100 Days of SPREY – 13

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?

See you again next blogpost!

100 Days – 77

Above: gestures exploring movement in rugby

I am surprised to declare it myself, but the „early phase“ of my Mikiko blogs just ended.

No, this does not mean that Mikiko or other meta adventures go away. Instead, written blog entries like this one make a return, coexisting with the comic-only ones.

Lately, I have come to realize, that I cannot express everything that I need to say in Mikiko comics as they are right now. There is a simple reason for that, I have to make them fresh every day and usually lack the time to go in depth with any topic, unless I spend 2-3 hours working on them. And even then the quality is not ensured, as I literally do not have the time to think through them twice.

On the other hand there is of course a certain beauty to keep things short and crisp. It just isn‘t enough for me anymore as I‘m rediscovering or realizing for the first time what it actually means to take your time with creating.

You know, just like they say like a mantra „Don‘t rush“. I‘m a working horse. I have high ambitions, I am ready to pay the price for it, I am rushing for a living. And nobody ever could explain to me what „Don‘t rush“ entails and how to tell a good quick artwork from a rushed one. My partners in discussion used to retreat to „Well I just know it when I see it“ intuition argument. It‘s not wrong, you indeed see it in whether the artwork grabs you or not, whether it has silly mistakes in it‘s details or not that you could easily have avoided if you took the time to check. But you can also make a not rushed, still empty-feeling, boring piece. So it is not that easy that time spent on it automatically makes it better.

Are we coming back to a simple subjectivity of taste argument? No. What my blog comics and other works lack sometimes is substance. Substance is accumulated over time, working through something, getting rid of some strands that go nowhere, refining what is there, adding new things where necessary. A rushed product is raw in a literal and figurative way. It might do it‘s job, but it might lack the finesse and cultivation that makes it into something that is more than barely functioning.

I am not unhappy with rushed products in general. I am acknowledging that life and creativity usually happens on tough deadlines, the conditions are rarely perfect, so you have to prioritize things over others. I just didn‘t even have the chance for a different choice than quantity, as nobody could explain to me what quality is supposed to mean and entail. A part of quality is more than crafts, research and time spent alone, ethereal or abstract. So now that I found a path to that other mode for myself, I will explore it for my curiosity and your entertainment! Would it make a difference if I drew a thing and instead of hitting publish came back the next day to look at it and wonder „How could I make this even better?“ I guess I am rediscovering fire aka editing work. Editing can be a destructive force that destroys the energy of your original creation or it can elevate it. I am perfectly used to the „no brain, just create“ mode of making first drafts. And now it‘s time to add a second mode and a second phase on top.

This blog entry is the first test of this new approach. I have written it yesterday but after sleeping a night over it almost completely dismissed the original draft. Not even sentence one survived unchanged. And that is okay. Let‘s just say there would definitely be more editing possible, maybe a second round, but one round is definitely better than none. Let‘s see whether this translates visually. I‘m getting nervous at the thought of letting things lye around and ripe instead of throwing them at your head every day in best intentions. But I have chosen to explore that, so here we go! Let‘s see whether getting slower with conscious editing times does make things better here.