(New)SPREY Log #1 – Foundations

It’s time to continue documenting my journey! But before I switch over to discussions of my webcomic and diving into artistic detail problems, I want to take this entry aside and examine the foundations on which I work as an artist. Maybe more of this will follow in the future, but my most important goal stays, working through Street Prey and finishing it.

Okay, so I’m trying to get myself together and off the ground to a new level of quality for my creative work. That’s what I always do. Lately, I felt stuck although I’m rapidly moving forward. I haven’t slacked a day, on some days I just didn’t have the quantity or quality of output that I would have liked. And that is okay.

What is important though was the realization how my expectations are not the same as the reality of what is actually happening. Sometimes an expectation I have in my head and reality just don’t match up ever. There is nothing wrong with striving for the best, the highest ideals, but you must be aware and accepting of where this leaves the realm of reality. Would you want to live by and be measured by a mere fantasy that lives completely outside of what you can actually do and outside of what actually happens in reality? You would always be disappointed.

Fact is, I’m perfectly average and on time with my life, I’m just not fully in control of it yet, as I’m not fully in control of the wild beast yet that is my creativity. Having learned to appreciate what I do have while being patient with figuring out how to bridge the gap helps a lot. What if the secret is the following: Instead of trying to match an ideal state that I can imagine and fantasize about – and never having seen or experienced it, so there is no proof it exists- I can rather look at my personal reality. What is there every day on paper and digital canvas before me? What is good about it already? How can I make it even better?

I’m starting to think my day to day work is everything I will ever see. That will be the stuff that creates everything I want to create, the thing that either makes a fruitful creative career possible or not. No periods of extraordinary almost mystical work. Why did it take some time to get here? The day to day work of most artists is quite mundane. You don’t finish up a big illustration every day. You don’t finish up fancy designs every day. Some days you’re just grinding away trying to solve a problem or worse, count the day as success when you have done the bare minimum to stay fit.

I have tried to force ideal schedules and drawing processes onto myself before. Usually, it does not work. By now I believe the biggest problem with those is that other people made them. Other people with different life and creative experiences, different circumstances, different personalities and usually different preferences, too. Also, when you yourself are inexperienced, you cannot live up to the regular schedule of someone who is ten or more years ahead of you. You are exhausted faster than you are even through enough that would make that daily schedule functional. Same goes for “art styles”. You cannot force it. But of course you can listen to others and see what you can learn from them for yourself. You just cannot hope to just copy them and make no decisions by yourself ever.

I don’t have to have everything figured out in an instant. It’s only about keeping your long-term goals in mind and knowing what the very next step to get there is. I can finally allow myself to relax and just enjoy the journey.

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!