SPREY Log#17 – From now on you only paint

Welcome back! My break took a week longer than expected. After I filled my head up with new storytelling knowledge I knew I would need time to digest that in silence. Also, I had to go back to drawing. I felt homesick for it and for SPREY already. But I didn’t want to just jump back and do what I always do, not this time.

I can be on my own, sit and draw forever, but I ultimately cannot know where I actually stand with my art that way. What I think about myself and my art does not matter, as I am not the person hiring myself for future art jobs, so it would be great to know what potential employers would think if they were confronted with me right now. Following that logic I decided to invest in myself and ask a more experienced artist for guidance. Also I was a bit tired of being out there in the void by myself. So I booked a mentorship with concept artist and illustrator Nik Hagialas. He delivered that needed guidance from the first assessment already and so much more.

Apparently I’m not far away from the level I would need to be competitive in the concept art pro scene, but I’m not entirely there yet. That is a great thing to know. And that is also a great moment to go into a mentorship as it possibly could cut short a last, long episode of searching from further years to months. At this point I have one week of doing study and design homework behind me that was tailored to me and my specific needs. The feedback session for it is up tomorrow, so I can’t tell how it objectively went yet. But subjectively, I took so so much from it already, I feel like a new artist.

Nik has found a brilliant way of teaching. He helps you discover yourself by confronting you with a training IP brief, that means he gives you a document that describes a story, it’s setting and characters. You can choose what you want to design, environments, characters, props, vehicles, there is a need for everything in that training project. But in your four week mentorship you realistically only have time to do one thing, so you have to choose. For people like me that are interested and capable of doing many of these things, that is brilliant. I always had such a hard time to understand myself and what I should specialize in as I know that if forced, I CAN do anything. And see what happened. When I read the document I at first went for the props, of course I did. I was told you shouldn’t even try it as a character designer as too many people want to be one and clog that field. Nik told me to delete that from my memory, everyone is needed. So without that restriction I immediately, and I say immediately, went for elite android AXEL and started designing with such a fire and passion that I didn’t even recognize myself at times. Even now, if I think that there is more work to do on AXEL, I can’t help but be happy because I’m burning to continue. And other people seem to enjoy my work on AXEL as well, the spark is strong enough to ignite their interest as well. I’m grateful for the great people in my life every day. Thanks for all the critiques, feedback and suggestion this week and just thanks for being on that journey with me.

And I have no idea how Nik did this, but he also “fixed” my art further with a simple instruction. He just looked at my stuff, listened to me and my symptoms and just said “From now on you only paint and you will paint until you can paint.” I don’t know what he saw but his instinct was absolutely right. I wouldn’t say I am good at painting right now, but even when trying a bit, my art quality instantly shot up, also noticeable and mentioned by others. Also, painting skills feed from drawing skills, so I’m banking on what I kept building up over the years anyways. It was just that I shouldn’t stop at drawing, I should go further. No “being sensible” limitations. So I will paint on and see what happens down the line.

See you next blogpost!

100 Days – 40

The Lightbox Expo Online weekend was as adventurous and busy as expected – and I have a heap of notes to work through and a mountain of fresh ideas. Where do I start? Please bear with me while I recover from that amazing convention and do some soul searching.

I might have to tweak my approach to the 100 days of making comics slightly, so I better take a bit of time to breathe and plan aside, before I fully jump into my regular drawing schedule again.

I drew this little fanart of my childhood hero Shodan from System Shock at the expo. I got quite the response, also in the discords later. There are more System Shock fans out there than I thought – and if I hadn’t drawn this fanart for a “dead” fandom I could never have connected with them. Greetings to all of you – you rock. Not even trying is the biggest sin. Get your stuff out there, no matter how obscure.

Fresh work for the 100 days of making comic today: gestures and character design exercise Naruto Fan witch in pink and purple – with more very specific demands. Greetings to all the amazing artists on the Art Work House discord with whom I went through this!

For the design I first threw together a moodboard (the time constraints were hard!) and created a really quick concept sketch for the witch, then tried a couple of color combinations to have the base colors for the costume down. Also differently than usual I started coloring by flooding the whole canvas with a base color. I saw this at the expo and I will probably keep it in my process to never have to worry about white spots or looking for a good base color for the background in the end.

Also this was a great opportunity to not only create a design (I had no time to make a proper character sheet sadly) but to exercise executing it. As a one woman comic team I have to be able to work with my own designs. That might seem obvious but isn’t. Even that is a trainable skill. Ah, I’ll get there with comic making. I just need time, more of it. I quite like how this turned out and I’m eager to throw more of my characters around to get the amount of experience in to become a fully functional comic artist!

Take care and see you tomorrow!

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!

Art report 24

After an extended weekend full of learning I’m back and gaining momentum again. I also did some design work for the comic yesterday, but it was deeply in spoiler territory, so I will not share this for now. I was very productive today, too, finished 1 1/2 illustrations but am not sure whether I’m free to share right now, so I’ll better wait. Have deliberations about TIME, one of LC’s antagonists. I’m happy I took the time to make some first concept artwork last year already. This is where we are heading from start to finish right now. TIME is a husk, a nearly starving thing crawling to you from the shadows, always hungry, always bored, snarky, and it can expand its jaw and body endlessly as there is nothing that it cannot eat.

Now design that, and give it a simple design that fits LC and the other characters. That’s where I’m heading to get that done. And yes, that might take longer than one day, but it’s so worth it.

TIME eating a young soul that decided to sleep on instead of going out on its adventure in the spirit world.
very first concept sketches of TIME

And now today’s haul:

TIME absolutely needs an expandable jaw like this. Tomorrow I’ll look at snakes and see how they eat.