Saturday, December 24, 2011


Well so I haven't been doing much of anything lately as far as art. I have been writing more than drawing, but still creating. The cool part is that more people are requesting art from me because it is apparently what I do. So I have been doing a lot of stuff for free for close friends and family. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, it also let's me see how quickly I can make work and be satisfied with it. This piece was done as a christmas present for some friends, and I think it turned out quite nicely. My only payment was getting a copy of the book. I am off of work from the 24th of December until January 2nd, and I was hoping that over the break I would get a chance to work on an animation project, but then reality hit. As I move into a new phase of life and career I need to find a more realistic balance between time and projects. So instead of trying to squeeze a project out in an unrealistic amount of time I have decided to focus on getting into the masters program at the university I work at. Good art comes from good stories. I have a lot of the mechanical pieces down, like graphics creation, animation and presentation, now it is time to focus on creating compelling story-lines. The most useful writing tool I have found up until this point are some rules laid out by Kurt Vonnegut. The two I find most useful are, "start as close to the end as possible," and "be a sadist, do horrible things to your main character to see what they are made of." Well as I put together my writing portfolio, I am going to make sure to keep these rules in mind. I think they will really help me put some edges on all the stories I have created up until this point in my life, but seem like they are missing something. My plan is to post some of them and get your feed back. I also found that I have to just write and not worry to much about correctness, but to just keep the words flowing. This is much how I approach my visual art and I have always been satisfied with the results. Thanks and let's make the most of 2012.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Returning to an idea

So about two weeks ago I was driving down to the Portland Comic Book show with a fellow artist. We were discussing many thing, art, family and our aspirations. The conversation turned to a discussion of missed opportunity and regrets. What is success? I have heard it is when opportunity and preparedness meet. One of my biggest was the missed regret was not following up on the request of a Disney animation directors request for me to draw 64 storyboards and send them to him. I look back on it now and I realize how unprepared I was at that time to be a full time animator.

flower mkljhnmnmnmnbghh

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Horror

So I have been pretty lax on posting to my blog. Well I haven't been slipping, I have been busy working on a horror movie. I met some old friends at Siggraph and one of them hooked me up with a company. Not sure how much I can talk about it, but we are doing kind of a Silent Hill sort of thing. I am not a horror movie fan, but I do love film making so I am getting into character. My favorite horror movie is Evil Dead, the first version. A friend and I watched it all the time when we were living in Germany, and this was probably the only horror movie I enjoyed until I saw Shaun of the Dead. I have never really like blood and guts, but I am starting to understand the draw to it. The ability to make some thing look convincingly disturbing is hard work. I was always able to tolerate Evil Dead because the effects were so bad you laughed your way through. Well, this is a good thing for a chicken like me, bad for the special effects team. Now I am on the other side of the coin and I don't want you to laugh, but feel free if you are a veteran and nothing phases you. Here is a still shot setting up the look and feel before we put it into motion. Enjoy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Latest Portfolio

Around the begin of June, in a moment of frustration, I toyed with the idea of going back to school. I paid 100 the dollar application fee and then spent 3 weeks putting together a portfolio for getting accepted to the school of animation at the Academy of Art University. I like the way it turned out, and I got accepted, but I decided not to go back to school, because I needed to earn income. Well that was one part of the decision the other part was that a friend advised me that it was not worth money. What he said was, "School is for people who don't have connections in the industry, and you do." Essentially, he was restating the old adage, "it is not what you know, but who you know." I am reconnecting with old friends, and it is paying off. Well with that all said, here is my latest portfolio.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aligning your life

hen I was living in Los Angeles work and personal lives were one an the same. What I have come to realize is that most people try to keep their personal and professional lives separate for fear that one will suffer if the two were to intertwine. I am not sure how much I believe this. What I do at work and what I do in my free time have a lot of intersections. I am a digital media developer by day and a digital media vampire by night. Stalking the Internet artist and pulling inspiration into myself. My personal pursuits allow me to put into practice many of the things that we only hold as theory in my day job. Experience is the only way to stay far enough ahead of our customers so that I can provide the best service.

From August 6th until August 11th I attended the Siggraph Conference in Vancouver, BC, one of the worlds largest conferences on computer graphics and animation. During my five days amongst digital media professionals and students I saw a great many things that inspired and depressed me. The highs came from knowing that I can put many of the things I saw into practice, but this was countered with the lows of, "how the hell am I going to get it all done with the time I have?" I spent a lot of sleepless nights at the conference wrestling with the direction of my career. I worried I was losing sight of the mission. What was the mission I asked myself? Well the mission is to create the stories I see and my head and to eventually have a company at my disposal to reach this lofty goal.

Well, after 4 days of being convinced that my current position was not the right path I took a step back, and asked myself what I need to create an animation to present to the Siggraph conference. Well first I would need computers, well I have that at my disposal two fully capable media labs. Ok, well then I need man power, digital artist and technicians to help me construct this monstrous undertaking. Each year I employ 20 to 30 student over the course of a semester and I have not been utilizing them to their full potential. The labs are a learning environment and taking my student through production will provide them with experiential knowledge. Software, I have been using Blender 3D for over 3 years and now it is time to start teaching it to others. The last hurdle to over come is time, where do you get the time to do such a thing. Well you make it of course, you make the time to sit and put together the documents, paper work and structure required to have others help you with your projects then you let their creativity, excitement and ingenuity bring life to your idea. For the longest time I thought I was lost in academia and now I realize I am right where I need to be. I have all the pieces to create this painting I just have to bring them all together and get it finish.

If you are interested in contributing please contact me and lets talk about how you can help.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Drawing from Life

I have been in Tacoma now for a while, coming up on year 7. Since arriving in Tacoma I have taken part in a few ventures. Tried to open an art space, fail. Partnered with a local coffee shop, fail. Joined a cooperative gallery, Grand Impromtu, then the Grand Cinema wanted it space back, fail. So I retreated for the city and have focused my attention on developing my comic art. Since departing from fine art I feel I have also departed from life drawing. Perhaps one of my greatest passions, I love to feel out the human figure with pencil in paper. I studied life drawing with Karl Gnass, he begins his workshops with how to sharpen your pencil. We would carve out half inch piece of charcoal form the wood sheath, and then polish the lead into a bullet shaped lead brush. Line and value were one and the same. Fat broad shadow strokes would refine their way into knee creases and elbow wrinkles. It has been some time since I formally sat and drew from a model. So I was excited to learn that The Cartoonist League of Absurd Washingtonians were bringing in roller derby girls. Although I missed the event I produced this sketch from the images taken of the Derby Dames. As a artist you should always draw from life, whether for a video project, a dance number or installation art, life offers the most peculiarly interesting things to ponder and wonder.

The Internet Archive

What do you do with all the art you have been storing up for years? Boxes of unscanned art work boxed in dank corners of your life decaying never to be seen by anyone but you. I have been actively working to archive my art so that I can causally browse it, and so that others can see the work I have done over my career. There are many different ways to archive and store your work for free, most of them require no financial investment. Blog services like Blogger allow you to surround your with a story, giving it context to users who may be unfamiliar with your work. Content management system link Joomla act as digital repositories for collections of works. Wordpress combines these two ideas giving the user a place to blog, archive and organize thier content. These services and systems allow you to store, categorise and share your work in a way that makes it easy to access. The ability to associate keywords and terms via meta data makes your work searchable and indexable. Allowing search engines like Google or Yahoo to find your work when people search for associated terms. I have begun the process of posting my works on sites that allow me not only to view them my work but also download and repurpose them for creating portfolios, books or prints. The process is slow, but I will eventually be able to stop worrying about losing the work when I no longer subscribe to a service. Sometimes I think the best solution would be to setup my own web server and keep all my content on a computer in your in my closet, but the amount of work and knowledge required to to do this would take away from creating art. The Internet is about distribution and if you put the work out there and people like to look at it, it will have a long life in the digital sea, or "CLOUD," we call the Internet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Broken Project

The Broken Project began with a sketch, and exploded into a story journey. During my time in LA I doodled a cutesy Bunny and Cat couple walking out of the mall holding hands. Well at the time I thought it was cute and that the people at Nickolodeon and Cartoon Network would be excited about my characters and give me a job. It didn't lead to a job, but it did give me some much needed enlightenment and humility. So I shelved them until I came to Tacoma, and began working at PLU. Where I was introduced to Blender, an Open Source 3D modelling and animation software. Well it had everything that Maya, Softimage and 3Ds Max, so I installed it and decided to make something. Thus began my spiral into the depths of blender tutorials. I learned to rig character, texture paint, animate, and even camera map. It is the effect I used to achieve the push-in effect in the image above. I spent a total of 4 weeks working on it, and when I stepped back from th work it looked lifeless. So I set out to give life to these two characters and thus was born, Kat and Bunnie, Riot Grrrrls. It has since evolved into a comic book which I am using to develop the story before moving into animation again. The plan is to revisit the Broken Project by continuing to post web comics to flesh out the story. You can see these at

World Peace

Can Open Source save the world? I have this naive utopian vision of the world as a place where machines have freed mankind to spend our days in creative bliss. Creating for the pure joy of it. The idea is that by giving everyone an voice through community created, shared and supported technology we can have a more civil world. Sappy I know, but I keep it in mind so that we have one more person who is tilting the balance toward making this fantasy a reality. Unfortunately the reality is that world can be cruel and that cruelty can starts with something as small as being nice to the cashier at the grocery store. We are all neighbours on this planet and the more we talk and demystify one another the more we can bring good ideas together to accomplish something greater. And the best part is we will birth those good ideas together because it's what's best for all of us. Human Beings, The United Earth Brain.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Working in Circles

I am kind of ADHD when it comes to creating my works. I have come to understand that I have a pattern of getting intensely into something then dropping it for the next shinny thing that catches my eye. How do I make this work for me you ask? Well, I keep a bunch of projects going at once. If I am in the mood for sword fighting, it's Love and the Blade, and if I want Sci-fi romance I jump to Path 2 Nowhere, and for a little gun play I can always revisit 2Wicky. Nick Butler's Head Trip is good for when I've got nothing in particular, and I just want to draw something sexy and cool. I have been working on these stories since I was 27, living in LA, but tomorrow I'm turning 34. I used to say to myself, "if you don't have your life figured out by the time your 35 then you have failed." Well, what I have learned over the last 7 years is that, things take a long time to finish if you want them done right, you can't do anything alone, and life happens don't let it stand in your way. I have enjoyed watching my art and my emotional intelligence grow over the last few years. This maturity has made its way into all of my projects. Just as I have grown and become more full, so have the characters in my story. Each of them representing some aspect of my life that has challenged me or carried me. I look forward to seeing these projects get completed, but until then I will bounce around them, slowly polishing until they are ready to enter the world as fully developed pieces of artistic entertainment.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Better Late then Never

Page 5, but I forgot a rule: Design before you draw.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Project Prioritization

There is nothing more important in the process of creative works then to, "getting it done," and I forgot that from time to time. I usually have more then 5 projects going at one time, and occasionally I switch without even realizing it. I read some where that important projects trump urgent ones, so I have put aside my portfolio for a moment and refocused my energy on the completion of the Nick Butler's Head Trip, my open source comic anthology.

I am currently registered for two conventions and I have pending third convention in October on the east coast, VACOMICON. So the completion of this book is of the highest priority. While developing the book I am going to do my best to create tutorials and point out others that I find useful.

My younger brother is a artist as well, and has expressed that he doesn't quite understand MyPaint. It is my primary tool, and perhaps the best digital drawing application I have ever use. It offers an infinite canvas which I believe makes it ideal for doodling, and then transitioning into actual production work on the same canvas. Imagine an infinite piece of butcher. Here is a basic getting started guide on the MyPaint website.

I hope to have two pages finished by the end of the week. So stay tuned.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gearing Up for Siggraph

In 1999 my college graphics professor introduced me to an organization that would change the course of my life. I began studying computer science cause it was the thing to do at the time. Little did I know I would find and artistic outlet in the field. Siggraph is one of the worlds largest computer graphic conferences in the world, and holds the distinction for being the place where John Lasseter debuted the works of Pixar. In 2001 I attended my first Siggraph as student volunteer, and I returned each year until 2005 ending my tenure as ex-student volunteer ( XSV ) team leader. This year I will be attending as a professional volunteer with the intent of eventually becoming a committee member. It is funny how things come full circle. At my first Siggraph I was a student volunteer working with the SiGTV, which posted daily updates from the conference and pushed it out to TV’s around the conference hall. This year I will be serving as a video editor for the scoop team, we will be responsible for creating video podcast which people will be able to access from anywhere. The SCOOP team position will give me the opportunity to see a different side of the conference and connect with some of the organizations I have been following on line.

My intent for Siggraph this year is to connect more with the Open Source 3D graphics community, specifically the Blender Foundation. Each year the Blender Foundation produces an Open Source Movie Project to test the latest version of their software. Essentially they put advance user and developers into a room and let them hammer on the software until it is production ready. This effort leads to the refining of functionality, resolution of bugs, development of new features, and production of a short animated film. The blender foundation has had 4 such projects and each of them have made a great impact on the proliferation and popularity of the Blender 3D. The greatest part about these projects is that they are open. The foundation share all of their production process through a series of instructional DVDs. The money generated is used to fund the foundation .

I would love to participate in one of these open source projects in whatever capacity I can, and put the knowledge toward my Open Comic Project. Siggraph begins August 7 and runs until the 11th, in Vancouver, BC. I am sure it will be a whirlwind of activity and I am planning to keep you all up to date.

Stay Tuned.......

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Draw Everyday

Copied from art hanging on the hotel wall.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Working Remote

I am on the road and trying to stay up with the blog, but I was unable to bring my Linux system so I am working on a Mac. In an effort to maintain my open source process, I decided to use an online open drawing system called Oekaki. There are many types of Oekaki and each have different features. This allows me to draw directly in the browser and submit to their server. So I will try to have a better post tomorrow, but until then enjoy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Scribus Community

Over the next few weeks I will be making an effort to connect with the communities surrounding the software that I use to create my works. I have been concerned with the direction of my blog posts, worried that people are perhaps more interested in the tools of the trade than the process. Although I intend to show a mix, process is the part I enjoy the most. Tools are agnostic, meaning if you know one tool you can quickly figure out another that does a similar task. So in-order to balance the blog, I will try to do a post each week that will highlight an Open Source Software application and its surrounding community.

An underlying philosophy of Open Source Software is to release often. So errors in Open Source programs can be reported to the developers, and there is a great chance that change will be worked into a future release. The release cycles are much longer with commercial software, and it is more likely you will have to buy the next version of the software to take advantage of the fix.

Scribus is an open source desktop publishing application. I use it to create the layouts for my books and print materials. I have even used it for creating wire-frames for websites. Similar to Adobe InDesign, Scribus gives you all the tools you need to create multi-page dynamic layouts and even control character and paragraph styling. It runs on both Mac and PC, but runs the best in a Linux environment.

Everyday I use Scribus I venture more into its advanced features. Like every program it has its hick-ups and their are some interface issues that I would like to bring to the attention of the the Scribus development community. As a new member of the Scribus forum I posted a new topic to introduce myself and have already started receiving feed back and valuable information. Please check out Scribus and if you are a designer its not a bad idea to put this one in your tool kit.

Open Source Software is for the community by the community. Help build the tools you need go Open Source.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Judging a book by its Cover

They say you shouldn't "jugde a book by its cover, but a lot of people do." I have been struggling with the cover for my book. It is absolutely essential to have a cover that attracts attention, and projects the right message. The cover for Kat and Bunnie, my first comic, flopped at the con. It was too conservative. So for my next book I want a cover that sticks out, but how the heck do you do that? Whenever I have a question I google it. So I Googled, "Top Selling Comic Covers of All Time." This yielded an array of results, but the pattern I see is that simple and iconic images trump complexity. The goal is to attract people walking through a sea of imagery, and get them to come to your table and flip through your book. Once they start flipping through then it is up to you to make the sale. The Head Trip is primarily about relationships and I wanted an image to convey the struggle between the sexes. Please give me your feed back and ideas. I would love to have some help creating a cover that will help push the book.

Sketch Done with: MyPaint

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beta Culture

Very few things are ever perfect the first time. Nick Butler's Head trip began while I was living in Los Angeles, it was a way to reflect on my past and develop my art for the future. The concept bounced between ideas. It began as a autobiographical comic book, evolved into a narrative about vampires, to anthology of my works in progress. Allowing the community a view into your process is not a new thing. There have always been making of documentaries and DVD extras, but now people are actively involved in the production of some products, and services. This is the Beta culture, products and services taking advantage of their user community to do pre-release testing. Gmail was in beta for 5 years proudly wearing the stamp next to its logo. When Gmail came out of beta they gave users the ability to maintain the beta tag. My life is perpetually in beta, and I am ok with it. I have been working to finish projects, but a project is only really finished when your not allowed to work on it any more.

Here is a look into my first official art website from 2004: Nick Butler's Head Trip

Monday, July 11, 2011

2Wicky Teaser Script

Page 1: Splash page
Hotel room there is evidence of a two person party

Page 2:
Panel 1: Close up of a woman's face. She is sleeping, in the foreground we see a gun.
Panel 2: Behind her a man sits up trying to sneak out.
Panel 3: Her eyes open as he gets out of bed slowly.
Panel 4: We see him gathering his stuff
Panel 5: She sits up in bed holding the gun, and asks,"Where you going?"

Page 3:
Panel 1: He replies, "I can't do this anymore, I am getting off the street." "What about us," she asks, "I can' take care of you, keep you happy." "Your a pirate, and outlaw, there is not future for us," he says.
Panel2: She leans on the head board cocking the gun, " You not leaving without giving me a kiss are you."
Panel 3: The two stand off in the bed room in silence. "They are coming to get me." He says. "Who's coming?" She asks. "The prophets."
Panel 4: A pidgeon flutters from teh window ledge.

Page 4
Panel 1: He makes a dash for the door.
Panel 2: She fires, bullets trail behind him.
Panel 3: They burst into the halway.
Panel 4: They make thire way to the roof.
Panel 5: The prophets appear on the roof.

Page 5:
Panel 1: He makes his way to roof
Panel 2: She stands with gun trained on him
Panel 3: The prophets are unmoved by the commotion, they simply stand waiting.
Panel 4: Her grimace breaks and she drops the gun, and pleads for him to stay.
Panel 5: He says he can't and he and the prophets begin to vanish.

Page 6:
Panel 1: She runs to him and reaches for him
Panel 2: Her hand dematerializes with the guy and the prophets.
Panel 3: She is huddled in pain.
Panel 4: We close in on her face, her face is bent with rage.

Page 7
Panel 1: A robotic hand reaches out for a floating image.
Panel 2: A door opens
Panel 3: The page standing at the door, "We have found the Prophet Temple."
Panel 4: An older version of the woman stands amongst digital pictures, "Excellent."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Path to Nowhere Teaser script

The Path to Nowhere


A perpetual victim of love, Kaleb decides to move to earth to get a new start. He is greeted by his exiled friends, Roxy and Karma. Just after his arrival on this new planet Kaleb is run over by Callie, an ultra-liberal University Spanish Prof, with an inability to commit to anything. Followed to Earth by Princess Kayla, Kaleb's former fiancĂ©e. She sets up a puppet Authoritarian regime in Brazil, and uses the power of the Dark Pipe to control the minds of men. Kaleb now tries to build a new life and stop Kayla’s campaign to conquer the planet.


Page 1: Splash
Kaleb is in the middle of a space battle punching into the side of a space crusier, behind him we see other super powered beings in combat with other space cruisers and fighters.

We were the Queen's Men. The 82nd Planetary Defense Force. We were charged with keeping the peace.
I was their leader until my girlfriend left me.

Page 2 & 3: Two Page Spread

Panel 1: We see Kaleb floating through space naked.

I have been adrift since the break-up.

Panel 2: We see a streak in the sky and two dogs sitting under a tree in the foreground.

Some friends suggested I come stay with them, try a new environment.

Page 4 & 5: Two Page Spread
Panel 1: The two dogs chase the sky streak

New starts are hard and...

Panel 2: Explosion of impact


Page 6

Panel 1: There is a smoking Crater where Kaleb has impacted.
Panel 2: Kaleb's silhouetted hand comes out of the crater
Panel 3: Kaleb is crawling his way out of the pit.

Welcome, Kaleb.

Panel 4: Roxy and Karma look down on Kaleb. Roxy is a grey cattle dog and Karma is a miniature black lab.

Roxy, Karma.

Panel 5: Karma licks Kaleb on the face "SLURRP"

Page 7

Panel 1: Kaleb Wipes his face.

What was that?

Panel 2: Karma sits looking looking back at Kaleb

An Earth greeting.

Panel 3: Kaleb climbs out of the crater, Roxy and Karma walk next to him.

Roxy, Karma, it is good to see you both again.
Did either of you bring some pants?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sorry, sleeping In.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Habit 2: Start with an end in mind.

A few years back I created a portfolio to find work. The collection of work gave me an overview of where I was in my career. What I realized was that I hadn't finished anything. George Lucas said that a movie is never finished it is abandoned. I often abandon my project before getting very far. So how do you finish? The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is about the practices of people who get things done. The habits are simple things anyone can do. Although habit one is probably the most important, "Be Proactive." Habit two resonates more with where I am with my projects, "Begin with the End In Mind." To put it simply, make a plan. Have a destination, it will make the journey much easier and shorter. I wanted to put habit two into practice so I created a layout sketch for the Archive Project book I am aiming to complete by the end of the month. The Archive Project is a preview into my projects. This will free me up from the stress of having to rush one of my stories to completion. I realize that stories take a really long time to craft and even longer when you are doing it alone. That is the primary reason I have gone to a open source creative process.
The goal of my Open Comic Project is to show that free/libre open source software can produce professional quality products, provided you have a clearly identified target and community involvement.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Inking: Making Confident Strokes

Inking is perhaps the most challenging part of comic creation. Inking comics is the process of going over the pencil work with ink to clean up and refine the artwork. Some people work with brushes, I use Faber-Castell PITT artist pens. I use primarily the fine and small pen for line work and the brush pen for fills. One of the biggest concerns of inking a page is line consistency. Line consistency is the ability to maintain uniformity of the line. The two main factors in maintaining uniformity are the pens that you use and the confidence with which the stroke is made. A hesitant line is shaky and wavy; a confident line is straight and true. Making a slow careful line will more often not produce the desired results. For inking I go to the Jedi and a quote from Qui Gon Jinn, "Concentrate on the moment. Feel, don't think. Use your instincts." The goal of inking is to maintain the life and energy of the pencil work. Inking is drawing, except for the fact that you are committed to the line you make. It is easy to get lost in all the lines of the image, so it helpful to have someone else review your work. Ink on the page is permanent, and mistakes can test your resolve, but if all fails and you mess up your page you can always redraw. Don't be afraid to destroy your art while moving it forward. Take a chance and you might just make one of those beautiful mistakes that help artist evolve.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Digging in the Crates

Friday is the day I go to my archive to pull out old unfinished pieces or ideas I have discarded. This is my secret stash, so whenever I hit a block I can go to the crates.

A friend of mine who is a great graphic designer has now decided to pursue finance. He claims he has run out of ideas. How can someone run out of ideas? All the projects I am currently working on are ideas that I conceived more then 7 years ago. It is time to write down your ideas. Don't wait, get them on paper. It may be another 30 years before you get to them but they will be there, patiently waiting.

Where do ideas come from? Where do ideas go? For me they come from the doodles I do in my sketch books. The sketch book is a forum for pictures and texts. It allows me to work through ideas without worrying about structure. I have sketchbooks in my crates which go back to highschool, and I plan to work my way backwards completing these projects.

The Disciples of the Night was originally Nick Butler's Head Trip. The Head Trip was a graphic narrative, based on my time in L.A.. It then turned into diary entries, and from there it evolved into a story incorporating vampires, angels and gods. The book has evolved over the years into a story about an artist struggling with addiction and distraction.

Ideas evolve, plant the seed, and as you grow as an artist these pieces can be reaped and remixed into new ideas. Old ideas become new ideas.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blue Pencil

I wanted to do this page all digital, but last night I had an analog relapse. I often return to pencil and paper because of the dexterity and control that I have with it. Currently I am using a Wacom Bamboo for my pen input. The Bamboo has multi-touch and a pressure sensitive pen, but unlike pencil and paper you are drawing on the table top and the image appears on the screen. With pencil and paper there is a direct connection, which you don't get with the Wacom. I have been searching for solutions to this disconnect since I began drawing on the computer. When I began my current job I was issued an HP Tablet PC and I was sure that this was the solution to my drawing problems, but quickly realized it was to bulky and hot to spend hours on it drawing. The announcement of the iPad re-invigorated my hopes for a useful digital drawing tool. Soon I realized that once I put stuff in the iPad it was a challenge to get it back. My biggest issue with digital illustration tools is the feel. The tactile nature of pencil lead and paper is familiar and intuitive. I know digital input devices are competing more and more with traditional pencil, but when I am in a crunch I will always go back to my old friends to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Westheimer's Rule.

The Westheimer rule states,

"To estimate the time it takes to do a task: estimate
the time you think it should take, multiply by 2, and
change the unit of measure to the next highest unit.
Thus we allocate 2 days for a one hour task."

At the beginning of this blog I estimated that I would be producing a page a day. If we apply Westheimer's rule, 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love and the Blade: Design

Yesterday I was browsing the Internet for animation and found Burning Safari. Burning Safari is an animated short about a space explorers who has an interesting encounter with a planet native. Produced by students from Gobelins, a French media design school, the site contains videos that let you into their creative process. These video portfolios allow the viewer to see all the iterations of the character and background design.

Following the Burning Safari Team's lead I am trying to do more pre-visualization. The piece today is a character turn around for the father and daughter from the Revenge script. The turn around will make it easier to find character poses.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Open Source Resources

If you are interested in using Free / Libre Open Source Software or F/LOSS tools for creating digital media, a great resource is Libre Graphics Magazine. How do you use Open Source Tools and the Linux operating system to create digital media? The articles in Libre Graphics Magazine engage art the way programmers approach code. Libre Graphics is a free publication that is created for and by artist who use only F/LOSS tools. This magazine represents the intersection between art and technology. The articles written by volunteer contributors take the reader on a tour of open source tools, techniques and culture. Beautifully designed using open source tools the magazine gives detailed descriptions of the software discussed in each of the articles, as well as a glossary of terms. This is a greate example of how creating resources using open tools and educating the community on the use of tools helps the culture perpetuate itself.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Take The Time To Design

Last night I decided to give my girlfriend an opportunity to come up with a story, just to mix things up. This was possibly the most challenging thing I have ever done. Her idea pushed me so far out of my box that I got frustrated and almost gave up for the night.

I had intended to draw an entire page. We started brainstorming, one of my favorite parts of the process. She would put an idea on the table, and I would build on it. For about an hour we played off each other ideas. Never saying "no" to an idea, but "yes, and...." Ideas need to keep moving. In a creative discussion you have to nurture an idea and let it grow. After a few acting sessions and dialog run-throughs, we whittled it down to a four panel page of suspense.


Scene 1: Little girl sitting on bed, stream of light cuts through the darkness.
Scene 2: Mom and Dad taking stance in the court yard.


Quite, Shi's sleeping. This is crazy, why are you doing this?

Scene 3: Daughter sneaking down the hall.
Scene 4: Mom horizontally strikes at Dad. Dad jumps above sword coming down with a death blow. Shi is watching in the background.

Revenge is for the weak.

Daddy nooooo!

Stoked the writing went so quickly I jump into drawing the page. I thumbnailed a sketch while we were brainstorming and another full page thumbnail to work out some detail. Two thumbnails later I was ready to draw, well not really. I became extremely frustrated that I couldn't get the look and feel I wanted. I focused my attention on the last scene. I wrestled with this scene for 2 hours and couldn't get it. I needed to see their faces, but when I began to draw the faces the picture would go south. How could I draw these characters fighting if I had no idea what they looked like. I stopped, sat back on my bed and drew out what the Dad looked like. Asking myself what are his shapes? The designs flowed out pretty easily, and now that I knew them a little better I could put them in a scene.

I reread the script and began drawing the scene again. This time I understood the father's build and the mom's elegance. I worked this into the action. Mom's dress really helps to emphasis her movement and Dad's short stature makes it easy to compress his body enough to stay in the frame. I also realize that this is not my final image but a sketch for the actual page. I wasted a lot of time trying to save time, and it bit me. Do yourself the favor, and take time to plan things out.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do Your Research

When I sat to draw my piece for the evening, I had full intention of drawing environments, furniture, and clothing. But as I began doing my research I stumbled onto interesting facts, and inspiring images. My plans to make simple studies turned into a semi-erotic scene of the Blonde Assassin and her student/lover.

When I left college I swore I was done with writing papers and looking up facts. Now I realize research is one of the most important parts of developing art, comic books, and animation. I always knew research was a large part of writing, but while working on this latest character development piece I found myself searching out images and information very similar to the way I would on a paper or report.

The comic is set in Feudal Japan. My initial Google search brought up mostly pop culture images and anime. In order to find true images and facts I had to make a more educated search. Although set in Japan, the story revolves around the human slave trade. This is what brought the Masked Man and the Blonde Assassin to Japan where they are unlike anyone else. For me the story's genesis is the question."What would have become of foreign slaves in Japan, prior to the arrival of the west."

I chose a date range based on Japanese art of the 1600's - 1700's, during the Edo Period. My decision to set the book in the 1690's was determined primarily by ink brush, watercolor, and block print art of the time. For my piece I took inspiration directly from the artist Hishikawa Moronobu. Moronobu's work is my best reference for Japanese cultural aesthetics of the time. I am inspired by his line work, blocks of black, and patterned fabric. His graphic style translates well into comic form. The goal is to create something believable. It is the aesthetic texture and detail which makes the environment and clothing feel real.

Authenticity sells stories, and you can only find it at the source. I always viewed using references for creating work as cheating, but now I am starting to understand the saying, "Good artist borrow, great artist steal."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to make a comic page.

When developing the story, I like to put characters into situations that help me better understand who they are. You can do character design all day, but until you start making characters live in their world they don't come to life. The great part about the Love and the Blade project is that I have already draw a majority of the first book. Now I can use that rough draft as my script/guide. Allowing me to focus on putting the characters in the world and "on model". If you are not familiar with animation and comic books, "on model," means drawing the character the same each time, preserving the original intent of the character design. This is one of the most challenging parts of creating sequential media. There are many parts to the process and each has its own set of challenges. Creating comic books and animation is not straight forward, it is cyclical. You will write to create drawing and draw to refine your writing. Story is most important and is enhanced and emphasised by the character design, background design and shot composition, these items are not listed in order of importance.

I did the original concept sketch for this page back in 2005, this was done before anything had been written, I conceived a scene in my head and sketched it very quickly. Story trumps visuals and you should work to get the story down as fast as possible. Not the details, but the broad idea or concept of your story. Remember everything in the comic book is supposed to reflect the theme, so make sure you understand what you are trying to say before you begin working heavily on imagery.

is an essential technique for figuring out composition. The thumbnail lets you get your ideas on the page in miniature, this will allow you to see the graphic statement of a panel or character. The goal is to make each panel of the comic read like a sign. This means the each panel should tell you what is going on without words. As you develop the full comic page, you start to bring out more of the character details that enhance the story points. In comics contrast is your friend. Use black and white, ( Light and Dark ) to help establish the scene. This assists in helping to control the eye of the viewer. Your goal in comics is to move the viewers eye over the image like it would over text, soaking up the story.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love and the Blade Remix

In 2005 while living at my older brothers house I sat down and just started drawing a comic set in a feudal Japan. It is your typical Romeo and Juliette, she is from one Assassin's line he is from another, both slaves to their craft.

"In the shadow of an aging clan leader, events have been set in motion to free the masked man and blonde assasin from their gilded cages, but revenge has a sweet way of poisoning things."

This is some initial character design for the first book due in October. I am trying to keep the shapes simple, this will make it a lot easier to draw. Minimizing character complexity allows me to focus on character action. I am planning this as my second Open Book Project. The Open Book Project, is an effort to create a comic using an open development model, and open source tools.

Look forward to more development work. I am posting info everyday until the book is done in September.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Broken Hearts Script


The credits are close up shots of Collaged Punk rock posters, hanging through out the room. The years on the poster range between 1990 and 1992. We end on a Battle of the bands poster entitled, "Satisfaction." The camera pulls back, We see Kat reading a over due phone bill.

She turns to the camera and begins to complain.

I don't know way we can't afford satisfaction?

Bunnie sits at the window, she begins to sign

I can't be no...satisfaction.

Bunnie gets down from the window, and continuing to sing as she grabs a guitar

I can't get no Satisfaction.

She walks over to Kat singing and snatches the bill from Kat's hands

I can't go no... satisfaction.

She pushes the guitar into Kat's hands, crumbling the paper behind her back.

I can't get no....

Bunny Turns Kat back round to the poster

I can't no.... satisfaction."

We cut to Bunny and Kat on the red carpet,

I can't get no!

We cut to Bunnie and Kat driving on a coastal high way

And I try, ...

Cut to Kat being swayed by Bunnies vision

And I try......

Bunny climbs on to the table She is really selling the poster

I can't get no...... I just can't get no..
Ah... No, No, No....."

Just then the apartment lights go out, Bunny bounds formt the table

I can't get no...

She tries to get Kat back into the spirit as she makes her way over to her trunk


Kat begins to sing along

I can't get nooo..

Bunnie pulls a flash light from the trunk


Bunnie uses the flash light as a microphone, whatever the light is pointed is audibly amplified.

I can't get no....

She points the flash light at Kat


Bunny put the light back on herself and belts

I can't get NO!!

Light is back on Kat she in on her feet,


The two dance with each other

I can get no, no,

They pull in on the flash light singing together in the light

I.....CAN'T GET.......NOOOOO......

They sing to a climax, the flash light goes out, and audio goes silent. Bunny and Kat look down at the dead bulb.