Last year I took a landscape painting class at Schoolism (I did a lot of urban landscapes in it as well) and it really helped me with getting over the fear of drawing environments. This past month I have been working a lot on my reboot of The Pines and I have found I have a lot of environments to design, both indoor and outdoor. Out of all of them, the ones with trees give me the most headache. Environments really are important if you want your images to be interesting and convincing. If this list seems overwhelming then definitely give it a shot. I promise by the end of a month you will see an improvement in your work.
Now that I have my script for Colony: Origins completed, and have been hard at work improving my drawing and painting skills, I have come to the conclusion I need to work on comic creation and hone my skills.
I have been trying to come up with some story ideas. One of them was Java Dreams, the other is reworking a story I wrote several years ago called The Pines. The Pines is a Southern Gothic horror story. I’m still hammering out details. I am making a lot of changes to the story. I liked the basic plot of the story but there was something really wrong with it.
After going over all the notes I can find (my original complete script is lost so I only have first attempt artwork and 25 pages of thumbnails with dialogue to work from) I came to the conclusion that the pacing is really manic. It almost goes Once upon a time – the end. What was I thinking? Most of the time you have to cut parts of a story to make it more coherent, I actually have to add more story to my story.
The next thing to tackle is the artwork. With the original comic I spent very little time in character design and really rushed my page output. The result was really terrible artwork.
This time I am spending more time developing the look of the characters. Overall, fairly similar in general appearance, but more cleaned up, and tighter drawing. The original scratchy pencils weren’t doing it for me. I think I was trying to go for a grunge look.
Another thing I’ve discovered is that, after years of avoiding trying it, I love inking with a brush. I think initially the notion that I wouldn’t be able to make fine lines or that I wouldn’t have as much control kept me from giving it a go. Now i’m wishing I would have tried it years ago. My new best friends are Chinese calligraphy brushes.
Recently I joined the Comic Fury community. I’ve been picking up quite a bit of info on comic creation from those guys. One of the most important topics touched on was output. The standard output for an online comic seems to be about a page a week. I was rushing doing the penciling trying to put out at least three pages a day.
Now that I feel like I can slow it down and do it right. I am more likely to publish my comic in coherent chunks. I don’t want to publish something in mid thought. That’s not my idea of a cliffhanger. My aim is to update weekly, but if it takes longer that’s ok. I really am more interested in doing as good a job as I can rather than having a huge output of rubbish.
So script writing is where I am right now. Once I have the script completed I will begin updating the comic once every week or so until the story is complete. Stay tuned.
In my opinion, the hardest references to find are ones concerning figure drawing for scenes and individual poses- odd angles, multiple subjects and especially those scenes where there is action going on, like a fight. What should you do? Where can you find copyright free references to use in your artworks? You can make your own – free. Here’s how:
Daz3D Studio– I’m putting this one top of the list because I think most people will find it the most appealing, and with good reason. The basic program and models are free. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of models, props and outfits in their store for you to purchase and add to your models and scenes. The models are beautiful. When working with the models setting up a scene they feel very lifelike- as if they actually had bones and muscles inside their bodies. Pretty cool. I admit having a limited knowledge of this program because it is a little overwhelming to use with all of it’s options. Basically I haven’t taken the time out to actually learn how to use it, so it is me being lazy. Overall I am very impressed with what I have seen and I really need to make a point to get more familiar.
Poser – At the moment this one is my favorite. This is the Poser 6 version. I got it as a gift years ago and it has served me well. While this software isn’t exactly free (various versions have various pricetags) it is easier to use than other programs. You can set up a scene and render it in minutes. Figures can be displayed as full or as boxes. I also like that the interface is drag and drop and the posing window can be resized. The only real downside is that the models are not as lifelike as the models in Daz3D Studio, at least in my version. The link I have provided will get you a free trial version of Poser 10.
Make Human – I have to admit that until I started researching for this article I had never heard of this program. I decided to go ahead and include it because it is a 100% free open source program. Should you be so inclined, you can code for it and make your own versions. I also am intrigued by other features, such as the sliders to change the race of your models. I’m curious to know if you can set up scenes with multiple models. I think it warrants further investigation.
Posemaniacs – This is not as customizable as Poser or Daz3D, however, there is an app that will allow you to use it on your smartphone. There is a huge library of poses that can be rotated 360 degrees. Sadly, this only applies to Y axis. It is free, although, you can make donations on the website. More poses are being developed.
I just wanted to throw out a quick post to let everyone know the site move is now complete. If you have noticed any oddity in the last few days it is because the name servers were trying to catch up to my domain pointing to the new webhost. I know the site has been down a lot recently. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. I have been really happy with the response my blog has gotten over the last few months. I am sorry I lost all of the wonderful comments on the old site, but I hope to continue to grow. I will try to contact everyone who made posts on the last site to inform of the move. I’ve already had a few registrations in the last few days since the move. I appreciate all of your interest and I hope you continue to visit. I have more content planned for the future- art prompts, art and writing articles and comics that I hope you will enjoy.
It is finally happening! Last October I decided I was going to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a comic creator. Since then I have been doing a lot of drawing and painting courses to get myself moving in the direction I wanted to go. Recently I realized if I want to improve at comics I was going to have to stop beating around the bush and start drawing comics.
Last month I contacted the guys over at Back From the Depths and submitted a script and some art for consideration in Hallowscream 2017. If you are unfamiliar with Hallowscream you can download past issues for free. I am happy to announce my work was accepted and my strip will be included! However, since my readership here is small, I decided to go ahead and publish it here in my gallery. You will find it under the title Java Dreams. I hope you will still download the completed free comic book this October. I will post a link when it is published.
I really enjoyed working on this comic, but it proved to me I still have loads to learn. With that in mind I’ve decided to focus on creating other comics and publish them here on the site in preparation for working on my graphic novel. So stay tuned. I have some horror stuff and a fantasy strip in mind that I want to update in installments. I am working on the storyline as we speak. More to come on that soon!
I’ve decided to go ahead and post the August art prompt a little early so it’s available for the weekend. This month’s art prompt is “Creature Features’. I love to draw from movies and I love creatures so I thought combining the two would be great for drawing practice. If creatures aren’t your thing you can always draw your favorite scenes, characters or props from the following film list. Happy sketching!
When I was 15 I took my first art class in high school. To get in the class I had to present some of the work I had done on my own at home so the teacher could see where my skill level was at. I presented a large portrait of a musician in a band I liked. She praised my work. Then when the class started I was informed I was doing it all wrong. Up until that point I had always drawn things by gaging angles and distance. When we started doing portraits in class I was introduced to proportional grids. This is what we were taught. This is what we were expected to do. This is what we were being graded on. And on and on this went as a red thread in every art class I took, every book I bought for the next 27 years.
I’m not saying don’t learn this method. I’m saying learn it and break this rule as fast and often as possible. The late and great Andrew Loomis has a series of drawing books you can get as a free pdf download. Learn it, know it, do something else. Here’s why:
I drew the sketch above a few minutes ago. It is a very generic example of a face you can get drawing a proportional grid. The problem with drawing this way is that your brain switches to this mode of drawing symbolically instead of drawing what is really there. So you end up trying to draw the grid instead of your subject. Not to mention that unless you are a 20-40 year old white person of averge weight, your face won’t fit this grid anyway. I won’t even mention the part where it takes so much time to get the grid drawn, then you draw your portrait and getting it looking nice, then you have to ruin your drawing trying to erase your grid. Oh wait, I just did.
Young white women are the most common drawing subjects for portraits among beginners. Once you start branching away from that and learning to draw other ethnicities and age groups you realize their proportions range greatly. I don’t even have the same face I had 10 years ago. So what do we do to fix this problem? Learn to draw lights and darks.
Below are a series of sketches I did very quickly. I spent less than a minute on each. They are the first pass of blocking-in a portrait using techniques I learned from Jonathan Hardesty’s Essentials of Realism class. In this class we learned the best way to block in a portrait it to loosely measure your angles using areas of light and dark as a guide. So instead of drawing a face or an eye you draw the highlights and the shadows around it. Doing this allows you to block a portrait or entire scene in very quickly, then you make passes tightening it up. They may not look like much, but the thing I thought was really cool is that just by doing this you get the placement down lightening fast and already the sketches look like each other. This is very exciting for someone like me, who does sequential art and struggles with getting my characters to look the same in every frame. As an added bonus, you also start paying more attention to the value structure in your subjects. I won’t even mention the time saved not having to block in a stupid grid. Oh wait..
The next drawing I did of Marlene Dietrich. I did about 3 passes tightening things up. It’s easier, at first, to do subjects that have a lot of contrast in them. Start by drawing the shadow shapes. Group everything into dark. light and midtone. Let your darks and lights describe your forms. Remember to squint and let your color ranges group together. This takes practice but it’s very worth it. You are training yourself to see things differently. Once you get the hang of this then you can move to subjects with less contrast. In some cases the lessons you learned drawing constructively (using a grid to draw contours) will actually come in handy on subjects with few or no shadows on their faces. Still it is a good idea to think of drawing your subject by edge shapes, no matter how vague they may be, in order to keep your brain from drawing symbolically.
I wanted to point out that even though I used portraits as subject matter this method can be used to draw anything. I urge you to try it. If people aren’t your thing try a still life. I also urge you to check out Jonathan Hardesty’s class on Schoolism. If free is more in your budget or you want to get a preview of what to expect then you can check out his channel on Twitch.
This just in……
Adobe is running a contest for the next week to download a set of brushes and digitally copy Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. The reward is $6000 cash, but that’s not the best part. The best part is the brushes are FREE and created by none other than the magnificently genius illustrator/digital brush maker, Kyle T Webster.
If you are unfamiliar with Kyle T. Webster’s brushes I highly recommend heading over to his site and checking them out. I started out with a few from his sampler sets and then splashed out on the Mega Pack. And I’m not even a digital painter!
The super cool thing is Kyle is awesome enough to sell through Gumroad, so if you have a hard drive crash and lose all your stuff your brush library is safe forever. Just go to the site and download them again for free.
If you want to see the brushes in action check out this video:
Sometimes the hardest part about finding a good image, reference or texture is finding one that is not copyright protected. Here is a list of my favorite free sites and you can even use the images for your commercial work.
- morguefile.com – Creative commons site where images are donated “for creatives by creatives”. They boast over 350,000 images in their library.
- pixabay.com – All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required. They have a whopping 1M+ images in their library!
- unsplash.com – “Beautiful free photos gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers.” Creative commons zero license.
- freeforcommercialuse.net – This site is new to me. License is for images in the public domain.
- pexels.com – Simply, all images on pexels are under the Creative Commons Zero License. You can use them for any legal purpose.
I have been on the (nearly) daily drawing path since last October. I moved a couple of months ago and took a few weeks off drawing to get packed/moved/unpacked. When I sat down to draw again I had a killer artist block. I really had to push hard to get past it. One of the things I was having the most trouble with was I couldn’t think of anything to draw. I finally got on Pinterest and started looking for writing and drawing prompts to inspire me. Thankfully there were one or two that I liked and it got me going. Sadly, I noticed there were a severe lack of what I call “good ones”. I mostly like ones Halloween or horror themed. Most of them repeatedly listed “draw your favorite animal”, “draw your favorite food”. Well ok that’s something, but when you have a lot of years ahead to draw something every day and every prompt is the same as the next, it’s going to get uninspiring fast. Long story short, I saw a need for art prompts in the world, so I decided to make some. I have made up a full year’s worth in advance of this post. So I have a bit of material to keep me going until I come up with some more. Without further ado, here is my first ever art prompt for the 31 days of July:
Cross Genre, Multimedia Grab Bag
1) Comic book character (already existing or one you’ve designed)
2) TV show villain
4) Noir film still
5) Movie character
6) Book villain
8) Video game character
9) Movie prop
10) Environment – Aquatic
11) Post apocalyptic
13) Old car/ truck
14) Comic book villain
15) TV show character
17) Silent film still
18) Environment- Subterranean
19) Video game prop
20) Hot air balloon
21) Diesel punk
22) Post apocalyptic weapon
23) Environment – Interior (any)
24) Book character
25) Movie villain
26) Futuristic car/ truck
27) Ray gun
28) Video game villain
29) Environment- Urban landscape
30) TV show prop
The rules: There are no rules! This list is meant to be an idea starter. If you don’t like one then substitute it with another, come up with your own idea. You don’t have to do them in order. Style listings (Victorian, Steampunk etc) can be anything- clothing, architecture, a prop, an environment. Props can be anything, an example would be a priest’s bible from The Exorcist or Doctor Who’s phonebox. Environments don’t need to be detailed- draw a hallway. The idea is to get you thinking about perspective/ spacial awareness. Use a reference. Draw from imagination. Have fun. Use any medium. Experiment. Draw as many days as you can, but strive for all 31. Good luck!