Thursday, November 22, 2018

2018 Gratitudes

I believe it's important to occasionally take stock and show gratitude for the gifts we've been given, and the kindnesses others have shown us.  Thanksgiving can be a great time to do this, but unfortunately for those of us who suffer from SAD, it can be difficult to see the silver lining when the grey clouds of winter have closed in.  So I'm going to keep my list of gratitudes short but sweet- these are all things I'm intensely grateful for this year.

This Year, I'm Grateful For: 

Nashville Community Ed allowing me the opportunity to teach a comics class in the Nashville area.  And then allowing me ANOTHER opportunity starting in January.  It's a pleasure to hone my comic teaching skills, and it's wonderful to be allowed the room to continue to learn and develop these skills, and I hope I'm able to inspire an appreciation of comics in my students.

My mom's support, particularly her teaching advice.  Without her wisdom and experience, my first year teaching adults would be even more difficult and confusing.

Joseph's support, particularly when it comes to helping out at conventions, but also for just letting me vent constantly. 

My younger brother discovering a love of volunteer firefighting, as it's opened doors for him and given him a passion for helping others.

Customers who are interested in, and excited by, my comic work.  Their interest fires me up to continue work on 7" Kara, and to hurry to get Volume 2 out.

My wonderful Artnerds. Their support and encouragement are the inspiration and motivation for me to continue my art education work online.

Librarians who are willing to give me an opportunity to teach comics to their patrons.

Small library comic conventions filled with patrons who genuinely love books and are legitimately interested in comics, particularly comics for kids.

ALAAC and the opportunities that came from tabling at ALAAC.

Friends and family who check in to see how I'm doing, who share a laugh when levity is needed, and provide a shoulder to cry on when times are tough.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mermay Merbaes

Why yes, I know it's November, NOT May. These were initially sketched during Mermay, inked during June, and scanned in November.  What's the reason for this belated erase and scan-athon?  I want to compile my little merbabies into a zine!

Eventually, I want to watercolor each and every one.  Some of my Artnerds have requested these as coloring sheets, so once I have these cleaned up in black and white, I'm going to make that available through Gumroad and on my Patreon.

These mermaids are all based on freshwater aquarium animals- mostly fish, but there's a few amphibabes in the mix too!

Materials Used:
Non Photo Blue Printed Bluelines


Sunset Platy

Borgras Bigittae

Neon tetra

Black Molly

Beta Fish

Bala Shark

Red Minion Longfin Serpae Tetra

Cherry Barb

Fancy Guppy

Nothobrachius Killifish


Red Tailed Shark



American Bullfrog Tadpole

Fire Bellied Newt

These were inked traditionally, and if you're looking to relax, I highly suggest watching the timelapse videos for these!

Day 1: Goldfish

Day 2: Sunset Platy:

Day 3: Boraras Brigittae:

Day 6: Beta Fish:

Day 7: Bala Shark:

Day 8: Red Minion Longfin Serpae Tetra:

Day 9: Cherry Barb:

Day 10: Fancy Guppy:

Day 11: Killifish:

Day 12: Mosquitofish:

For more inking timelapses, tutorials, and demonstrations, please check out my Youtube Channel!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Intro to Comic Craft: Considerations For Planning A Comic Project

Start Small:
For those new to comics as a medium, I suggest exploring your ideas as a short comic first, before diving into your epic.  8 page self contained mini, 4koma strips, whatever format you want to play around with, but get to know your characters first.  From there, I suggest narrowing it down to just ONE idea, ONE audience, you really want to create for (and yes, you count as an audience), and then write a synopsis of your story.  Before you begin actively working on it, you should know how it it ends- that'll help you figure out how to get there, and give you a concrete ending to work towards.

Know Your Medium:
From there, how you break down the comic work is up to you and your preferences, as well as your intended format.  Do you want a print comic?  A webcomic?   Do you want to have a huge buffer before you begin sharing it because you work a dayjob? Knowing your limitations, and what you want the end result to be, will help you plan your comic project from the get go.

Even the differences between hosting the comic yourself, and sharing it to Webtoons or Tapastic will mean different formats.  Platforms such as Tapas and Webtoons prefer vertical scrolling comics, self hosted comics traditionally display one page at a time, with forward and back buttons for navigations.  Webcomics and comics for print have different pacing- even how frequently you update your webcomic will effect how you plan.   Webcomics, when consumed by an up to date audience, are read one page at a time, one update at a time, whereas print comics are consumed as an entire issue (24 pages) or as a trade (24+ pages).  In terms of pacing, this can mean the difference between a cliffhanger every 10 pages or so, or on every page.

Digital art, traditional art, watercolor, inks- your medium of choice will affect your process, as well as your timeline.  Only you can determine which media is right for your project, and I recommend trying a variety before settling on one.  Over time, digital art may prove more economical- you invest in a new computer once every half decade, whereas with traditional media, you're currently investing in new materials.  However, working traditionally means you can possibly sell your finished originals to collectors.

Writing and Planning:
In terms of writing there are loads of ways to plot your story- some people prefer to write by the seat of their pants, some prefer to have it plotted out.  Some want to work within the three act structure, and use the hero's journey as a format, some want to write slice of life gag strips- all of those have different writing considerations.  One of my favorite methods for planning a story is utilizing a beat sheet to keep action and story moving along smoothly.

I find it helpful to start with a synopsis of my story- a beginning, a middle, and an end, and script around that.  Knowing where I want my story to go helps me get it there.

Know Your Artist:
If you're writing for someone else, or if future you has a bad memory, I've found that a tight script, that includes shot choices and stage directions, works best for me and the types of comics I create, but every creator differs, and it's best to know what works for your artist (even if you're the artist- be honest with yourself).  A lot of comic creators have a loose outline, and do their best storytelling in thumbnails.

Know Your Audience:
Writing for kids is very different from writing for adults, or even for teenagers.  Knowing your audience will help you decide how to best tell, and present your story.

Show, Don't Tell (but sometimes explain)
Instead of relying on walls of text and verbal exposition, try to show your characters going through it, or better yet, dealing with the consequences.

When dealing with cultural comics, exposition dumps can be important, because you're explaining a culture to an audience that's unfamiliar with it.  so a cultural comic, even if it's fictional, has an element of non fiction- a real culture that people care about

The Exception:
When creating a new world, you need to get your audience to care about that setting or at least the characters, before you try to dump a lot of worldbuilding information.  In this case, worldbuilding should be integrated into the fabric of the comic whenever possible.

Great ways to dump exposition:
Bonus 4Koma strips
Character Q&A pages
Bonus art
A story/concept bible

Practice Makes Perfect:
I did the math last night, and my first five comics (and all but the very first had 100+ pages finished art and lettering) never saw any real audience outside my tight knit friend group.  I did a strip comic, a gag a day comic, a 4 koma, and two sequential story comics just because I loved the medium and wanted to participate in it, but wasn't comfortable sharing and didn't have a community to share TO.  Even when I was ready to start sharing my art, I did so in a very limited form- several short, 10 page comics (Ahoy, Foiled, Momotaro) and anthology pitches.

Although my work is still far from perfect, putting the time in, making comic pages, and practicing comics as a storytelling platform has allowed me to improve my craft.  The more comics I make, and the more types of comics I experiment with, the better I'll be able to express my ideas in a comic format.  The only way you can get better at making comics is to MAKE COMICS.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Inktober 2018- Rough Scans

This year, I decided to expand on last year's Lilliputian Living, 31 worldbuilding prompts for the world of 7" Kara.  Last year, I explored different Lilliputian professions, this year I explored different types of Lilliputian lifestyle and pets.

This year, I opted to expand my horizons a bit by doing 31 days of inkwash.  Since I knew I'd be doing a bit of traveling in October, I tried to prepare travel friendly inkwash materials. 

Inktober Prep:

For the full worldbuilding prompts, please check out my Instagram, or keep an eye out for my upcoming Inktober 2018 zine, Lilliputian Living Volume 2.

Types of Lilliputians:


Mall Lilliputians:

Toy Store:

Pet Store:

Ice Cream Parlor:
 Pretzel Stand:

Craft Store:
 Stationery Store:
 Flower Shop:
 Candy Store:
 Hair Salon:










Inkwash Demo and Inky Ramblings: Inktober Day 1:

Completed Inktober 2018 Sketchbook Flip:

In the end, this method of inkwash is not one I would recommend, and I found completing 31 days (plus a bonus) to be a challenge not quite worth the outcome.  I'm glad I did finish, and found it to be a learning opportunity, if also an exercise in frustration, but I wouldn't repeat Inktober using these methods.