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 – 13

More

Today‘s blog entry is split up into two parts. I had some more thoughts about yesterday, that I‘ll put in the front. Then I‘ll show you today‘s work.

Picture description: Cheeky mascot for my friend Pan, a Final Fantasy kupo in a Smite skin and further symbols for the recipient. I loved working on it as it was a great way to finish yesterday and practise everything I learned that day.

Further thoughts about the master study

That study yesterday really moved me.

I realized the whole piece was too complex in itself to study or draw it in one setting would I have tried to focus on everything. That‘s the reason why those lush, complicated paintings don‘t happen in a day. It is too much to focus on in one sitting. Preliminary studies and sketches are necessary to establish all the elements. I would have needed a different session on a different day to study still life elements such as the flowers and lantern on the ground. The lady‘s skin would need a day of it‘s own, too. I would only be fast with creating all of this, if I had routine in all of these. And I had routine if I had built up a big mileage in each field that I need. I‘m starting to see why artists would work in teams with one calling the shots while everyone else doing their best work in their respective field. The same applies to comics.

Motivation

But that doesn‘t mean that you cannot work alone. Most of the time you have to work alone.

The secret to still making it is to adjust your expectations for yourself according to the ressources you really have and consequently the scope of your projects. I‘m in the process of finding out how much I can take. I am very happy and grateful for every day I‘m doing the 100 days of making comics and all the new insights that offers. I‘m doing my best to not feel disappointed with me when I seem to make progress like a slug. I seem to need all that flailing around and soul searching and then be it so. I need that all done and past me to sensibly work on comics or any client work. I need to have all the foundations laid out and learned already, then I can be quick and good. Yes, I‘m gradually realizing what those words mean. Not by abstract knowledge but by working on Corvus every day.

I am really grateful for this challenge and my blogging about it. That is one of the things that helped me most so far.

What I did for my comic today

I started out with two environment studies. I added the characters myself to test how well my construction methods work. It is okay. It would definitely work in a comic when you don‘t look too close. In the first one I wasn‘t fully there yet and didn‘t really know what I was doing (that‘s why warming up is so important), in the second one I remembered my own process and followed it accordingly.

And then, as promised, I continued my costume explorations for good mage robes. My goal is to design a set of academy robes. I need apprentices, full fledged mages, lecturers and a chancellor. Most relevant for the comic are the first two tiers, but I have to know how that stuff looks, I really do. As I haven‘t worked that much with costumes in the past, I stayed close to the refs today again. In order to have good ideas to invent new things I must have materials to combine them, I must know what I‘m doing and a rough idea within which parameters I‘m working in. I‘d say the top row of designs looks more like mage robes than the second one, more the direction I want to go. But would you believe me that this was not clear to me when I drew the bottom row? Nobody sets out to waste their time deliberately I think. It was still great exploring those, too, and helped me to disregard other potential refs I had open in other tabs.

Setting more limitations

I think a good next task is to define for myself what kind of robes I want to have and what I want them to look like. The more limitations I have the better. So far I know that I want my apprentice robes grey and all other robes red, the higher tiers maybe darker red and the chancellor in a majestic purple. I also already know that Magister Grimm, the rebellious antagonist of the comics, deliberately defies these standards and more or less dresses as he wishes to. Also Corvus spends most of the comic outside of his academy garb. Only Asmund, Corvus‘s best friend, is left with the full impact of the robes. He is someone that follows rules and appreciates order. Also him wearing red vs Grimm in black and Corvus in (mostly) grey would be a great contrast.

Okay. So that means the robes shouldn‘t really take forever to design because they aren’t a core thing for all characters. Maybe next time I should set more limitations first. I will soon put that into practise when I‘m designing the clothes for Corvus. But one thing at a time. I think that I might be through with the mage robes in …five days. But I absolutely have no data to estimate how much time it really will take me and that is okay. I will learn. One costume after another.

See you tomorrow for this week‘s summary!