Monday, May 16, 2011

production process

With less than a month to go, final production is hectic for completing The Lost Girl. But it's easily the most satisfying stage.

The ugliest business is layouts and pencils. I seldom do straight black and white artwork; there's usually some polishing up with grayscale tones or colors once the lines are done. So I think subconsciously I leave out elements that would help b&w lineart stand out on its own, like crosshatching or even flat blacks. With Lost Girl i've tried to overcome those shortcomings, even just a little bit. But it remains that a great deal of the visuals are resting on my coloring skills, so I'm a little nervous as to how bright this'll all shine in the end.

After Johnny Bunko I was really seduced by working digitally with a tablet and photoshop. Lines are cleaner and the workspace is far more malleable. But I'm a slow worker to begin with, and being able to tinker endlessly at an intensely zoomed-in scale was pretty crippling to my production time. And no matter how good I was feeling at using a stylus, I lost a lot of sense of proportion and gesture-quality to sketches. After about 2 years of pounding the tablet, I went back to pencil and paper for the lineart, and it's worked pretty well. Whatever cleanliness and minute detailing I've lost is balanced by a better sense of the page, movement, and my own drawing comfort.

Still, a little digital spit and polish goes a long way. It feels good to see lettered, colored pages after looking at half-finished line art for months. And we're getting close to having a finished book!

Friday, May 13, 2011

"The Lost Girl", nearly found

It's been a long time since I've updated this blog.

I've been working pretty relentlessly since Christmas on Michael Mongillo's "The Lost Girl", a graphic novel that represents my first full-length, full-color foray into the world of comics. It's an exciting venture for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that it's an altogether different sort of story than I've ever done before.

It tells the story of two characters: Joy, a young woman who's spent her entire life as an orphan raised by the state, setting out on her own, and Rurik, a young man who's on the run from his "family", as it were. After discovering the hard way that it's not exactly an easygoing, beautiful world out there, Joy and Rurik meet in the wild and strike a pact to fight for both's survival.

Daniel H. Pink's "The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need" was my first full-size ogn, which utilized a cartoony, lighthearted style and, while it told a definite story, was also structured as a guidebook, complete with lessons and chapter summaries. The project was a massive crash-course in artwork, lettering, and publishing for me. There are a lot of things I would likely do differently if I had to do it all again, but the learning experience was valuable, and the end result...hey, not that bad!

"Lost Girl" is another leap forward. It's much (much) darker than "Johnny Bunko" in about every way possible, and a much bigger challenge in terms of artwork. Working from someone else's script is invaluable, as it pushes you to do more than you might motivate yourself to do, and here is no exception. "Lost Girl" is big, bloody, and loaded with a lot more than I've ever attempted before, as a new project ought to be.

It's also a perfect example of how I really ought to start working by committee, because doing every stage of art production yourself is a real bastard.

The project is nearing completion, slated for release this summer by Arcana. I'll keep this blog updated with details as we move forward.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

new audience

I've embarked on several new projects, two of which are especially interesting because they're geared towards audiences I haven't previously worked for. I think most of my work is generally consumed by teenagers and young adults, but with these two projects the intended audience is children and parents, the second project specifically being parents of adolescents.

Illustrating a children's book isn't exactly a new idea, but it's a new demographic for me. I think it'll be a challenge, simply because when I remember storybooks I read as a little kid, the story itself takes a back seat to the images, which stick with you much longer. As a kid, pictures are the words, whereas artwork maybe carries less importance when you get older. How many books or films are poorly displayed visually but memorable because of story? Working for children's eyes, I think the formula is reversed. You could tell a ridiculous or horrible story, but good or memorable illustration can make it appealing. (Not saying this story is necessarily horrible or ridiculous, heh)

On the flip side, making an educational or helpful graphic novel for parents of teens is another challenge altogether. With The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, there was a wider potential for readership based on the premise of the book, which was a career guide, and the lessons were rather broad. This new work focuses on parents who are experiencing teenage rebellion for the first time, or for the first time in a dynamic way that demonstrates lack of control and a rift of understanding between parents and children--definitely a largely untapped market as far as graphic novels go. I wonder if such an age group is receptive to this sort of work. The thirtysomethings and fortysomethings of today might go for it; I'm just shy of 30 myself and still love picturebooks.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I guess these would be considered "old" by now, since I did these at the beginning of summer, but these are some character design concepts for "Warcraft: Legends Vol. 5" from the story "Nightmares", which was pretty cool to work on. It was also the first time I'd ever worked with previously established characters. Blizzard had to sign off their approval on each design and a certain amount of reworking was in order. This wasn't as big an issue as it could have been, and the process was pretty painless.
I don't actually recall a lot of the actual working process, but trying to recollect the actual gruntwork is a lot like trying to remember what it was like filling out your taxes. I did the thumbnails in a small sketchbook via pencil, but 90% of the work was done entirely digitally with a Wacom Intuos3 tablet and Photoshop CS3. I really like the digital method because it feels so much more malleable. Edits and tweaks or whole revisions are much easier, I think, but the tradeoff is that it can take a hell of a lot longer to get things done. When working in Photoshop, I tend to work at a highly magnified level, and the broad strokes and comprehension of the full page that you get with working on actual paper is lost because I'm eyeball-deep in pixels blown up to 300%.
I also realized that I'm really, really weak with backgrounds. I feel much more at ease with characters than I do environments, and even though I felt I improved with the Warcraft comic, it wasn't saying a lot that I was actually addressing backgrounds with a vague level of sincerity. Between that and trying to force myself into creating more dynamic panels and camera angles than I usually do, I think the comic was a step in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done for this sort of thing to really pop.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Some stuff I wish I still worked on, or wish had gone through, or whatever. Not everything works out or is sustainable. I need to remember these things, what went wrong, or what I could have done to make them better, so I don't make the same mistakes. Still, sometimes things just don't go anywhere.

spinning tires

I'm not a fast worker, that's for damned sure. I'd like to say I don't spend as much time daydreaming while drawing as I did in math class, but the truth is I'm often miles away even while I'm doing what I like best.

Sometimes it's just me being a perfectionist and not being able to uncork speed and creativity, other times I just can't figure out what to draw or how to draw it. Conceptualizing is, I think, the hardest part of anything I've done. Execution can be time-consuming, but settling on what in particular to execute can just grind me to a halt.

Most of what I've shared on deviantART is more or less complete in nature, at least from a per-upload perspective. I've preferred to submit only what I consider to be a fairly completed piece (with the exceptions of a few scrapbook materials, most of which are horrifically dated) But in doing so, particularly with Bomango, story and characters only come out in bursts, and a cohesive comic narrative has not been forthcoming.

My goal here at this blog is to offer more insight as to what I'm working on with a more bare-bones approach to sharing my work, rather than inconsistent and maybe overwrought submissions at dA. Which means I'm going to probably post crap I'll be itching to take down almost immediately, but we'll see how this goes.

Anyhow, I'll offer a few creative smatterings or smatterings of creativity as I go along and warm up to the idea of true blogging. I might also try to share current work from clients as well, at least as far as NDA taboos allow.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog, day one on the ground

Just landed here with the intent of setting up this blog. More will come soon as I get my head around things. Peace.