Saturday, December 31, 2011

A very Zeon Christmas

The scan is pretty awful, the original is much better blended.  I've tweaked it a bit, but I can't recreate the original.

This is the rest of my little brother's Christmas present.  He's a huge Gundam fan (with Zeonic leanings), so I brought him a bunch of Zaku stuff from Japan, and drew him as a Zeon officer to round it out.  I'd considered doing the traditional salute, but decided it was a little too "Hail Hitler" for me, and thought that having him stand at attention would be a better choice.  My younger brother's a bit on the plus size, so I waffled between drawing him 'as is' (which has the potential of coming off as offensive) and slimming him down a bit.  Fortunately, the Zeon officer's uniform forgives a lot of sins, so while he'd be the huskiest officer in the bunch, he wouldn't come off as being too fat.  When drawing commissions, there's a fine line between being too honest and being generic.  A major complaint I've received from family (brother excluded) was that I'd drawn him too thin, but Devin really liked it.  I'll probably add a bit of shading around him, so it's not so stark, and mail it off.  It's always very gratifying when you can draw something for a family member and they appreciate it.

December 2011 Art Dump

It's kinda lean, as I'm not counting the sketching done in Tokyo.

A fawn faun, inspired by conversations with Alex.

Figure/pose studies

Went with family to Adoration.  Sketched the chapel

Chapel floorplan.

Sketch for part of my brother's Christmas present. 
Pose studies.

Pose studies/ Christmas Day image

Okami-den fanart, shiba inu study

Possible mascot image (Kara)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

This has nothing to do with the actual content of this post, but I'm curious how many people associate my Twitter with this blog.  It's intended to be an accessible companion to Keep on Truckin' Nattosoup, and it's where I post links to other artistic resources, post photos of my sketches nearly as soon as they're finished, and generally just gush about comics.  The more we interact, the better I can provide quality content, so feel free to send a tweet @Nattosoup any time.

Anyway, this year I thought I'd share my 2012 resolutions with you guys.  I've long given up ridiculous resolutions such as 'lose x pounds' or 'work out more', since lets face it, that doesnt actually help anyone.  I'm much better at meeting professional goals, and hopefully sharing them here will shame me into keeping all of them.

So in 2012, I'd like to:

Grow my blog
Set more goals
Devise a better overall design for my blog
Publicize/advertise more
Be a force for good
Draw more comics
Loosen up artistically (and socially)
Do more gesture sketches/sketch more from life
Take more risks
Promote positivity
Form alliances with other artists
Sell out at MoCCA
Work on 7" Kara
Do more Follow Fridays
Feature more guest posts
Interact with those who inspire me
Read more
Do more commissions
Talk to Scholastic
Put out a really nice con sketchbook
Keep the apartment cleaner
Share more
Start Livestreaming again
Be a better friend
Take time for myself
Ask for what I need
Laugh more
Look for inspiration
Ask more questions
Say 'yes' more often
Post Japan stuff
Have more adventures
Take more reference photos to share
Be more honest
Make new friends
Create a personal brand
Smile more
Be nicer to Tech Boy
Utilize website
Be positive
Streamline commissions
Spend more money chasing my dreams and less on clothes
Life the life I want
Be grateful
See the good in others
Study art for me, not just for comics
Challenge myself
Work faster
Be more zen
Contribute more to SEQAlab
Talk to editors

December Reader Survey

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Two Week Sojourn in the Land of the Rising Sun

For many years SCAD's Sequential Art department has offered a Tokyo Seminar for two weeks during Winter Break.  Students (a varying number, this year was 26) travel to Japan and meet up with two professors (Ray Goto and Mark Jantze) to study Japanese culture and comics.  Highlights include a trip to Disney Sea, a visit with Takeshi Miyazawa, the Imperial Gardens, several shrines and cemetaries, and trips to several museums including the Ghibli Museum.  Students were encouraged to practice gesture drawing and were given free time to explore Japan.

The application process was slightly nerve wracking, but not particularly difficult.  I filled out several forms, submitted a CD with my portfolio, and wrote a statement on why I wanted to attend the trip.  I was one of the six graduate students selected to go on the trip, and Heidi and I were looking forward to a cultural tour of Tokyo.

For this post, I'm going to rely on sketches, photos, and excerpts from my trip journal.  This post is basically a rough draft of the sketchbook I'm putting together for class and for MoCCA, the sketchbook will include more art and photos and perhaps more actual information.

"November 25th and 26th:

This is a very long entry, so for your convenience, I am inserting a pagebreak.

Monday, December 26, 2011

When it comes to gaining exposure for my little art blog, there aren’t a lot of footsteps to follow.  There are some very excellent sketch blogs and fantastic artblogs, how to tutorial blogs that offer lots of insight and helpful information, and review blogs that alert readers to products both indispensible and potentially troublesome, but there aren’t many dedicated artblogs that combine all of these aspects.  I have to turn my attention instead to the fashion blogging community, and take note of their methods for gaining exposure and monetizing, for attracting sponsors and dealing with customers, because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: artblogs, even great ones, aren’t the most popular blogs on the internet.

Writing a good art blog is a bit like grinding in an oldschool RPG video game.  I am constantly looking for new content (fighting harder monsters), writing tutorials for subjects that I may not have mastered (battling bosses), and exploring new avenues for exposure (uh…unlocking more story? This metaphor may be stretched a bit).  It’s a juggling act coming up with entertaining imagery and prose, and some times I’m more successful than others.  My efforts have been moderately rewarded, and I plan to continue my efforts.
If you are looking to improve your art blog, I suggest you too take a few cues from fashion bloggers.  There’s a wealth of tutorials, advice, and information that can be easily applied to what art bloggers do, especially if you show a little imagination.

You should first consider adopting a code of ethics that applies not only to the material you post, but how you deal with other bloggers, comments, and possible sponsorships.  I made a vow to post every comment that wasn’t spam or obvious trolling, even if it wasn’t flattering, because honesty is important to me, and I want to foster open communication on my blog.  The best way to get honest critique (which is something I always want) is to make it known that you are receptive and grateful, which is why all comments are posted; good or bad.  I’ve also decided not to accept any product that can’t be used to improve this blog or to improve the lives of my readers, and have turned down a few offers.  Monetizing this blog was a hard decision to make, as I find Google Ads to be fairly ugly, but it was a gesture of love to raise money to help a friend achieve one of her artistic goals, and my objective of encouraging a positive and helpful artistic community supercedes my dislike of ads cluttering up my pages.  I try to include the sort of material I would have found useful before attending SCAD, so I post about a variety of subjects, and often offer advice and motivation, as that’s what I needed as an 18 year old wannabe comic artist.  This blog is about my art, not about me, so I try to keep personal posts to a minimum.  I want this blog to reflect my professionalism and work ethic, so I keep my topics professional.  When you are planning your blog, plan it with this code of ethics in mind, and stand by it  A man is nothing if his word can’t be trusted.

(You could let your conscience be your guide, or you could read this for some ideas)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Digital Commission Process

I've shared my process for comic pages, for watercolors, and for markers, and it's high time I shared my process for digital work.  Of the media I utilize, it's my least favorite, but there are many benefits to working digitally.  Working digitally (Photoshop, to be specific) allows me more flexibility regarding size and a lot of freedom to correct a variety of mistakes, from inking errors to color correction.  The image I post (or send to the commissioner) is true to the original, whereas a scan loses color fidelity.  Unfortunately, I'm much slower doing digital work, making corrections that would otherwise go unnoticed because you can't zoom to 500% in real life.

This particular commission moved a lot slower than I'd intended.  I either need to streamline my process or start charging more, I guess.

Here's the finished commission.  
For those of you interested in following along at home, here's a link to the .psd file.

As this is an image heavy post, the rest will be behind the cut.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

When I was 13 Process Shots Part 2

Sorry for the inconvienance, Blogger and Blogspot seem to have a lot of trouble handling image heavy posts.

When inking faces, I use a pen that's a size smaller than I'll use for inking the outline of the face and the rest of the body to ink the interior features.  I always begin by inking the face first, while my hand is still fresh.  A stray stroke on a face can ruin it, whereas a stray stroke on a body may go unnoticed.
After inking the elements closest to me, I move on to the midground of the picture, inking the little girl.

When filling in spot blacks, I'll use a brushpen to do the majority of the work, and only use a tech pen to fill in small areas.

Sorry for the auto rotation.  Again, I outline my letters before filling in black, but this time, the letters are going to be left white (it's a neon sign, and are there even Suncoasts anymore?)
Sorry for the grainy resolution.  I pull back often so I can get an overview of how the composition is coming, and to check and make sure the black balance is decent.  This page is a little topheavy (the majority of the strong blacks are at the top, whereas the bottom is kind of empty), but I wanted there to be no mistake where the reader's attention belongs.  I've gotten some criticism that the audience misreads the important characters as being the mother with the black shirt and the little girl running, but really, it's the mother and the girl in the star shirt.  I thought by having the running girl cut off by the railing, it would indicate that she's not that important, but because she's basically at the center of the page, it makes her the focal point.  One solution to this problem is to push her over to the right using Photoshop, but that would create new problems.  There is no truely easy solution when it comes to traditional media, only solutions that present enough benefits that they're worth considering.
After filling the black glass in the Suncoast store, I add lines to the posters to accomplish two things.  1. To denote that they are behind glass, and 2. To grey them out, so they aren't too distracting from the characters.  Your eye is attracted to areas of strong contrast, so you don't want to have too many lines on your most important characters, or they'll become greyed out.
I begin filling in the Suncoast sign in earnest.
Add caption

I begin adding surface details to the ground and the pillars, as well as shadow lines to better ground the figures.  

To help balance the blacks, I blacked out the girl's hair in the bottom of the page.

As always, Bowie is not impressed by my comic efforts.

I've already started tightening the pencils on page 2, so I put in the Aimes guidelines and begin pencilling in the lettering.

The text placement here is actually really bad.  If I were doing it digitally, it'd be easier to play around with finding the best location, but handlettering kinda deters me, since every mistake degrades the pencils.  I'm going to eventually finish my handwriting font and work with a combination of handlettering and digital letters.  Ideally, it'll be hand drawn balloons and my handlettered digital font.

As soon as I have the letters pencilled in, I begin inking them.  I still haven't found a size or a pen that I like for lettering on plate bristol, I may end up using a nib like Heidi does.  I can't seem to find a pen or nib thick enough to give me the nice thick lines I want at a 5.5 on the Aimes, and there's definitely nothing thick enough for bold.  Any suggestions from calligraphers/fellow handletterers?  BTW, for inflection, I use a Japanese fude pen because there's some flick to the brush tip (a Pilot Petit 3, for the record)

I've done a bit of experimenting with balloon shapes, and after struggling with ovaloid balloons, I think I've finally found a structure I like.  The slightly squared corners are really fun and dynamic, and I don't have to be too perfect in drawing it (something my wrist refuses to do for me)

On multi-panel pages, I'll usually start at the bottom panel and work my way up to avoid smudging the pencils with my greasy hands.

After inking this panel, I went in and added white highlights using Bleedproof White, but I'm dissatisfied with them and how the panel is designed in general, so I'm going to make some alterations.

I think this method of adding in highlights is more successful- leaving little islands of white and working around it.

I lost control of myself when doing the glass lines in the background of this panel.  Some follow the dutch and others do not.  I'll probably redo them, because they are bugging the heck out of me.

And finished pages, as a refresher for what they look like.  When I make corrections, I'll post those too.