Monday, May 30, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 12, Down to Earth

After the awesome amount of progress last week, it was time to come back down to earth this week. You'd think I'd get more time with a long holiday weekend but alas that time is filled up with family. I got what's more like a "normal" week in for me: 1/2 - 1 hour before work if I can wake up on time each day and a bit on the weekend.

So what did I do? I penciled PG 14. I'd probably call this rough pencils but since I work digitally I can do my tightening up when I ink.  Here's how the process goes.

Thumbnail of PG4
I had the thumbnails done from a few weeks back. I do these fast, lose and small on regular paper. I don't like to fuss over them too much. They serve to rough out how the story will flow so I try to go with instincts to keep the motion fluid. I can always tighten as I go.

Pencils of PG 14

As you can see here in the rough "pencils" (I do these digitally in Manga Studio) I kept with the thumbs for all but the 1st pane layoutl. I wanted to get more of the Crobster bursting through the door and less of the Cop's face. In the initial thumb I had the cop getting based with the case. In the pencils I have it being held up to draw more attention to it and to more clearly identify it as being a case. The pencils are a bit rough but they'll do.

Started Inks of PG 14
From there I tint the roughs back and start inking on a new layer above.

Nothing as fancy as last week but progress is progress and such is the life of an indie cartoonist. Making a living and family come first. I hope you all had a great holiday weekend and spent as much time as I did with those you love.  See ya next week!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 11,

I wish all weeks could be as good as week 11 was. I'm lucky if I get 5 hours per week to work on this comic but, thanks to my lovely wife taking the kids Friday night, I got double the time last week. More importantly I got several hours in a row instead of all spread out! It's so much nicer for the creative groove if you get that much time. I think it shows in this week's progress report.

Finished Inks On PG13

Here you can see the progression from thumbnails, to pencils, to what I'd consider my finished inks. Some shading may be added in the coloring stage but this is pretty much it.  (Click on any image for a larger view). Being both the writer and the artist on this I tend to edit as I go. I'll change angles or details to create a better story. You can see panel 4 & 5 inks are a bit more active than the penciled page. I think it was Larry Hama who said, never draw people just standing around. I think the inks are more dynamic and create a better visual story.

Learning Process
I also had a couple major break-throughs while inking. The first was in the inking technique itself. While I've always been using the G-Pen to ink in Manga Studio I have not been treating it like the brush it is.  What I mean is that it creates great thin to thick lines. I use this on the outlines of characters quite a bit. But when it came to shading the characters I was treating it more like a ball point and doing a lot of hatching.  Hatching can be good but you can also run parallel lines of thin to thick to create some nice shading effects.  Here is a work in progress shot I used to communicate the idea better in a twitter conversation I had with another cartoonist.

As you can see, you can get two different looks out of the same tool. I think there's a place for both and I'll probably mix the two techniques but it was a big eye-opener to realize I'd been not using the tool to it's full potential.

Color Change
It was getting late Friday night when I got the bright it might be a good idea to change all the colors in my book! I said I was going to bed on twitter, but ended up staying up another hour or so playing with the look of the colors. 

I always felt like my colors were one of my weaker points as a cartoonist. I tend to be too saturated but other than that I can't put my finger on why I hate my colors other than they just urk me. I didn't want to go back to grayscale as a cop out. I generally like a color comic better than a black and white one and I wanted to beat this problem, not run away from it.

What I came up with was to split the difference. I toned all my pages brown (gray on the night time scenes). Not full on but toned everything way back. It gave me a nice muted look and then I went into each page and masked out selections where I wanted pops of more saturated color. I may have one or two pages left of the first 12 to tint but I'm pretty sure this is the look I'm going with....for now. :)

Hopefully you guys like it! I wish I had as much free time every week as I did this one. I feels good to get so much done!

Monday, May 16, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 10, Thumbs, Pencils and Inks Oh My!

Howdy folks. This week I have a bit of a process post on how I make the sausage here at MesyComics. As you know from last week, I finished the plot and thumbnails to issue #1 of this comic. I thought about going through and penciling the whole thing but since I do so much work in the ink stage (my pencils are a bit rough), I thought it better to ink as I go.

So this week, I'm posting everything I got done in about 5 hours work.

These are done about 3 inches by 5 inches and I work traditionally for speed and fluidity

I pencil digitally in Photoshop or Manga Studio. I haven't settle on one over the other yet.  I love the multiple undos and the ease of scaling....basically cleaning up for my lack of skill! As you can see I change the view of the last panel to make it more dramatic and to also get more of the control room door in the shot. It's important for the next scene and also to make it have a sense of foreboding. Like it's looming over the cop.

I like to use vector inks in manga studio. It's nice having the ability to move a whole line if need be. Or snipping off the ends of some shading that goes beyond another line. I highly recommend the vector inks feature in Manga Studio

It's been an OK week but I can do better. Getting up in the morning has been my main problem. If I don't get up at 4:30 it severely limits how much time I can work. The day job and the family occupy most of my hours in a day.  I'm going through some sleep issues with my little ones right now. Hopefully that gets ironed out and I can get back to the early starts!

Monday, May 9, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 9, Who's got 12 more thumbs and a finished plot? THIS GUY!

After two weeks of not having much to show I'm back in business! I'm just going to open by busting out my thumbs! PG12 is where I left off in the upper left and the rest are pages 13-24. This is how rough I do the thumbs. I do them pretty sloppy and in pen on paper. I'll reference these for the next step, which is to do the rough pencils, which I do digitally.

Finished Plot!
As you can see I have a finished plot! What a nightmare that was. This damn plot caused me to quit this comic last year and caused me to freeze up and stall and drag my feet this year but it's done. Here's what I learned.

DO NOT START DRAWING UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR SCRIPT!  This seems like a no-brainer but if you're like me you are excited to draw so you just dive in. My comic from 1996 was made up as  went and it shows. I was going off that old script to make my 2015 version and I was kidding myself into thinking it was better than it was. 

To make matters worse I got halfway through drawing it then had to marry up the drawing with a plot that makes sense. I didn't realize it but I kept fixating on the old bad script and trying to make it work. It wasn't until this week that I decided to throw it aside and rewrite the last half...pretending as if I didn't know what I'd written before. Near impossible but I think I did it. I may actually insert a few more pages before I'm through. If it ends up helping the story I think it will be better than sticking to an arbitrary 24 pages. Right now it's 24 and works as a plot. I'll decide as I go if I need more room to tell it but for now it works.

What I Should Have Done
Now that I've made every mistake in the book I can correct some mistakes going forward. I still like the Marvel method so I don't think I will write a full script on issue two. I WILL have a completed outline though.

I'm going to treat it like drawing: block it out in shapes and then refine those shapes into a finished rendering. I'm going to write a summary of what happens in the issue. That gives me the beginning, the middle and the end.  My next step is going to be to number a page 1-24.  Each number represents one page and I write a sentence as to the main thrust of each page.  That gives me the rough framework of the story.  From there I can detail the actions on each page. Since I'm both drawing and writing this I don't have to give a lot of detail but I do break each page down into chunks or snapshots that then become the panels. Once I have that I do the thumbnails as you see them above. Sometimes I change the arrangement or number of panels at this point. Then I start penciling and things may change again there.  I may even go so far as to add whole pages. Since I'm indie have that luxury so I may as well take advantage. Once the pencils, inks and colors are finalized I'll go in and write the dialog.

If I had money I'd actually prefer to pay a writer! I make comics because I enjoy drawing them and coming up with goofball ideas but writing is pretty difficult for me. A pro writer would make for a better end product. But if I want to draw I have to write so I'll just do the best I can.

Fun Stuff
While struggling through the script I made a few Post-It note sketches of characters from Rick and Morty. I love this format for quick fun drawings to help burn off some stress.

This week I'll be doing some pencils! Hooray!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 8, Drawing on the Horizon

Happy Monday! I'm pleased to report the nasty virus has run it's course and I'm getting back into a groove. I'm polishing off the script and will be doing roughs this week.

I apologize for the lack of speed and lack of art to post. Writing is a bit of a stumbling block for me and the reason I quit on the comic last time. It's tough even now. I'm slow and apprehensive and the process is painful but I'm pushing through. I think it may have been easier if I had a large block of time to just sit in a closed room and plow through writing but this chipping away a little each morning is less than ideal. I'm not that awake this early to handle the mental challenge of writing and the fear has me moving at a snail's pace. Some mornings I hit snooze and don't even get up in time to put in the work. Motivation is a big problem. It's very frustrating.

But enough of my woes. I persevere and I'll post some roughs next week.

Sketch Cover
I felt bad about not having any art again so I did this sketch cover on Saturday. Then, of course, I beat myself up for using that block of time to draw rather than write. Whatever! I thought it was a cool sketch cover concept. They left the cover blank in the area of the painting that Harley Quinn is holding and that is the section I filled in.