Thursday, March 29, 2018

Con Announcement- MTAC 2018


Hey friends!  I'm going to be at MTAC this upcoming weekend, in Nashville, TN!

I'll have:
Comics:
Copies of 7" Kara Volume 1
Preview Pages from Volume 2
1001 Knights Volume 3

Mini Comics:
Lilliputian Living
Magical Girl March
Favorite Fictional Femmes

Cute Stuff:
Stickers
Mini Prints
Handpainted Wooden Charms

As well as mini fandom watercolors and original watercolors for sale.  I'm going to take commissions for Pencil and Inked Commissions until Sunday, and Mail in Commissions all weekend!

Brand New Mini Watercolors:
Deku, BNHA, Boku no Hero Academia, My Hero Academia
Deku- BNHA

Froppy, BNHA, Boku No Hero Academia, My Hero Academia
Froppy-BNHA

Bakugo, BNHA, Boku No Hero Academia, My Hero Academia
Bakugo- BNHA

Card Captor Sakura, CCS
Sakura-Card Captor Sakura

Magi Puella Madoka Magica, Madoka, Madoka Kaname
Madoka

Voltron, Voltron fanart, Hunk, Hunk fanart
Hunk- Voltron

Keith fanart, Voltron fanart
Keith-Voltron

Lance fanart, Voltron fanart, Lance, Voltron
Lance-Voltron

Allura fanart, Voltron fanart, Allura, Voltron
Allura- Voltron

Pidge fanart, Voltron fanart, Pidge, Voltron
Pidge-Voltron

Shiro fanart, Voltron fanart, Shiro, Voltron
Shiro-Voltron

Monday, March 26, 2018

Lilliputian Portraits from Launch Anniversary

As you guys know, February 10th marked the one year anniversary for 7" Kara's webcomic debut.  To celebrate, I hosted a livestream on Youtube full of giveaways- including an opportunity for viewers to submit a photo or reference to have themselves or their characters drawn as Lilliputians in Kara's world.  Below are the resulting portraits- sketched in blue pencil and inked.  Keep an eye on my channel for the upcoming timelapse process videos!

Portrait from reference

Shelby, an adorable tiny

Kabocha's Aster and Fox, from the webcomic Linked 

Mharz's Big Sis, from the comic The Angel with Black Wings

Nisa's beautiful OC, Solas

Respheal's Conan, from the comic Galebound


Character from Toefield’s mini comic

Diane’s Nikolai

Huge thanks to everyone who sent in reference and hung out during the stream!  You guys made it a blast.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Intro To Comic Craft- Planning and Workload

Knowing your comic creation pace and what type of schedule you can reasonably keep is an important part of comic planning.  Whether a webcomc or a print comic, a mini comic, anthology entry, or longform story, knowing your pace and how you can maintain it and your sanity are key to the regular production of comics.

I don't have any perfect solutions for your comic- planning comes from experience, and if you want to gain experience quickly, I recommending making lots of mini comics, trying out differnt styles, finishes, and processes.  But I can share my own planning timeline, tips, tricks, and tools that have helped me plan and plot, and tricks other creators use to help keep the schedule rolling.


This post was made possible thanks to the generosity of my wonderful Artnerds on Patreon!  Patreon is a site that allows you to support the creators whose work you love, all for little more than $1 per month.   Patreon funds go to paying for art supplies to review, paying amazing guest creators to create posts for this blog, and paying for equipment upgrades.

Finding Your Groove:

Red is for Youtube.  Blue is for Blog.  And Green means I worked on comics that day.


I learned how to judge my pace based on mini comics, anthology submissions, and maintaining this blog and my channel.  Working on mini comics for various anthologies, with various needs has given me the experience necessary to judge for a variety of projects.  A watercolor comic (uninked) needs a different timeline than a digitally coloreed comic, and working with a writer requires a different schedule than winging it alog.

The trick isn't just to figure out how fast you can work when the pressure's on, but also to know how fast you can sustainably work, and what workload is reasonable for you.  This varies for everyone, and only experience and practice will help you find the pace that's right for you.


My comic schedule:

Watercolor Comic:
Script- Approx 3 days
Thumbnails- 3 clean, final thumbnails per day, for duration of chapter
Roughs- 1 clean, finished rough per day, for duration of chapter
Pencils/Inks- 1 Page per day, for duration of chapter
Pencils for watercolors- 2 pages per day, for duration of chapter
Watercolor- 4 pages every 6 days, for duration of chapter
Scanning- 1 day
Color correction- 1 day
Digital corrections and lettering- varies depending on length of chapter

Finished tight script, printed with notes


Chapter 8 folder and outfit/layout sketchbook

Outfit designs for Chapter 8

Tight thumbnails on template

Inks (black and white):
Watercolor Comic:
Script- Approx 3 days
Thumbnails- 3 clean, final thumbnails per day, for duration of chapter
Roughs- 1 clean, finished rough per day, for duration of chapter
Pencils/Inks- 1 Page per day, for duration of chapter
I try to arrange it so I'm inking the previous day's pencils in the morning, when I'm fresh, and doing pencils for the next day in the evening, with accuracy is less important
Scanning- 1 day
Color Correction- 1 day
Corrections and Lettering- Varies depending on Length of Chapter

Planning Tools: 

Month view calendar
Colored Gel Pens or Highlighters to Color Coordinate
Carey Pietsch's Deadline Planner Calculator  (save as a copy to edit and use for yourself)
Lists
Knock Knock Themed Pads
Diary
File Folders
File Organizer
Post Its
Tabs and flags
Paperclips

Diary with brainstorming notes for old pitch

Month view planner

Outdated to-do list for weekend

Current to-do list for Japantrip prep


Intro to Comic Craft: Planning Cicada Summer:


Let's Make a Comic: Concept to Scripting to Thumbnails to Roughs: 


What's worked for me:

  • Working well in advance
  • Building up a buffer
  • Scheduling content using a color coded calendar
  • Pacing my updates so my buffer is sustainable while i work on other projects
  • Keeping logs of how long each type of project takes, so I can better predict my timeframe
  • Blocking out my timeframe using a calendar (useful for Cicada Summer)
  • Forcing myself to do short projects with quick turnarounds (but please, don't do this too frequently with longform projects, you'll burn out)
  • Filler is sometimes a necessary part of a long term project, so learn how to recycle content
  • Collaborating with other creators can give you additional content


What about When It Backfires:

Art Soundoff: Time Management


Dealing with Burnout

What if you give it your all, every single day, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week?  Well, you will end up with a whole lot of comic.  But you may also end up with a nasty case of burnout.

Burnout is something I frequently struggle with- I juggle so many things it's easy to take on just a little too much and have no motivation left the next day.

Preventing Burnout:


  • Be kind with how much work you assign yourself each day
  • Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or demotivated
  • Find ways to treat yourself
  • Plan one day a week to do something fun, so you have a goal to work towards
  • Don't push yourself too hard once you're tired
  • Find, and respect, your stopping point


Leave fuel in the tank for other days.  It might seem like you've got endless energy now, but save some of that for your later years.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Once You Have Burnout:
  • Take a day off
  • Leave the house- go for a walk, the mall, or the park
  • Play video games
  • Call a friend
  • Draw something not related to the project you're working on (if you HAVE to draw)
  • Read a book or comic you enjoy
  • Clean up your desk or workspace
  • Clean up your workroom


Where to get started when you have no spoons to give
And you have to get work done by a deadline
  1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.  Force yourself to sit down and work for that 15.  If you still feel miserable, you can quit after that, but you HAVE to work for that 15 minutes.  Usually you'll get pulled into th task.
  2. Make a list of everything, even minute details, that need to be handled.  Select the easiest task.  Do it.  Continue working on easy tasks until you've hit a groove.
  3. Work on something related that you're excited about
  4. Feeling discouraged?  Ask a friend who supports your project to give you three reasons why they like your work.  This usually puts a little fuel in the tank.


ADHD and Comic Art- Time Management

Recently I've started a series- My Life with ADHD, that focuses on the effect ADHD has on my career as a comic artist and illustrator.  It is with this in mind that you should read this post- these are things that work for me, and your mileage may vary.  Feel free to adjust to suit your specific needs.

My Life with ADHD- A Not So Brief History:


My Life with ADHD- Challenges

My Life with ADHD- Scheduling


For me, what works best is:

Work in batch, and complete batch before moving on.

Script:
Script comes from an overarching 7" Kara synopsis as a plotform paragraph
Fleshed out into a script that includes shot direction, character acting, and expressions, because I need to capture the moment while I have it fresh in my mind- I can't count on remembering it
Script is typed and created in Google docs, because it's free, auto saves, and I can easily share it with beta readers who can easily comment.  Once script is corrected, I print it out, one comic page per sheet of paper, and bind it together with a paperclip.

Thumbnails:
Print out thumbnail templates, enough so that I can draw every comic page and then also do revisions.
On the script, do layouts for the comic page, as many revisions as necessary until it feels 'right.  Draw the tight thumbnail on the template, this is the 'final' version (until revisions)
Scan entire chapter when done, send to beta readers using Google Drive
Print out or transcribe comments, go through and self critique
Working thumbnail to thumbnail, break up into individual 'pages', save in new folder (usually like Resized Thumbnails).  Resize thumbnails to 9"x6"
Working thumbnail to thumbnail, go through comments and make changes.
Convert to Grayscale, bump up contrast, convert to bluelines, save in new folder (Blueline Roughs)

Roughs:
Print entire chapter in batch, bind with paperclip.
Draw in panel borders on every page
I find perspective to be incredibly tedious, so I've found that if I have trouble starting on roughs, it's best if I go through and draw all the fun panels. This means I'm never really starting a page fresh- there's always some work done on it, and psychologically this is easier than starting a new page every day.  It's good to have thumbnails and notes handy for changes that aren't apparent in the printouts.
When entire chapter is finished, scan, saving in a new folder (Roughs or Roughs Scan)
Send chapter to beta readers
Self critique, and take notes
Work through the chapter and make necessary corrections digitally.  Save in new folder (Corrected Roughs)

Bluelines:
Convert to Grayscale, bump up contrast, convert to bluelines, resize to fit 11"x14" Canson Montval save in new folder (Bluelines)
Print entire chapter
Pencil entire chapter, two pages at a time
Paint in batches- 2-6 pages at a time


I still do perspective by hand, but many friends say using the Manga Studio tools, or creating a background in Sketchup is easiest for them, so I recommend you do whatever method works for you, and experiment with new methods when doing mini comics or anthology comics.

Recently for the 7" Kara Q&A Bonus Pages, I've been experimenting with method.  Since these are easy pages, I do my thumbnailing and roughs digitally.

Method:

Create template pages ahead of time.
Select template you need to suit the page.
Letter page first (since it fits a specific format)
Sketch in around the lettering- loose thumbnails
Move lettering around as necessary to suit page
Tighten up
Convert to black and white, bump up contrast, convert to bluelines
Print on 9"x12" 300 series Bristol (smaller and cheaper than I normally do)
Pencil
Ink
Corrections
Scan
Convert to black and white, boost contrast
Drag lettering from original PSD, convert to black and white
Grayscale
Save as JPG
Release Online

For this system, I work on a page by page basis- how I assume most of my webcomic friends work.  To be frank, I hate this method- its more difficult for me to predict how long the entire project will take.  Working in batch allows me to set a strict schedule, and I still have some flexibility to introduce new pages.

Further Tips for Working Traditionally:


  • Always have extra printer ink handy and stored closeby
  • Always have extra cheap copy paper handy (buy it by the box and store)
  • Always have extra Comic paper handy- I buy multiple pads at a time, and restock after I've printed my bluelines, not when I'm starting the next chapter.
  • For ink comics, I make sure I always have fude pens, bottles of the preferred ink, gentle erasers
  • For watercolor comics, I make sure I'm starting the chapter with refilled or new pans, and make sure I have tubes to refill.
  • Always a lot buffer time in production to allow for illness or other unplanned circumstances
  • When creating a traditional media webcomic work WELL in advance- a HUGE buffer (one year in advance) is best if you want regular updates.  If you don't mind whether or not you update on a set schedule, work at your own pace.


Additional Resources:
Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step: Brainstorming and Character Development

Monday, March 19, 2018

My Top 5 Alcohol Markers

My Top 5 Alcohol Markers 


Over the years, I've had the opportunity to review dozens of alcohol markers.  I've formed distinct tastes, and have a cadre of favorites I reach for time and again.  But I've found, in the myriad of reviews I've created, my actual recommendations sometimes get lost, and sometimes change, so I thought 2018 was a great time to revisit my Top 5 Alcohol Markers!

alcohol markers, Prismacolor markers, Copic markers, Blick Studio Brush Markers, Shin Han Twin Touch markers

Marker Rec Number 1: Copic Sketch Markers


Copic Sketch Markers


Copic Sketch- Super brush, larger ink compacity, available in empty
Total Number of Colors: 214 Colors in Family
Brush Type: Foam rubber
Refillable- Yes
Replaceable Nibs- Yes
Easy to Find- Very
Where to buy:
Most art supplies stores will carry Copic markers
DickBlick
Jerry's Artarama
Michael's
Tutorials


Marker Rec Number 2: Copic Ciao Markers


Copic Ciao Markers

Copic Ciao- Sketch's cheaper baby sister.  Also refillable, replacable nibs.  No empty bodies available.  Color name and family not on the cap.  Available in a much smaller range of colors.
Total Number of Colors: 180 Colors In Family
Brush Type- Foam Rubber
Refillable-Yes
Replaceable Nibs- Yes
Easy to Find- A bit rarer than Copic Sketch markers
Where to Buy
DickBlick
Jerry's Artarama
Amazon
Tutorials 


Marker Rec Number 3: Blick Studio Brush Markers


Blick Studio Brush Markers

Blick Studio Brush- Non refillable, CHEAP, available in sets or openstock, a great Copic dupe
Total Number of Colors:  97 including blender
Brush Type: Foam Rubber
Refillable: No
Replaceable Nibs: No
Easy to Find: Only available through or in DickBlick
Where to buy:
DickBlick 
Review


Marker Rec Number 4: Prismacolor Markers (Brush Tip)

Prismacolor Markers

Prismacolor- Those Neons, true purples, blues, and bluegreens.  Fills holes Copic leaves in the collection
Total Number of Colors: 200 Colors
Brush Type- Foam Rubber
Refillable- No
Replaceable Nibs- No
Easy to Find- Very
Where to buy:
Most art supply stores carry Prismacolor markers
Michaels
Dick Blick
Jerry's Artarama
Reviews



Marker Rec Number 5: ShinHan Twin Touch Markers (Brush tip)


ShinHan Twin Touch Markers

Shin Han Twin Touch- A little harder to find than Copic, slightly cheaper, all the features of Copic markers (refillable, replacable brushes) in a different body.
Total Number of Colors- 204
Brush Type- Foam rubber
Refillable- Yes
Replaceable Nibs- Yes
Easy to Find: Not necessarily
Where To buy:
DickBlick
Jerry'sArtarama
Flax (San Francisco)
Where to buy refills: MarkerPop
Note:  There are A LOT of Shinhan Twin Touch knockoffs out there- on Amazon, Ali Express, Wish, Ebay, ect.
Reviews

Honorable Mention: Crayola Blending Markers

Crayola Blending Markers


Honorable Mention- Crayola Blending Markers- Super cheap, even sold at Walmart.
Total Number of Colors: 15 counting blender
Brush Type: Fiber
Refillable: No
Replaceable Nibs: No
Easy to Find: Increasingly so
Where to buy:
Amazon
Crayola.com
Reviews

The below illustrations were completed with a variety of alcohol markers and inks.

Copic Marker, Marvy LePlume Small Brush, Ranger Adirondack Inks, Blick Studio Brush Marker
Copic Marker, Marvy LePlume Small Brush, Ranger Adirondack Inks, Blick Studio Brush Marker

Copic Marker, Blick Studio Brush Markers
Copic Marker, Blick Studio Brush Markers

Ranger Adirondack Inks, Copic Markers, Prismacolor Markers
Ranger Adirondack Inks, Copic Markers, Prismacolor Markers

Copic markers, Prismacolor Markers, Blick Studio Brush Markers
Copic markers, Prismacolor Markers, Blick Studio Brush Markers

Prismacolor markers, Copic Markers, Blick Studio Brush Markers
Prismacolor markers, Copic Markers, Blick Studio Brush Markers 

Copic markers, Shin Han Twin Touch Markers, watercolor
Copic markers, Shin Han Twin Touch Markers, watercolor 

Left to Right: Prismacolor Markers, Shin Han Twin Touch Markers, Blick Studio Brush Markers, Copic Ciao Markers, Copic Sketch Markers, Crayola Blending Markers 

Top to bottom: Prismacolor, Shin Han Twin Touch, Blick Studio Brush, Copic Ciao, Copic Sketch, Crayola Blending 


I hope this post inspired a couple new favorites and perhaps helped inform future buying decisions.

Oh hey!  Today is my birthday!  If you enjoyed this post, do me a favor and share it with your friends on social media- help others find this blog!  If you want to help make more content like this, head on over to my Patreon and join the Artnerd community to not only help support this blog, but gain access to comics and early access videos! 


And if you enjoy my art, why not check out my all ages webcomic, 7" Kara, free to read at 7inchkara.com or 7inchkara.tumblr.com ?


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Guest Post: Panda’s Top Tips For Advertising Comics

Hi there!

I’m ServerPanda. My job as a professional Graphic Designer, 3D designer and advertising specialist has taken me to a lot of places over the past 8 years. I’ve worked in newspaper offices, print companies and currently I’m making my way into the employment of a large scale construction company as their lead designer and advertising specialist.

Today, however, I’m honored to be here to teach you all a little inside knowledge about the advertising industry and how it can apply to webcomics.


Advertising a webcomic outside the circles of fellow creators has proven a daunting and almost impossible task for many. Solutions seem magical and hard to pin down. Few really know what they’ve done correctly even after they have achieved it. Many attribute it to luck.

Luck may play a role. Careful planning and determination can take you much further, however! Which is why right now in this article I’ll be dissecting the how and why advertising works and teaching you to apply it to new sources: taking it outside your comfort zone and into a bright, new world! You can do this!

Did that second paragraph sound fancy and make you excited? Was it a little corny too? That’s what advertising does.

They’re called ‘Ad Words’: Words meant to be persuasive, powerful and kickstart viewers into clicking your advertisement to find out more. Usually quick and to the point, these words are made to excite people. Below I’ve assembled an image of a few of the most popular Ad Words so that you can see them. Apply some of these to your advertising campaigns (or think of a few more yourself!) and I can guarantee that people will click your work (see what I did there?).

adwords

Next we’ll dive into a category format. I’ve had my fun with you all! It’s time to work.


PICK AN AGE RANGE, NOT A GENRE


The timeless battle of genre vs. age. Sometimes people combine the two. They do it in popular media all the time. A perfect example is any Disney animated classic: usually Fantasy for children. There isn’t inherently anything wrong with that when the audience is worldwide. Except… in webcomics an issue does unfold. The problem with us following that format when advertising outside of our comfort zone is that we sadly cannot afford to. Webcomics are already a niche: a small bite of a much bigger market. The more a creator limits their audience when they try to reign in new readers, the less success they will have. So therein lies a choice: pick between age or genre when advertising. My strongest advice is to pick the one that will offer you the highest potential readership. How will you know? Market trends! We’ll cover that one next.



FOLLOW YOUR STATS, FOLLOW TRENDS


Stats are the most important and most ignored tool available on advertising and social media sites around the world. I can’t blame people. They’re a line on a graph or bars going upwards at best. Maybe some numbers underneath. At the same time, these can become your saving grace if you keep an eye on them. If they’re low to non existent, chances are it isn’t that your webcomic is bad, it’s that there’s something ineffective about the ad. Or perhaps the chosen advertising location is a poor one. Fluctuating numbers depending on the day mean that certain days draw more people than others. On average, weekends are actually a poor choice to advertise since people are busy doing other things. The best day? Monday! People are most likely to slack off at work and check the internet at the beginning of the week! Top Tip: Keep an eye on your click throughs! You can get more if you use well placed Ad Words on your shiny graphics!


ADVERTISE OUTSIDE OF OTHER COMIC SITES


This is a hard habit to break. Even I didn’t want to do this. I mentally grumbled. I sighed. I rolled my eyes. We all want to advertise on each other’s sites and on social media exclusively, and I do understand the personal appeal to it as an idea. Growth, however, dictates that we do otherwise. Sites such as Project Wonderful have categories like: Art, Books, Film, Games, etc. It’s a good place to start to get your feet wet. Alternatively, place ads in online magazines and newspapers if you have the funds for it (which not all of us do, and that is quite fair). Other free methods can include taking a physical advertisement for your comic to game and comic shops in your local area and posting it up on their advertisement board. Or even utilizing multimedia. Streaming art has found huge success and YouTube is a great place for that. Or Twitter’s Periscope. Top Tip: I’ve had the best success with Periscope! The viewers on there come from all walks of life AND they love to comment, interact and give you lots of likes. It will also stream direct to your Twitter feed!


USE SOCIAL MEDIA


Social media is a long haul commitment. This method requires forging bonds with people. Those bonds are worth it, however, and your readership coming out of this method will be the most loyal. The more time you put into something, the more you get out of it. Out of all of them, I’ve found Twitter to be the most effective with Tumblr coming in as a far back second if you use the hashtag system to its most effective abilities. That said, I could write a full article alone on how to use Tumblr hashtags in order to get noticed. Twitter is easier and provides the opportunity to interact with readers on the fly. Use your social media to advertise updates, talk about WIPs, post art streams and just be a generally nice person! It also doesn’t hurt to do a little promotional event once in a while. Top Tip: Do a contest! Have folks like and share your comic to be entered to win a little something! An online gift card, some art, etc.!


DON’T STOP ADVERTISING


Advertising as a whole is a long term job. It goes hand in hand with making your comic and should be part of the process. Success at advertising won’t come overnight. Persistence is the key to this endeavor and there’s actually a logical reason for that! On a website advertisements are second to the content. That is a known fact in the industry. Readers will skim them at first glance and without a second thought. Because of that, one time or even twice is not enough. Repeated showings are the key to easing potential ‘customers’ into noticing your product. It’s the same as when a brand promotes to you on a social media site based on your online purchasing history. You see the ad several times. Over time it wears you down and sticks in your head, doesn’t it? You contemplate the product, or at least remember it. Our goal here is ultimately the same. We want people to remember webcomics in the same way as we all remember product ads. We want people to have our comics come to mind when they think of specific things. Persistence and persuasion are powerful tools.

In conclusion, let’s summarize everything you’ve learned today:
Ad Words: Short, powerful words made to excite and persuade.
One Not Both: Pick an age range or genre when advertising. Don’t use both.
Follow Your Stats: Stats and trends are important! Monday is the best day to advertise.
Other Methods: Use places other than comic sites to advertise on. Stream art. Use physical advertising.
Social Media: Slow and strong. Use it for contests to promote your comic!
Don’t Stop: Persistence is the key! Persuasion is powerful.

Right then! Get out there and put what you’ve learned into practice! Don’t be scared to experiment. Advertising is half figuring out trends and half keeping up with the actions themselves. Experimentation will be the best teacher in this field. On the other hand, I’m also available on Twitter to answer any questions you may have!

Twitter: @ServerPanda , @InkUnder
Website: http://undertheinknews.com
Email: undertheink@outlook.com


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Resources:
Stock images are from http://www.freeimages.com