Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oh Silver Tongue

(Warning: disturbing context)

We've been watching and listening to Jim Jones in one of my anthropology classes, and it's been getting to me more than I anticipated.  I knew how to react to the Waco tragedy, but the People's Temple tragedy in Guyana is harder to understand, harder to conceptualize, and harder to rationalize.  More than 900 people died in one day, most of them committed suicide, some of them didn't.  And the Jim Jones character, a man who started out as a Saint and ended up as a Devil, became villainized in American culture.

I started this sketch while listening to the hour in which those 900 people died as recorded on Jone's loudspeaker; listening to Jones preach, listening to dissenters, listening to the majority of his congregation concur, and listening to people line children up to drink poisoned cool aide. 

Please don't interpret this too far.  It's just a reaction.  I do not mean to imply that the members of People's Temple who died were brainwashed or swindled of their autonomy.  Nor do I mean to absolve Jim Jones of guit.  I'm simply fascinated (and horrified) by the power of words and fear and things that come in pairs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ecstatic Joy and Simple Sketches

You may have noticed that I haven't posted in a little while.  You have deduced this correctly, you smart reader!  The reason being that I managed to spill a quarter of a bottle of beer across my laptop while attempting to swat a gnat.  Very dramatic, very tragic.  The computer looked to be a relic of the past, refusing to turn on and making frightening flashy lights at me.  But, amazingly, after letting the poor thing dry out for a couple of days (in more ways than one) it... is fine.
 That was not something I had been expecting.
And needless to say I am completely ecstatic!

So I share with you, dear viewer, a random doodle that is not particularly ecstatic and is actually rather staid and just a little boring.  It does, however, reflect my new found love for suspenders.  ;)
(Done, as usual, with a beloved blue bic pen and over zealous scribbling.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dynamic Scenes, Church Doors, and Knives

In addition to yesterday's post of character designs, CarnivorousGiraffe and I worked on dynamic scenes!  Monumentally more interesting and much more fun to do, dynamic scenes are characterized by character interaction and stuff happening! And in addition to always being italicized, dynamic scenes must always end with an exclamation point!

[There was a picture here. Now there is not. Rest assured, it was removed for very important plot reasons]

I can't tell you what's happening in these (that would be a serious spoiler!) but I can say that this crazy project of ours is getting more and more interesting and exciting every day.  :)

A question for the lovely audience:
I know how I like to read things, but I don't know about the rest of the world. :)
Given the choice, how do you prefer to read your online comics?
  a) Page updates (once every week etc.)
  b) Chapter updates (considerably less often)
  c) Other

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sketches and Couches and Hotels, Oh My!

I spent this weekend (and part of this week) holed up with CarnivorousGiraffe working on Mad Jack character designs and dynamic scenes.  (It is a new grammatical rule that dynamic scenes must always be italicized.)  This post will show the first.  Thanks to her generosity and a number of lucky casino factors, we even got to chill for a night in a fancy hotel (for free!)  I also drew on the ridiculously comfortable couches provided in the mess hall of her university.  I am quite envious of a large uni's couch power.

I had planned to have this post up on Tuesday (camera would not recognize computer). And then on Wednesday (computer would not recognize scanner). But then finally the fates aligned and I was able to digitize my sketchbook!

Anyhow - on with the art!
(Warning: nudity)
I present to you, oh gracious reader, a collection of doodles and character designs, inspired by Sara's brilliant compilation at her blog, the SketchGarden.  

Some of you may remember a couple of doodles I've done for the Mad Jack comic in previous posts.  There have been a few character design changes, but mostly I've been working on making sure I know how the characters react, how they move, and just practicing drawing them.  (Fun fact: Jack has at least 8 knives on her person (or people in her vicinity) at all times.) 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stuck In the Mud, Verbatim Lines

Being a college student has it's perks. Today marks the first day of our fall break, a week long reprieve from class. I say class rather than college because it is also the period that many professors decide is perfect for big projects. To make things even more interesting, I'm taking the GRE's tomorrow. ( O_O )

But all that aside, I plan to spend a great part of this break working on Mad Jack plans and panels with my good friend CarnivorousGiraffe, who is the fabulous writer of this crazy creation of ours. Expect oodles of sketches, environments, and more in the coming week!

But until break technically starts I'm still going to classes. And going to classes means occasionally doodling in them. This doodle started out yesterday during an extremely depressing film on the Jonestown tragedy we watched in my Contemporary Millenarian Movements class. (...It doesn't get much more depressing than that.)

This time I actually tracked down my scanner and inked directly over my original sketch in photoshop instead of redrawing from scratch. It was faster, but I actually prefer the redrawing process over the "verbatim" method of traditional ink tracing, as it allows me a chance to catch mistakes and actually improve the drawing.

Case in point: her shoulder. I don't even know what's going on there, just that there's something seriously not right. :) Thank goodness it's just a doodle!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Art Process: Under the Wire (Photoshop & Textures)

One of the things I hope to do with this blog is explain my process. In other words, how I get from idea, to, hey, that actually looks like something. What better place to start than the project I'm working on right now?

I started out with a grand and complicated comic idea. The protagonist, an ambiguous, amorphous, androgynous character living alone on the top of a hill finds a rope that leads upwards forever. Should she/he take it and climb it? Or not? The character is lost in the midst of indecision and stays there, thinking about the potential horrors of each option until she/he dies.

The idea was a bit too... soupy... for me in the long run, and I hardly have time to be entertaining the idea of another comic, even a little one. So, it turned into a single frame, which then turned into an ongoing photoshop exercise, tentatively titled Under the Wire.

(The imagery here is probably based off my current obsession with Myst V...*coughs*)

  • First I started with a sketch that I did on some scrap paper:
  • Then... (because my sanity is apparently in question) I redrew the whole thing in Photoshop... (Note: redrawing the entire thing is not faster than going to the trouble of finding your scanner) Redrawing things from scratch may take longer, but it's also a really great way to make sure your tablet drawing skills are up to snuff. :)

  • I had my lines, a basic idea of what this was going to be... and then I did something I don't normally do: play! :)

I have no idea how this is going to turn out. It's not finished and it probably won't be for a while. There is no "plan" here. I can say one thing for certain, though: I'm having a blast incorporating textures and weird visual elements that don't normally show up in my drawings or paintings. I actually like running around in Photoshop like a headless chicken. It's very cathartic. :)

Next up:
A quick and dirty tutorial.
Is there anything you would like to see explained? Let me know in a comment!

Monday, October 4, 2010

5 Things Busy Artists Can't Live Without

(The Title of this post is a fallacy. It ought to be "5 Things Busy Artists Would Bite Off Their Fingers If They Didn't Have," but that was just too cumbersome.)

There are thousands of tools, programs, supplies, and products out there for artist. And it is possible to spend a truly overwhelming amount of time and money reading about them and trying them out. These are 5 things I use on a regular basis and are invaluable to me. Some of them were expensive, others were cheap, and there are a dozen other things I love working with too that just didn't make the list.

1) Photoshop

Let's get real. This program is the mother of all programs. It doesn't matter whether you do photography, graphic design, digital painting, photomanipulation, comic making... Photoshop will do it all, and do it with flying colors. There are other programs out there, and a lot of them are really good, but for me nothing will ever replace photoshop. The major downfall of Photoshop is, of course, its price. This program is not cheap, and for a good reason - it is basically god.

2) 2B Pencil

Yes, its a simple one, but paired with 3) these two buddies are the key to artistic bliss. Pencils come in all sorts of numbers, from 6H to 6B (and beyond!) but nothing beats the plain old simplicity of a 2B pencil. It's pervasive because it will do everything you ask of it. Basically, it's a station wagon.

3) Kneaded Eraser

Kneaded erasers! These guys make my life so much easier. If you've never worked with one before, prepare yourself for a little surprise after you unwrap its clear plastic wrapper. It's squishy, and that's okay! Kneaded erasers can be moulded into any shape you want, making erasing small areas a breeze, but can be re-flattened out to deal with large areas too. My favorite aspect of kneaded erasers is that you can 'dab' away at lines without completely erasing them. Talk about a lifesaver!
(One tip though: don't let them get lost in the bottom of your bag or purse. Crumbs and bits of things stick to them something awful and you'll never get all the grit out of them. And that makes for a sad day.)

4) Digital Tablet

My most recent, frivolous and expensive purchase was Wacom's medium digital Intuos 4 tablet. It took a dip out of my savings, but it was worth it. Wacom is one of the leading brands intablets, and there's a reason for it. Everything Wacom makes is impeccably designed and lasts for years. Although it's hardly a necessity, tablets just make life easier. If you plan on putting good use to your computer programs (such as Photoshop) and unless you are uncommonly dexterous with a mouse (or patient and not liable to tear your hair out) a tablet is a stable for computer art making.

5) Watercolors and India Ink

Okay, I kinda cheated here by including two different mediums, but since I use them interchangeably sometimes, I decided a little cheating was alright. ;)
As much as I love digital mediums, there are plenty of times that I just need to 'make' things that are tangible, and for me that includes scribbling like mad over extra paper and slopping color everywhere. Sometimes the digital world just doesn't cut it when it comes to artistic catharsis. For that there are two things I would die without: plain old India Ink and a nice set of watercolors (no, that Winnie the Poo set just won't do.)

And lastly, because I'm a sap, I'm including a numberless addition to this list. It doesn't have a number because it's the sort of thing that couldn't have one. Supplies are wonderful, tools are fun, but they are all mediums, replaceable ways by which we do things. The process of creation is what's so enticing, making something beautiful, making something that means something (or nothing) and watching it grow. You can do this with a tube of lipstick and some rocks if you're really talented (I'm not that talented). In other words, this last thing is simply the drive to make.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ink Scribbles and the Wonders of Crosshatching

I've found that drawing with pens, particularly thick lined and cheap pens, is incredibly liberating and rewarding. Something about the fact that there is no "undo" button, that no eraser in the world could take away your mistakes, actually produces more confident lines rather than the logical reverse.

My favorite pens are those that run out quickly and come in packs of 15+ ... good ol' Bic is my scribble-friend for life. :) No, it's not "artist quality," and it probably isn't even really black (most cheap pens have a red or blue undertone) but if all you're doing is practicing and freeing up your hands, you hardly need to be spending over $2 a pen anyhow. (Unless your independently wealthy, and in that case, good on you.)

As you may have noticed, I am a major fan of crosshatching, as well as crosshatching's lazy cousin, scribbling. It's a nice way of breaching the gap between gesture drawing and a firmer, more traditional drawing while staying loose.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Unfinished Self Portrait

Although it's unfinished, this is actually the most accurate self portrait I've ever done. Granted, I've only done a handful. ;) Having oneself always on call as a model can be quite convenient, though. Colored pencils (and a regular one) on the back of a shopping bag, done in dreary Ireland last fall.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mad Jack Sketches

Oh hey. This blog. That I should be updating...

My current project is a comic that a friend is writing and I'm doing the art for. It's not very far in the process yet, but it's looking to be a blast.

Our characters are Mad Jack (woman with the hat and the crazy hair), Gan (man with the bruises), and Ann Marie (drunk woman who looks like she's going to kill you). They live in the wild west, kick some butt, and fight bad guys. Except for when they are bad guys. That happens too.