Day 29: Injured. It was hard for Tag to explain what hurt his feelings the most. It wasn’t that the gig had been bad, although it had. It wasn’t that he personally played badly; he knew he hadn’t. It was that despite his efforts, the gig had been terrible and the crowd still lapped it up. Like it didn’t matter how he, or anyone else, had played. The injury was to his integrity as a musician.
Sigh. His brother, who played first violin in the Agglomerate Symphony Orchestra, never had to deal with that. Any member played like a wet noodle, they were out on their ear. There was something honest about that.
Day 28: Ride. Tess and Absolute Unit raising some hell. I’m a little under the weather and my ongoing workload didn’t help either, but I wanted to get a little simple thing done anyway.
In the other drawings he’s in, I made Absolute Unit too tall. He should be short and squat, like a cube.
Day 27: Just another attempt at drawing Abby’s rain poncho, in the setting where she’ll be wearing it. Abby has taken her style cues from Misty from Pokémon and to check how her outfit’s neckline and arm lines worked under those braces, I did an image search for that character, a decision which I now regret. However, the official images did help me set the color scheme and final shape of the outfit under the poncho. I know I’ve drawn the neck too long again; the reason, I think, is because I’m worried about the crinkly bits of the poncho taking up too much space in that area. With more retries, this will improve.
I’ve been trying to increase the pace of production for a bit. Yesterday, I made one image that I could use as a bonus image when Inktober is over. Today, I started another image based on the Day 27 prompt, but I started to get sicker again with whatever virus I’ve been dealing with for the past week, so I just finished this one early and I’ll see how much energy I have. But over the weekend as a whole, I’ve been reasonably productive.
This is good, because NaNoMango is coming.
Most of the images for this Inktober were made with a view to developing Cultish Manners, the comic I started for last year’s NaNoManGo, and its sequels. This has worked! I now have a much better idea of where I want to take this comic and how to get there. One conclusion is that it deserves much better art, and that’s a problem. The quality the existing pages have is what I could do at a NaNoManGo-like pace, with my day job being what it is. I think with better scheduling, I could squeeze out a slightly larger volume of output, but I don’t think I could do that and create higher-quality art as well. So here’s what I will do: After I’ve thumbnailed out the pages, I will draw them one panel at a time. This will allow me to use small blocks of time, such as a lunch break, a little better, while keeping me focused on one thing at a time. It also means that, as long as I know what the final lay-out is going to be, I can just take small pieces of paper with me and draw in the office, during my lunch break. Originally, I was going to do the next batch all-digital, but I’ve been having so much fun drawing traditionally with brush pens that I want to keep doing that. And it looks to me like the art quality has improved over the past month. I do hope this approach results in better art without compromising the pace of production too much.
Cultish Manners won’t keep that title after NaNoManGo, because I do have sequels in mind. In my head, it’s structured like a season of post-2005 Doctor Who, with elements from the first episode coming back in the finale. I don’t yet know what I’m going to call it, but Cultish Manners really only works for the pilot episode, which is the NaNoManGo project. Of course, if I don’t manage to get more pages made, the issue will be moot.
Day 26: Dark. A year after the events with the demon that took part during Tess’s first Darkwave concert experience, the legendary Darkwave band Cult of XünÿX have regrouped and are about to return with their best album in decades. Left to right: Zig, Erzébet Zuniga, Jan Boenen, Ariana Morris.
I had a wonderful time inking this with a combination of dip pen and brush, and an even better time ruining the inked work with ink washes and comically incompetent watercoloring. I didn’t want to go back to the black and white version and try again in the digital realm, so instead I took the color work and made it into a monochrome in Affinity Photo. Erzébet’s pose and glove were inspired by a photo shared by a friend on Facebook.
Day 25: Foot Powers, from A.I.nktober: A neural net creates drawing prompts, temperature 1.4.
The demon had no corporeal form and existed in no physical dimension that humanity could penetrate. Its means of lashing out at matter existing on earth were ineffable and seemingly undefeatable. However, it was no match for the stopping power of Absolute Unit’s foot.
Pigma Sakura brush pens, Spectum Noir and TwinMarker markers for multiple layers of black, Affinity Photo. Some of the color choices could have been tweaked – I don’t like how dark Absolute Unit’s pants are. But this does manage to have decent blacks while also preparing the paper texture.
Inktober 2019, Day 24: And suddenly, Abby understood. She knew what the closet full of gears was for, what the big machine with the levers and dials was for, why they had to be here, in the tomb of that day. Dizzy with excitement, she grinned and gasped for breath.
I’m getting further away from a literal interpretation of the prompts. This is not a bad thing, for me, right now. Brush pens, Photoshop and Autodesk Sketchbook on iMac.
Day 23: Abby stared at the ancient machine for what looked like forever. Outside, the thunder roared, but inside the tomb, all was quiet. Finally, she made up her mind. Her hand moved towards one of the dials.
All-digital because I had a late start and the dining room table was occupied. In other scenes from this sequence, Abby has no jacket on, but the sequence needs thunder and lightning outside, so she now gets a rain poncho.
Day 22. Tess rocking a Afro-Goth-ish hairstyle with matching outfit and makeup. She will eventually be wearing a look like this in the comics I’m planning for her.
I wanted to follow the official prompt, “Ghost” but couldn’t get the thing I wanted to do to work during the drawing session before work. It’s the sort of thing I would have to thumbnail out, and I simply don’t have time to do that – if it’s so complex I have to thumbnail it, it’s too complex for me to do in my spare time. So I switched to “Hairstyle” from the Temperature 1 set of A.I.nktober prompts, and to a sketch that I had started earlier.
New toys: because the Faber-Castell PITT brush pen wasn’t sufficiently eraser-proof for me, I bought some Pigma Sakura brush pens to try instead. They’re fun to work with but also no match for my habit of erasing vigorously. In fact, I ended up smearing some of the ink over unused areas of my paper and had to process the image more than I wanted to in order to get that cleaned up. Colors were done digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook on iPad Pro.
Day 21: In the tomb of “Victor William Babbage”, Tess and Abby discover the true treasure it has hidden for 150 years.
Sometimes, they don’t turn out right. I’m tired, I’m a little sick and this one was a little outside my comfort zone to start with. I had the same problem almost exactly a year ago, with drawing no. 22 of that year’s Inktober.
They say done is better than perfect, but is done better than good? It may well be, because I’m doing development for a comic and now I can see what I need to work on to get that sequence to look right.
Pitt brush pen & Staedler fine liners on A5 illustration board, Affinity Photo on iPad Pro. The brush pen turns out to be not quite eraser resistant, which means that I will have to try something else.
Day 20: Tread. This is not a unique interpretation of the prompt nor is it a particularly complex drawing, but for me it’s a return to trying to tell the story of Tess and her gang. These are Absolute Unit and Abby’s footprints in the snow. His are massive; hers are small. Neither appear to be wearing shoes.
Technically, I wanted to focus more on the fact that these drawings are first and foremost brush pen and paper. I wanted to see if I could tone-correct and process them without losing the paper texture. First thing I did was make the paper texture more obvious by drawing on the side of the paper that has the stronger, coarser grain. I drew the image, scanned it and instead of correcting the levels in Pixelmator, I took the image directly to my iPad and used the Develop controls in Affinity Photo to make the black blacker while keeping the other tones almost the same. It works and I’ll be doing that more often. Next time, I will try and see how that texture affects coloring an image.