Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chips!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The voices from comments haunt me, and motivate me to try, for another while at least, to stay regular with updates. Unfortunately, the November month has been a bit hole-filled when it comes to drawing. This past Tuesday, the crew stayed home to avoid an incoming storm, but I hadn't posted my doodle page from last week.

The upper-left drawing I started fiddling with was influenced by Ryan Ottley working on a Eve zombie commission he was working on next to me. Ryan luuuvs drawing the macabre -- it flows naturally for him -- which I can't relate to. I think it's because he loves detail in his drawings, and I usually prefer the opposite. When I was learning to draw, I would look in the mirror and ask myself, How can I duplicate this image with the least number of lines? Not that there's no way to simplify a zombie, just that I haven't tried. Maybe I should try.

Other highlights? I liked the guy with the bag of chips; I drew his left hand and it seemed like a good hand for opening chips and I ran with it. I also enjoyed the kitty shape; I don't feel good at animals, but I'll take random stabs to see if I can evoke the right animal in others' heads (it seemed to work). Finally, I enjoyed the nekkid lady in the background. I actually made a point to avoid the ween this week just because it's all over the place in my doodles but what really interested me about her was the stylization in the face; the non-eyebrows, ultra-long lashes, and lack of lip detail aren't things I fiddle with. Man I can blab a lot about not much.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stuft Update

Howdy folks. Been awhile again, and I thought it was high time for another update. I get to begin clear back in... lessee... June, so you'll have to forgive me if my memory about the doodles has faded, or at least I humbly beg you to. This first drawing features one of my furry mammals. I often just let animals form from lines without caring too much what they end up as, and I kind of enjoyed this big-headed rat-dog. His speech bubble is just a random snippet from a conversation nearby, and to help it make sense, I added some beans to assume the roles of its subject.

This guy was just a lonely little doodle on a big empty page, as was the next drawing. They needed some buddies to hang out with, but missed out. Maybe they would have fallen in love with each other. Not drawing them on the same page is shameful. Then again, she looks kinda judgmental. Maybe it's best they never met.

I really enjoyed this next doodle page and the flash of inspiration that led to the drawing on the bottom right. I don't think there was any rhyme or reason to it -- I was just drawing a glassy-eyed critter when it must have reminded me of those weird critter costumes people subject themselves to for any ol' kind of cash. And they all brood in there, I just know it. And it gets hot, so sometimes they have to take off their pants. A page without ween? If only.

This draw night, when I looked over at Rachel Hunter's sketchbook, I noticed this really cute octopus in it. I have kind of a thing for octopuses (suck it, octopi) and asked her to doodle one on my page. When I passed it around at the table, someone thought her critter was what the nekkid guy had tucked under his legs. I hadn't seen that, but thought it was funny. Afterwards, anyone else I showed the drawing to that didn't notice it disappointed me oh so deeply.

I think there are a few flat-as-a-board doodles to round up in this post. I find them fun to draw on the feminine form, perhaps because they allow the "other bits" to catch your attention. *stares* Or perhaps not! It's at least an interesting deviation, as is the little cartoon guy. He seems quite sure of himself. Even my cartoons hate pants, I'm not sure I appreciate the letters he's leaving on the page. Fella needs a toilet.

My next page is a bunch of chicken scratch. It looks like I was in an angular mood that night. It also looks like I was exploring my jealousy of Ryan Ottley's power poses, and that I was trying to see if I could duplicate them in thumbnail form before transferring them over to a more-rendered doodle. Not that I ever got around to rendering here. This desire to acquire some skill at power poses appears later, as well.

I'm not sure what it is about girls with long hair that make me want to add giant flowers to them. There's another older drawing of mine of a dark-haired girl with her long hair covering her breasts holding a giant flower, and this one has some hibiscus-looking thing tucked behind her ear. Maybe that's the clue -- it might be my exposure to a traditional Hawaiian look of long black hair and flowers behind the ears that gets pricked whenever those long strands appear. The knife though? Not so much part of that look.

Ah, and we finally get to the subject of this post's title. I was really looking forward to 24 Hour Comic Day this year because last year's was successful and (as such) gratifying. I was nervous that even hoping to complete a whole comic again was setting myself up for disaster, and that may have been the case. Of course, my ambitious certainly didn't help; whereas I focused on a purely cartoon-looking book a year ago, this time I wanted to tell a more serious story with fully fleshed out figures and some fighting. I let my initial page of doodles kinda tell me what I was in the mood for and I attempted to stick with that theme, as you will see over the next three pages. (The guy in the lower-left reminds me of the Ryu intro to one of the Street Fighter II games -- I can't remember which.)

A particular idea began to form in my head of something a bit more dark. I really enjoy stories that use combat as a marker of spiritual enlightenment, like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Karate Kid. And having recently finished the surprisingly-terrific (and surprisingly-appealing-to-my-girlfriend) Nickelodeon series, Avatar, on Netflix instant streaming recently, I had in mind a moment when the series protagonist, Aang, can't achieve a final step of enlightenment in his mind because he can't leave behind his "material" love for a traveling companion named Katara.

Blending the two ideas, I imagined a character who was captured by some evil baddies, and forced to endure some kind of gladiatorial combat. He succeeds for awhile with his great skill, but eventually needs to reach a more enlightened state that requires giving up his love and fear for his lover, who is hiding in the audience. When she sees his impending death because she knows his internal conflict, she can't bear it and commits suicide in the audience before his eyes. Devastated but freed of his fear for her, he is able to hold back his anguish long enough to tap into his final power, defeat his opponent, and even bring revenge to the arena overlords, who thought they were safe in its upper levels behind countless guards.

I was excited about the idea, but ultimately couldn't bring it out of myself. I was going for a more realistic style, so it was complex, and some of the visual ideas that needed to come through in the narrative were difficult for me to get across, too. I kept fiddling with and fiddling, and time was bleeding, and I became frustrated enough that I knew I was heading for disaster. Doing a 24-hour comic is grueling, and started debating whether it was worth experiencing the gruel when I was off to such a frustrated start. I decided to take it easy and head home. Disappointing. But the past four pages were my only output after 4 hours or so, and I think I made the right decision.

Just a few days later and it was back to regular draw night fare. More bodies as usual. I love the female form as pictured here, and really wish I had more of it on my day-to-day pages. I think I've mentioned before that I feel a lot more pressure for it to be aesthetically pleasing and I think that's why I often avoid it. I feel like the male form lets me get away with more errant lines and bad decisions.

Though this page is just a lot of stick figures, there's some interesting exercises going on here. Since I always lament my inability to swiftly drum-up dynamic superhero poses, I thought I should practice it a bit more. I started with the top-left, just trying to get a good punch, but even looking at it, I felt like it was missing a lot. I didn't think he looked like he was leaning enough into the punch, and the limbs are so straight that a lot of energy are sucked out of them. I had Ottley draw the same pose in blue pencil, and the lower-left is the result. I drew over the pose to get a feel for some of the differences. There's a lot more curvature from the left hand to the right as well as in the back. I also asked him to draw someone throwing an object at another character, and you can see that in the lower-right. That sketch is revisited in an upcoming page.

This page was fun because it features silliness, lots of pubic hair, and some super-pits. I don't remember if it started with the werewolf head or body -- either is completely plausible -- but the woman's pose was just another exercise on the page. At some point it clicked in my head to combine the two, and it became a theme on the page. Even the egghead got in on it. Way to go, doodles.

For the longest time I struggled with bigger broader body types, but I like to think that I've gotten better at it.

I mentioned a few drawings ago that Ottley's throwing pose would come back, and this is where it happened. I still had drawing dynamic figures on my mind, and this was the latest experiment. I had him sketch out the figures for a larger version of a rock toss and then went to work filling it in and made some adjustments as I did. When I asked Ottley to sketch it out, I just mentioned a guy throwing a rock at another guy, and I noticed that he put the focus on the victim, who in this case was catching the rock. I thought, yeah, I should put the focus on impact and tension in the interaction, which is at the catch, or would be on the person being hit. So I tried to place myself in the shoes of the catcher and wanted to get across the feeling of the rock sliding under his fingertips or the weight of the rock forcing his feet to dig in the ground. I changed the placement of arms and legs and tried to foreshorten the tension locations, and I'm not sure it all worked out visually, but I thought it was a good superhero-pose improvement over what I might normally doodle.

After getting Ottley's help, I decided to fly without training wheels, and started to draw one character backhanding another. As previous, I wanted to put the focus on the tension in the scene, so I foreshortened the fist against the other character's face. I tried to get some curvature and not just straightness in the attacker's limbs, and felt fine with the victim's body kind of becoming a twisted noodle, even having the head almost turned around 180-degrees, since I thought it helped emphasize the impact. I fiddled with the drawing a lot -- it wasn't very time efficient -- but I was pleased with the final result.

Then I took a break with a simple doodle...

...before trying again. This time I asked what I should draw and Derek suggested I draw a woman kicking another guy in the face. I chose a side view, but think I should have stuck with the "foreshorten the impact"-approach I had started. Regardless, I thought it still had some good punch. It looks like I focused primarily on getting a nice extreme in the attack with some curve instead of pure straight lines, and I never finished the victim, which sucks. I hate being a lazy bastard.

It was about a month later that I hit my next draw night (what happened?) and it looks like I had forgotten about my exercises, and just focused on tricky poses, with the guy in the lower-right being the most tricky (and compromised, hum). I also threw in a bean because when I show Jenny drawings at home, I always score extra points for them. Prolly my favorite image, though, is the upper-left, all twisty and disheveled. And the text in the upper-left? Notes jotted down while playing through Metroid: Other M.

This doodle is me playing around with visual ideas for the game I've been working on for the past year. It's still a long ways off. Apparently, it's hard to program a complicated game by yourself without prior experience. Silly me. I'm still trying to figure out when to spill the beans on what I'm more-specifically doing, though, so I'm not going to say much more than that.

Almost caught up now. This is from about a month ago. I'm not sure what's up with me and guys that look like Bert, but yeah, there's a guy that looks like Bert there, clawing at his face. I think the girl running was just a superhero-pose thought, just like the guy with the Superman fly-pose. I partly chose that one just because it freaks me out to draw. I always found the pose kinda awkward, so I wanted to see how it would turn out. And the op scribble's interesting to me, because I know I was imagining tons and tons of leg cross sections, trying to swirl a line around his legs as I extended outward from his pelvis in my mind.

Last but not least is a doodle from a few weeks ago now (I'm already falling behind again), which is a nice, chuck-full-o-figures page with different styles on it. I like all the deviations on it, like the three figures in the lower-left corner of the page, the little in-action figures running and catching, and monk penis. Yeah, why not?

Until next time, which I'll try to make sooner than later...