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.