lookingland: (fellas)
( Aug. 5th, 2009 05:15 pm)

i painted this panel this morning. sometimes something just comes out right and you can't help be pleased by it. i'm still pretty tentative with the paints overall, but i have confidence for doing the faces (for the most part), which helps. I'm learning some things not to do and browsing around this afternoon, got some tips on things i can improve (many in the "wow, maybe you should read a basic primer on painting with watercolors!" department). this is one of the problems of being self-taught when you are an incredibly lazy student.

at any rate, i just wanted to share the progress. you will start seeing these pages in all their full glory starting on August 16th.

: D

i've just spent the last three hours over-processing pictures for Reconstruction. didn't i have some very simple rules for this challenge? i especially seem to recall that these rules very specifically meant to cut out the post-painting digital processing (shading, lettering, etc.)

why am i having such a problem following my own rules?

...so annoyed with myself.

edit: okay, i undid the mess. all is well in the world again.

: D
last night i wrote the opening scene i meant to write for Reconstruction many moons ago when i first started posting it online. but i didn't write it then because i chickened out. i didn't want my introduction to web serial writing to be something so offensive (it's offensive to me personally, so i figured it ought to offend others). it was also hard finding a way to write the scene without convicting my protagonist of being, well, pretty much everything that he is, unfortunately. i think i had forgotten then what i remember now: Lewis Fletcher is a troubled human being with the all the baggage of the worst of the South slung over one shoulder. that was sort of the point of creating the character. i guess i got to liking him so much that i started really softening the edges a lot.

no more of that nonsense. it's about time i got fearless. or at least moved in that general direction. i think it will start something like this:

At first the club was just sport. It was something to do to keep from thinking about starving: scaring the beejesus out of the Freedmen. The war was all their fault anyway, wasn’t it? So it was, the way the Yankees told it. So Lewis, in a continual sot of brandy and morphine, ran with the Kirkwoods that long hot summer in '66, in a mad collective county vengeance against the perceived objects of their apparent ruin.

i had a great time drawing this picture this morning. i really struggled with trying to decide whether he should be wearing his Confederate uniform, though. i decided against it, but i kind of wish i hadn't. it didn't even take me that long to throw it together, so i might try another version with the uniform on. i'm only really sorry that i will have to reduce the picture so much to post it to my website, but i think even in a reduction, it looks pretty nifty.

a prize to whoever can guess what's burning in the background. er...maybe that's totally inappropriate.

: o p

so this is the direction i'm sorta going in. it doesn't look much different now probably, but it's evolving and will probably continue to change as it stabilizes.

in deference to some concerns about the sepia tinting, i went ahead and kept the sepia paint, but have left it unfiltered (so the outlines are black, etc.). i think it will be a fair compromise. the pages won't look slick because i'm not adding any digital overlays (though when we get to night scenes, i'll probably cheat and add them because God knows i can't paint scenes in the dark.

i'll get better at the lettering also. i have nervous hands so my balloons are kinda monstrously hideous, but i'll work on improving those as well. my mistake here was using a template to pencil in balloons that i then tried to go over with the pen. i do much better if i just freehand the dern things. i don't care if they aren't perfect, but i do want them to look confident and intentionally misshapen rather than woggly like this.

the nicest thing about this? the time between scanning and posting was negligible. i fixed a few stray lines and adjusted some lettering just slightly (it was obnoxiously off-centered). but otherwise, i just cropped and posted. easy as pie. and that's what i really want: something i don't have to work on so much on the computer.

so yay all around.

i do have to trade in the ink on my calligraphy pen for some india. you can see how it ran on Lewis's collar there. and we can't have that.

p.s. this panel is on page 18, i believe, so it's four pages away and you'll see it again in a couple of weeks.

: D
first of all, it's Update Day at Reconstruction. i feel i have to apologize for the page because i rushed it (massively rushed it). so i had a sit and think about why i was feeling ill-disposed to work on it and i came to a couple of conclusions (always the conclusions!).

these are specifically about the webcomic )

i have missed a lot on lj this past week, but i understand congratulations are in order to [livejournal.com profile] bachsoprano, [livejournal.com profile] cathellison, and [livejournal.com profile] yapidka for success in recent creative ventures! whoohoo!

: D
lookingland: (civil peace)
( Oct. 28th, 2007 07:18 pm)
in trying to fulfill [livejournal.com profile] faynudibranch's request for jokes about Andrew Johnson, i started drawing a scene between James and "skin trader" MishMash. couldn't get the joke to work, but there is mention of the "fatuous sot, Andy", which i hope will do for now.

James's relationship with MishMash is an odd one (and definitely unexpected). it almost sorta makes sense why James's relationship with States Morse is so hostile when you see how he is with MishMash and the sort of resentment that gets built out from Mish's attitude and the way his rabid abolitionism colors his world. and Mish is such the sydney carter of this world. he pops in and out of people's lives somewhat bizarrely (and with none of them ever knowing about the others) and then it's to a far far better place that he goes in the end. Mish and the Tall Blond Soldier share a lot of qualities in that regard. they are probably the two characters i love most who don't have "books" of their own (and aren't getting any either, sorry guys).

in my bid to capture the family resemblance,
i made his hair too flat (it should be floofier and
less combed, i suppose), but all in all not bad
for a first attempt at a character.

working on this scene has been sorta fun. Mish's over-the-top fanaticism is refreshing in a world where everyone else seem so uncertain of what they are doing. and i forget how wonderfully nasty James can be if provoked. he definitely has his dark side. put the two together and they are a fun pair to create dialogue for. unfortunately, this scene and a scene in which ladies' underwear features prominently are the only two times we ever see them together, which is a shame.

i guess i oughta start posting these boogers instead of talking about them, huh?

: o p
lookingland: (shark)
( Oct. 26th, 2007 09:58 pm)
first off, for the [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge:

no. 59 ~ The Guillotine Club by s. weir mitchell. this is a sequel of sorts to A Diplomatic Adventure. at first i was impatient with it because it was too much Grenville and Alphonse and not enough Captain Merton, but once Merton arrived on the scene, hilarity ensued. the premise is kind of silly: two secret french "clubs" of opposing politics challenge one another to a duel every year and an unfortunate count who belongs to one club and has been nominated to the other by his crazy uncle has been ordered to challenge and fight himself (unbeknownst to either side that he is, in fact, the same person). machinations abound, but nothing they do manage to get the count off the hook. in the end, naturally, Captain Merton saves the day with some impromptu swashbuckling. it's a clever story ~ even if rather silly. i enjoyed it, of course.
in drawing: i'm struggling with the usual "issues" and am coming to the conclusion that one style is as good as another ~ all have their plusses and minuses, and that regardless of what i do in real media, i end up losing a lot of fidelity after the processing ~ both in terms of texture and nuance as well as just stuff getting obscured by dialogue, etc.

take, for example, the image below. i was finally (after about 8 runs) pleased with how it came out, but reduced and desaturated, it loses a lot of the detail. so i named the file "get used to it" because clearly this is just going to be the way that it goes.

: o p

that said, i guess i launch on the 28th. which means i need to get drawing!
did some random experimenting today. i had an "event" in mind, but the two pictures were very randomly chosen (clearly i was in a mood to draw Morse with his crazy long hair, though i think when this scene actually happens, he ought to have it tied back...and he ought to be wearing a hat ~ my great sin against 19th century historicality is forever going to be people wandering around without hats. i can't help it. Lewis looks stupid in hats and always has ~ but i don't know why i always forget to put a hat on Morse. i'll try harder).

pardon the discursion: back to the image.

there's not a whole lot about this that's different from what i was doing before except that it's got a bit more white space between panels and i'm thinking about it strip-style instead of page-style. i was also goofing with the layers and throwing some texture on it (a wee bit of shadow on the boom ~ i like the boom).

it's also a lot "tighter". i tend to plan my "shots" poorly so that there's too much background and i'd like to avoid that. one of the things that SPQR Blues does that i really like is focus on the characters and their expressions. it doesn't do a whole lot of wide or complicated angles. since i am very poor at perspective drawing, that appeals to me. it's also not too tiny for details, but tiny enough that i feel confident.

i kinda like it. in theory.

i'm also painfully aware of the fact that i really do need to work from a more cohesive script. my thumbnails are mostly a mess. and notice how they are laid out in a strip-style? so i don't know why i changed my tactics on that. i'm dum.

none of this solves the "grit" problem, of course ~ but right now, the bigger fish to fry is story-wise. i promised myself i wasn't going to get roped into some linear chronology, but i did just that. by eliminating the narrative voice, i locked the story into a logical progression of scenes. foo! as a result i have been sorta stuck on figuring out what arc i'm after here, when there was never supposed to be an arc. so i need to either bring back the narrative voice or rethink this in some other way yet again.

geh. i need something with balloons on it to throw darts at.

mebbe then i could win a prize.

: o p
this post is for moo, by special request to see sketches.

so we finally introduce Lewis on page 7. and Lewis looks typically pissed off. or annoyed. i actually don't think he's either in the scene, but he's a man of few facial expressions. eventually i will have to draw a picture of him smiling, but it's hard to conceive at the moment.

i can already see that being consistent on the placement of his facial scars is going to be problematic for me. if i dug back through old pictures, i'm pretty sure the marks on his cheek used to be angled the other way, but i alway forget, so now this is how they look (and oh well ~ there's no laws governing the trajectory of shrapnel that says he couldn't have been hit this way).

the scar on the bridge of his nose and forehead (which is mostly covered by his hair) are more recent additions (they come from a gun stock and i really didn't mean to mark his face up so much, but...): i needed a way for Linwood to be able to recognize him, primarily, and also, it gave me a convenient excuse for why his hair is always in his face. i don't think Lewis is actually all that self-conscious about his scars, but i think he'd rather not answer questions about those particular ones. i was hesitant to mark his forehead so obviously (the covered scar is sort of a fish-hook shape from his left eyebrow, with a gash underscoring it on his bridge). i thought it might be a little too harry potter because it's significant (not in a magical way, but story-wise), but i decided i don't care.

Lewis is forty years old in this picture (he don't look it, i know ~ that's another thing i am going to struggle with). i don't want to grey his hair for another five years or so, but drawing age is hard for me (Lewis is always a pissed off teenager to me sometimes). it's going to be interesting to see if i can make the age progression work. i'm not worried about Morse (he doesn't age), but the women are also especially going to be hard to track over time. i can draw young and i'm more or less okay with old (like old old), but these middle-age years are a wee difficult.

Lewis definitely looks older here than his teenaged years, but i don't think he looks forty ~ especially not for someone who's lived as hard a life as he has.

and there you have it and there it is.

is it friday yet?

: o p
i continue to struggle with color envy. i want oooo shiny colors like on Phoenix Requiem, but i am utterly incapable of working with a palette, it seems. i dunno. maybe this coming weekend i could try some things, but i feel like every time i start messing with digital coloring, i just get up crick without a paddle. monotones are safer.

it's sort of weird telling the story this way. i am developing some anxiety about the structure, but i'll try to keep that hound at bay as long as i can. i have a lot of thumbnails worked out in a general sense, but there are still holes here and there that i need to work on and i am sort of itchy at how much work this is (have i mentioned that i am lazy?). but really, it's not the degree of work that's frustrating so as much as it is just the slowness of it: i put in a lot of hours on the weekend and even though i did a lot, it ain't moving fast enough.

and the semester is starting to creep, school-wise, so pretty soon midterms are going to be biting in me in b-hind. but once turkey day is here, it's all over (yay!), though i am not looking forward to the whole job-hunting/moving process.

anyway...not much to say lately, i guess. busy in my head, i s'pose. and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

: D
lookingland: (ghost rider)
( Sep. 30th, 2007 11:24 am)
i really didn't mean to fall off the face of the planet. i have been occupied with other work/school stuff (all very boring), and working on the website, which needs a lot of work, alas. yesterday i spent all day at the mall after seeing Eastern Promises, which i recommend, though not for the squeamish (it's Cronenberg ~ 'nuff said). i feel sort of eh about the ending, but otherwise an interesting tale and character study of one guy in the russian mafia.

the drawing is very uneven, but i'm pressing onward. i like how my introductory panel of Morse came out (below) ~ especially since it's at an angle i'm usually not comfortable drawing (looking up people's noses), but i think i managed to get it right enough. his hair's a little flat, but there's a bazillion things i want to change/fix in the pages i have posted thus far, and i promised myself i would just give it x amount of time and energy and keep moving forward, wonky noses, creative anatomy, and all.

today i have to clean up broken windows (must been some storm we had last night). i think i must have heard them break, but i guess i was dead to the world (and i don't recall the dogs getting up either ~ very odd). anyway, it's a big mess. i hate picking up glass.

: o p

hope everyone is having a good weekend!
the sun sets on another sunday ~

i have worked on a lot of odds and ends this weekend (prolly more odd than end, but that's about par for the course). it took me most of the evening to draw the "rembrandt" picture i mentioned the other day. it was a lot more complicated than i anticipated and i'm mostly pleased with the results, though i am not sure if it "reads" well. i posted a preview under the cut if you want to take a gander at it and tell me what you think. it ain't finished, but the shape is basically in place.

the lettering will be larger and legible on the final, but in case you can't read it, it's Mark 4:37-40ish. i'm sort of torn as to whether the image conveys well enough what i want it to, and don't know whether the quote helps or just confuses the matter. again, mebbe you swell flisters can give me your impressions. other than dead andy lying in state, this is the "opening" image of the story, so i feel like it has to carry all sorts of important tonal/metaphorical junk (you know, all that writerly crap).

okay, enough of me blithering again.

click me if you want to see the pencils )

hope everyone had some bright moments this weekend! i saw 3:10 to Yuma on sattidy. review is in the works.

: D
a drawing lesson, free of charge:

in an attempt to accentuate the positive, i have been taking inventory of the things that i do well. first on that list is scribbling ~ !

here are the things i have learned about scribbling, which i must pass on to all of you:
you can scribble all day. it's aimless and reliant on no structure or preconception. it is born of the moment.

you can scribble elaborately. because scribbles are naturally layered, you can scribble over scribbles and the build-up actually accrues into cool stuff sometimes. plus, the natural impermanence of pencil allows for much alteration long after the fact.

sometimes the things i scribble actually look like what they are meant to represent. this is because scribbling approximates and suggests physical things. it's impressionistic rather than literal.

scribbling covers the stuff you don't know how to draw or are too lazy to figure out. whatever you might think you suck at, scribbling permits you to work around it. my perspective work in scribbling is much better than my serious attempts at the same.

you can do it anywhere and any time. all you need is a pencil and some white paper. no expensive materials or tools involved!

most importantly perhaps: i find i never critique my scribbling. scribbling carries no particular pressure or expectation because it's, well, just scribbling. it therefore lives happily like a free-range fatted cow on my creative farmlands.
all of this is leading somewhere.


: D
it took me most of the morning to draw dead andy, which is unfortunate (that's pretty slow even for me, and the picture is still not finished). but then, it's a complicated picture and i had to fuss with it a lot.

this is the opening image in whatever it is i'm currently working on (this is technically Remember, Linwood Brown, but i don't know if that will actually be the title in the long run). i had wanted to open with rembrandt's painting, but it occurred to me that i could work in even more layers of schtuff if i opened with dead andy instead. so here's dead andy and rembrandt will be next.

andy is one of those characters who i created knowing he was going to die, but he was necessary for so many reasons, and, in all fairness, he lived a lot longer than anyone expected he might. it also mitigates my own guilt that since he's dead in the opening scene, we can hope he's got a life of flashbacks to count on.

i didn't feel like drawing this morning, but i forced myself to do it anyway (discipline, discipline, discipline). the picture's not astonishingly good in any way, but i like it well enough (and will tweak some more when i ink it. i'm still thinking of changing that candlestick to a votive instead, for example). i altered it a bit from my initial thumbnail sketch (enlarged somwhat in this scan ~ my thumbnails are usually about an inch high):

i wanted Morse kneeling, but it seemed like that would dictate one extra step to get him on his feet to touch andy's face and i didn't feel like that was warranted. i haven't figured out certain kinds of progressions well enough to know how to pull something like that off without it feeling like bad film editing. but i am nonetheless determined to make this mostly a learning experience.

and i also sort of randomly feel like i might delete much of the front half of this journal (just as a necessary purgative), and that i need new lj tags. but it's hard to know where to start.

something to mull.

look alive everybody, tomorrow's friday!

: D
today is Lewis Fletcher's b-day. today, he's 18 years old from inception (skeery thought: i was 18 years old when i created him). i actually created the character in august of 1989, but i've always said his b-day was september 18 (well, it is in the story, anyway), so there you have it.

Lewis began life as a strange composite mixture of Lewis Powell and Doc Holliday (except that in comparison to the former he is rescued from infamy before it's too late, and in the latter he goes from notorious gunman to mild-mannered dentist instead of the other way around). Over the years he's changed very little from this original concept (he's as muddle-headed, dogmatic, and violent-tempered as ever ~ he's also as well-mannered, faithful, and hard-working ~ to throw in his good qualities), and has proved a very steady character in a universe that otherwise seems to experience volcanic fluxes and floes every few years.

the first illustration below is the first one i ever drew (dated 1989). the others are bits and pieces along the progression over the years in various mediums. i was in a rush to collect these this morning before i dashed off to work, so i prolly could have chosen a broader sample of styles, but it was fun to aggregate them anyway.

: D
lookingland: (civil peace)
( Sep. 11th, 2007 09:10 am)
this morning i woke up to a cold breeze knocking all the paper off of my desk. then i made my first cup of hot tea for the season (yay!).

i was sort of feh feh on the whole drawing thing as i puttered around picking up the scattered papers, but managed to combat it by forcing myself to sit down and draw. i had for a long time imagined isaac's cdv to show him holding a carbine and was a bit unsure how i felt when i finally got his picture without one. but having drawn him, it seems refreshingly apropos that he's not holding a weapon. like morse, it should seem contrary to his character to carry a gun, and really, i think that's the source of lewis's initial trust with morse ~ that he reminds him of his cousin.

anyway, so i made some minor changes (like adding a bit of length to his hair and lengthening his face. this is just a pencil rough, so i have some further adjustments and refining to do.

the original picture sure shows a handsome fella (love the typical placement of the feet in his pose). the picture was taken in philadelphia, but other than that i have no information about it. whoever he was, i hope he had a good life and didn't die too young.

lookingland: (rouen)
( Sep. 9th, 2007 06:23 pm)
so i decided that rather than fight with the backgrounds, i'd just eliminate them (to some degree). i like this much better. it's softer and the characters don't get lost in a muddy palette (stage designer, i am not). it also plays to my strengths: i like coloring the people and doing shading. big areas of color, not so much. i meant to color nora's kerchief, but i can go back and do that later. the nice thing about all these digital geegaws is that you can fix mistakes and omissions so easily! i love that.

i had to completely redraw the page, which was a drag, though i made a few improvements. Some of the previous expressions i liked better, but i'm not going to nitpick. the fact that i managed to redraw the page at all after wrecking the original one is leaps and bounds ahead of my usual response to creative obstacles (which is to go watch tv and hope the problem will magically resolve itself).

anyway, i futzed with the settings a lot trying to flatten the tones, only to discover that a straight scan and no tweaking gives the best results (go figure!). i really wanted this to look more uniform (i only used 4 colors to paint this), but watercolor is very subtle and can generate all manner of shades ~ even when you don't want it to.

all in all, even though i basically just remade what i had done yesterday, i feel like i did good work today ~ and the evening is yet young!

: D

okay, i'm gonna go make another page now.
i've been reading online comics, including cowboys and aliens (in a sort of car-wreck gawking way ~ and yet this is scheduled for movie production in 2008. it's just loopy enough that it might work, who knows). also, hero (great art, but sort of airy for my tastes). i should prolly also mention fungus grotto, which is likewise beautifully drawn, though the pacing doesn't do much for me. and SPQR blues, which is sort of addictive in its simplicity. finally, for those of you who love the belgian style of comics, rainbow orchid is fabulous (and can be added to your f-list feed via [livejournal.com profile] rainboworchid).

though i have posted here a handful of mostly gems, the real reason i've been browsing online comic art is to see what's confidently out there and not quite so great and boy is there tons of unabashed doodling and scribbling and scrawling, to all of which i have to give great respect in spite of its flaws because those people made commitments. they created something. they drew it. they posted it.

i spent the week away from In Pursuit of Said Conspiracy and away from writing for the most part. away from reading as well, as my head is quite full, thank you dr. mitchell, and i'd like a break. instead i have been drawing (yes, that was a cold breeze that passed through hell just now), and i've realized a couple of important things:
1.) my art doesn't "suck", i'm just supremely lazy. even after not doodling for six months since i officially "quit" trying i can see plainly that my work has improved by enormous leaps since 2005.

2.) moomsy is right (natch): this whole "comparing" business is just death on a stick (and not even the fun carny kind, just cobwebs and old bones). in the same way that i can't write like other people, i can't draw like other people. i'm just me and i have to find a way to get along with myself better.

3. you can't get anything done if you spend all your time planning to get it done and none of your time actually doing it.

4. i lack courage (always have).
some of these strike me as "obvious" lessons, but i've always been thick-headed in this department. i also know that i am happiest just "doing" (which is why planning is such a compulsion with me ~ it's always moving forward, but requires only a fragment of the energy of actually creating). planning is also "safe". so long as you are planning, then nothing is finished and nothing is susceptible to criticism. truth is, i can take all the critique in the world when it comes to writing, but one negative word about my art just slays me. this comes from having an artist for a brother, sure, but also from years and years of being asked "why do you waste your time with that?"

if i've wasted time, it was listening to comments like that.

so i drew today. and painted. and made all sort of glorious mistakes ~ in fact, the original piece of artwork from which these panels were generated got mostly destroyed at some point while i was experimenting with backgrounds on it. i feel iffy about the colors, but there you have it and there it is. and let's hear it for the power of digital salvage!

click me! )

my one disappointment with this is all the work i went through to draw a set of tea cups and saucers on the shelf and it got buried behind the text. how to make effective backgrounds is still a mystery to me.

anyway, so is everyone having a nice weekend?

: D
lookingland: ((not so snarly) yow)
( Aug. 29th, 2007 08:23 pm)
recent posts from [livejournal.com profile] gwyn_hwyfar about south mountain's snarly yow got me to thinking on what poet byron called the black dog days (being the downside of of his bi-polarity). the "black dog" is, in fact, so common a symbol at this point as a harbinger of death/suicide and/or a symbol of depression that it's commonly used as such by treatment institutes (though this institute in particular falsely attributes the coinage to winston churchill ~ foo).

anyway, my point is, it's been a pretty black dog summer for me and not looking to immediately improve. normally i would resort to making paper dolls, but i don't even feel like doing that much (which oughta tell ya somethin'). for my own good, nonetheless, i have been piddling with paint and contemplating possibilities, which i know i vowed to stay away from, but i've never been sensible about these things.

i don't plan on posting here much until i can better unmungify ~ i will try to follow along and comment as i can, and post now and then so you know i'm still poking about, but for the time being, i just dunna have anythin' to say. i'm hoping when i check in, it will be for leaps and strides. no more downers from this corner of the woods.

: D
lookingland: (xavier)
( May. 13th, 2007 11:03 am)
i know i can be hard on myself about my laziness, lack of inertia, etc.

i am slowly working through things. i am reminded that there's so much on my plate it's no wonder i feel like my wheels are spinning sometimes.

and then there's just the reality that i spend a lot of time in recharge mode (reading, surfing, frittering).

this year at ComicCon, in addition to bringing the fourth issue of Eleison, we're premiering a series called (for the sake of simplicity) Jack. my brother has finally reached the end of the artwork and i am starting to prep it for the printer. i think it's mostly coming along okay! my brother's art, as usual, is mondo boss patois. you'll be able to read more about it on my website soon (yet another thing i need to get around to finishing ~ yeeks).

anyway, all this playing around with sequential art has me wanting to draw again after so definitively giving it up.


p.s. happy mothers' day, all you mothers on my flist!

: D