Effective communication

I associate everything with my passion for comics.  Everything is comics.  Call them communication, literature, representation, instruction, or just storytelling and art. Comics can do all of these things and comics can do them the best.  That is my assessment.

Now, comics are associated with entertainment first and foremost.  So in our society they represent a commodity of stories.  Entertaining stories have been teaching tools throughout history, but today they have turned their aim towards something that can be sold instead of something of real educational merit.  That is not exclusively true, but it is common.

The RSA organization has been providing lectures to their youtube channel for some time.  They have been teaming up with an artist for a multimedia example of what is being talked about in a living cartoon style.  While this remains film it is a real eye opener to what elements of visual communication can be provided by a cartoonist (comic artist).

For example, go to their youtube channel here, http://www.youtube.com/user/theRSAorg#p/u/17/O_3a2hf3y0s and above the scrolling list click on the most viewed option.  You’ll notice that all the RSA Animate videos jump to the top. Isn’t that a clear indication of the power of the clear effective communication that our two dimensional medium can provide?

These are not stories!  These are boring ol’ lectures!  So the main point that i am trying to make here is that the comics medium can provide more than most of us take advantage of.  The comic book is not just the story equivalent of a Hollywood film.  It is the toolbox that allows us to teach (and entertain) more effectively.


I’m really liking Manga Studio EX4

I just wanted to throw up a couple links.  I’m learning more and really starting to get enthusiastic about this program.  I’m getting crazy ideas about setting up all my computer stuff at a 24 hour comic event.  This software streamlines all your comics process from an editable script that will instantly reword right inside the word balloons for an entire story, to inking, panel layout, generating perspective grids, et cetera.  If you are decently familiar with Photoshop and use it for comics you will find this program to be more purpose built to suit your needs.  I still use CS4 for initial scanned in cleanup purposes, but image adjustments and levels and all that also exist in Manga Studio.  There seem to be limitations to dpi and file type, but I’m still not as confident to discuss this as Jesse would be (if he familiarized himself with the program-hint hint).

The Join Lines Tool, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoVjMcaN3x4&feature=player_embedded#at=14 .

The Rulers Layer, this tutorial has like 20 parts, and i am enjoying it immensely after wasting a few days trying to find a specific tutorial that wasn’t made by f’n retards.  This guy is a breath of fresh air.  (Really, who needs a creating word balloons tutorial that goes: use circle tool, use triangle tool, select your eraser and erase the inside.  Thanks! A-holes! Every-stinkin’-one of you!)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiUYrz82TaU .

More (part 10 perspective ruler): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-i37RDWkl8&NR=1

Part 11 perspective grid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO9W5Xngyg0&NR=1

And that is just some stuff that i thought you guys might be interested in.  There are a number of features i like already and i just keep finding more as i go.  I hope this might help get some of you on track faster than i did.  As Howard already knows they (Smith Micro) have been offering special 4 day only sales on EX4 version and you can get it for $100, if the $300 dollar advertised price has turned you off of this product.  Coming from a comics geek like me it is priceless.


What I learned from Jesse Reklaw

So, I’ve been taking Jesse Reklaw’s rad Image Science class, and I’ve already learned lots of useful stuff. For instance, I drew this comic in class and was able to successfully drop the blue ruled lines from my notebook paper and get it to look all nice!

(For those interested, the quick ‘n’ dirty on how I did its: Scan in color, go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation and turn the lightness on the blue and cyan all the way up, remove any remaining darkness from the lines with the Dodge tool set on highlights, then double the DPI and Threshold it so it’s a nice bitmap.)


It’s Not That Bad art show

Sorry for the missing mission. Mission accomplished. Now the show shows itself. I’m writing this fast before I have a coffee. They told me giving it up would help with my anemia but all the gloves are off.
I’m having an opening for the pieces from my comic, It’s Not that Bad, that are up at the bar Tiga until the end of May. This is the longer piece I made about Detroit, 24 pages.

Saturday May 7th
1465 Northeast Prescott Street

The comic will be available on this night as well!
Feel free to stop by, listen to some gothy jams and enjoy a libation.
If you can’t make it but would still like a comic, shoot me an email!



What i did yesterday.

I thought i would draw something new for the, “how to digital clean up assignment.”  Unfortunately i did roughs in Photoshop, which led to doing finishes there too.  So i wasted a day.

Here are a few steps.

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Try to see through your roughs like Patch Adams.  Don’t fall in love with them.  (ps just because i wrote machida karate on there doesn’t mean anything, i didn’t use any reference)

I’m not wasting any more time trying to get this POS! WORDPRESS SLIDESHOW to work in the right order.

Oh i see how it works, you have to cuss at it in writing before it works right.


Post Stumptown Convention

What i brought consisted of the Wyoming Nights work below (pencils and shrunk digital finishes) as well as four pin ups.  I spent most of my time in lectures, but happened to show the work to a couple of people.  This is what they said.

Matt Wagner told me that i should make my containing lines bolder and show more variation in line thickness as it pertains to depth.   I try to do that.  My efforts to digitally ink (and familiarize myself with software) are slowing my progress in the inking area.  When i am able to zoom in and out I tend to lose track of the piece as a whole.  It’s time to get out my brush and crow quills.

on page 4 of Wyoming Nights MW mentioned that the black road is where his eye wants to go.  I said i wanted his eye to go there to show the bus from the previous page.  He responded that the road looks like it’s closer or in front of the figure in the foreground (because of my too thin line work).  i think that my solution is going to be to turn that framing black into a dark grey.

I inferred from what he said that this line variation problem is more evident in the digitally inked work than in my pencils.  I need to return to traditional inking for a while, and try to use it to improve my digital efforts.

Randy Emberlin (primarily an inker) told me that my work lacked weight because it doesn’t have solid blacks.  (I think he meant volume.)  He said i need to work with strong shadow to define form.  I am aware of this deficiency, but find it difficult to integrate.  Michael Golden mentioned the same thing a while back.  My process steers me towards a clear line approach.  I’m aware of the volume and form i want to show, but leave it open to do in color.  I do render volume when i use charcoal.  They’re right, but it is a stumbling block for me.  My awareness of modern computer coloring lingers strongly in my mind when i am drawing.  The glory days of the “old school” inker were in reaction to crappy paper and reproduction as well as a four color process.  The color was flat, and creating volume was the inker’s job.

Somewhere along the way, i turned my back on rendering.  For me a line is an edge or a wrinkle or a scratch.  I try not to make a line that is just a line.  If the illusion that my mess of lines instill could be given without those concrete lines to support it, i would let the lines fade into nothing.  I really don’t like cross hatching. I like it better in a non black and white medium.

I fall somewhere in between the clear line style and realism because i feel that there is an economy of symbol and imagery in comics storytelling.  During the Image boom in the 90’s  I used to cross hatch and feather and stipple and curved hatch all the time, but today if i use those rendering techniques i do it sparingly.  I’m now stuck with this aversion towards it. This need to provide volume in the symbols i use to tell the story doesn’t mesh very well with me. . . .

These are just a few examples of the hurdles that start to creep into an artists mind. I hope that sharing some of my own mental hangups and issues and process can be appreciated by other artists for what they are.

The long flowing line on the girl’s right side for instance has to be drawn in the pencils, but i had intended the pool to be reflecting a glowing soft light upwards when i drew it.  I like how i can take that line out or emphasize that edge by reversing the technique used to create it in photoshop.  This tendency to use thin lines runs counter to the prevailing “use bold containing lines”.