Thursday, June 17, 2021

 After a lot of last minute and last-last minute changes, page 104 is done. The major mistake was that the center hand was originally pink, denoting it belonging to Smatt. Thing is, on the page before, had I bothered to pay attention, I -might- have noticed that Rooster was aiming a paint can right at the 'camera.' So, changed the colors of the hands and the letters. Then, only then I noticed that the top hand, now Smatt's, was the only one without a sleeve. So I had to redraw that. And recolor it. Planning. I hear it's a thing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

 Changed my mind (and likely will again). The original set up was too complex, too confusing. And there's no reason to have more than three hands as there's only three characters. This also leaves more room for text, which will come later. That's what happens when you don't plan ahead. And I plan to do this the same way next time, too.

Monday, June 14, 2021

 And so it starts. Spent the morning taking photos and drawing three fingered hands. With only a vague idea in mind, composition will be going on until the last moment. Will I need to draw a fill in image or can I make this work as is? No way to know but I do find that, while still challenging, especially because of the missing finger, I like drawing hands.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

 I have no idea what this is. I was sketching in the sketchbook, made something weird with Smatt, tried different ways of inking it and ended up doing this shaded thing. Not at all my usual style. But that's ok, too.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

 Haven't done one of these in awhile, but this is a 'quilt' of the current track. Very bright colors and doesn't flow as well, this way as some of the other sequences. This is an artificial way of looking at the comic as it would never be seen this way. Still, overall, I like the sequence. It's been fun, loud and pretty much exactly what it's needed to be.

 City Silent page 103. Rooster, the mouse that won't stay dead. I killed him off in "Smatt's Odyssey," a comic I wrote when trying to deal with the death of my mother. One of my friends, when I told him where the genesis for the comic was coming from said, "You should have made a comic about THAT. THAT sounds interesting." Then again, this friend was always trying to tell me what I SHOULD do, never commented on what I was doing or what I wanted to do. Rooster won't stay dead, though. He's shown up since that story here and there. Of the three, though he's the youngest, he's the most tenacious. Somehow, he's even angrier than Smatt, and that takes some doing. I have NO idea why I'm writing this. But it's my blog so I'll write what I want.

Had some fun with the word balloons here. When are word balloons not word balloons? When they're not word balloons. I've learned to hate word balloons. To me, they just stick out and say, "I wasn't given as much thought as the rest of the page! Look! Comic sans! Ovals!" Big, white discs that are there for no other reason than because that's what's expected. Well, my comics would be almost impossible to translate into other languages but since no one's even reading them in English, who cares?

Anyway, page 103.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

 Thursdays are busy days. I have to do the grocery shopping, record the podcast and get a nap in there all before dinner! That being said, I can often get some art done in the evenings. After realizing I had to fix page 100, I started work on 102. I couldn't just use the graffiti as done in page 100 as AD still has no warp tools, something I hope they fix very, very soon. So I took the original sketch done in Procreate, warped it there and exported it again. The lettering was very tough to get right so it would fit that weird space. at the last moment, I felt there needed to be something else so warped the cinder block wall I'd made for page 100. Came together rather well, I hope. Small steps.

 I changed my mind again. It had more to do with the lyrics than id did anything else. They describe the graffiti in this part of the song as being rather large and originally, it just felt too small. So I enlarged the whole piece and cropped most of it out. It's far more abstract this way, but it will be revealed a little bit more in following pages. And then, when this act is done and I go back over the pages, I might change it again.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

 Ok, this was just for fun. I noticed the silhouettes of Smatt and his gang and suddenly thought of MST3K, my favorite TV show. I reached for a movie they would have LOVED to riff, added the mice, threw in some seats and here we go. Feels totally right to me.

 I knew I'd have to go back and make a page between the last two. There needs to be a pause and Smatt needs a reason to start spouting off. The comic is hard enough to read without me making sure the motivation is actually THERE. The first thing I had to do was design the graffiti which I wanted to be different than things I usually do. Somehow, it worked. Then I had to get the mice in there somehow and decided that silhouettes would fit the bill and they did. The simple, flat colors and accent stripes, to me, are more effective than I thought they'd be. My favorite part is the little word balloon surrounding Rooster's flipping off the graffiti. It's subtle and totally something I'd do. Not -totally- sure that this will work in the flow, but at least now I can move on.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

 Another quickie sketch, this one called "The Ugly Truth," as I drew Smatt in a less attractive style and because he believes it's all about him. Almost looks like a naked mole rat. :D

 Just a late night sketch. Felt like drawing, didn't want to make a big production out of it and wanted to mess around with colors a bit more. So, this. Used a different brush than normal to ink; Inkka. Trying to remember it for later.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

 This came together very quickly. I wanted a slightly different edge as this is a bridge, a separate part of the song for this track. So, distortion with figure and letters. Wasn't what I thought I was going to draw tonight but the lyrics decided for me.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

 What was originally going to be one page ended up as three. I liked the figures alone so much, and at a larger size I decided just to go ahead. The nice thing is that it could all be done in one AD file. It's just a matter of turning some layers off and resetting some opacity levels. Pretty happy with how quickly this came together. Also, it's kind of stunning to think that I've already done 100 pages of this comic and it's not even halfway done. I figure there are about 300 pages to go or so which is not a happy thought. I hope to get this done before I turn 60, but I won't bet a penny on it. Sometimes it just drags and other times it flows. So be it. This will be my last long-form comic project, one way or another.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

 Finally started work on another page of City Silent, though it's going to work out to three. I originally wanted all three figures on one page but then decided it would work better with one at a time. It's just the refrain, but I really liked the character alone against a simple background, so there will be no elements but the mice. I will resize them as things go on. I know what I mean. More tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2021

 Character design time. I've been thinking of getting back into some journal comics as it's been a long while. I enjoyed doing Biograph even if it felt like whining sometimes. The top version was the hardest to do as I really wanted to put lines in in top of the watercolors. I actually did but forced myself to turn that layer off at the last moment to try and push the concept. I think it has a kind of Japanese feeling to it. It's a little harder to do as the watercolor brushes require that you don't lift off the screen until you're done making the shape, or you end up with overlaps. Still, they all have their "charm."

Monday, May 10, 2021

 I've been re-watching Portrait Artist of the Year. There's some decent shots of the sitters there, so I've taken some screen grabs to use for later portraits. This is one of those. Musician Courtney Pine has such a great face, I really wanted to give it a try. There are some mistakes and I don't think I quite captured his expression though I think the likeness is definitely there. The pencil sketch is all done freehand. Spent a lot of time going over and over it which kind of messed with the paper.. That being said, the 'inking' stage is the most important part. It's where I choose what lines will make it through and how much or how little they're going to express. The colors take the least amount of time but I have no idea what they're going to be until I get there. The top photo is the un-edited pencil sketch. The second is the Procreate version in greyscale. Bottom is final as done through Affinity Designer.

EDIT: The neck and eye on the left were bugging me so I went back to the Procreate file, did some quick editing, made some new vectors and fixed what felt to me like mistakes all around. Here's the final:

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

 Decided to have a little fun with the pinhead. So here he is, in lively green. Because why not? Just a bit of fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

 I love to draw. The simple act of drawing, not working towards something else, any kind of goal, just drawing. Tonight, I felt like it. I put on some music, opened the drawing pad and just drew. They're a bit caricatured but so what? Might do something more with these, might not. Doesn't matter. I like my pencils really short. I've said it before but this drawing pad has been a really good one overall. Digital is mostly my range, but sometimes I just need pencil.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

 This is my second attempt at And Oliver, one of the models on the 2019 series of Portrait Artist of the Year. I thought I might try and do the same models they have, one for each episode but I'm limited to screen grabs so don't get to choose my angle or pose really at all. So while this is, I think, accurate, it's not flattering. The point is to try and make something in the same time allotment as the contestants; four hours. I have no idea how digital media would go over on the show and whether or not I'd be required to have a physical print at the end of that time or not. Be a hell of a lot of equipment to lug if I did. Since I'm not British and will never be on the show, what does it matter? It's a good exercise.

The first version, which I'm not showing here, was in the current 'cut paper' style and just didn't work. I think it was all the harsh lines. Something about Andi's face needed a more organic approach, so I went back to the Procreate + Affinity style. This is the second version of that. The first was more naturally colored. I thought to try a more brightly colored, poster style as an alternative and decided I liked that one better. There's almost a kind of Warhol feeling to it? Which is fine. She's a lot lovelier than I paint her here. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

 This is Phillipa Perry, wife of Grayson who I did last week. To me, this is a successful portrait and it's also unremarkable in any way. There's likeness and some style, but it's dull. I'm still glad I did it though I won't be posting it to most of my social media. It's not a mistake or a failure, just not interesting. It's still work and I still learned from it. Perhaps I can do something further with it but for now, I'll leave it be.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

 Finished piece. I was wondering if you could mix portraiture and comics and I think you can, but I also think it could get gimmicky very quickly. In a way, this feels more like yelling than anything subtle. Then again, being subtle doesn't get me anywhere. If I was doing a show, I think I'd keep it to just one that had words in it. Any more would feel like too much. Maybe even this one is too much. I think it makes one look, which is a good thing. In general, I'm happy with how this came out though I notice that I'm getting less and less abstract with each one though really, this is still way off. Instead of fixing that eye placement, I extended the glasses on the other side. And it balanced out. Well, I'm making art. That's a good thing.

Monday, April 19, 2021

 So, working on another one. This time, I'm going to mix portraiture and comics in that there is going to be a word balloon or two with a statement. It might seem heavy handed in a way but it's something I'd like to try. The pencil sketch, made from another image taken for comic reference, came together weirdly easily. It is off, and that's fine. I want it to be. Part of me wants to fix that eye and move it closer, but the rest of me doesn't. The colors on this one are more challenging but that's fine, too. These are really exciting me. So far, I've made 23 portraits since the book came out last year. I hope to keep making more. Oh, and get back to the damned comic, too.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

 Today's portrait, British artist Grayson Perry in his Claire persona. I have no idea how this came together so quickly, but it did. The sketch I did, based off a screen grab, was not my best and not as stylized as I'd hoped. But somehow, I think I managed to get not only a likeness but a touch of masculine, a touch of humor and a touch of Bette Davis. I really don't know why this worked as well as it did, at least to me, but I'm happy with it. Pencil and Affinity Designer with some extra details done in Procreate. That last bit made certain things, like the hair, way easier as I could just quickly draw them and vectorize.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

 Still in this mood, so did something a little different. I have taken many, many, many reference photos of myself over the years for various comic projects. Somewhere, hidden away (unless I finally threw them out) is a box full of polaroids of me doing various silly things. Since the digital age, there's no real reason not to keep them, so I do. This time around, I decided to take one that I used for the mice and, instead of putting a mouse head on it, just did me. Also, instead of keeping the palette limited, I decided to expand it, with each item, except the hat, getting a mid tone, shadow and highlight. I rather like how it came out as it feels dynamic. There's caricature but not to the point of being a mockery, at least I don't think it does. It was fun and was good for me art-wise.

Friday, April 16, 2021

 And one last entry for the day. Did some sketching of someone I follow on instagram. I didn't get the level of likeness I wanted, but I might continue working on it. This is a drawing pad I think shows a lot of depth and work and is one of my favorites.

 Made another one. This time, I interpreted a portrait of King Philip IV of Spain as done by (the workshop of) Diego Velazquez. My mom used to call the portrait "the pinhead" as it's not only a very tall canvas (perhaps 7 feet tall) but the head is indeed too small for the body. There is a bit of humor in this version and I'm ok with that. He is a very pink and self-important looking fellow but I guess that's pretty normal when you're king.

 Did a little sketch last night as I was looking up portrait artists from a book I really like called, "Painting People: Figure Painting Today." I experimented in the sandbox of Chinese painter Yi Chen for awhile, which was both fun and too easy to just ape his style. So I reached for pencil and paper and tried to work in one of my own abstract ones as that was the mood. The original idea was to paint something, perhaps mixing 2D and 3D styles. After messing about with Procreate, I decided to go back to my usual inking brush and let the lines be lines. When that was done, the natural thing was to go into AD, which I did. As soon as I got a couple colors down, I turned off the ink layer and knew that this was the way to go. I tried to keep the palette as limited as possible. As it is, there's about three colors more than I wanted but if I hadn't added them, the image would be TOO flat. I sampled colors from the reference photo, which was taken from the camera on my Mac, which is not wonderful, but shows me illuminated by the screen. I wanted to convey a feeling of sitting in front of the computer for too long and I think I managed that. Had I the space, I would transfer this to paint as big as 3 or 4 feet a side. I really like the idea of big, flat shapes painted on larger canvases. But until someone else thinks this is a good idea and ponies up the money, it'll stay digital. Perhaps I'll have it printed out some day.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

 Sat down this afternoon to exorcise this one from my head. Billie Eilish is someone whose music I've recently got into. I watched a documentary on her and found it to be a very interesting look at fame as well as someone who went from no one to global icon in a very short time. It's not perfect but I didn't really want it to be. I made a very quick sketch from a screen grab I took and let things be a little wonky on purpose. It was not a good moment for her which is why I wanted to take the photo in the first place. She's as off-kilter as she could be in a documentary like this so I hope some of that comes across. After the pencil sketch, I took a photo of that from my iPad from inside Procreate, did the usual thing of one layer = one shade, then exported them one by one to the iMac where I put them through SuperVectorizer and assembled them in Affinity Designer. That way, I could adjust the grays all together. In the end, I decided color wasn't necessary and wouldn't bring anything to the final image. So, this.

Friday, April 09, 2021

 Finished page 97. This one's the most abstract of the group so far but I think it works fine. Might do more with the non-traditional backgrounds in this song as I really want a feeling more than I want a specific place. I still have the stage in mind when doing this, and dancing and song. Actually making this an opera would be a nightmare but I'd go see it.

 Forgot to post this, it's just a quick, little character portrait. I've drawn Estarion before. This time, i was inspired to go back to an older style, one I developed based on some old pinball machine art. For a quick sketch, I thought it worked out fairly well though it wasn't exactly received with much enthusiasm. That's fine. Stretching is always a good thing.