The 100 days of making Street Prey (SPREY) made an interesting turn this week.
I was about to say, on the outside nothing changed or will change, I‘m just doing business as usual with SPREY for another week, every day – but then with the last possible panel of the week a dramatic change took place.
My black outlines and soft airbrush coloring coexisted for a while. Suddenly, black inky shadows appeared. They felt so natural, it was as if I was just uncovering more of the picture as it was meant to be. It‘s not wrong. I love dramatic black shadows and chiaroscuro (which will undoubtedly be the endgame of this). I was just not expecting it would shift now.
In a way this is exactly how the black colored pencil foundation snuck in towards the end of chapter 1. I appreciate it when I can „kill“ most of the lighting decisions with the decision black or not black. Mastering this simplicity is not easy and you should definitely aim for at least a 3 value system in the long run I have heard…but for now, why actually not? SPREY is gritty unless Rich and Willard have a romantic moment. Also, why don‘t I just make the jump and adopt that style for my other works, too, to get better at it? Or is this the last rebellion of the chrome effect brush that I will sacrifice when I change to Clip Studio Paint for a while to see whether this helps me to do a better job?
My performance this week feels not as good as last week, my exhausted Thursday and Saturday cost me dearly, but did not throw me out of schedule. The concept art gig needs only one more session until I deliver to the client again. It would be great if the Manul Zine would be finished the upcoming week, so after the concept art is out, this one gets priority.
Today I thought something that I have never thought before: „No, you won‘t do 5 more environment thumbnails right now. You already did five and you are tired. You would rush them and not learn a thing. Come back tomorrow“ And I could not argue with that. Is that …the reprimanding voice of experience?
Today was a day where quite a few non-art things interfered with my endeavours. Some were necessary and unavoidable, some were distractions. Usually I‘d say you can be productive at any time of the day. But today I really noticed how few energy I had left for my work on the comic. Even with channeling my willpower I couldn‘t do my best work – the victim and the culprit of this is the same person, me.
And then I understood another puzzle piece in the riddle why my comics aren‘t out there yet.
Measured against the goal of making progress on my comic I have chosen my activities poorly. They have in sum cost more of my ressources(energy, time etc.) than I should and would have given them had I seen this coming.
Revelation one : I never see it coming.
Revelation two: My habits have worked against me today.
Revelation three: My current habits do not align with my comic making goal.
Nobody sets out to waste a precious day with a lot of time for doing meaningful work. I am realizing that I‘m still carrying a lot of baggage with me from my past that still influences my decisions and probably still informs the current habits.
How do you learn things that keep you back? In my case, I‘m coming from a place of a lot of anxiety. That feeds impulses to procrastinate. Fighting them or following them both drains my energy. The results are disappointing working sessions once I get to work. That feeds anxiety again, because I don‘t have made the stellar progress I wished or hoped for, and then the circle continues.
What puzzles me as well is that I seem to have no concept of my daily time and energy budget. If it does not come naturally, then I will cultivate it. And again, the 100 days of making comics challenge is a great opportunity to do that. It makes it easier to set goals and prioritize the things to measure.
What I have done for the comic today
Luckily I read into my script which seems even more lacking to me than before. I decided to ignore my sentiment and still work out a list of what I have to design.
5 main characters,
6 side characters
a nonspecific number of background characters such as guards, zombies and peasants.
3 important props, one of them done already.
one huge one with 3 large subenvironments(rural area where most of the story takes place),
one big one (the academy) and
a really small urban one for a character introduction.
The good news, I will not need that much new stuff for the following acts. What I do here covers a lot of the story already. But I might have overdone it with the characters. If that is so, that will be a lesson for future comics.
A question of style
In making today‘s fake panel I realized that there are technical reasons to not work at the size you will upload your comic to the web. Working bigger and then making it small for presentation works well. Other than that I‘m at the brink of breaking my own heart. I fell in love with Clip Studio Paint instantly but I‘m not feeling the brushes. I keep going back to Krita for my favourite brushes, but I still love how otherwise comfortably CSP is to work in.
I suspect that the problem might be me, or more precise my style. I seem to have an aversion for clean linework. I like my brushstrokes gritty. But then I can‘t complain when I just don‘t get that clean, quick comic look that I‘m trying to achieve. Wasn‘t I just saying „just draw“ is a bad strategy yesterday? But it seems like I have some style confusion to clear up if I want to get my comic done. I should look up different styles, try to recreate them and see what sticks. I would bet on a chiaroscuro related question to decide the battle. I find myself as weird hybrid of Western and manga styles and I admire both worlds. Chiaroscuro is the question and the answer to the future as it seems to be incompatible with a classical manga style. You cannot stress and not stress light over lines. What will get to dominate my works?
What I have to add to my to do list:
Track your times
estimate your energy expenditure on activities you do (that will probably not be precise but anything is better than not doing anything at all)
find ways to change your habits, especially change your mornings where you should have most of your energy to spend
End your style confusion by making one of the hardest decisions in your life so far
See you tomorrow!
About the artist
Styxcolor creates freelance concept art and illustrations. She blogs about storytelling and art since 2020.