Epiphany

mirage_man
I didn’t even have to sleep with anyone for this comic. I’m kinda proud of myself actually.

There was experimentation involved though. For most my comics, everything is done digitally. But with this, I printed up the linework, put in on the light-table, covered it with a sheet of watercolor paper, and went to town with graphite, greyscale markers, and ink wash.

light_table

light_table_2

Then I scanned the tones and slipped them under the original line work. I feel it gives is a grungier, more handmade look. What do you think?

New Goals

Working on this Graphic Novel has been a huge learning experience. In the beginning I proceeded as if the pages I worked on would appear in the book “as-is” — meaning, I thought when I completed a page, it was more or less done. This had the effect of slowing the process, because I wanted to get each drawing “right”. I proceeded in this fashion right up until page 50, when I realized all those early pages would have to redone since my style had matured — and also because there were inevitably trouble spots which needed to be refined. So all that time spent trying to get each line just so… well… I don’t want to call it a waste because I was learning… but it wasn’t exactly the most effective use of time, either.

I’m now on page 73, and for the last 23 pages I’ve just been plowing ahead with “penciling”, leaving the “inking” for later. This is what a penciled page looks like:

page70_preview

Although this may look rough, having coaxed the scene from my mind, figured out the panels, angles, bodies and general composition, most the job is done. I’d say the penciling represents 70% of the work.

At the end of May I plan on going to Southern California for my little brother’s high school graduation, so this is my new goal: Have the first draft done and ready to show to family for feedback and criticism.

This means by May 23rd I’ll need to:

– Pencil approximately 40 more pages.
– Write approximately 10 pages of prose which will intermittently accompany the wordless illustrations.
– Revise the first few chapter’s “trouble spots”, ie: areas where people are having difficulty “reading” the wordless action.
– Print and bind the draft in a presentable package.

Once I elicit feedback and discover any additional “trouble areas”, I can edit and begin the final artwork.

My main goal is to finish this book by autumn. I like how this book is turning out, but I refuse to work on it for another winter… and that’s motivating me!

Website Refresh!

dallion_to_do_list_cartoon

Figured the ‘ol site could use a bit of tidying for the new year.

First, I got rid of the “Stories” section, which frustratingly displayed only the covers from two short stories I did years ago. In it’s place is the new COMICS! section — a one stop shop for all the sweet comics I’ll be making.

I changed the “Scribbles” page, to be more appropriately titled “Illustration”, and updated it with art from 2012.

Finally, I got rid of the mysterious “Stuff” page, and replaced it with a nice page telling a little bit about me.

Other changes:
– Added some columns of foliage! Ain’t that purty!
– Added a contact form!
– Added a “Currently Reading” widget, revealing my current influences!
– Added a “Art Work 2013” widget, in which I’ll post how many hours I’ve spent each week drawing, writing, updating — anything directly related to becoming an Artist with a capital A!
– Added a Email Subscription option! Get notified of new posts via email!

Whew!

Cultivating Healthy Habits

I keep a little book which I call “The Process”. I use it to keep tabs on myself. In it I record heathy (and unhealthy) behavior. I record things like: how many minutes I’ve mediated each morning, how much I’ve been drawing, my hours at various jobs, ex-cetera. I also use it to record how many days it’s been since I’ve abstained from unhealthy habits I want to end. I find this tool very effective, probably because each time I write in it, I get a little squirt of Serotonin in my brain. “Nice job, Dallion!” The contents of this notebook reveal much to myself, and since I use it every day, it’s easy to see long term trends. It feels great to record each small victory, and I feel like it’s helping create a path towards a happier, healthier, and more creative life.

False Starts and Dead Ends

Perhaps I was too eager to board this digital bandwagon. Early experimentation with the iPad and eBook building software led me to make two declarations, which I now wish to retract.

1) “I’m entering the InteractBuilder competition to make an interactive children’s book by September 18th.”

After using their software, I’ve decided to not enter this contest. Though they’ve billed InteractBuilder as version 1.0 and ready for public consumption, I find it buggy, not user friendly, and lacking many features. Learning their software requires a programmer’s mind, and for me, really sucks the fun out of making children’s books. In addition, any eBooks made with InteractBuilder can only be sold through their App, which currently has a rather low user rating, and may prove unpopular.

Competing software, which looks like a dream in comparison, is scheduled to be released shortly. Check out these exciting options, Moglue and Demibooks Composer:

2) “I may start creating my art digitally.”

Okay, so I illustrated the first few pages of a book using my iPad. I thought they were good and sent them to my partner for feedback. After a rather tepid response, I was able to pry the truth out of her. About the iPad art she said, “It lacks a certain kind of Dallion-ness.” And I can see what she means. Compare these two drawings:


I don’t know what it is, but one of these is me, and the other isn’t. Compare the character above with the characters in my online portfolio. It’s like he’s too slick or something. My art isn’t slick. My art is skewed and immediate and full of mistakes. The undo button allows me to get it too “perfect” (whatever that is), and somehow sucks the life, or at least the Dallion-ness out of it. Think I’ll stick with my old friends, pen, paper, and watercolor for now.

Trial and error. The destination hasn’t changed, just the method to get there.

Dallion Goes Digital

Lately I’ve been doodling farm stuff and experimenting with different mediums. Here are the owners of the farm, Deb & Steve, drawn in my traditional pen and paper method:

Deb and Steve at Frog Farm

I recently and reluctantly got an iPad, and have come to really enjoy the device, especially drawing on it. This is Steve drawn with my finger and an App called Inspire Pro:

Frog Farm Steve

Inspire Pro has a brush that mimics oil painting amazing well and does a wonderful job blending…

Frog Farm Steve Color

Unfortunately, it lacks many important features (like layers), thus rendering the program not very useful. I’ve begun experimenting with a new App called Brushes, and while it doesn’t have a blending tool, it has layers which can be used as an alternate to blending. It also exports .PNG files, which are capable of handling transparencies, a necessary feature in creating the digital books of the future. After some experimentation and tweaking, I was able to get the Brushes line to look similar to the Inspire Pro line:

Goat Head
I used to be an anti-technology fuddy-dud, but drawing on the iPad is a lot of fun, looks great, and has the ulcer-preventing UNDO function! In addition, I can skip the hassle of scanning my artwork and cleaning it up in Photoshop, a very time consuming and now unnecessary step.

Do you like these digital drawings?

Interview with an Illustrator

Something kinda exciting happened recently: I won a contest to design a logo for the Austin SCBWI’s (Society of Children’s Book Authors & Illustrators) fall conference on digital publishing. Everyone was pleased with the final image, and they wanted to interview me for their websites. Let me direct you to das interview!

The full interview
Interview excerpt