giant scanner, which CHANGED MY LIFE it was such an improvement! This year... what to get?

I've been thinking of giving in and buying a wacom tablet, which would allow me to draw digitally. While the comic would remain traditional, being able to work digital would help a lot in commissions, wallpaper designs and merchandising. Assuming I learn how to use the damn thing. If I go this route, I'll go for the low-end model, like the bamboo, and learn from there.

But then there's the issue of what to digitally draw IN? My copy of Photoshop is so painfully old, I don't have many features modern incarnations have. Problem is, I don't have $600 or whatnot to shell out for CS4 (or whatever the current version is). Even worse, I really don't have any more to purchase Illustrator, which is vector-drawing deliciousness. (Manga Studio may also work for this, but I know next to nothing of the project.) Now, my Photoshop 7 works well enough for now... but if going digital causes some problems, I may have to take drastic measures to procure an Adobe product: Donation drives! Ahh, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Not that a donation drive would be a bad thing. The art supplies that go into Precocious aren't free, and a daily strip blows through them like nobody's business! Add in drafts and Copper Roads and sketchbooks... it adds up! The problem with a donation drive is that I feel like I'd have to give something back, be it a wallpaper or some signed prints or hand-printed cards, and I need the time to get those suckers into production. Another problem: Who would donate? I may have a lot of readers, but most of them are the *casual* variety. They love me because I'm a lot of content for free. The second I make something difficult to get to (like, say, voting to see a Copper Road) the readers evaporate! Darn those lazy people!

Another problem: I think I need a better printer to do the signed print thing. (Is there a market for that?) A REAL nice printer would cost me as much as those out-of-reach computer programs I want, so that's also out for now. My current printer's quality is fine, but it's so old that I can't rely on it. Since it's also hodgepodged into working with Vista, I have no fine tuning control over documents. They just print at whatever default the printer has.

I don't know what would benefit me the most. The tablet is the likely choice, if only for cost. Besides, that could open up new frontiers, which is good news. I wish I could have it all! Why must I be so desperately poor?

(This counts as an on-time blog post because it was started before midnight, ok?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The joy of cooking

I'm continuing to work on the card idea, refining the top panel featuring Sky cooking. I like the idea of her juggling two dishes at once, although the pose does annoy in that it hides her hair. Gotta press on and refine refine refine! (I admit I rushed because midnight came earlier than I expected.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A mother's work is never done

Here's some more sketch work on the Mothers Day card. The goal was to see how many mommy things I could cram into the relatively small space of a card. So far, splitting it into thirds has been the best option. Any more, and the details become hard to draw by hand. I will give the quadrants approach a shot, though.

I'm not very happy with this sketch, but this is how we discover and work out problems! One error I made was drawing Sky too large. The card would be much more effective if the shots were pulled back to show more of the scene, like I did in the bottom panel. The top needs to be pulled back to show a full stove as she cooks for a family of seven. If I do that, hungry Gene probably won't be necessary. The middle panel can work if pulled back slightly to show there's a washing machine there. The scribbly thing is my attempt to hash out where the caption would go. (Without Gene at the top, the caption could take his place.) I think the bottom panel looks the best at the moment. (That's supposed to be a fire extinguisher she's holding, by the way.) Overall, Sky has to look far more stressed out to make the punchline work.

Eh, it's a start. I'll keep sketching until things start to click!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What a mother needs

In a family of seven, you can keep your flowers, cards and candy - mommy needs some sleep!

This is a spec sketch related to the mother's day card project. Let me tell you, it's a pain in the rear to draw SEVEN characters together (this is why illustrators charge by the figure!) and get the proportions even somewhat right. What I have here isn't great, but that's what roughs are for - figuring out the basics and going from there. If all goes well, I might have something to sell down the road!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I has an angel!

No, this is nothing spiritual or anything. I just unlocked the angel class in Disgaea DS - the game that has become my life! It is the perfect game: You can pick it up and play a level in the item world, then go off and work, then come back for another level, then try to work but end up playing another level, then... you get the picture. Anyway, this is a major victory in my life at the moment.

I'm going to do all the pressing work TOMORROW. I might even leave the house! Wait, on a Saturday? Eww, maybe not. The next week is going to be the real pain in the rear, so I'd best get the trivial stuff out of the way.

Things are still going well on the production front. While I failed to blog yesterday (I didn't even realize the day passed until 3am!) I got two more comics done, which was the plan. Today's plan was to get a double comic done... but instead I GOT AN ANGEL! (Worth it!)

I'm not going to cry over missing the occasional blog entry, although I will always *try* to have something up every day. Some weeks my production is bloggable and some weeks it isn't. Same goes for Copper Road, which is looking less and less likely to appear this week. That's because all my good material is going into Precocious this week. Next week I'll be coasting on a buffer, so Copper Road changes increase. As long as Precocious is up and quality every day, I'm pleased. The bonuses can be sacrificed.... but only rarely. I refuse to let this become a habit!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More mental sabotage!

This day was over before it started, thanks to my bored, meandering brain. Yes, I was derailed by a dream! LAME!

Yesterday I woke up refreshed and ready to kick life's ass! And I totally did. BAM! Today... I woke up after a dream of the perils of air travel. Not cool, brain!

Oh, this dream had everything: The waiting, the tension and the mishaps. I get through my lines, past security and board the plane. Once aboard, everything is uneasy and tense. The passengers are suspicious, nobody is friendly and the pilot is a jerk. Yeah, the pilot was hangin' with us. Dream logic! As we go on, the plane moves closer to the ground and starts swerving around. I am sick to my stomach and starting to freak out.

Eventually, the plane is right by the ground, going up and down hills. (Must have been San Francisco.) We went through an underpass and I wondered how we did that with the plane's wingspan. That's when it hit me. This was not the plane. This was a bus. I wasn't flying to my destination, I WAS STILL ON THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT!

Yes, the dream began again! This time, the tedium went up a notch. We had to stick with the bus. We had to follow the driver's instructions. And everything was still swerving wildly, making me pukey. So naturally we were forced to stop at McDonalds before making the flight!

This was an airport McDonalds, so it worked differently. We moved in one slow, somber line. Everything was blank faced and robotic. Instead of ordering off the menu, you pressed a button corresponding to various meals. This allowed the workers to instantly hand you the meal in one dull box. Payment was a swipe of the card and we were back on our way.

Of course, we were running late so tension was high. I looked up to the big airport board to see if I was going to make my flight. I was! And there was the schedule. Depart at (whatever time) and arrive at - wait, what? We were scheduled to CRASH. In TEXAS. Good of them to warn me. GET ME OUT!

And that is how I started my day. No momentum, lots of weariness. I'm only now starting to get motoring again. The night is young, and the ink is plentiful! The goal is to get some comics done to justify my existence. This boring dream post isn't helping keep the gods from hitting that delete button...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Buffing up!

Yes, it's "take a picture of the drafting table" time again! While this may not be thrilling to you, it's thrilling to me. Precocious work is going along at a nice pace right now and, should I continue with the momentum, I will build quite a nice comic buffer! Nice for me right now is a week. That's not much, really, but considering recent events that's glorious!

Sigh, how I mourn for the days when I was a full month ahead. Of course, those were days in which I scripted the full storylines AHEAD of production, not by the seat of my pants. With a month of scripts, a month of comics is easy to make. Scripting ahead is a blessing, but I am at the mercy of the muse. Right now, the muse is being kind. I'm scripted two weeks ahead and, lo and behold, I can easily produce those strips. If I was good, I would finish hashing out the next month of strips sometime, but who said I was good? (I'll get to it!)

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Skyfecta!

Three days back, three posts with Sky Et!

This time it's me playing around with pen and ink, trying to find a good "what horrible thing did my children do?" pose. Not pictured: Children. Why? Because I couldn't decide what that horrible thing was! Let's leave it to your imagination?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Eeeny Ooony Wah!

This is just a little bit of weirdness I wanted to share.

Every week I set up my Sumdays to send off the colorist (thanks to Matthew of Sometime Alone!) using the same file. This means there's a brief moment when the new strip and old dialog coincide.... sometimes with hilarious results! To me, at least. Shut up!

Now, about that title. If you have not read The Prehistory of the Far Side (REQUIRED READING!) the title makes no sense. The title refers to one of times when the captions of Far Sides got switched in a paper. Instead of a strip where a contractor points out treehouses as if they are infestations, the caption for a strip where slugs worship a salt shaker while chanting nonsense was used. The result was a big WTF for readers and headache for Gary Larson. SO NOW YOU KNOW!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time to be creative again!

Alright, folks. I'm back in Winchester and starting to settle back into the groove. Let's see if I can resume my awesome creativity on a daily basis!

Today is scheduled to be a comic-making day, but I must contribute more to the world! Enter the colored pencils! Yay! Exit my pencil sharpener. Boo! Oh well, I'll make due with whatever's sharp. (I did eventually find the sharpener, but long after the project was over.)

I chose to play with Sky Et today because I needed some practice with her. She makes an appearance in tomorrow's Sunday strip and I struggled a bit to make her look right. Sky will also be featured in a potential commission, so all signs pointed to her!

I went with colored pencils today in part because I'm testing stuff out for commissions. If I move away from the painting stuff, I have to figure out the best means to produce art on paper. This is harder than it sounds. How fast do I work with each medium? How much investment do I have to make in art supplies to work with different methods? (I'm running low on EVERYTHING.) Can I erase my sketch lines on paper after I ink? How many hours would a product take me? I want to be certain I can DO what is asked of me, and make sure the rates match the effort. I gotta be a pro with this stuff, and that means confidence and reliability! That stuff doesn't come out of nowhere. You gotta earn your cred.

Since I'm tangenting onto business planning, what does excite me is pulling out my print gocco machine and creating some small Precocious prints I can sell off to raise some comic supplies funds. As much as I appreciate donations, I do like to give something back. (Assuming the daily comics don't count.) If I was a good boy, I'd devote the next week of bloggery to developing those cards.... but am I?