Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Learning Experience

I've been working on Benthic is some form since high school, but in the context and confines of how the story is now- I've been working on it in earnest for about two years. The outline I've been working off of this entire time is probably a year and a half old, which has given me lots of time to have at least a vague idea of every scene in the back of my head.

A lot of those scenes were also extrapolated from old versions. There has been some kind of space-suit Tsaigen jailbreak scene for a decade.

Most of my focus had been on the first half, since it was in the foreseeable future, and upon completing Issue 3/Chapter 4 (pg 55-76) I realized there were some problems, thematically speaking, with the second half of the book. The continent-creation plot is what gives Karda's story context, but ultimately this is Karda's story. However, this had taken too large a back seat to a lot of the other things I had kept in the story.

I in no way have room in the schedule for simply adding major sections, so I had to make some additions and then restructure the page count. This took most of the Christmas to New Years stretch where snow had me stranded in Connecticut anyway, so I came back after the New Year and thought I would plow right through.

The major issue was that unlike everything before it, I had only really been thinking about pages 77-92, in any respect for about a week. Versus two years! Also, the setting of this issue is incredibly background heavy- possibly more than any other section of the book. I have done more fucking erasing in the past three weeks than I have in two months before it. I was mad about it at first. And at second.

However, its really changed my approach to new projects and has thus been a great learning experience. Unfortunately, inking on this issue will probably push into Feb., which leaves me 54 pages to do in 4-6 weeks. Is that realistic? 6 weeks is really pushing it, but I'm not the giving up type.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Iguana Life, Part 2

I've gotten pretty well acclimated to the work-from-home, always here thing. The Iguana Lifestyle.

I thought it was past time to share some bits of this life with the world. I also made a new banner for the blog, cause it was time.

- Winter is awesome when you don't have to go anywhere. Cause WOW it looks cold out there.

- No really, it's like I get to skip Winter. I just plan my shopping trips roughly based on The Weather Channel now. I might be inside for days, where it's stupidly warm. This radiator could heat my entire apartment on its own and I sit next to it, in one of those awesome Uniqlo smooth dry V-neck undershirts. I love these shirts so much. I would do a commercial for free. But I should not be hot anywhere on the northern hemisphere in January wearing this damn thing.

- The long war between my internal schedule, which I can now base a career on at whim, and the schedule of the world takes on an ugly new chapter. I know, for a fact now, that I work best going to bed around 5-6 AM and getting up at 1:00 PM. It's great for a few days, and then I go see the woman in my life (a half-day since I got up at 1:00) and she's ready for bed around 1:00 AM. Well, I'm warn out from working for days straight so I actually fall asleep. Then I get up at 8:00 AM when shes getting ready for work. This day is now fucked. The following day I'm kinda back on it, and by the time I really get it back, it gets busted again. I also tried going on a regular schedule, getting up at 9:30 and working somewhat regular hours, and it really wasn't productive at all. I'm trying to figure out a hybrid right now, and I'm hoping that my working life and my, you know, life start to sync better.

- I never know when to eat. Going to the kitchen is a super easy form of procrastination that I caught onto fairly early. I drink water as a nervous habit so I'm constantly back and forth, and every time I was in there I was looking around the kitchen wanting to eat. So I really control when I actually eat now, and sometimes this leads to eating waaaaaaaay too much at once. I'll think I'm saving myself having to break to eat later, but I think it's making me sluggish and kinda fat. I need to lose a few pounds now. I knew all those cookies would catch up with me sooner or later.

- Speaking of fat, I got completely addicted to those stupid CVS cookies for awhile. I would go over there, buy a box, bring it home and immediately eat the entire thing. Oh cookies, I can't have just one or five or more. I have to have them ALL. I kicked the cookies. I'm smoking more now but this is better.

Meanwhile, on the front lines; I'm so busy doing this. Holy shit. I think right now I can comfortably pencil, ink and grayscale 25 pages a month. But I wasn't that fast when I started this, at all, and I need to do quite a bit more than that now. That number needs to be at least 35, which is removing the "comfortably" portion of the description completely. I think a completion date sometime in March is still on the table but I'm not sure I can bring it in by the 15th. We're in for an interesting couple of months.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drawing Before Drawing - Character Sketching

Inbetween writing and drawing there is a disjointed step where you know what you want to draw, and you know how you want to pace it, and how you want to show it...and somehow you're still stuck with questions about the details. It's like when you move and you have the final table of little random crap that you don't know what to box with what and it all ends up in a box together.

In this case, that one size box would be what I call the design stage. The truth is, I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want and just need to refine the details well enough to draw it. I find myself doing all my concept design sketching the first day of a page block when I do thumbnails and layout, and then do pick-ups and clean-ups on those as I keep penciling. This keeps is kind of exciting to me while I'm actually drawing it.

The last issue (55-76), current issue (77-96) and even some of the next issue (98 -120) relies pretty heavily on the map that is tattooed on Karda's body. The map that somehow, I had always been implying rather than actually drawing and I had never sat down and figured out exactly what it was a map of and what it looked like. Easily one of the dumbest things ever. "The main character has a body tattoo of a map. Why should I know what it looks like?"

Posted above is the turnaround I did for the map. The great part about doing turnarounds for yourself is you can change the pose a little bit and be fine. Those arms down were blocking his sides and I wasn't down with drawing disembodied arms. Also, drawing this map is a lot of fun now that its not this thing I always feel like I need to avoid (though leaving it vague did seem to fit the story better back then).

Thankfully this stage is usually just drawing supporting characters and new places. Above are some of the concept work from the (33-54) issue. Again, I always have a pretty good idea of what I want out of a supporting character's look, and that step tends to go fast. On the main characters, I try to re use articles of clothing from earlier issues, both for continuity and for speed. It also makes me feel clever about something no one else gives a damn about but me. "Ah, and in this final scene...Karda will be wearing the sweater he wore two issues ago! I am so clever! IT ALL TIES BACK." The only main character who needs regular concept work is Issa, since she doesn't really reuse her wardrobe. I'm particular about how she should look scene to scene.

Also, Issa gets extra concept work because I like drawing hot curvy girls in dresses. There, I said it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I finished up the grayscale for the most recent issue (55-76) today and decided I needed to come up for air. I've been bad at blogging lately. I'm pushing ahead hard now, as one of the main reasons I'm doing this project under these circumstances is to get faster. I'm easily twice as fast as I was six months ago, maybe even twice as fast as when I started. That may speak more to how slow I used to be, but I can say I penciled and inked 22 pages in three weeks, which should be more or less even with the industry standard.

My thoughts are I need to be faster than the industry standard.

I'm very happy with how this most recent issue is looking, and I'm very excited for the new one. I think I may start thumb nailing that now.