Playing to Get Work Done

sketchbook00001In my last post I discussed how Juicy Ink’s 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge inspired me to stop the excuses and start working in my sketchbook again. This was kind of important to me in finally letting myself do some ugly drawings– which is a problem I’ve had since before art school.

In my mind, I want everything to be beautiful, and if it doesn’t meet a certain criteria in my head, I just stop working on the piece. Now while there is some kind of argument in being efficient and leaving a piece before working it into the ground attempting to get it to work, I have been so hesitant to make anything not “beautiful” that I’ve stayed in a very comfortable box of always using the same materials (which I am very familiar with) and using the same techniques over and over and over, and you can see why part of the reason I was having art block was that I was stuck very much in a rut. Juicy Ink’s videos showed me a way to get out of that by getting out of that comfort zone by trying to approach materials with a different perspective.

Before my art block hit me very hard, I was playing with toned paper, as I saw a slew of artists I admire starting to use it for sketches. I didn’t get very far experimenting with it then, but I liked the idea of toned paper– so I took that idea, drug out an ooooooooooold pack of Prismacolor markers (some of which were gelatinous, which was very gross), and made some toned paper of my own in my Moleskine sketchbook. The markers bled like crazy, but I didn’t care. I wanted to play, and if that meant I was going to make a mess, then so be it! And thus a punk Sailor Moon was born.

And the thing is, it didn’t matter to me that the anatomy was whacked as anything– or that I squished so many things onto the paper making everything even more wonky. I had fun. Not only did I have fun, I felt inspired. Which was not something I had felt in a long time.

 

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Taking that inspiration and rolling with it, the very next day I used the same technique on the very next page, this time in yellow marker (the only other marker that was working well), and basically drained it covering one and a half pages with it. And just started drawing. It takes me so long to just draw, I loved how quickly I could just leap into getting an idea down and putting it to paper. Normally, this is such a struggle for me, I will waste hours trying to think of how to pose something before I even touch the pencil to paper. This was game changing. I started playing more, experimenting with pencil and colored pencil to see what it would look like instead of inks– on the yellow it looked amazing— and then decided to see what would happen if I used my white gel pen, and boom! I got a great three tone technique that I could accent with colors.

 

I finally found the thing that clicked.

 

But, as I mentioned, the markers were solidifying, so continuing to make pictures like this using the Prismacolor markers wasn’t really an option. But really, those markers were almost 15 years old. I’m amazed they made it that long. Using my Copic were out, because coloring large swatches of color are very good ways of killing Copic Sketch markers in a hurry.

Enter Copic Wides.

 

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I love these markers so much. They are the perfect color palette for me, and they are so versatile in what they can do.

I’m not sure why I like this technique, but it gets me drawing without fussing. It might be the patterns that just emerge in the block of color? When I make a solid swatch of color, there just isn’t any of the blank page hesitation that I usually struggle with– and it might be something so simple as that, but it has really helped me. I’ve started to play with the shapes in the marks that are made and suddenly, I have an idea for a drawing. So instead of waiting days/weeks to open my sketchbook until I have a perfect idea to sketch, I’m opening my sketchbook daily and playing with colors and shapes until I have an idea. And really, I think some of this experimentation has lead to stronger work then I have done in recent months.

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I’m still trying to figure out how I can hone the technique into a finished piece, as the solid color swatches give the drawings a rough, unfinished, feel to them, but I love the raw energy that the marker strokes lend to anything I draw on top. I need to work with it more, push a little further, but I feel as if I have made a real breakthrough here. I might finally be finding my artist’s voice in all of this experimentation.

 

 

SPX, Inktober, and Web Comics, OH MY!

Inktober Best Of

So much has been happening both in the professional and personal side of my life! It’s been bananas! After SPX, I took a much needed break, as my life since March has been comics and sickness, and that’s pretty much it. But then October started, and that means Inktober! I’m a bit behind on my days, but I’ve sworn to myself I’ll get 31 (non comic) ink drawings done, even if it leaks into November– which it is going to. My running list of completed illustrations can be seen here. Instead of floundering on what to draw each day this year, I decided on a theme of Dragon Age pairings, the usual and the unusual, and it’s been a joy to explore. While I’m not 100% satisfied on how all of them have come out, I want to make a collection of all of these when all is said and done, redo-ing the ones I’m not happy with. Not sure how it’ll be collected, but I’ll figure out something!

Oh, yeah, and SPX happened! There where so many of my old SCAD classmates, we had a mini SCAD SEQA reunion, and it was marvelous! I also got to finally meet so many people face to face, like Trungles, Paulina Ganucheau, Kevin Panetta, Kata Kane and S.M. Vidaurri. I also made a slew of new friends, like Gale Galligan, Rachel YoungNgozi Ukazu, Sarah Dill, Larry King, Kori Michele, Ray Nadine, and Denise Clamors— not to mention, I got to meet my personal hero Kate Beaton, and got to make my idiot of myself in front of her while babbling to her about how important her work is for me. Because it is so important. I got one of my books by her signed, and still grin whenever I see it on my bookshelf.

Sadly, everyone was busy, so I didn’t get to spend too much time with anyone! We all had our own tables to attend, so our conversations were just stolen free moments out of the weekend. I think next year, I’m going to head down a day early, even though it’s so close to where I live, if only to spend actual time with people and talk for more then ten minutes! Things went better than expected for me table wise. I didn’t have much to offer comics wise, but I did sell out of a few things. Next time, I’ll have more comics available! Also thank you to everyone who came over and talked Dragon Age to me, because yes I love being a DA geek, and can talk about it endlessly, as some people learned!

 

And now webcomic things!

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October 15th the official web launch of Tokyo Heart Story happened! You can finally read it on the internet with your very eyeballs. The comic will be updated bi-monthly, starting with a (very small) update this Sunday. I have one (hopefully) final medical procedure for the year tomorrow, so while I was hoping to have more pages done this Sunday, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this time. I will make up for it in later updates, I promise!

And finally, in other web comic news, the GPM comic is now up on the NASA website! Go take a gander at what I’ve been working on since March, and talking endlessly about! It’s an adorable comic, and I learned so much from it, it’s amazing! I also received some print copies of the comic, which holding in my hands feels so surreal. I worked so hard on those pages, and to see them so nicely printed and beautiful, it was just amazing.

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It’s crazy that November is right around the corner, but here we are! I have so many things planned for the end and the beginning of the new year, I can’t wait to share it with all of you in the coming weeks. I felt like I have grown so much as a person and as an artist this year. I am still in a phase where I am not happy with my art, but that means I just have to keep pushing, right? ONWARD!

In Which There is An Age of Dragon

inquisitzcolor-1For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, or have had the displeasure of talking to me in the last… oh three months, then you are aware that I have become a tad obsessed with the video game series Dragon Age. It started with my bestie getting really excited about the release of Inquisition back in November, to which clueless me, was like “What’s Dragon Age?” and thus, the rabbit hole was opened and I  ended up marathoning all three games within a two month span. Yes, a two month span.

The nice thing about dumping all these hours into a game series, is it’s been really inspiring for me on the art and writing front, as I have become totally enraptured with the universe. I secretly want to become part of the BioWare development team for the fourth or fifth game, but haha yeah that will never happen, so I draw silly things that are fannish to fill my time or something. I dunno! Anyway, a few weeks ago, I threw up a request for Inquisitor screengrabs, and the same bestie was like “OH DO MINE!” so I broke out my Copics which have been long neglected and tries to get my stiff drawing muscles warm again. I’m not super happy with the outcome, and will have to do another one for her in the future. I tried using some “marker paper” by Strathmore, and it was a nightmare. It didn’t hold the ink, everything bled, and the linework transferred terribly. But it was a good experiment, I guess? I know not to use that paper for this kind of thing again.

 

My second experiment went much better:

 

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reference pic from Senshi Stock

 

My initial idea was to try the Copic markers on charcoal paper, but they bleed like a mo-fo on the paper. Then I remembered a set of charcoal colored pencils I picked up when I got home back in August. What proceeded was a risky experiment with the colored charcoal and very light shades of Warm Grey Copics, in an attempt to blend them together and give a kind of light touch to the drawing. I’m really happy with the outcome, and need to take the experimenting further, methinks. Maybe next time, with watercolors, or using very light shades of Copic markers.

I’m also trying to work on my inks, to get the delicate, yet energetic vibe my pencils have– because with the thick thinks I’ve been doing for the last few years has really started to bum me out. I really like my pencils, and then I ruin it with inks. When I watercolor, it doesn’t matter because I can use my pencils as linework, but Copics BLEED the lead like anything, so I need to figure out some way to approach linework when I intend to color with Copic markers. Right now I’m trying to use a much MUCH thinner pen then I have since before I started at SCAD, and trying to be as light as possible with it, instead of barring down like I do with my brush pens.

What do you think? Is this linework better than some of my previous inked sketches?

Blinded Steve

blinded but now I seeAnother secret project that I can now share! It’s that time of the year again for the Cap/Iron Man Big Bang, and instead of writing a story this year, I opted to do art for a story. The story was Blinded, But Now I See, which was a story about Cap going blind and having to cope with it.

As I read it, this idea of Steve with his eyes being replaced with torn paper, to represent his blindness, came to me, and I just rolled with it. Using actual torn paper, instead of trying to fake it, was essential– as when you fake that kind of rip, it looks awful. Ripping bristol paper just so it is the precise width was more difficult than you would think!

I used a different approach than normal for my paintings for this illustration. After the draft was approved by the author, I decided that I wanted to make this an inkwash, and attempt to do something with color (albeit lightly) in trying to emulate the style that Wylie Beckert does for her amazing graphite drawings.

My results were mixed. I went too dark with my washes, so I didn’t get the outcome I was hoping for, but there was an interesting texture created when I used the oil pastel brush in Photoshop. Wylie recently released a YouTube video of her process (which everyone should stop what they are doing and watch NOW), which gives me a better understanding on how she paints over grayscale stuff, and I will have to try it again in the near future.

 

 

Inktober At A Glance

Inktober at a Glance

Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know, I’m not dead– just things have been crazy since I started my new job. After this week, I should be able to have a handle on things to go back to weekly posts. Until then, have a gander at some of my Inktober creations that I’ve been doodling. I’m behind by a few days, but considering how busy I’ve been, that’s actually really good. If you want to follow my Inktober stuff in real time, catch me on the Twitter where I post the illustrations nightly.