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.