Five hours in on my current environment concept art. First time painting snow ... or maybe the second, but these things have certainly gotten better over the past year! I took out the bridge. It was kind of terrible and I could not get it to work, nor did I want it to take away from the castle itself.
This is done in the way I learned game concept art, but I am doing this for an area that will show up later in my comic. I figured it was a good idea to do pieces for the different cities or areas!
Working on a crowd scene for my comic Spidersilk. I've been wanting to do one for some time, but the comic takes up most of my illustration time and it is important to put out story content. However ... and yes this does explain my hiatus from the WIP blog ... I got and beat Dragon Age Inquisitions. I was so blown away by story aspects, so wrapped up in it, and so pleased at the little character and world details. A particular cut scene made me really want to do a big tavern scene, so I did this. All kinds of inspiration built up as I played, so when I beat it I let loose with illustrations (though most are of my Inquisitor -- I'll share those later)! When I play great games, watch good movies, etc, it just makes me want to make stories that hit as hard.
After working on that large Dragon Age II fan art, I felt a bit more confident about drawing such a thing. This is the first time I've done an image with so many characters AND a background, and I'm actually looking forward to the long inking process.
On September 26th, my comic turned three years old. It was launched in 2011 on that date, though under a different name. The first half year for Spidersilk was tumultuous due to the steep learning curve of using a tablet (as well as other issues). I renamed it and doubled efforts on updating after half a year. I threw myself into networking and advertising as well. It built slowly, and after it became featured on Inkblazers.com things have been gliding along. It picks up on average 30 new readers a month and ranks in the top half of all featured comics on inkblazers quite consistently. The comic must come first, above other projects (as fun as they are!) and I have been spending much time on it.
For the third anniversary I initially thought I could get the copy ready for print, and that is still in the works, but I haven't completed the necessary work for that yet.
So ... I decided to do a promotional event, for whatever I can manage at my moment. I am reading "Console Wars" and it makes me want to aggressively market something, anything -- good thing I have a comic! It made me think for quite some time on what I could do with what I had, and what was going to be the most beneficial for the comic. So, I basically asked fans to share the comic, and add why they liked it. Simple, takes little time, is fairly easy for me to track entries, and will give me a really good idea from otherwise silent fans what it is about Spidersilk that is interesting, unique, and catches attention to better help me promote it in the future. (Tumblr post details)
A week ago I began drawing this to put up as a thank you to readers. Clothes-swapping is always good, though I don't know what the heck Prentice (far right) is doing. He is either not a very good fashion model or an exceptional one. I can't really tell!
As I noted in the previous blog entry, I am working on concepts other than characters at the moment. I am nearing a time when I will need to draw weapons more readily, and given that those can be expensive, I need to set what weapons each character uses to avoid that "I buy new weapons for every fight" sort of look. After I looked at the Hobbit's concept art book (for the first movie), I was inspired at how much care was taken with retaining individuality with the dwarves in several aspects -- clothes, colors, weapons, etc.
For Spidersilk, I want to make the main characters' weapons (if any) to be distinct and match their styles and combat preferences. For example, Prentice is thorough, if not a bit reckless and messy. He's never worried about not having enough weapons, so he seems to care little for them -- he really just needs his dagger and he can and will rely on his magic.
But I've been drawing him with a sword and staff combination lately, and that staff changes every time I draw it! Unless his staff is so cheap it breaks every time he uses it, I think he should have a recognizable one.
So here we have some staff ideations for Prentice:
While ideating I alternately considered his personality and style and others I just tried to run with it, seeking new directions in my designs. Below I'll give a quick thought about the staffs.
Staff one looks like a strange combination of Sailor Saturn's glaive and something from Dragon Age. I think ... no.
Staff two is a very stylized version of what I usually draw Prentice with, but it isn't weaponlike enough for him. The gem end is too complicated and it is lost in its own details.
Staff three I fear is not really a mage weapon. At this point I began to realize Prentice didn't really need a staff, but I kept drawing. I really like the weapon end of it, but the mage focus end is subtle.
Staff four is based on this tree I saw while in New Zealand. This is less of a melee weapon and is only for focus/ magic. While I love this tree, I think this design would need another rework to suit Prentice's melee combat tendencies.
Staff five looks more like a weapon and less like a staff, though I did include talismans in the shape and detail. It has variety, but since he tends to use two weapons anyway, such a versatile staff is probably not a good idea for him.
I think it is his sacrifice dagger I should focus on next time! I will revisit the staff designs I liked best and ideate more based on those select few.
I have completed my move and am settling in. I will begin the WIP blog once more! My current running side-projects include more Dragon Age fan art, a fan comic about SKYRIM, as well as various commissions.
In order to flesh out my portfolio, I do think it's important now to spend more time documenting processes on drawing props, environments, and architecture. To that end, I am going to draw a new staff for Prentice (of my comic Spidersilk), since it tends to be different whenever I draw him with one!
This is his latest, but I will be looking at all of his staff images for ideas, as well as generating quite a few new ones!
I generally do longer stories in a page by page fashion, and the one-shots or three to four panel comics are a bit lost on me. Still, I want to try, and chose to do this as a short comic.
I did a sketch and was not pleased. I thought about other comics of the sort I'd seen and realized my mistake. The expressions would need to be exaggerated; they needed to be very different from panel to panel for the story anyway. I'm thinking panel two will be the most fun, but without the contrast of one and three, it won't have any meaning.
I am going to go with a generic Hawke based on my playthroughs rather than the default Hawke. I'm giving him robes from Dragon Age: Origins, though because they are some of my favorites. I missed those robes in DAII.
In other news, I have another idea for yet another one of these. While I do not want these to become a series (my main comic is enough work!), I am glad to be getting these ideas as I play one of my favorite games.
Here's a sketch of panel three with a mysterious WTF floating over Varric's head. That's more of a note for me on follower expressions than it is on what will actually be said.
Aaaand inspiration has struck! I was working on comic pages all weekend and I decided I needed to take a break. I picked up on my Dragon Age playthrough (for I always have a "current" playthrough).
Something happened that was so hilarious I fell over laughing. I know I said I'd draw a normal picture, and maybe I will, but I will have to get this silly comic out of my head. Especially since I've always wanted to do a Dragon Age fan comic and never was able to!
I shall draw it tomorrow. It has to do with playing on the dialogue that can happen if you are playing as messed-up as I am -- I keep forgetting what sort of character this guy is supposed to be, and I think he may have several personalities.
When I do fan art it is usually a copy of an image so that I can pick up ideas or techniques from the artist, or it is a redesign of someone's clothes or armor. That's one of the ways I got into comics in the first place -- as a child, I used to trace Betty and Veronica from Archie Comics and then redesign their outfits. Comics and fashion go way back for me!
I have only done illustrations of my own composition for other webcomic artists, though this hasn't happened very often. I want to try this again to challenge myself. I am going to work up some ideas for concept. Because my concept isn't that clear yet, I won't discuss it. I will say that it will be for Dragon Age.
Last, I will share some bizarre fan art I made for a friend. We make absurd fan art for each other, and this masterpiece came to mind after reading her community challenge blog with the theme of "heroic." Things quickly got silly. I secretly blame Lord of the Rings for the strange monster.
(Read her comic here, a sci-fi romance called Bio-Revelation.)
Two more chapters to edit! I've begun to wonder if I should bring all elements into the safe zone, or allow for full bleed. Below is the original image, from 2012. While editing I have had to move word balloons, sound effects, and art. It's sometimes quite drastic, and I began thinking about the aesthetic qualities of simply bringing the entire page in, leaving a white margin.
I can't be sure what the print margin is, so I can't judge where it will be cut very accurately. I at first did not consider it because it, but when I saw it done for other comics I noticed it looked fine. Several edits ended up like this, so it is worth thinking about making it consistent. (Final printed pages will have the same textured appearance, but will become grayscale to save on print costs.)
I discussed a potential fan comic mini series based in SKYRIM (by Bethesda) earlier this month in this blog. I have a few other projects on at the moment, so I had to set it aside for a couple of weeks. It's back!
After considering the illuminated manuscript look vs. comic look, I went with comic. When I reviewed my comic script, I realized it would need to have at least three panels and that I wouldn't get away with a one-shot too easily for this project. At this moment, there will be around two dozen of these comics.
Here is the template I'm working with right now.
The diary boxes (with jagged edges) will be what Farkus has written. These boxes can be of any size, and can be drawn in new places depending on balance.
The comic panels will show reality, or what has really happened. Usually Farkus' view will be very forgiving of this very unepic Dragonborn.
40 minutes, Photoshop (includes time of initial concept/ layout)