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!