Thursday, June 22, 2017

Drawing Tablets

The subject of drawing tablets came up last night and as you may or may not know I've been using WACOM brand tablets for nearly 20 years, first with their small standard tablets and later with the Cintiq.   Veronica uses the 22" version while I use the 13" one.   We also briefly had a Cintiq Companion-- I'll touch on all of these in a minute.

The 22" Cintiq

The 13" Cintiq
Wow that 13" one looks tiny next to the 22" doesn't it?  We have two of the 13" ones and we've had them for several years.  The 22" has been around for only a year or so.  They are all workhorses.

I personally find the 13" one more comfortable to work on.  The 22" is huge-- it takes up almost all of the work table space and even though it can be positioned vertically which allows you to have a full size comic book page right in front of you (the 13" can't) I'm fine with the 13" because I can move around the screen.

Price wise-- last time I checked the 22" was $1800 and the 13" was $800 (I think we paid $1200 for ours).

Miriam brought up the XP-Pen tablet which is getting good reviews on Amazon.

The XP 22" tablet is on Amazon right now for $599 with free PRIME shipping.
That seems like an incredible bargain.


There is also a 15" version which goes for $380

Other brands available include Huion, Ugee and Artisul.  If you click on the link above (do it after you read through this) it'll bring up these other tablets.

That's a lot of tablets to choose from.  I spent some time last night and this morning reaching out to friends and acquaintances to see if anyone has some working knowledge of any of these non-Wacom brands and I found a few things.

1. These rival companies are rising up because Wacom Customer Service has been lacking for the past few years.  I've heard that quite often.  I personally don't use Customer service if I have an issue I usually just search online for a solution.  The specific problem I had was driver related and it only took a few minutes to find an answer and fix the problem.

2. You can't touch the price of the competition offerings-- at worst they are half the price of the Cintiq and at best even less.

3. On the XP-- the negatives I got were that it has a glossy screen unlike the Cintiq which has a matte screen.  Back in the stone age when I was trying out tablets I used one that had a glossy screen and I didn't like it-- it was too much like drawing on glass.   There is also a bit of depth between the pen point and the image especially in the corners.  That means where you put the pen isn't always where you're drawing.

You cannot change the pen tips<< that's a deal breaker for me.  I use felt tips in my Wacom Pen-- they give you the most natural feel when drawing.  On the downside they wear out in about a month, on the upside they aren't that expensive to replace ($9 for a pack of 5).

The plastic and the cables feel cheap-- well you're saving $1000 so that's not surprising.

One thing to know about these drawing tablets-- they are bulky and they have a lot of cables.  When I bought the first one we own I got the 13" and my intention was I'd take it to a coffee shop and work 1 day a week to mix up my work environment.  I did it ONCE.  It was way too much work packing it up, then taking it and my laptop to a shop and plug in all the cables.  It honestly looked like I was going to film a news segment with the amount of cables all around.

As a solution to that, Veronica bought a Cintiq Companion about two years ago.  This is Wacom's solution to the problem.  I remember being impressed with the idea when I saw it set up at a Chicago Comic Con until they told me that (of course) it was only Windows based because Mac doesn't play nice with other companies making Macs.

She bought it anyway, and because she hates Windows as much as I do she sent it back within a month-- so if that's something that matters to you keep it in mind.  IF you're a Windows person it won't be an issue for you.  If you've been a Mac user for a few years you might think you can get by with a Windows machine but I think you'll realize why you're a Mac person.

Back to the XP-- while all the reviews on Amazon seem positive there just aren't enough of them to convince me you're getting an equal machine to the Cintiq. 

With tablets-- the thing you want most are a close feel to drawing naturally (that's why I use felt nibs), a good surface, pressure sensitivity for the pen, a pen that feels solid, no lag time when drawing and a tablet that doesn't get too warm to the touch (bad sign).

So what's the verdict?

Give it a shot.  Amazon has free returns (check details to be certain).  Unlike Japan where these things are on display in stores and you can try them before you buy them we don't have that luxury here in the good ol' USA.  If you get it and don't like it, send it back.

You know how I buy shoes on Amazon?  I order THREE Pairs of the same shoe-- an 11, and 11.5 and a 12 because I wear all three sizes depending on the maker.  I try them on when they come and send the two that don't fit back.

If money is an issue and you want a LARGE drawing tablet give the 22" XP-Pen a shot-- at $600 its a bargain.  It's tax deductible for most of you and if you're not used to the Cintiq yet you might never notice the difference.

If you don't care to have the larger tablet, I'd recommend the 13" Cintiq for $100 or so more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Aria Version of the Script

Aria had some interesting thoughts on the script and took the extra step of making a few changes, which I think are improvements.  This happens more than you might think in comics, so check it out and see what you think.


Greg's PAGE...

Here's is first page-- there is a lot to like here.
I like the small inset panel at the top-- breaks up the narrative and gives it a nice look and balance.

My suggestion is add more dishes.

Panel 2 he was concerned it's too cluttered, I don't think it is.

My suggestion is to put Sam in silhouette or make him dark here to stand out.  Dish stack is added here too and make sure we see the time clock over by the exit door because that is going to be our connector to the next panel.

P3 P4
I like these, nice break-  I'd put the exit door behind him which is our connector to the next panel.

His perspective is solid here you can see my lines confirm this.  The stacks of crates are out of perspective, and while they could be stacked away from the walls it'll work better visually if they stay in perspective.

I added the exit door-- if you wanted that tied to the stairs you have there, you should still see a bit of the door.

Last panel-- very nice, but the figure is slightly too small and make sure he doesn't "fit" too cleanly in the background.  By having his head break the line of the road it makes it look more natural.

Nice work bro.

Page two roughs.

He starts with the key in the ignition-- while it's fine and I wouldn't be against it-- I think it makes better sense (and storytelling) to show him getting into the car since the previous panel only shows him walking in the street.

I combined panels 2 and 3-- so that those eyes we see are now his in the rear view mirror, and we see his back as he puts the key in the ignition. 

That's a tough shot to do-- but how do you do it?  Easy-- get a friend or if you have no friends find a trustworthy stranger and have them sit behind you in a car and take this picture with you acting it out on your cell phone.

If you don't have a car-- invest in the $5 tip you'll need to hand the uber driver when you call for a ride, tell them you're a comic artist when they arrive and that you don't actually want to go anywhere but you want to get a picture of this shot here (show them the rough on your phone).  Now you'll have great photo reference and this shot will rock everyone's socks.

Next panel is the car pulling away, I just changed the angle on the tire.  Next panel is all good.

Bottom row-- I would pull in closer to Sam as he admires the package store (see how I'm not going to try and spell Liquor anymore?) and I'd change the angle slightly.  If we get closer we can see the longing in his face.

Middle panel bottom-- essentially the same, but a good rule of thumb when you're drawing characters at a distance from each other is to line up their necks-- that makes them look the same height and is more natural.  Make sure we see Santa's donation bucket. in this middle panel because it ties into the next one.

Last panel, better definition on the bucket with a GIVE sign so the reader gets it.

Page 3 some good stuff here.
P1-- shot through window at Sam and cashier.  That works.
My take; make sure we see some signage- I don't know if you need the bars on the window and if you do want them, make sure they are evident in the previous page.

P2 Sam comes out of the store-- make sure Santa is facing the street.

P3 Sam should be looking back at Santa as he waves, if he's looking away it's a message of disgust or dislike.   Make sure Santa is facing away from Sam but his head turns as he waves.

P4 Sam driving over the bridge-- change the angle from the side and below the bridge, it's a better shot and more interesting compositionally.

Rest I'd keep the same.

Nice work!


Mike tightened up his rough from last week- I like where it's going.

I bring your attention to panel 1.
Those figures are great-- VERY natural.  Not standing stiff.  He used reference for how people stand (or he's really good at placing poses).

Changes I made;

I added a stack of clean shiny dishes in panel 1 and panel 2.
I also added the ol' clock on the wall in panel 2.
Panel 3 I put his eyes up as he looks at the clock, it makes the expression less stagnant.

Panel four-- I added the apron and some pegs.
The car in panel 4 is out of perspective if the parking lot is flat because our eye line is up around the top of the time clock, but the lot could have a slant and I like the details in that panel so I left it as is.

Final panel, I just shifted it down, Try not to have the character break the top AND bottom of a panel when you can help it.

Mike's Santa
Nicely done-- I'd lessen his shoulders and torso to make him look less healthy.

Mike's take on Sam-- I like this-- nice wrinkles in his everyday look.
USE shapes though as you build him. His sideview self and his rearview self have different proportions.

Michelle Pages 1-3

Michelle sent these in.

Great work.
The only changes I would make on this page would be to add more clean dishes to his stack.
I love panel 2-- great to now always show faces.
I'd move the clock from panel 5 to panel 4 so we see what he's looking at and in P5 I'd slide the whole image to the left more so that we can see the other aprons hanging, and I'd add his arm holding the apron he's putting up.  As it's drawn it took me a minute to figure out what he was doing.

The remainder of the page is solid, I love the last panel too.

Here is her page 2
Great choices here.  The storytelling is thought out very well.
The only change I'd make is in the first panel on the bottom row.

We need to establish where and how this Santa figure is connected to Sam.  I like that in the previous panel we just get the DING DING-- why?  Because Sam didn't even notice him.  He saw only the display in the liquor store window (as an aside I'm realizing I can't spell Liquor).

So in my change we now see Sam from behind, he's off panel and his head is turning towards the sound.
There's Santa, not facing him, he's facing the parking lot, there's his collection bucket and his bell.
Behind him in perspective would be more of the strip mall stores.

But again, nice job here.

Page 3
Still nice choices but I had a bit more recommended changes here.

Same problem as Aria's-- we need to show some time inside the store, otherwise it reads like a comedy routine where characters walk in one door and out the other.  I added an extra panel at the top which simply adds a quiet shot of the door while he's inside.

New panel 4 I altered the shot, instead of Sam walking away, he's getting into his car, now that leads some challenges with the remainder of the page but I'll get into that.

The reason for the car is we need to show the reader the relationship between Sam the car and Santa.
Where it presents problem is the seemingly random shots she has for panels 5-7 (in the original panels 4-6).

Now as I read it in her original Sam walks away from Santa through this rough neighborhood and to his car.

The trouble I have with that is in the previous page it didn't look like the car was that far away, and if there's a reason for the character to walk away in new panel we could still do that

Go with something like this.
The angle on Sam in the original is awkward and this is stronger.

Back to the remaining narrative-- I really like the showing of what seems like random elements because it helps to establish mood and place.

Last panel-- nicely done, having the car not the center, the leaning stop sign, the decrepit buildings, really great.

Nice work!

Aria's Pages 1-3 Pencils

establishing shot in panel one, 
panel 2: wiping brow, looking at clock
panel 3: looking around and taking flask out of coat pocket
panel 4: shrugging into coat while taking a swig
open cityscape at the bottom

panel 1: starting car
panel 2: finding note
panel 3: checking wallet
open panel of parking lot
panel 4: liquor store
panel 5: santa
panel 6: donation

panel 1: entering store
panel 2: exiting store
panel 3: waving to Santa
panel 4: shuttered bay of garage (warehouse windows); graffiti
panel 5: trashcan fire in ally, shadowy figures huddled around it
panel 6: posted sign on building; more graffiti.

All right so here are my suggestions

Aria said she had some struggles and that usually clues us in that something about the decisions we've made isn't working for the project.

The biggest change I made here was in the buildings at the bottom of the page-- Aria is working in a cartoony style which is established in that first panel where we are looking flat on through the dining area and into the kitchen-- absolutely nothing wrong with that and I actually like it.

So when we get to those buildings at the bottom and she's pulling out her fancy book knowledge on perspective it doesn't match-- so I opted for a simpler shot straight on which now balances nicely with the first panel.
I also varied the sizes of the buildings-- you could work in the 1 point perspective you started with and you've got a solid base there but your buildings are too consistent in size and shape and that's why (I'm guessing you're unhappy with them).

So for the change I varied the sizes, and I added some details as well as some overlap-- buildings often sit in front of other buildings from this angle because you're seeing the back side of the other side of the block.  I emphasize this with a nice fire escape complete with laundry hanging off it.

Aria recognized the number 1 rule of drawing big urban east coast cities, and that is to include water towers.  They are everywhere on rooftops in New York City and something Marvel Comics always insists on in their backgrounds.

The car exiting the alley allows us a chance to have blacks-- in this case all the road including the alley way-- the white headlights will draw the readers eye to the exiting car.

Middle panels I only suggested lowering the figure in panel 3 and tilting his head back and seeing the flask as he takes a swig-- and showing the car in the alley as he walks out.  Nice action with him putting on his coat there.

Page 2 I like very much-- I don't think there's much I'd change except just moving Santa over towards the car more and adding his donation bucket.

Page 3

Page 3 is not finished, so I'll hold crits until it us, but as you have it now, add another panel to the top row.
First because it creates a better balance for the overall page to have four panels sitting on top of three, which prevents the reader from seeing it as three long panels and an ad for a 1976 Gran Torino Two Door Coupe De Luxe-- and mostly because it will allow panel two to show TIME pass as he's in the store.  How you show that is up to you.

It could be Santa ringing the bell.  It could be a shot looking into the store in silhouette through the door with an OPEN sign with him at a cash register, whatever you decide you need to show some time passes, otherwise it looks like he went in, grabbed a free flyer in the entrance and came back out.

I like the car breaking the panels at the bottom with the images behind.  I'd make one of those images, preferably new panel 5 of him behind the wheel and we need to make sure the car looks like it's driving.  We can do the corny dust clouds I have here or something else but you want to make sure it looks like it's traveling (and not speeding).

Nice work Aria!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sally's Santa and Sam

That's  lot of S's.

I like both of these.
I'd be careful though-- Sam is caricatured while Santa is very Tezuka esque-- those two styles don't completely go together.  Don't get me wrong, it can be done, but it tends to look awkward like an episode of Drawn Together.

Let's look at some of Tezuka's faces...

All right so we can see that Tezuka San employed simple lines and shape for his face details, as displayed here.   We have the button nose (bottom right) and the pig nose (bottom left) we also have noses with bridges and nostrils so the variety looks close to what you have.

The key will be to maintain the ink line, in your current pencil state, Sam has very sharp lines while Santa has soft lines-- if you make sure your ink line is consistent you should have no problem.

Sally's Page here.
It's rock solid all the way through except that it's 130 when he looks at the clock and it's 230 when he clocks out.  Hmmm.  I'd just adjust that hour hand.

The bottom panel being open like that might look odd, but I like the openness of it because the remaining panels are very cluttered (which in this case is not a bad thing).

Here's the biggest change I would make;

Compositionally in that top panel he's a little too close to the top for my liking.  I did a focal point marker so we can see where the center of the panel is, anytime you have something of interest, of importance, it should be closer to that focal point, by moving everything behind the counter down a notch you make it a better composition.

Nice job Sally.

Revised Page from Dan H

Dan sent in this revision from yesterday's page.
I get now that those "pipes" in yesterday's page were the inverted bar stools put up on the counter.  I like that idea.  But you have to make sure the reader "gets" what it is you're showing.

Bar stools are a great idea-- it shows that the restaurant is closed.
However, the ones you have up in this pencil version are the bolted to the floor kind, the kind that weigh about 60lbs each so it's very unlikely they'd be put up on the counter.   If you look at them the way you have them drawn they wouldn't stand up if they weren't bolted down, the bases are too narrow.

All right so
1- Get reference for the bar stools.  You want to put in the brace bars at the upper third and bottom third.  If you had those in the page you sent in yesterday I think it would have read more as barstools.  I also like the napkin holder on the counter.

I wouldn't be against the idea of bringing that second and third stool back from the original take either-- you'd just need to make sure you use reference for them so they read right.  I also added floor buffers which most of these things have so the floor doesn't scuff when you move them around.

2- If you don't opt for the bar stool poles coming back, you could consider doing something similar with the pile of dishes (shown here in my example out of perspective just to show what I'm talking about).  Moving that pile closer to us makes it more important in the panel.

3- Lastly, ALWAYS draw the makeup of the figure even if that figure is going to be in shadows to make sure it "looks right".  Yours is just slightly off.  Put the figure design in and it'll look right.

Nice work.

Monday, June 19, 2017

In Progress Page from DAN H

Very clever layout of the first panel-- I interpret as we're looking in to the dish washing area from either the restaurant or the outside-- I'm going to go with outside.

Whatever those pipes are they create an interesting dynamic-- but to prevent distraction I'd clarify it a bit more.
I studied those pipes and barrels I don't know what they are but the blacks are really great.  Clarification could come via some signage (High voltage or Keep Out or some other such thing).

Sam in the window at panel 1-- I'd just push him down SLIGHTLY-- maybe to knee level-- that will keep the perspective more in line. 

Panel 2 I like your original penciled clock position better- but this is very clever too.

Panel 3-- It should read MERRY XMAS AND GET BACK TO WORK from ANDY'S DINER since that's how I usually send cards to my staff.  I'd push the whole composition down a 1/8 of an inch here too.

Panel 4 make sure you get the outside side of the exit door behind him here to help keep us in reference for what we're seeing.

Overall-- really great work-- nice understanding of perspective and great use of blacks << that's almost the hardest part of this.


Miriam sent in these page roughs.
As comic artists we have to show THINGS.

There are some good sequences here, and the first page is the strongest, but the pages that follow seem slightly rushed in terms of pacing.

Here's what I would do.

For page one-- very minor.
I'd add a panel at the end of him taking a swig from the flask.  If we don't have this we don't know if he takes a drink or not.
You also forgot the gang symbol-- "I LOVE GANGS" is what I went with-- and if you look at the newly cropped panel 3 you'll see that this is a better composition.   Too much space with the existing one.

All right-- page two.
Whoa-- that's a lot of changes right? 
Yeah, but I think it helps.  You're in too much of a rush and you have some panels that are unclear.  In your existing version he's outside the car door but what's he doing?   He doesn't look like he's getting in.   I know he's checking out the money situation but the way it reads is he found this wallet outside this open car door that has appeared.

In panel 2 he's now standing outside the Liquor store-- did he transport there?  Is it in the same lot?  Santa is in the middle of the parking lot-- a phone rings in panel 3 and he walks over to Santa who is waving at a couple who is leaving the dollar store.

So here's how I would handle this.
Page TWO 
Even thought I talked about keeping the panel numbers to a minimum, even thought I talked about cutting stuff out if need be-- let's say we wanted to keep all this information and more importantly we want to place IMPORTANCE on elements in the story.  We do that by giving them some emphasis.

We also want to look at how we left the previous page and ask ourselves how it's connected to this one.

In page 1 he's left the place he works and he's walking down the steps, so at the start of page TWO I have him approaching his car in the lot.

In 2.2 I have him putting the key in the lock, and his hand shakes.  He's got a drinking problem after all.

2.3 He's in the car now-- we see the VIRGIL note and to add EMPHASIS to it his hand reaches up to it.  As an artist we have to make sure the reader gets that he's sitting inside the car-- so showing the dashboard there under the steering wheel is important.

2.4 He's pulled out onto the street.  I have trash in the street.  Old buildings, signage and the power cords overhead complete with the requisite pair of old tennis shoes tossed around them.  Trash on the street lets the reader know we're in the bad part of town.

2.5 from behind his car he's pulling into CHEAPO MALL << I try to never miss an opportunity to show signage-- signage is not only fun to do it's everywhere and will give your work an added element of realism.  Coming at him on the road is a truck and in the distance are more buildings and a bridge.  This is Gotham City right?

2.6 He pulls into the mini mall-- there's Santa-- I like the idea of the constant bell ringings-- Jinga Jinga Jing.  Liquor store to the left, The Pampered Pet to the right although all we can see is THE P.

2.7 Close on him in front of the liquor store, he's regarding the two sawbucks in his hand.  In the distance we see Santa from the side--with his GIVE bucket JINGA JINGA JING.

2.8 From inside the Liquor store looking out through the bottles, have some fun with the labels.  He's holding the money and licking his lips.

2.9 Closeup on the hand holding the two $5 bills

2.10 he drops one of the fives in the GIVE BUCKET

So what did we do here?

We eliminated the transporting.
We added time-- it took TIME to get from his job to the other store.
We added importance to those twin $5 bills because he holds onto them longer. 
We see that he COULD have spent the $5 on a bottle of Schapps, and he WANTED to.    That makes him giving to Santa that bigger.

One TRICK to use in sequential storytelling is to carry an object from panel to panel and scene to scene.  So in this page I'm doing it's his hat which goes through every shot.  It's also the car-- the key, the car, the money, the money, the money.  They hand off to each other.


All right.
Here's how I interpret the original;

He walks into the store and inside is another Santa with a give bucket.  Twilight Zone stuff man!  Meanwhile, somewhere else a car drives.

Now since I know the script-- I know this is not the intent.

So let's look at the changes;

3.1 Shot from above-- we see the mall, the liquor store--as an artist it'll be important we see those bottles in the window or at least the shape of some of them.

Snowy footprints show he has walked past Santa and his GIVE BUCKET and walked into the store.

3.2 Same shot-- only Santa's arm and front of his costume will move-- the angle of the front his shirt moves with his arm so we know TIME has passed.

3.3 Still moving Santa but now SAM comes out and waves at him as he goes by, he has a package or a bag under his arm.

3.4 Sam in the car-- takes the VIRGIL note down.

3.5 I like this panel, but I'm not sure a what's happening-- if it's him in the car there then movie it either so that it's rounding the corner or it's away from the curb-- the way it is now looks parked.  If it's parked-- is this his home?  Have the door open and he's getting out.

Nice work Miriam!!


Sally sent these character roughs in for SAM.
Looking good, a couple of quick things.

First and foremost, the reason he's falling off model is that while you're using shapes to build his face, you're not using enough of them.

So in the figure with the X next to it-- which I'm assuming you're rejecting, it's simply a matter of lack of "bone structure" to keep him consistent.

So I've added a brow shape, a nose shape and the jowl shape and chin attachment.

Which are like those lines we used when we were in Kindergarten and learning the alphabet.  These markers then make sure that we're using the correct proportions as we draw the face in different angles and expressions.

Nice job Sally.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Assignment #2- Miriam Critique

Miriam sent this in for a review of her pencils before she goes any further.

Page looks great-- a few minor things I would change.

1 - Have him walking out of the door in panel 3--the way you have it he looks like he's afraid of stairs.  Leg's moving, door closing behind him.

2- Move the gang symbol down and not so prominent-- I mistook it for the building sign.  Less prominent, maybe they don't notice it right away, that's cool.

3- Angle change on the last panel--why?  Because you're going from a side view shot in the panel before, by doing 3/4 turn on the next one it flows better and now he's pulling the flask out of his coat instead of thin air.
Nice work Miriam.
Her pencil work is very clean, and that's a big bonus when she comes to inking.    My pencils are sometimes so messy I can't even tell what I'm looking at-- and in those cases I lightbox the pencils to another board so that I can have clean pencil lines.

Although that might seem like an un-needed step it's actually easier in the end.  Sometimes doing a little more work saves work in the end.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Class Video, Assignments and Thoughts on Style.

The Class Video is up, you only get the link if you're signed up for class, sorry lurkers!
The assignment this week;
Take the Script and Layout the first 3 pages-- use your model sheets and set designs where needed.  Take one of the three pages (it doesn't matter which) and bring it to close to full pencil.

Feel free to use the layout I did in class or work up your own-- your call.

A question came up regarding style-- style is something you can't find, it finds you.  Most artists waste too much time trying to develop their style when they should just be working.  Trust me, your style will find you and even more so you'll know when a style isn't right for you.

As for "style"-- while there is a value for an editor to know what they will get when they hire you, as artists you should never feel like you can only work in ONE style.

Let's take a look at David Mazzuchelli-- a very accomplished artist.  Here is his work on Daredevil for Marvel;

It's what we might call "traditional"-- it even has a little bit of Frank Miller in it.  Great stuff.

Here's his work on Asterios Polyp, his personal graphic novel done a few years after DD;

Completely different, right?

I think as artists it's fun to push ourselves sometimes. 
But stop worrying so much about what your style looks like, it'll find you after you've done a LOT of pages.

As Jack Kirby used to say; every comic artist has 2000 bad pages in them-- so get to work!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

HW Assignment #1 - Dan H's Work...

Assignment #1 was to look at the script we'd be illustrating, with a focus on the first two pages, and develop character designs, settings and a style you'd like to use for the project.

With the script by K. Hedin, we see that we have a few challenges.  Your job as a comic book artist is multi fold;

1. Convey the information the writer has given to you clearly to the reader.
2. Interpret the actions in the script into a sequential narrative that properly flows.
3. Develop and design a world for your characters and the look of the characters themselves and then ensure that all of those elements remain consistent as you illustrate the script.
4. Establish a style for the project that fits the writing.

Specifically with this story we have a middle aged man who works in a restaurant as a dishwasher, he drives an older type of car and he needs to call on a store on his ride home all the while not revealing to the reader what type of store it is or what he's buying.  We also have some intense action scenes coming up but this is what we should be looking at as we begin.

Here's the car Dan picked;

It's an AMC Gremlin.  AMC was an American car company who was one of the big players in the 1970s.

The Gremlin is an inspired pick-- it instantly gives some thought level to the main character and gives him a bit of personality without doing anything else.  It takes a particular kind of person to drive a Gremlin.

Now Dan asked for a critique of his inked drawing above- so let's get into that to begin with.

His original is pretty good-- I think mostly there are a few lines that could be fixed and it's not quite finished.  Here are the changes I would make to it;

I few minor tweaks and about another 10 minutes of work gets it to a more finished look.
The biggest change I made was in filling the driver in black-- that would both me more realistic and make it easier for you as the artist since we don't need to see the details of the driver here.

Side by side so we can see the additions;

1- I straightened out the roof line which was too wobbly, I also reworked the front grille a bit and put caps around the headlights.  I did this after looking at reference of Gremlins.

2- I added a ground level, angled to give it some energy and I added a bit of white into the black ground to make it interesting.

3- We talked last week about using a "thumb-brush" and I have it here.  I used it on the car and in the background, but I made sure to erase it from the white areas so it makes the car look like it has form.
If you were working traditionally and doing this, you'd want to mask off the areas of the car you don't want covered either with painters tape or liquid frisket.

Dan sent in these character designs;

He also wrote this to go along with them;

I decided making him look rough around the edges was a better idea, because he has lived a hard life and aged himself prematurely. If you can see his forearms where his jacket sleeves are rolled up, he is a kind of scrawny guy, given that most of his nutrition comes from booze, though I know that makes a lot of people fat, I know someone who drinks too much and it keeps him skinny. I guess it just works differently for different people. 
I felt the hat was a good choice for him him because it will keep his head warm(since he has a thinning head of hair he would need it), plus it's big enough for him to hide inside of his hat. He's very ashamed of himself, that's why he likes to park his car in the back alley, so that he doesn't have to see anyone when he leaves work. No judging eyes to pass before the end of the night, a real tortured existence. 
I am working on the art style and I keep telling myself "Dirty Gotham" should be the style, but I don't know exactly how to render that. It's going to be a very ink based style, I know that(don't ask me how), but I will have something on that front to show you tomorrow. 
Also I am still working on Santa Clause and did a thumbnail of the first page. I'm not happy with it so I am revising that. 
Anyways, this is turning into a real stretch of my skills and I am loving it all the way.
I like that he's putting this level of thought into the character.   When you do that it's like being a method actor who is getting into a role-- really push yourself into thinking about these characters and what kind of history they might have.  That ends up answering a lot of design questions.

Alcoholism makes people extremely thin-- and I'm talking people who have advanced stages of it.  If you're encountering fat alcoholics they have a ways to go, but again this shows a deeper level of thought than just surface thinking.

The line about the hat is great-- he hides inside this hat, he has shame at his poor existence, this is all powerful stuff and will help your work a great deal.

Let's take STAR WARS as an example; George Lucas wanted to remake Flash Gordon and when he couldn't afford the rights he changed things around and made Luke Skywalker instead.  No one expected the movie to be a big hit and when it was sequels were rushed into production.

Where am I going here?
Simple.  Take Lucas' STAR WARS saga and eliminate all but A NEW HOPE and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK<< those two films are brilliant-- the rest of the series is mediocre, it's back story, it's stuff that you have in the back of your head when you're creating characters but that doesn't mean you put it into your story-- it means YOU as the creator understand it and know all this, so that it helps you as you move your characters through the adventure, but the reader never has to know about it. 

So all this figuring out with the hat-- it's top secret stuff, it's stuff you don't share with anyone, but it helps to make these characters real to you.

More critiques tomorrow in class.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Your assignment this week (due to me by Tuesday evening) is;

1. Character and style designs for the script's first two pages.  Samuel and Santa Claus.
2. Setting and style designs for the interior of the Kitchen, the parking lot, his car, etc.

Bonus; if you want to try and do ROUGH layouts of the first two pages go for it.

READ through the script, make notes, see what the writer wants YOU as the artist to make clear to the reader and then figure out the best way to do that.

Meanwhile, if you want a video of the first class I sent you the link to your class email.