100 Days – 16

Like a Machine

I was prepared for the worst today. I sat down willing to wrestle through the worst what my brain could throw at me…

…and then nothing came. In fact, what felt horrifying yesterday went quite well today. I was able to nail Grimm‘s design quite immediately. I tried a couple of different costume compositions on a different sheet, but somehow nothing was better than the very first one. Same goes for the head.

It‘s easier to explain Grimm‘s minimalistic design when looking at him in contrast to one of his yet unnamed competitors. My nickname for this arch mage is „Bully“. As you could guess Bully isn‘t much fun to deal with for colleagues or apprentices.

Both Grimm and Bully are powerhungry in their own ways. While Bully does everything „right“ as for following the clothing standards and intriguing his way up to a candidate for the next chancellor over the years, Grimm has no time to waste on politics. He wants all the power magic can grant him and needs all the knowledge for that, even the forbidden one. Grimm wants simple, practical clothing so that he can get to work as fast as possible after waking up. Also he stains or outright destroys his clothes while working in his laboratory from time to time.

When showing Grimm‘s preferred look next to apprentices Corvus and Asmund it becomes clear why many members of the academy leadership abhorr it. Grimm looks so down to earth that he almost looks like an apprentice himself to those who don‘t know him! And people like Bully are not having it. They haven‘t written the clothing standards for them to be ignored. But in Grimm he has found someone who is a worthy opponent. Grimm absolutely does not care. He cannot be intimidated or excluded as he doesn‘t want to be a part of Bully‘s club anyways. It might be Bully‘s downfall that he assumes deep down everyone is like Bully himself. Friends will eventually betray each other climbing the social ladder together, so Bully is always looking out for a knife in the back. But he has no idea about dangers that come from a place that knows no order and hierarchies.

Asmund (the blonde one) would probably give Grimm a stern look, if he wasn‘t distracted by his friend Corvus. Asmund mistrusts Grimm for the beginning. He mistrusts Grimm‘s repeated rule breaking and occasional statements of questionable mage ethics. Yet Asmund is blind for Bully‘s schemes as he hasn‘t yet learned that not everyone is friends at the academy just because they are all part of the academy.

Technical note: I have started to slightly improved yesterday‘s sketches of our two apprentices here. Now my Grimm looks so undeservedly rough, which makes me cringe a bit.

Looks like I have all main characters down that will appear in the scene! At least I feel confident that I know enough to work with it. So tomorrow…the environments. I count them as three: I need a general overview of the academy as a whole for the establishing shot. Then the bulk of my scene is in the peaceful academy garden, only intersected by a short glimpse into Grimm‘s office. Exciting!!

See you tomorrow!

100 Days – 15

Nightmarish

The week started terribly, but I‘m all excited for it.

I had a plate of everything that you don‘t while creating today.

I felt so strong anxiety that I spent a couple of hours just being nervous and miserable, even procrastination wasn‘t fun. Then I did go to work, but quickly realized my brain wasn‘t working properly. You know that when the brain thinks you‘re in mortal danger, you shut places like the frontal cortex off – who needs speech and reason when you have to run or fight. That‘s really bad when you are reviewing a script!

But you know what happenend next? Calm and in a way amused I made a tactical retreat, meditated a bit, crocheted a bit, then got to work again.

Stephen Pressfield and other smart writers are warning their fellow creatives about days like these – they are part of the game. And no, the anxiety will never go away. But the job is to make the art, not beat the anxiety. So I looked for ways to not be anxiety‘s punching bag anymore. Then I had that flipped switch moment where you don‘t feel great, but you keep working, because you dissolve. Nothing is important anymore, there is only the work to do, even if best you can do is do it badly.

I would have been ready to make as many attempts at getting into this flow as I could stomach for today. I only needed this one.

  • I really carefully rescripted the very first scene of my comic that I‘m going to draw this week. I know my material now.
  • I made an updated to do list what has to be done the next days.
  • I decided for a simple 6 panel page layout that I‘m going to use. It might not be the most elegant thing to do, but at least I can’t get overwhelmed with making decisions on this front now.
  • And then I designed the costumes for Asmund and Corvus.

I apologize for the reduced quality of the pieces to what you are used from me, but I really needed to get this out and had to make…compromises. Read these from general deliberations to a clearer and clearer picture of what I want the costumes to look like. Absolutely no polish of the artworks to be found.

But, hey, tangible results! The character designs for my two main characters are mostly fixed now. It‘s okay for Asmund to look generic – as funny as it sounds, that fits his personality. His mage robe might turn into the more elegant darker red that the arch mage design currently has, but I already like tthe core of what I‘m seeing. The arch mages have the right to wear lush overcoats, so that they really stand out and look even more imposing. Lecturers who are full fledged mages, but not arch mages yet, have a right to wear an overcoat at all.The chancellor of the mage academy will have the privilege to wear purple and…will probably do not have a speaking role in this comic, but he surely is a nice person with a lot of great stories to tell.

Tomorrow it‘s Magister Grimm time again. Grimm hates the regular robes, the insignia, the politics, and colorful things in general I suppose. Let‘s see what he does to not look like an arch mage/lecturer within the boundaries that he has. And he can‘t wait to strip this from himself as soon as possible.

See you tomorrow!

100 Days – 14

Week 2

The second week is over! Time for a little summary.

I spent this week on getting into drawing environments, searching and practising comic style and the last two days costume designs for Asmund, one of the main characters for a change.

I definitely see things here I wouldn‘t have been able to create in the beginning of the week.

The candlelight series is not included as it was so strong that it got it‘s own social media appearance throughout the week.

The goals for next week are set already, too: accelerating further. Picking a scene, up to now the very first is my favorite, and work it up to finished pages within the week. My friend Kiwi made a great comparison: you can‘t learn to swim forever, you have to actually swim. So that is my jumping into the water then. It might go horribly wrong, work out great or something in between. I‘m excited to share the journey with you!

See you tomorrow!

100 Days – 05

Getting ahead

Another day, a new chance to shine!

What I did for the comic today

Redefining the drawing process

After picking apart what happened (and did not happen) yesterday with passion I was so eager to do better that I started the same evening. I did my best to resolve my „style confusion“ and I‘m happy to declare that a winner quickly was found. The piece on the bottom left encompasses the best that I can give in the shortest amount of time…and while looking like line graphics was constructed from blobs and shapes rather than minding lines.

I guess I should try doing some art before going to bed on a regular basis, as I dreamt of art afterwards. I then woke up doing things a little bit differently.

Today I did some more sketches, just to make sure, and found that suddenly rendering wasn‘t such a riddle anymore. Not saying I‘m good at it, but my mindset shift away from lines towards showing light made all the difference. I have no clue whether I could hold up a style like this for a whole comic, but whatever this is, it is a step ahead.

To Do List

I then took a closer look at my ever growing to do list. It‘s good that I started writing it down in the blog as a first step. I don‘t know about you, but in the next step my to do lists tend to be forgotten or lost if I can‘t finish all the tasks immediately. I also cannot rely on myself tracking times for activities by myself. This doesn‘t come naturally, such as a trellis to a plant, yet the trellis is a good thing!

The solution? I set up a private git. I did my best to turn my to do list into tasks, assigned deadlines and tracking time costs two clicks now, one to start and one to finish. If you wonder what a git is – it is a piece of magic used by software developers to keep track of what they are doing, but you can misuse it as a planner, too. I will now have to teach myself to religiously open my git in the morning and keep using it throughout the day.

New habits

Speaking about it – instead of trying to become a new human and throwing everything over, forgetting most new resolutions after 2 days, I decided to stick with my habits. I saw potential and my dream tonight inspired me. I dreamt I was doing almost the same I was doing now, not really using new knowledge, but still doing so so much better. So I‘m going into the right direction already. But how can I do better and close that gap?

I just flipped my day. I am really not a morning person, but unfortunately that is the time where I have most energy, just like everyone else. I am teaching myself to start my day with a workout and then working on the comic immediately. This isn‘t revolutionary as a concept, but actually hard to do. I am really a nightowl and have living like that a substantial amount of my life. Change is hard. And it‘s also about keeping sources of procrastination such as household chores (I love those. Seriously.) and falling into a crochet frenzy away from me as long as I can. Can‘t destroy so much with them, when a good piece of comic work has been done for the day already.

Now I‘m curious whether I‘ll have a second wind in the evening sometimes for my creative work. We‘ll see!

Storyboard

While setting up my planner I took a closer look at act I of my comic again. I was surprised – again – that it wasn‘t as good as I remembered. But that is absolutely normal and exactly the reason why you write a first draft and then let it rest. Your memory will undergo some change and entrophy, in best case you will even learn something new for your storytelling in the meantime, and then you are confronted with your piece again as if you were just reading it as a stranger.

I promptly padded my storyboard overview out with 2-3 scenes to show the reader what is happening instead of having the characters talk to each other about it. Removing some exposition dumpm awkwardness if you will (what was I thinking?). I have 8 scenes to play with now and I‘m actually looking forward to every single one.

See you tomorrow!