Monday, December 14, 2009

Playing Games.

Hello all out there in the Google-tubes! Those who read this blog know that while Nathan and I make comics, and our main priority is our web comic, There is a semi secret side of the melee mission (mostly forwarded by yours truly.) Games! I love boardgames and while I think the best thing that a human being can do is advance scientific discovery in the top five other spots on that list would be to create a lasting cultural phenomenon that brings joy to each generation that encounters it. Games can sometimes have a transcendent level of fun and excitement that meet that degree of relevance. Each person has a few games that might be included in that rarefied category-that they would share enthusiastically with their family, children and closest friends.

I want to make a game like that. I like videogames too but they are contingent on technology that is always advancing. They also require specialized knowledge and equipment to produce not to mention the amount of money and number of people required to do it in a timely fashion. However, not unlike making comics, when it comes to boardgames a single person with a pencil and paper can make something fun and engaging. Given the right amount of time and consideration of a few essential factors anyone can make a game that can be produced at next to no cost which fires the imagination and promotes social interaction.

The tricky part is a good idea and the balance between unusual/exciting gameplay and keeping it simple enough to draw players with casual interest. I have already written about my wildlife game and now I'll show you a bit of my space game. It is called "Ready, Set... Blast Off! Or RSBO for short. It is a modular board like Zombies!!! or Carcassonne and it features cards and different playable character races of alien life forms all searching for strange technology that can either restore or destroy the universe depending on who gets a hold of it. I won't go into the rules but I will say I've play tested it and I should have a version available for sale at Stumptown 2010.

These are the cards that I doodled out last year. Some of the kids at my old job wanted to assist me.

Some of the spelling in these cards is surely off and the function of a few has changed based on beta testing but I still kind of love the drawings. These remind me of early mornings at my old job with a pen in hand and some sniffling little kid next to me asking tons of questions. I love my new job but I do miss the kids from time to time: perfect test audience!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"To drive your enemy before you and hear the lamentations of the women."

More Conan, for the people, fresh off my desk. I had a hard time with this page. IT is rough but since I'm penciling for myself to ink it it can be a little ragged.

Those are jars full of gore in case you were wondering.

These were the preliminary sketches that I did. Jeff Parker told me to leave out the kick and just have a good solid beheading so I did and the page was better for it. I did spend most of yesterday redrawing the first two panels and today I drew the pit of goblin men/dwarvlings and the set piece.

Warwick Davis, what won't you do for a paycheck?

I just don't know how to feel about this.

This totally ruins the storyline I had for Filmor helping a sparky young girl to befriend and train the finest waterhorse in all the land.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conan, Crom is your God.

Hello All. Here is my first page of Conan. I'm doing it for my own enjoyment but I'm trying to apply the lessons I learned on Spiderman 59 to my storytelling and anatomy. A weird side effect of that process seems to be a slimming down of all my figures.I'm sure the pendulum will swing back towards bulk at some point.

The Story is Called "the Ghouls of Gornak" and rest assured there will be ghouls, a pretty lady, cultists, monsters,. I just drew a beheading today and I'm going to try and lay out the temple interior, on the next page, tonight.

The overall plan is to both do a digital and a watercolor version of these pages to work on process a bit. As I stated in the previous post I have a ton of projects going at any given point but I wanted one that I could use to to learn some specific things. I'll be doing the flats, digital painting, lettering and titles. As I finish the versions I'll put them up. Below is one of my sketching sheets that I used to plan and structure the page. I try some panels a bunch of times while others need less exploration to be consistent with what I've already established in my mind.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Keeping Irons In The Fire

I have been a 'creative' person my whole life and I have learned an essential truth for making that impulse become the thing that sustains me as both a job and a lens through which the world looks more compelling: Keep making whatever it is you make even when you don't feel like it.

I don't mean so say that I'm ever truly unsatisfied by the process of making things but more suggesting that there will be times when 'the muse' isn't filling my heart with the tempest of raw creative fury and that is OK. I love when I'm feeling a flow of positive inventive force but those moments are uncommon. Imagine someone who works as a donut store clerk treating their job that way and it makes my point more clear: "I'm sorry sir I can't get you the bakers dunkin' dozen because I'm not feeling inspired" Even when I had stupid jobs I hated I still got up and did them. Why would I treat something I love like a Sunday crossword?

I've come to view art making with the same basic rule set that I view even unskilled labor. Just because art is especially fun doesn't mean it needs special rules and, in point of fact, suffers if one only does it under rarified circumstances. The thing that makes it better than other, less interesting, jobs is that when you apply the same yeoman-like schedule to making drawings, writing or practicing and instrument, you will see distinct results that can be applied directly in those moments when you are feeling the charge of a divine battery somewhere in your system.

So I design games, Draw a bi-weekly webcomic, do spot illustrations, sketch friends on receipts, aim for big solo projects, draw samples of my favorite characters and work with friends on submissions for publication. I do whatever I can to give myself deadlines and keep my pencil moving across that page.

That pep talk was as much for me as it was for the 6 people who read this blog but I hope it was helpful to you too. I'm going to go draw now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nuts and Bolts: Making Photoshop Word Balloons

Here is a simple tutorial on how to create word balloons in photoshop... and a special friend of Melee Comics drops by to help out.

To see more of Baron Von Chaos, PhD. check out Chaos! PhD and Penguins in Space.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'White Pony How To' part 3

The final stage of the page making involves using 4 values of cool gray Prismacolor design markers. I use 70, 50, 30 and 10 percent values. usually I do the darkest value and then procede based on how that frames other elements. I do a panel at at time and it usually takes about an hour or under, depending on the nature of the scene, to tone the whole page.

Once I establish the tones and model some of the forms to my satisfaction I go back in and clean up areas that are patchy with the small pens and I use a white signo Gel pen made by uniball to add highlights and pop out forms.

I hope this has been helpful. Now the cast of this little three part miniseries will take a bow:

'White Pony How To' part 2

The second stage in the drawing of the comic is dropping in the basic line work. I look at my sketchy lines on the page and I begin building the forms with a loose approach. I don't make a huge effort to try and keep things immaculate because I want the comic to feel energetic and fun. I think if it gets too serious it gets boring. It is a rare thing when someone is both demonstrating the utmost technical facility thet have and being tasteful simultaneously. With that in mind I put my ear buds in crank Paul Gilbert's "Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar" and have at it.

A half an hour later it looks like this:

I use two different Faber-Castel Pitt Artist Pens in the S and F varieties. They stand for Fine and Small or something of the type but in my head I call them 'full/fatter' and 'small.' I like to put in the linear elements first and them go back in with the brush pen and spot the black areas.

Next post I'll show the final part of the process and there will be a line up of my accomplices.

'White Pony How To' part 1

Nathan has started his tip section on what he knows about webcomics so I've decided to do a series of posts that walk you (whoever you are) through a typical page of our webcomic and how it is made from start to finish.

1. Nathan sends me a script or I look at some notes I've scrawled on an envelope as per our phone conversation.

From that I sketch out a series of frames that I size on the page based on importance and relationship to each other. That takes around a half hour or twenty minutes and it looks like this:

After that I use a series of specific pen tools to flesh out the characters but that will be next post. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Webcomics - Nuts and Bolts: Advertising Post One

Let's get one thing straight right away... there is no magic bullet that's going to take you from 10 unique visitors per day to a 1000. I was at a Comic-Con forum where Gabe from Penny Arcade was asked what the best way to get internet traffic was. His response was something along to the lines of "Invent a time machine and start your webcomic in the late 90s." I've heard a number of responses from creators that are along these same lines.

The chances of you ever making your living off your webcomic are just about non-existent. It's not impossible but almost all creators out there today making a living off their comic have been doing it for 10-15 years. The point I'm trying to make is that there are a lot of great reasons to do a webcomic but don't let making money be your reason because you won't put out a good comic and certainly won't make any money.

I'm going to do an entire series on Advertising that should give you a fighting chance to get a few hundred visitors a day for a price that will fit into any budget. Next time I'll talk about creating effective banners that will draw traffic to your site.

Dio Rules / Throw up the horns.

I got some sad news while researching Ronnie James Dio (yes that is something I do.) He has stomach cancer. I can tell you first hand how terrible that is because it is what killed Father Robert Dewey 9 years ago. I loved my Dad a whole lot and he was a strong man. That said, I am hoping that the raw spirit of Rock that dwells within RJD is intense enough to banish his cancer with a single steel tinged banshee wail!

Rock on good sir knight of ultimate headbangery. Rock on.

In other news I am close to completing my pages for issue 59 of Marvel Adventures Spiderman and I'll post some of the in progress work and steps once I find out if that is legal.

In the mean time check out my Starwars Pencils done for fun.

I wrote a script for myself to do some samples and both revel in my fandom and challenge myself to do some storytelling.

I just crammed as much of my favorite star wars stuff in there as I could. I didn't do any lightsaber stuff but there is always next time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The apology post

"Welcome back to the blog!" The writer said to himself. "Sorry I've been away..." he continued... "school's been so difficult, the house burnt down, my cat drowned in a bowl of tomato soup..." the audience's eyes glazed over as they scanned the page for something worth looking at.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Long time No-blog

Yes... I/we have been away but much has happened since I last checked in. I have had the good fortune to continue on as an assistant at Periscope studio where I've developed real friendships and working relationships with fantastic creative minds; two of which I will talk about right now

I did a project with my buddy Jeff Parker:

An 8 page creator owned project in Issue 28 of... drum roll:

Myspace Darhorse Presents

It is called "Blighter" and we put together the whole thing in three weeks. I worked very hard and I had a great time. Please tell everyone about it and let me know what you think. It is free so you can't lose!

I am also doing a project with my friend Paul Tobin for Marvel: Marvel Adventures Spiderman issue 59. It is challenging and fun while also fulfilling a dram I've had since I was 6 to draw comic books as a job. More info on that as I progress. Here are a few thumbnails. Enioy

Paul gave me a ton of great material to work with: a fight with the Xmen in a creepy mansion, Bullseye, a decked out treehouse, a fight with gangsters, animals... it is all there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can't... get it... out of my head!

Over the last few days I haven't been able to get Don't Stop Believin' out of my head as my wife will attest to. I've called her a small town girl livin' in a lonely world more times than I care to admit over the last few days.

Journey was hot stuff back in the day and they knew how to sell out like nobody's business. Anyone remember the Journey video game?

Ahhh... Journey.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Justin Wilson - We hardly knew ye was dead.

We've just introduced Loy Jackson Roy to the White Pony story and it's given me the opportunity to relive some of my favorite childhood television memories.

My father was always very fond of cooking shows so in a desperate attempt to bond with him I would sometimes slog my way through them as well. Well Justin Wilson's cajun accent was so weird/wonderful that you couldn't help but pay attention to him when he spoke. Apparently Mr. Wilson passed away in September of 2001 with seemingly little attention paid. Again youtube comes to the rescue with an overwhelming amount of options but I like this one because while it may be a funny joke, I have no idea because I can't understand what the hell he's saying.

Update: After listening to it a few times I've been able to decipher the punchline.
Spolier: Mouse over the text to see.
"Stood up on this box over here you get a much more better view I garontee.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Save the Orangutans!

In this blog, which has been long delayed by an unusually busy month, I intended to talk about a lot of things but ended up going to a gig or prepping a project or a host of other endeavors.

Some things I've been working on are pretty cool. The first I'll describe here is the game I developed as a project for my day job. It was inspired by a class exercise I tried in a high school physics class. Our Teacher Mr. White gave us the opportunity to simulate the distribution of energy amongst a variety of utilities in a fictional model of a civilization. I remembered the lesson of the game if not the exact structure: resources are finite and need to be used responsibly if we want to protect what is important to us. So I set about designing a game that would help convey the same lesson about conserving endangered animals (we are studying Indonesia this month) and hopefully plant that idea in their little impressionable heads.

The game works like this:

After color coding the species and the corresponding bonus cards the game can begin

First you pick one of each animal without seeing its' survival points.

Once you have those point totals you opt to by bonus cards- which my or may not have extra points to add to your total survival point tally. The four different types correspond to the four different animals and the first round each card costs 10 points with a maximum purchase amount of 10 cards for all species. The next round you can but 12 cards but the cost is now 20 points and so on adding 2 to the purchase limit and 10 to the cost each successive round.

I had to set a cap on purchase totals because the second time we played it two kids bought as much as possible using all of their points and ended up being able to purchase more bonus cards the next round than I had made-which instilled the idea that doing work early to preserve life was the best way to ensure success but it cripples the actual game.

Some of these quirks could be adjusted by playing around with the point totals on the cards.

Anyhow. Once you subtract the cost of the cards and calculate your new totals you get a series of 'hazard' cards that directly affect your animals. They are color coded just like the bonus cards and match up with certain species. In the first round players are confronted with 3 hazards. each consecutive round it goes up in odd numbers.

The game is meant to last three rounds. If an animal dies (brought to zero or to negative points-which also is considered zero) you can share points from the other animals to keep it alive. This is true until the final round when, after receiving your final hazard cards, you discover which player kept his or her species alive and had the best survival point records. In order to win all four must survive and you need the highest overall point total.

In a variation you could add bonus rounds or danger zones rounds for each creature where the risk would be heightened or rewards sweetened.

Now much of this is chance but there is some 'risk vs reward' and a small measure of strategy wherein players interpret the facts of their situation and plan accordingly with the knowledge of future events (plus or minus the randomness of said events.)

It was a huge success! the kids loved it and have asked me to play it subsequently many times. I am calling it "Survival... It's a jungle out there." If you think that is corny or tasteless consider that my original title was "Bloodstorm!... An animal apocalypse" and be happy it wasn't that.

He's Happy. Look at him and tell me you don't want to save him from wildfires for fun and educational purposes.

Also this past few weeks I've been re-inking 2 Avengers pages of mine that I lost after a gig. It is a silly story that ends up with Lindsey and I searching in the dumpsters of Portland's industrial underbelly but suffice to say I had digital scans of those pencils and I have since completed new versions of the missing work.My original inks of page 1 are gone but I have a digital copy in the computers at Periscope Studio-thanks to them for supporting me and saving my ass.

As of today 5-21-09 I finished my 4th page of that same Avengers sample, which I'm being continually humbled by, and I will post my pencils next time.

A big Shout out to my friend and co-worker Keith Rosson who gave me a copy of his recently printed zine compilation "The Best Of Intentions- The AVOW Anthology." It collects issues 1 through 16 of a project that he started in 1995 and continues presently. Keith is a great guy and I'm glad to know him. He's a fine illustrator in addition to being a punk-rock guitar player and bassist. I wish the kids at school would give him a break. Thanks to Keith once more.

Everyone (all 10 of you that read this) go support Keith by first checking out his website then buying what he sells and attending one or more of his shows. I'm going to try my hardest to get out to one of them at some point.-I'm alternately either a terrible hermit or a frenzied workaholic. There doesn't seem to be much in between. Thus I need others to go in my stead. Help me help Keith!

Also thanks to David Hahn for getting me a burrito. I think it is a reflection of his genuinely kind heart and not just to show Dylan that he can buy someone a meal and not have it be "a thing." He is great and I look to his work for inspiration frequently when he isn't around- as he is then working and I don't like to hang out behind someone watching them draw unless I'm invited to (thanks Colleen.)

I went to my first Drink and Draw but did little drawing and no drinking as I do not drink. I would have had a glass of water or juice but I couldn't stay long and had no money on me. It was cool. I talked mostly with the newest intern Ben Bates. He and I have much to offer each other in that we come from very different perspectives and aesthetic preferences. When I find out what his website is I'll promote it here.

My pick of the post was introduced to me via a co-worker who utilized it for a project with the kids. I re-gift you CubeeCraft in all its' glory. It is a fun little site for making simple paper toys.

Look around the pop culture portion of the site and you might bump into some old friends.