100 Days of SPREY – 27, 28

Yesterday was a pretty unremarkable day and I fell asleep early. Despite or maybe because of sleeping for long I woke up tired today and carried that through the whole day, causing some delays. I still got my daily work done and got a surprising reward. I am constructively confused today. Shoutout to my artist friends Deerbard and Zyalin who reminded me today that if you do studies you better have a clear goal in mind. Also with art in general. Thank you very much, from time to time we all need to be reminded of that!

I feel that up until now I tried to include anything and everything in my color studies, which made me slow and exhausted. Today, in this study of a movie still from Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) I just left my black lines in and was not half as tired. I also do not feel I missed out on something as my main concern with the piece was catching those muted movie colors as well as getting the man‘s expression right. In the movie‘s context it‘s all about his reaction to the revelation that it‘s christmas soon, the holiday he hates and fears most. I was later told my values are off. They seem to be off a lot of the time. But it seems like my study was not about the values at all. I clinged to the shapes I identified as those I could show through solid blacks and built up my piece from there. And the rest was an afterthought. I am not saying this is good or bad, it is just an observation.

I am also constructively confused why my orc studies look so good on the other hand. I was not concerned with getting anything right there, just sketchbook fun and fun exploration, sometimes deviating quite widely from the reference pictures.

Lastly, will you look at the changes our boy Felipe went through in the comic! After making the panel today it struck me that something must have happened in my art. I also remember very well how anxious I was with each panel. I was afraid one bad stroke and the characters would be ruined. Not that this isn‘t true, but nowadays I shrug and make as many versions as I need to get to an acceptable result. I think it‘s a difference of about two months we are looking at with the older Felipe. Me from two months ago would probably have wished to draw like today, but couldn‘t yet. I just have to watch my contrasts, I think my panels are getting really dim lately. But isn‘t it always like this? You fix a thing in your art fundamentals and suddenly something else is your worst and is keeping you down? I‘ll keep going, observing and taking notes. And I‘ll also watch my goals.

See you next blogpost!

100 Days – 20

Only day 20?

So in a day the third week of my journey is over. And what a journey it was so far! I started at nothing and worked my way through anxiety, insecurity, and now into a new area, environment art. I‘m only starting out there, so be patient with me. But I‘m sure, in a couple of weeks I‘ll be at an acceptable level where comicmaking is actually possible. I had no idea that this held me back all the time.

Getting better at drawing is a task of it‘s own and unavoidable. I feel that it‘s my duty to do everything to get good at it. Otherwise nothing I‘ll ever create will be truly good in craft.

On a different note, life has a weird sense of humor sometimes. I was dealt some interesting strengths and weaknesses that make it hard for me to say what I could and should be doing best. I tried to narrow it down myself and force myself to specialize. But every time I‘m trying to do that it seems to have disasterous effects.

So knowing that one of my biggest fear for this 100 days of making comics challenge was that some sort of big distraction, especially making videogames, would weasel it‘s way into my daily schedule again. It happened. But it did not stop me from working on the challenge, on the contrary. It actually made me more productive. Do I …did I need a bit more of pressure all the time? The way I‘m thinking and working actually fits well with the field of videogames. We will see how this will work out throughout the 100 days. I have rediscovered or allowed my passion for working on „Your Land“. Maybe I should continue with a 100 days of game making after this challenge is over, then. Then I‘ll have a direct comparison how both behaves as a main and as a side thing.

As for „A Pattern Language“ today – did I really need an architect to explain to me how poetry works as opposed to prose? Apparently I did! With much surprise and a lot of amusement after I understood what had happened I grasped a piece of wisdom that I can‘t even touch or fully put back into words. It just makes me think of how many different vessels there are to tell a story and how art can be poetic or practical, too. I think I understand the beauty of small, well crafted things now. I don‘t have to have a comic of pompous length and most spelled out details to make it right. If it works in a small space, condensed, it is not lesser. I don‘t have to have the most detailed painting. It can work on a small scale. Why I couldn‘t understand this was that I was imagining small scale differently up to now. I thought small is empty and shallow because you can‘t go into depth with anything like showing the world in a beautiful way or giving the characters the space they deserve. Well, poetry begs to differ. Also do I even have to know that much? The eye needs shadow areas to rest, too, after all.

And what does this mean? I thought I had to learn how to be shallow, instead I have to learn how to condense. I can have my grand vision and still give it a digestible form. But this could all be just a trick to make me give up Corvus in the middle. I won‘t. If it‘s necessary I‘ll pick single scenes and treat them as mini comics. But Corvus isn‘t getting away anytime soon. And no, it is not my magnum opus, what do you think how I would treat a magnum opus candidate (apart from the fact that you don‘t get to choose what work that is but your audience)? I have thoughts and ideas. And I‘ll continue fighting to evolve. My lines were so wonky all day, but I still worked and worked and worked.

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!

Art report 26

While I’ll be continuing my projects that are already running, starting tomorrow, I have also started overhauling my portfolio. For a change, I feel awesome working on it. Gone are the doubts. If it’s not good enough right now, may it be so, I’ll just keep making art until I pass that invisible and really fickle threshhold where people start hiring you regularly…and then I’ll be making more art.

I only had a short session available for art today…and I feel like I made the best of it, possibly could even get more out of it. It also seems like the portfolio pieces I did yesterday directly influenced my linework today. I sat back and thought about my process, the outcome and all the decisions. Then I made that unspectacular colored piece in the middle of this overview, tweaking a thing. Then came the Chimera piece. I felt an insatiable desire to draw this. I wanted to explore and feel every single line here. I’m aware it’s quite …abstract right now. The meaning will come, the messaging will come. Right now this artist is learning how to feel and express properly at all. I can build the rest on that.

If everything works out as planned, the upcoming week will see some very interesting art and writing happen. I’ll keep you updated! If I can manage to uphold my motivation and results over weeks there might come the time where I can give you my own advice on all of that.

work in progress of a redraw & expansion of an older piece

Art report 25

I took a break! It was a special break. I was marching on my way like I always do, and then I stumbled and fell and walked somewhere else. Only later did I realize what had happened as the landscape changed. Have you ever wandered off into the void?

If you were in a place of absolute quiet and darkness, what would you create to fill it? And how much of it until you realize that everything is perfect as it is?

I can only speculate that I was fighting off a cold and just …snapped after Rapid Viz. I was not available for any creative endeavours in days, then I could only write on my comic, only slowly the visual channel is returning.

Did anything change? Absolutely. Let’s use a rich Windows Update as a metaphor. Suddenly I’m thinking in camera angles and shot types like I always wished I would. Suddenly the thought of drawing 5 times over the same thing until it’s as decent as I can get it right now isn’t scary or tedious at all. Suddenly I like my crooked lines and enjoy that at least they’re alive. And now I’m returning to creating and it’s probably not a different world than before but some small changes that will stack over time. Why the hell am I making rapid progress on my portfolio now?

Breaks are important. If it is necessary, a two week break or even longer is valid. And every creative crisis or art block is a huge chance to unlearn things, a lot of things that you thought were natural to you or somewhat never to be questioned.

I did unlearn quite some bit. And then there’s room for new things. For me it was watching a ton of movies of different genres for getting a feeling for camera work and shots. In the future I hope to learn more about light and color the same way. And then editing. Not everything at the same time, but like 3 or more runs.

Shot studies from the movie “Scarecrow” (2013)