Sunday, March 27, 2016

This Week In Comics: Week 4, Dead PC

Sorry, for delay folks but my PC is dead. No update this week. I'm posting this from my phone. Things were going great on the comic until I hit the power on the old PC today and nothing happened.  I hope it's just the power supply and not the motherboard. Of course it's Easter and everything is closed.

It mighy take a while for me to get the new power supply and put it in, but hopefully I'll be back up and running by the weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 4, Learning to Enjoy the Ride

This week I faced my first major set back since resurrecting my comic book project. I got sick and then my kid got sick.Needless to say, I didn't get quite as much done on the comic book as I would've hoped this week. I'm not writing to complain or make excuses. On the contrary, I handled this week's set back very well mentally. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I continued forward, not back. I didn't stop. I kept going. And I ENJOYED what I did. In the past I would have beaten myself up about it.

I opened the week up doing a sketch cover and mid week I did a panel of The Last Resort.  Both are here:

 In the past I'd consider this kind of work slacking or goofing off. As long as I'm making comics with my time, I'm now giving myself a pass. I figure this kind of thing is needed to break up the long slog of making a full book; it gets something fun out for others to enjoy; it gives my brain a much needed diversion and it's fun! Above all else, FUN is the goal. Completing the book will come when it comes. This shift in thought enabled me to take it in stride when I got sick at the end of the week.

Finished Reading:
Over the course of the week, I finished reading this book on how to write.

I stand by my grade of 3 out of 5. I think it's a great tool and one that should enable me to fix my script for issue 1 and 2. I think the book could have benefited from having all the examples tie together better in a complete project but it was good enough.  If I'm still having trouble after this rewrite, I'll get more help.

Over the course of the week I did get one full page colored and tweaked all of the previous pages slightly. I got the tip to not go too dark with your color (black value especially) and to stay in the top half of the color picker. Otherwise, your book will run the risk of looking too dark and muddy when printed. After those revisions, I began work on PG9 inks. I had to fill in a lot of missing line work once I removed the previous balloons. Lesson learned!

All in all I'm happy with the week and hopeful it I'll break the pattern of getting down on myself and stalling after a setback. Here's hoping!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 3, Pacing the Project

Welcome to the progress report of my comic, "The Caped Sphincter". I did a lot of coloring this week and reading about how to write so I had more time to think than I have things to show. I'll share both today.

Starting off with things to show, I got two more pages colored. Once again I've stripped out all of the text because my lettering, writing and dialog all needed to be improved. One of the unexpected side benefits of doing that is when you see just the sequential art, you can tell whether or not the story is working. I think my art conveys the story well. I'm pretty happy and hopeful that the finished product will be at least readable.

I'm still not 100% in love with my coloring style but it works and doesn't take forever so it will have to do.

As you can see, only getting about an hour per day to work on this doesn't make for quick progress. That is my biggest frustration with making comics but a realization that I've finally come to grips with. Realistically I can only make 1-2 issues per year unless I get much faster. Commitment is key: Doing work every day, steadily, whether you are in the mood or not. Eventually it will get made. I'd like to set a schedule for myself but I did that last year and it destroyed my psyche. I froze. There's just too much I don't know yet, so I can't commit to a time line other than ASAP.

Ideally I'd feel good making 2 comics per year. Once I get issue one finished I'll have a better gauge of how long it takes me to make a page and can see if that's reasonable.

I'm about 3/4 through this book about learning how to write comics.

So far it's been very helpful but I'd give it 3/5 stars at the moment. It's got tons of great instruction on all of the aspects of writing comics but I'd like to see one project from concept through to completion to tie it all together. I'm not sure the book is going to give me that or I'd rate it higher. Still a good resource and I'd recommend it.

Only time will tell how much it actually helps me but it the very least this version of issue one will be better than the 1.5 versions that have come before it. And I'm very grateful to have my wife (who is a college English professor) to clean up all the technical aspects! It should read much better than my blog posts! :)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 2, Coloring Style

After toying with coloring at the end of last week, I've come up with a method I'm finally happy with. It's called "Cel Shading" and mimics that of some traditional 2D TV animation. There are many ways to do it but here is the method I'm using (all digital):

1. Set your inks on a layer and set that layer to multiply.

2. Set up a new layer, below the inks, called "flats" and paint with a hard edge brush (or use selection and fill) to lay out all of the basic colors as solid.

3. Between the flats layer and inks layer, create a new layer called shadows. You can either fill this with a solid gray tone (I prefer a light cool gray) and mask it or select and fill as you go. Basically you want to create shapes using your selection lasso or paint with a hard edge brush, the places where the shadows will go.  I prefer select and fill because it's fast if you know your hot keys.

4. When you're done, create a new layer between your shadows and inks and set the blend mode to soft light. You can also use overlay or hard light but soft light is less contrast and I prefer that in most situations. Then, like we just did with shadows, paint or fill the highlight areas white.  Just that easy. Here's an example:

In the past I was messing around with too much brushing and gradients and it was a time consuming process. Truth be told, it didn't really suit my art that well either but it was all I knew how to do. I like this technique better.

I've also tried to make my color palette more subdued. Everything was super saturated in the past. It was OK enough for "The Last Resort" strips but a whole book of that may be an eye sore.

Lastly, I stripped all of my text and speech bubbles out. I made the rookie mistake of inking my balloons by hand so I had to remove them. Thankfully it was only 12 pages.  I'll save my thoughts on lettering for another day.  Here's this week's work: