Sunday, April 29, 2012

Open for Commissions

(Note: The above artwork is higher-priced commission than I'm offering below. I'm using it because I don't have a new example piece ready, and I want to show off recent work.)

Update for clarity: If you're interested, send me an email. You can use the feedback link on the home page.

In preparation for my upcoming appearance at Anthrocon (I'll be at a RCSI table), I am taking a bunch of quick 8.5x11" commissions. The goal is to build up skill, increase my speed and boost my portfolio. I'd love it if you guys could help me with this. Commissions will be done in grayscale markers ($15) or colored pencil ($20). (Additional characters are $5 more.) I'm also taking suggestions for exercises and studies, if you're unable to support me financially at this time but still want to be a part of this. You can find out more on the FurAffinity account I'm trying to get off the ground. I'd love to sneak some Precocious work into my con prep!

I don't know how much response this will generate, but you should probably know this is going to be your last chance to get a commission out of me for some time. Once my May promotion and any remaining outstanding commissions are done, I won't be drawing any more custom art outside of conventions (Anthrocon in June and Midwest Furfest in November) and artist editions of the book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh my, what's this?

C-could it be? Is it true?

Why, yes, that would be the cover of the FIRST PRECOCIOUS BOOK! It's very real, and it's very awesome.  I'm so excited about this, everyone!  It's so pretty on the outside - and even prettier on the inside!  Aside from comics you love, there will be extra art, commentary and a special book-exclusive BONUS STORY.

It is highly suggested you start saving up your money, as the preorder will begin in just a few weeks.  We will be offering special bundles for the preorder, which will be your chance to grab some rare Precocious goods - including my first ever offer of original comic art!

Keep watching this space, as I'll be posting more teasers as we get closer to the fun stuff.

Monday, April 23, 2012

SpiderForest Comic of the Week!

This week I am showing off the grand comic Twilight Lady. This is a story about an ancient force who ends up reborn in the form of a human girl. Now, inside one body, is The Lady and the personality of the human Jen. Jen is in control most of the time, but when she sleeps The Lady emerges.

The recent story, The Inkdwellers, is a great place to start. It's a standalone tale you can enjoy without prior knowledge of the comic. Still, don't miss out on all the good stuff in the archives!

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Copper Road, and MORE!

Let's do this again! Vote and see the latest comic glory! This one comes right out of the real life. I can't fight it, even during business calls - as Darc and Matt from Code Name: Hunter know too well.

In addition to this update, I've also added the most recent Copper Roads to the archive page, starting here. Read them again, and utilize the comment section!

But that was not the MORE I wrote in the title. Since I already mentioned my friends...

Check it out! That's the aforementioned Matt standing by the new PRECOCIOUS CON BANNER! Preparation for Anthrocon is underway, and I'm getting very excited! I've teamed up with the CN:H folks, and we'll be hanging at our two tables under the RCSI Publishing banner. We spent tonight plotting up more and more wonderful things to show off at the con, so you'd best be making plans to come hang with us. (June 14-17 in Pittsburgh, if you were wondering.)

With the help of these pros, things are starting to heat up in the Precociousverse. There's a big announcement coming soon. Like, in a few days soon. Keep watching this space, for it shall be glorious!

Monday, April 16, 2012

SpiderForest Comic of the Week

It's back! Let's get to promoting some more awesome comics! This week, I'm showing off the beautifully-drawn comic, Chirault. This long-form fantasy comic has all the wonderful things you want: Rogues, demons, roguish demons, mages, someone cute that can fit in the palm of your hand and enough adorable pointy ears to make you happy forever. It's a lot of fun!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Copper Road! 4/14/12

Hey, I finished some work early today! That gave me a window in which I could make the latest Copper Road! Of course, I then got distracted, went out with friends and took a business call before actually making the darn thing, resulting in me finishing the day behind in my work - but the important part is THERE'S A NEW COPPER ROAD! YAY! It features our favorite doom-spouting oracle. What's not to like? Vote here to see it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Belly dancing, take two

Here's Ms. Bard doing her belly dancing thing, this time in different colors! I hope this one is better than the first attempt. The scanner seemed to hate the lighter, subtle purples of the drapery and veil, but that's to be expected.

My work schedule is going to be shuffled yet again. First of all, I have to work around construction that'll be happening in my apartment next week. I doubt the workers will be here for more than a couple days, but for the duration of the project my coloring computer will be under a tarp. That means getting my comic work done this weekend instead of next week.  Next, it's putting the finishing touches on the book, which means some back and forth about design, drawing/scanning a few more pieces of art and writing some copy. (I am SO slow at copy.)  Everything else - commissions and one special project - can be worked on in my studio, so that stuff will be the priority when the workers are here. Yeah, I've been moving pretty slow - but I try to keep moving.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is there a Troper in the house?

Is it desperate and classless to do this? Does it matter? Eh.

I love TV Tropes so very much, and you should to. Yes, it eats up your time in 10-hour chunks, but you will love every minute of those chunks. Never before has reading about the details of a show you've never watched or cared about been so engrossing!

What makes that site so entertaining is the dedicated Tropers, who both know their way around tropes and have the will to share their knowledge with the world. They are a special breed, worth their weight in gold, and I'm hoping I have a few of them out there. (Or, if not that, a few do-gooders willing to learn the way of the Troper.)

I would love to see Precocious' presence on TV Tropes rise. It's both good for my massive ego and good for bringing in traffic. Even if I can't bring in much action through this post, I hope I've at least ruined a few good people's schedules by sucking them into the tropeverse.  The more people who get sucked in, the more likely I'll eventually create a Troper army!  Go, my pretties! Destroy your lives to my benefit!

New Copper Road! 4/10/12

Hey, look, a new Copper Road! Hey, look, it's kind of an old Copper Road too! (Vote here to see it!)Yeah, I'm taking on an established topic with this one, but I hope you'll forgive me. Blame the creative process. When I want to brainstorm for Copper Roads, I tend to take walks around downtown Savannah and enjoy nature. Sometimes nature fights back, and I want to get revenge. Thus, weather comics are born! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

A clone of our own

After a break to spend a few days building up a comic buffer, my attention again shifts to commissions! Here is the Pingo family photo, part two of a series. (For the Oven family portrait, click here.)

I'm pretty darn happy with how this came out. The colored pencils were mostly kind this time, and I appreciate them for that. I have no idea why the poppy red and vermilion decided to mix so brilliantly when I made the girls' hair, but I'm thrilled they did.  For once, this scan is actually pretty decent for colored pencil. Colors aren't as vibrant here, but at least it's not blotchy like normal scans.

It's nice to have one project completed, as it gets me closer to opening up commissions again - although you still shouldn't expect me to do that until late April/early May. I'm aiming to finish up two or three more by the end of the weekend.  (Doesn't sound like much, but remember that I'm currently on a work schedule that also forces me to average two comics finished per day.)

It was a great day today. I won my battle with Savannah over a parking ticket, spent the money I saved on discount Easter candy, got some socializing in and still managed to check off every item on today's itinerary. I hope tomorrow is even better!

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Copper Road! 4/6/12

Request week has expanded and taken over Copper Road too! Get your vote on here and go see the damaged caused by you readers! As always, remember that daily voting does a lot of good for a smaller comic like Precocious. I appreciate the dedication!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sorry about the error messages

If you follow Precocious' RSS feed, you got a lot of error messages in your reader today. I apologize for that. Tech guy has attempted to put in a fix, so let's hope it works. Otherwise, let's all hate on Blogger/Blogspot for being really, really unreliable as of late. I don't normally check the RSS feed, so if something goes weird there, be sure to let me know!

Another family photo!

Here's the sketch for the Pingo version of the family photos series. Soren needs to be shrunk slightly, and everything will be moved up in the final to make the feet less cut-off (although I will be repeating the fade-out effect when the feet/ears reach the page border) but it's a good start.

Edit: I did some quick mock-ups in Photoshop to show how the composition would look in horizontal and vertical formats. The white border shows the area where a frame might obscure the design, and it mimics the fade effect I plan to use. (Well, the fade will be more rounded, like in the Oven piece, but you get the idea.)  Since I ran out of space for drawing feet in the original, I very quickly added some lumps to approximate feet in these compositions. Don't make fun!

Hey, foxy lady!

This was meant to be an all-commission week, but then I remembered I should probably map out the Precocious story that's due to start next week. The result is a few days lost to comics. It's ok, it just means commission week will be stretched to two or three weeks. (It was impossible to get them all done in one week anyway.) It will all get done. Life will be good. All will be happy.

This commission is the big scary one, so I'm breaking the process into manageable chunks that won't intimidate me. Today: Playing with poses (and a bit of outfit tweaking)!

This lady is magical gal, so I played with how magic will appear. In short: I don't know WHAT I'm doing yet, but I'll figure something out. Anyway, on to the poses!

1)On the above left we have my closest attempt to match the outfit reference I was given. I probably shouldn't have improvised there, but I did. Hey, it's only the sketch stage. I can be stopped. I went with a confident pose, as she's just starting to fire her spell up.

2)On the right, I went more magical girl, with her in the middle of a display. I also extended the dress, roughed in some embroidery and generally made it more feminine.

3)Here, on the above left, I went with a more playful pose. I like the little ball of magic in her left hand, and the larger spell in the right can turned into twisty "magic rope" or be depicted as floating magical balls, a la will-o-the-wisp fun.

4)I left out the magic sparks in the one on the right, but imagine little wisps above her, illuminating the scene. The main purpose here was to see if a long dress would look good.

5)On the left, we have a variation of pose 2. This one is less demonstrative and more sly. There's also another attempt at a longer dress, which isn't as fancy this time.

6)I struggled to make this one work on an index card sketch, which probably means this idea is way beyond my skill level, but I wanted to display it anyway. In this, she's surrounding herself with that "magical rope" stuff. Eh, it looked like it had potential in the sketchbook.

It should be noted for all these sketches that I greatly simplified the hairstyle, which has been chosen, to make sketching quicker. I also happened to be a bit sleeve-heavy today, which can easily be removed. Details like accessories and jewelry were largely ignored for this. Also ignored was the setting, which will start figuring into the composition later.

I'll keep chipping away at this one until everyone's happy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some construction sketches

(click for the full-sized image)

I was asked to post some sketches showing how I roughed out the structure of my characters, so here we go!

Before I get into any details, I must first apologize for being a horrible spokesman for art. The thing is... I do everything wrong. I learned wrong. I practiced wrong. I shortcut instead of doing it properly. I can only get away with what I do because I've done it long enough that I can fudge most of it and that I stick with simple designs. I can pull off a comic most of the times, but anything that requires me to move beyond my comfort zone reminds me of how badly I screwed up my art education. I write this paragraph not to disparage myself, but to be a cautionary tale. Yeah, I guess you can follow my path and make it work as well as I make my stuff work, but there are some consequences.

I've always wanted to draw in a cartoony style. When I first began practicing, I grabbed cartoony stuff I liked and tried to imitate it. That's good. Tracing and copying work you like helps muscle memory and provides the building blocks of what will eventually become your style. Don't feel bad about doing it. Just don't ONLY do that. That is where I went horribly wrong. The reason the cartoonists I admire were so great is because they didn't go directly to cartooning. They learned the rules of construction, anatomy and composition - then they learned to tweak them until the look was expressively cartoony. If you learn to draw cartoony directly, you can only draw cartoony. If you learn the basic, you can draw anything with a little practice. Plus, you'll have a much understanding of WHY certain cartoony drawing works.

It's very daunting to look at anatomy books or drawing manuals - especially if those figures aren't what you want to end up with - but it's work the time investment. You can practice both cartoony and regular anatomy at the same time - and eventually they'll merge into something neat! On of my biggest regrets in life is skipping this step. Even a minor focus on construction and anatomy would have saved me so much humiliation in the long run.

But enough regret! It's time for the useful stuff! Construction sketches are all about roughing out where everything in a final drawing will go. Cartoony or not, creatures still have anatomy and that must be respected no matter how distorted it all is!

The first step in making a drawing is thumbnailing. You make small, quick sketches to figure out the pose and composition. I'm going ahead as if we're only drawing a figure, but I should probably mention you always sketch the backgrounds FIRST when composing so the figures can fit into the setting more naturally. If I'm doing a composition, I work on the pose with a basic wire structure (a glorified stick figure) and add in more shapes to fill out the figure once I have something that might work. When you have a thumbnail that works, it's time to move on.

The thumbnail gives you a basic pose, so now it's time to replicate it in the final size. There are many many schools on how to handle this stage, and I never learned any of them, so I'm gonna wing it! You start by roughing out the FULL BODY loosely. This can be either with a wire frame, or with loose shapes that approximate the body. (I tend to construct a body as a series of ovals, as seen in the large Kaitlyn sketch.) The next step is refining it. Begin treating the rough structure as if it was 3d. If you drew a circle for a head, turn it into a sphere or egg (depending on cartooniness). A rectangle for the torso? Turn it into a box atop an egg.

For the head sphere thingy, you'll be drawing three loops. One to show the shape of the head, one to serve as an equator and one meridian to give you a point to align everything. This gives you a little map of where to place the facial features. Where the equator and meridian cross, the nose goes! If you're doing a cartoon animal, you'll want to build a muzzle. Do that by adding a small cylinder to the area.

Now that you've got the head oriented, you can place your facial features. Align them however they look in your cartoony style. (Consult REAL artists for proper placement locations.) If you're mimicking Precocious, you'll be warping your sphere to add some cheek fluff and sketching in some half-cones for ears.

Is the face coming together? Good! STOP! It's so easy to get caught up in focusing on the face, but we're drawing a full body here! You've got to give the whole figure equal attention, or you risk a nice face being wasted on an awkward, distracting body. Use your body structure's 3d lines to help you map out how clothing will fit and drape. (Yes, a properly-drawn character is always naked until the final stages. No giggling. And, no, I don't properly draw my characters.) Take your sketching to whatever level of detail is needed for your to feel comfortable before you start inking. (I do a full detailed sketch here, since my work is simple anyway. Some artists leave the finer details to the inking.)

Keep going back and adding more details, using all your guide lines for help. This is why most artists work in light blue to start. All those construction lines can add up and get in the way if you sketch too dark. The benefits of blue lines is that scanning software is usually programmed to filter them out. Alternately, you just let your ink dry and erase the guide lines.

So that's my attempt to help, even if I'm one of the worst when it comes to not doing things right. (Seriously, if you get lazy and use shortcuts in construction, it'll catch up to you!) To make up for my failings, here are some more helpful links. Tracy of Lackadaisy Cats shows you her construction method here. Warning: She is so good at art that you might want to quit forever after seeing what she does. My favorite resource for work-in-action is the great Nattosoup blog by Becca Hillburn. She is very well-read on anatomy and construction, which makes her "art dump" sharing of sketches a marvelous resource for those looking to see how it all works.

Monday, April 2, 2012

SpiderForest Comic of the Week!

It's a new week, so it's time to profile another SpiderForest comic! This time, it's the gorgeous Dream*Scar! This long-form comic is about a world in which things like vampires, werewolves, demons, angels and other things of lore exist, and they've gone public. They are "unhuman." So is Vix, our empathic protagonist. She tried to hide it, but these things have a habit of getting out...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Copper Road! 4/1/12

Yes, it's a new month and that means I'm begging everyone to get their vote on! I'm giving you what you want! Look! It's Yvette, and she's going all crazy!

Haha, April Fools. That pic above is totally not a scene from the new Copper Road - although the new comic *is* all about Yvette! There is so much Yvette in it, you guys. Please vote. Please vote every day.

Anyway, that's all the fooling I'll be doing this year. Or any year. April 1st is a day when most of the internet becomes awful, and I don't want to contribute to the problem. Let Precocious be a safe haven, where you can get away from the fools!