Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review and plan


Take a problem and try different solutions. Get in the habit of taking time with a problem rather than trying to skim over it.
Remember to use drawing references! You don't have to process and automatize everything right away.
Use different pen styles. You're using a computer, so take advantage of the different weights.


Practice drawing characters digitally as well as on paper.
Spend some time developing newer characters.


Flow chart- current plan

1 page per day with no planning ---> build momentum ---> formulate ideas while working ---> begin planning during FREE time ---> probably redraw/ rework pages during FREE time ---> planned version slowly takes over? ---> begin publishing

The key is to build momentum and to keep it. Every time I have successfully built momentum in the past, I ruined it during the planning stage. Say I start on a project with little forethought. Usually after a couple of months of drawing I begin developing solid planning and ideas; they aren't FULLY planned and developed yet. I decided that this tighter version of a story is superior and promptly drop the lesser version to continue planning. What then happens is momentum drops completely and I'm back to where I started.

In the past I would conclude that the spontaneous version, while rougher, was the superior over the planned version. While it's true that something is better than nothing in this case, I failed to recognize that a tightly planned work is much more difficult and long range but the end result of such a struggle is most likely going to be far superior to the short range project. And a short range project, which could be translated into a project not necessarily ones own planning wise, is undeniably good for solid work experience, momentum, and discipline.

So to recap, work on a 'daily' version with little regard to plot. Don't work out an outline or do rough storyboards or anything beforehand- just work on one page per day. Once you get going it'll be okay to do some minor planning ahead of time. Eventually I believe that planning will reach a point that I'll be working on a cohesive story that will take a while to work out the details. That's based partly from experience, partly from theory.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The final pages are the results of my best work. If I say "I can do better than that" I have 2 options: either rework the drawings or move on and work on new ones. Neither are particularly ideal for me. Regardless of which option I choose, the fact remains that I can visibly see that there is improvement to be made in my mind and I should work harder to reach my desired skill level.

I've never had an assistant position. I am slowly making up for this. I've heard you have 2,000 bad pages in you before you start making good ones. I'm sure that's not an exact figure, but I sort of lament not having the opportunity to increase my skill on someone else's work : P So I guess I'm stuck working out problems on my own work. The sooner you get the experience out the way, the sooner you'll be making good work. However, I'm not going to make the mistake (again) of thinking that cumulative hours equals all the required experience needed to minimize mistakes. If you never learn to draw hands, for instance, spending 200 hours drawing comics won't necessarily remedy that. You need to focus on a specific problem.

I think reworking the drawings are better than passing over them. There are specific problems that need to be solved (hence the reason I think they're bad drawings) and skipping over them without analyzing, fixing, and preventing them will only mean I'll make the same mistakes in the future.

Too often I've been setting myself on 'autopilot' while I work by putting on music and not focusing. While I think this is desirable and fine in most cases, I need to figure out and be able to have complete focus when solving problems. That means interrupting the entertainment when necessary.

To sum up: Work on getting pages done, but don't forget that you're real goal is to gain proper experience and increase your skill levels. Do focused learning and practice just as often as working on finishing material.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Name

I've been having some good results from drawing practice. I don't know why, but when I first began drawing the comic I only did a minimal amount of practice. I think at the time I was in a rush and figured I could practice and improve as I went along. This is probably ok for most folks, but I know myself well enough at this point that I generally can't tolerate 'practicing during a performance' and want to avoid it as much as possible.

Because of this method, I've essentially slipped back into the development phase of the comic. Over the last week or so I've been drawing characters from various angles and expressions to try and automatize them. I've also done a lot of focused drawing; rather than doodle the same character over and over I set goals for each drawing and tried to meet them. This resulted in a swift improvement. I worked a lot of kinks out of the characters.

A big and important step for me was the recent decision to reformat the first chapter. I've now split the 65 page chapter into smaller page numbers. My first chapter is now (probably) 6 pages. I don't really have a standard chapter count at this point. While I think it's good to have a standard to shoot for, given the context that I'm a single individual working alone on a self-published serial-- I don't have to play by the rules that a large publisher does, in terms of page count at least.

Also, the fact is that I haven't consistently put out a multi-page story for any substantial length of time is a crucial one. No matter how hard I wish and think that I would LIKE to draw 'x' number of pages per day/week/month does, my actual results aren't anywhere near my desires. To reiterate: it was a good idea to strip the comic down to essentials. Now I can focus on telling the story and find a comfortable length for my chapters based on my format.

By 'essentials' I means a simpler story and fewer drawings. The story is pretty simple, so that isn't a problem. I mean it in the sense that I'm going to be introducing fewer locales and characters right away. For instance, rather than having 5 different locations to draw in a chapter, I'm only going to have one, etc.

I also think stripping the story down was a good decision because I haven't worked consciously on backgrounds and I haven't worked consistently on finished material. These are crucial points that I still need experience with.