Monday, May 28, 2012

SpiderForest Comic of the Week

This week's featured comic is Ley Lines. This is another one of SpiderForest's flock of epic fantasy adventures. Siblings are trying to unravel the mystery of their mother's death - and conspiracies, magic and a cast of intriguing characters await them. Give it a look!

Book sketching tests

The time will soon come when I'll be working on book sketches for the artist editions and those who buy the sketch package at cons.  Sweet!  Now, how should I handle it?

Every artist handles things differently.  I wanted to offer something more than the typical pen and ink approach, so now it's time to find the look.  I've seen some wonderful book sketches Darc of Code Name: Hunter did with monochrome colored pencil, so... monkey see, monkey do.

What you see here are various tries to find the best combo of pen and pencil application. Do I sketch in regular pencil, or no-copy blue?  Should I erase the pencil or show the process lines? What type of pen should I use for the inking?  When should the inking stage occur?

The first try was Tiffany.  I began with blue lines, then inked with the glorious Fude pen that was recommended by Becca of Nattosoup.  It was all awesome until the coloring began. SMEARS! Noooooo!

Darn it!  I want to use that pen whenever possible, so that was disheartening.  The next try was Jacob, where I colored him first and use the pen overtop the pencils. That looks great, but it does make coloring more imprecise.  It should be OK, though.

Autumn is the standard sketch, using regular tech pens. I erased the pencil after inking, so it's a little cleaner. No problems here, but it's harder to pull off line variance.

Bud's inking went the other way.  I left the pencils to show process and used a brush pen, which gives nice lines despite my complete inability to use it.  The downside here is that error potential is high, and I take it a bit slower in drawing.

And then there's the blue. I've been on a monochrome kick for a while, so this should be no surprise. It's also practical.  It's a lot easier on the logistics to keep it in one color family, and I think it's a nice touch.  It doesn't have to be blue.  I just like it, and I can use the blue pencil for sketching.  (Although it doesn't scan well AT ALL. This is an iPhone photo you see.) There's a chance I could switch to toning with markers, but there's a bleed issue there.

The actual book sketches will be a bit larger, of course.  Gotta come up with some scenes to draw, especially since I need to have 21 unique sketches for Autumn.  (Yes, that's out of 25 pre-orders. Dang, guys.)

I know I'm getting ahead of myself.  Most book sketches won't be happening until August.  Still, it's a fun thing to practice!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The book! It exists!

Earlier tonight I was commanded to show up on Skype by the good folks at RCSI Publishing. Why?   Because the proof of the first Precocious book was in! It's real, and it's spectacular!

That would be Matt, of the Code Name: Hunter team, holding a VERY REAL book in his VERY REAL hands!

The first good look you folks have gotten at the back cover. I love the layout.

Bonus art! Bonus art everywhere!

And, oh yeah, an introduction from one of the founding fathers of Webcomics, the great Bill Holbrook!

Also: Those comics the people seem to be going on about.

A look at the Sunday strips in their book form. No color, alas, as that would have more than doubled the printing cost. I hope we made up for that with the giant 48-strip print-exclusive bonus story!

Guys, this thing is happening.  They checked over the proof and it looks FANTASTIC! We'll be putting in the print order for the pre-orders soon (they'll ship out to you early August) and the amount of pre-orders is going to determine the print run. Unless you're planning on grabbing a book at a convention, get your orders in now!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I got some special fan art!

Every time someone makes fan art for me, it's awesome - but when another busy comic creator takes the time to draw something for me, it's really special.

Ok, so I kinda asked for this one. Mark, the creator of Autumn Lake, wanted to draw something and asked for ideas. I told him to draw Precocious fan art. Instead of e-slapping my arrogant face, he did! Check it out!

This makes me happy, as Autumn Lake is one of my favorite webcomics. There's something very classic about the feel and execution of Autumn Lake, and it's that sincerity that is so appealing. Mark and I share many influences, so of course it pleases me to see another out there aiming more for timeless than trending topic. It's special, and it really needs to have more eyes viewing it. For those scared of the archive size, I suggest starting with the epic Lonely Robot saga.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Overdue sketches

I'm only 12 hours late with these! These represent the last of the May commission project.

This should be my May 31st commission.  I started with Bette at the beach, I should end with Bette at the beach! Here, she is joined by Mitzy Bard, as they sunbathe after a tough school year.  Hmm, maybe I should replace their cooler with the beach ball from the first pic. Continuity!

It's getting warm out there, so Gren wanted his hyena character dressed as Jack Frost and enjoying ice cream.

And I guess I can't have a sketch post without more Wen sports poses.  This one was him in motion actually throwing the football. Unfortunately, those poses aren't that elegant or readable.  Also, I'm pretty sure I'm in some government database now, as I got these poses by watching a video of an eight-year-old girl throwing a football around - pausing and rewinding, pausing and rewinding, pausing and rewinding...

Wen again

First off, my apologies to the two folks who are still owed commission sketches. I know I promised them tonight, but I lost track of time with my Precocious inking and now I can barely keep my eyes open. I'll sit down and do them as soon as I'm functional tomorrow.

I did draw these sketches earlier in the day, so I'll share 'em. I was asked to make a few more Wen sketches, and I was happy to comply.

This one has him as the football thrower instead of the receiver.

I was asked to show him unable to catch the football, but the "ball flying just over one's reach" is more of a baseball thing, so I drew that instead.

Side note:  Since I used photos of athletes to draw these pics, the Wen I drew came out looking like a teenager instead of an 8-year-old.  I had to do a LOT of Photoshopping to get his limbs to a reasonable level of stumpiness. Gotta watch myself with that in the future.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Copper Road! 5/23/12

If you've been following along with Twitter and the blog, you'll know I'm Trekking again. (I'm almost done! So sad!) This Copper Road is for you Next Generation geeks out there. As for the rest of you? Go watch all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. Then this comic will be funny.

Anyway, vote to see the fun!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Commission sketches: The final frontier!

Ok, yeah, I've been watching way to much Star Trek recently. (Just wait an hour for the new Copper Road!) Anyway, sketch work has begun on the final batch of the May commissions!

I was give free reign on this one for Phil, and that is always so scary. I decided to take a proper crack at his fursona. (His look was previously used as a cameo in the strip, but not in-character.) Since he's been having technical difficulties with just about everything he's touched recently, I drew something with him being taunted by a tech demon.  (Blue screen of death demon?) As is, the demon is singling him out as his choice for torment, but an alternate idea could zoom in a bit and keep the demon to a face on the monitor. Yes, he's wearing the SCIENCE! shirt. He said geeky shirts were good, and I chose mine!

Karl wanted a sequel to his Derpy and Bud watercolor piece, with Derpy hunting down the jerk who took the last muffin. Unwitting subject of an impending lightning strike? Had to be Jacob. Instead of making multiple sketches, I just drew alternate Derpy poses in the empty space.  I love the idea of her riding the storm cloud behind Jacob.  This piece could benefit of a shift to a horizontal layout.  It could also be flipped, with Jacob walking the other way. That way the eye would start on him and then move to angry Derpy.  I don't like that angle on Jacob as much, so it may not happen, even if it helps the narrative.

This one started out as Autumn being territorial about her library, but drawing a full library background in the time allotted is impossible. It's a shame, because it was a good idea. (I may have to turn a variation of that into a strip down the line!)  A smaller-scale version of Autumn protecting her books that was suggested was her sacrificing herself to keep a book dry in the rain.  Sounds cute!  If I went with this, I could do regular color or something more experimental.  I think a rain scene would look neat in all blues.  I may have to redraw her to show her a bit more hunched over, but the idea is there.

Here's an alternate take, showing the set-up.

I was given two options for this one:  Kaitlyn and Autumn having fun together, or Kaitlyn making Autumn all poofy paranoid. Since I couldn't think of a good activity for the friendly stuff, I turned to the dark side.  I'm torn over trying to make this a vertical or horizontal piece.

Hey! Wen got a commission! That's right, Roddy, even Wen got chosen before you. The question about Wen was what he does when not tormenting Kaitlyn.  He's a sporty jerk, so I decided to have him playing catch.  Maybe it wasn't the smartest move to make him play American football, since this for a European reader, but you must admit football is a suitably jerky sport for him. Bonus insult:  I swiped this pose from another drawing I'd done... a drawing of Roddy!

Finally, I was asked to bring back Tiffany dressed as fruit, from an old sketch of mine. It proved harder than I thought to find an alternative to the original pear look.  I through inverting the shape and going strawberry would be good... but the pear shape still beats it. I suppose it'd be cheating to make her an eggplant.

There are two more commissions that need sketching, but I ran out of sketchbook pages. (That means I'm down to just two empty sketchbooks! Ack!)  They'll have to be sketched tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2012

SpiderForest Comic of the Week!

But first... some self-promotion! Aside from the obligatory begging to pre-order the Precocious book and snag one of the last commission spots, I did a guest comic for Ginger's Bread, so go over and witness the Precocious kids assaulting that comic's universe. (They can do that now. No comic is safe.)

And now on to the fun stuff! This week's comic is Footloose, a silly and sweet romp about fighting, faeries and whatever they feel like it being about! There's lots in the archives to chew on, plus some more comics on the site to enjoy. There's a lot to choose from!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Button set 2

New post for the "final" group of button designs. I've printed them all out, and I like what I see.  My main doubt is regarding the Autumn button.  The text, while blurry here, works in print well enough. It's more about me re-using a magnet design for a button. That creates a conflict.  I only did it because I don't have any more pre-existing art to use for designs. (And no good idea to cause me to create new art.)  Aside from maybe switching out Autumn with another design, I think this is it for my button creation times.  Any more than 10 designs and things get crazy.  Heck, I wouldn't have expanded so much this soon if it wasn't for a desire to use up the rest of my button parts while I can.  I need 'em done by the end of the year, and might as well do it now so I can take them to the cons.

And, yes, these are still con-exclusive.  If I can figure out a cost-effective method of shipping, I *might* sell button sets - but for now you'll have to track me down at a convention some day.  (Hey, when you do, I can sketch in that Precocious book you've already ordered, right?)

Friday, May 18, 2012

More button designs?

Potential new button designs! This is what I do instead of desperately-needed penciling!

Update: Here's another one!

The way I see it... I have a pile of button parts sitting around that I won't be able to use in a few months, since I don't own the button machine for it and eventually Becca or myself will move away from Savannah.  Why not go nuts? It's not like I have a shortage of upcoming cons or buttons are hard to store. Let's think of some designs and see what I can do!

New Deleted Scene! 5/18/12

It was almost midnight. I should have gone to bed. Instead, I went through my script file and looked at the rejected ideas for this book-promoting Commercial Break week. Somehow... this happened. Enjoy this twisted take on a classic PSA, and try not to think too much about the implications. Vote here to see it!

And, again, if you haven't supported Precocious yet by pre-ordering the book, please consider doing so. I can't really survive without the love from you guys, y'know?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Everyone breaks Rule #4

So here we are, the sketches for the last commission in my queue. (I have room for a few more slots, btw.)

This is net-cat, and this commission has him gleefully running away from a clear rule #4 violation. My vision of this has him sprinting away as flaming debris falls around him.

I wanted to draw him running the other way too.  This one features more of the blast glow in frame and I gave him a detonator.  The eyes are a crude try to see what would happen if I went with the standard furry triangle eye over my Precocious-y egg eyes. They need to be redone, so just imagine them looking better than they do.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Giving 'em the business

When I went to the post office today to mail the recent commissions, I had a nice chat about the art I was sending with the lady behind the counter. She asked me for a business card, and I checked my wallet. One left! I handed it over and made a mental note to reload when I got back to the apartment. Once there, I pulled out my box to see... I'm in the market to reorder.

The cards I have now will get me through the next con easily, but it'd be wise to reorder before the next. That means updating the design! I like the "I DEMAND ATTENTION!" idea, and those at the cons seemed amused by it too, so it's staying for now. The art for it is quite old at this point, so today I drew a new attention-grabbing Tiffany.

For the design, I made a few changes:
- I removed the Precocious logo from the front, so I could make Tiffany bigger.  This may or may not be a good idea.
- Fonts switched around. While I kept the Precocious font for Tiff's voice, everything else was upgraded. The new logo font took over the important info, and a non-offensive Franklin Gothic was used for supporting information.
- The Bud and Autumn on the back were upgraded with the recent magnet images. (Poor Jacob remains shut out.)
- The tagline was rephrased to mention the daily updates, and "webcomic" was changed to "comic" so the label purists won't get mad.  (I don't care what you call my strip, as long as you read and enjoy it!)
- Twitter and blog links were added to my information. It gives folks other ways to contact me, and lets them see my personality in action.  (Is that good or bad?) The downside is that the back is now text-heavy.  I do think the black box for my name did a good job of stabilizing everything.
- I made the blue background cover everything.  The original card has a separate white space where the logo and website appeared on both sizes.

I'm liking the upgrade so far, but I'll see what the reaction is before I do any more playing around.  Plus, it'd be silly to order new business cards when the company I'd order from botched my magnet order and hasn't come through with the corrections yet.  (I was promised it'd happen, but I'll still worry until I see the proofs.)

New Copper Road! 5/16/12

Are we all enjoying this week's commercial break? Are we all pre-ordering the new Precocious book? It's kinda important that you do so. Supporting your artist keeps that artist making art, y'know. I know we sold out of artist editions, but you can always buy the regular book and get me to sketch it at a con - or commission me separately and glue the piece into the book!

Anyway, in writing up commercial-based scripts, I had a few fun ideas that couldn't be twisted into book-selling devices. Copper Road time! Bonus: This one let me bring back Yvette's parents! Vote here to see it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Code Name: Swordplay

The lovely Darc of Code Name: Hunter asked me to do a commission piece of her character, Max, with a sword. I am happy to oblige!

I put off sketches until after my big batch of commissions were done - and they were done today. (I'm now looking for more commissions, btw.) That meant it was sketch time! For some reason I decided to go against all forms of logic in my sketches tonight. Not only did I work in ink - using a fancy new Fude pen - but I tried to up the challenge by drawing Max, a character who is not mine, from memory. I had two monitors in front of me, both with a CN:H page open for various reasons (we were actually skyping as I sketched), and yet it was TOO HARD to look up! I ended up drawing eight pages of Max. These are the only results that are not completely horrific.

Do you know what happens when you try to find sword action via Google image search? ZELDA. So many pictures of Link in action! Well, heck, let's copy that! This one was based off art of Link jumping forward and slashing his sword. While I fudged the stance a bit, the big change was the free arm. Link carries a shield.  Max... apparently he flips the bird?  I believe it was supposed to be a "come closer" hand motion, but that doesn't make that much sense with the pose either.  Man, what does one do with unshielded arms?

And then I wanted to go silly. The original sketch was just Max, upset that he broke his sword AGAIN.  But our conversation had recently touched upon a chicken in the Hunter story.  I wanted to imply Max broke his sword doing something silly... and chicken murder seemed obvious after that!  I'm sorry.

It should be noted that this sketch was originally drawn with extra limbs. Once again, I ran into non-sword arm trouble.  The first attempt, with the arm raised, looked like he was disco dancing.  I also had to excise an extra right leg.  Saddest part:  All those extra limbs were drawn, yet I didn't bother to add his tail.

I gotta say, sketching with that pen is FUN - but it's no very smart when dealing with too many unknown elements.  I'll have to spend more time with sketching before things are solid, but it's a start!

Pre-orders are open!

The time is now! Pre-orders for the first Precocious book are now open! You can snag yourself a basic copy of the book, or grab a special artist edition pack, which is a book sketched in and signed by me, as well as some sweet extras! If you want a sketched copy, you have to act fast, as only 25 are available.

UPDATE: The artist editions have sold out! If you want a sketched book now, you'll have to visit me at a convention and get it there.  (You don't have to wait to buy, though. You can bring me your pre-ordered copy for sketching!)

Why pre-order? Simple. It costs a heck of a lot to print a book, and pre-orders are how we pay for that. The success of a pre-order goes a long way into determining how much of a print run book 1 will have - as well as indicating if an investment in book 2 is a good idea. The awesome folks of RCSI Publishing put a heck of a lot of effort into this, so it's time to prove it was all worthwhile.

So what's in the book? Aside from collecting the first 301 strips, the book features bonus art, author's commentary, an introduction by the legendary Bill Holbrook and an exclusive bonus story!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Commissionathon still going on!

To catch up those not in the know, I've been drawing a commission a day this month to build up skills and a portfolio for the summer conventions. I've based it over on my formerly-ignored FA account, since that's the con demographic I'll be playing with during my book push. There are still spots available for cheap commissions, ranging from $15 to $25 for 8.5x11" drawings. I'll draw Precocious or your own characters. I know this kinda conflicts with me also selling books, but it's my last commission drive for a long time.  If you want a sketch from me after May, you'll have to reach me at a convention.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bonus deleted scene!

There's a bonus follow-up to today's strip available as a vote incentive on TopWebComics. Vote here to see it!

As with the last incentive, this was also one of the proposed extra comics to be used to fill out the arc so it hit 35 strips. I ended up not needing it when Suzette's part was rewritten, but here it is anyway!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The dance is done

So here's what happened with the Deirdre commission. I decided to get playful with the dress on a whim. Hope it panned out.

With this, my venture into watercolor midriffs ends.

The last family portrait.

Here's a drawing for the final family portrait: The chaotic Et horde.  While the first three family photos were all cordial, I doubt that would be possible for the Ets. Thus, chaos and stressed parents.

Some touchups are needed, mostly on the arms.  Gene, be lucky you have a left arm at all. I was almost done before I realized all I'd drawn was an empty shirt sleeve for him.  Actually, speaking of Gene missing body parts, I forgot to ink his tail. It's in the original sketch, so no worries. But, anyway, this is the foundation for the next step.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The final dancer

Here's a test image for the final belly dancer piece. Deirdre is, understandably, less confident (and more covered) than the others.

I took a different approach here. Since my source image had such nice contrast in the fabric, I played with and increased the black placement dramatically.  I'm not sure how much will make it into the final - it will probably end up far lighter, just because that's the watercolor way - but it was fun to experiment.  Besides, it wouldn't fit in with the others if I went overboard on the ink. I chose a red for the cloth to offset Deirdre's cool grays, but that could change upon request. In fact, through the magic of Photoshop, I can show some other options!

Monday, May 7, 2012

SpiderForest Comic of the Week!

Before the real post begins, I'm hijacking it to remind you about my May commissionathon promotion. (This update will push the other announcement off the front page. Man, too much his happening in the Precociousverse right now. One news page can't hold it all!) Now, on with our special feature...

This week's comic is one of my favorites: Spare Keys for Strange Doors! This is the new project from the mighty creator of Kaspall, and it's a lovely collection of supernatural short stories. Spare Keys is very clever, a lot of fun and the interconnected short story format is highly readable. This is a perfect time to come on board, with four stories to read in the archive and new one beginning this week! Check it out!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Commission sketch assault!

Here we go! Let's start the sketch approval process so I can get these commissions done over the next week!

The idea for this commission is to show Max on a sports poster, which shall hang in another character's bedroom.  Max, being the star athlete, has signed it!  I was given the suggestions of tennis or soccer, and I chose soccer because that's his stronger sport.  (Max may have a tennis trophy in the comic, but it's implied he won it by having his real competition taken out by random accidents.)

In addition to the striker pose, I promised to attempt a bicycle kick shot for Max.

My task here was to show Yvette's family. I decided to depict them going on a walk. Unfortunately, I hit on the idea AFTER I had started drawing, so Eva fell off the edge of the page. She'll get her spot on a horizontal layout if this sketch is approved.

"Casey at the Bat."  The original request was to show more of a baseball scene, but that would put it well beyond the limits of this promotion.  My proposed compromise is to have her walking to the batters box.  the crowd in the background will be more implied than drawn with details.

I was asked to draw a devilbunny! A devilbunny in a fancy dress! The dress I chose is a mishmash of embroidered swirls and flower elements. I'd say rhinestones or sequins, but I doubt that would come across in colored pencil.  It's chaotic fancy for now, but it can easily be reduced to regular fancy with only one of the elements used. I also added a jeweled headband with dangling gems because why not? I was working under the definition of fancy, as thought by a devilbunny.  Like every sketch, I'm open to tweaks.

I was asked to draw Ivy in a wedding dress. The request specified a non-poofy dress and a tiara.  Oh, that tiara... *shakes fist*  Since she obviously wouldn't be in a ponytail, I let her hair down with a slight curl.  Also, if I drew her with her hair up, I'd have to turn it into a side shot

Slick Kat asked me to give his character a girlfriend, and the only requirement was cat. That's a lot of options.  I started with a calico, because calicos are the best. The outfit is basic and pose standard because I didn't have a composition idea yet. She's sporty!

Contestant #2 is a classy angora.  This is a pretty terrible sketch, but I kept it to show the options. The idea here was that they were sending each other texts while in the same room as each other.  The body language would be improved if this idea is chosen.

And here's a pose that's always fun: Arms locked!  Girl #3 is a dark-colored cat, like a Russian blue or even a black cat.  Her look is kinda punk. For the girls, the hair/style/kitty type is all interchangeable, of course. It depends on what (if any) Slick Kat wants.

That's all for now.  I still have one sketch left to do, but it's a secret so it wouldn't be here anyway.