Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Madefire Tool

Another outcome for the semester was using digital comics tools. I opted for Madefire over Motion Artist . 

Here is my effort after cutting apart a page from The Lost Legionnaire to work with. I tried to make use of most of the basic functionality. I opted not to include sound as a) i couldn't find an ambient track I liked for the page and b) I don't think comics should have sounds as they already have sound effects!

In general, I don't think "motion comics" need to exist. I don't see them adding anything to the experience really and they come with a number of problems. The clever 360 degree panels Madefire can create I think are for the most part just a novelty. In the examples I have looked at, the motion and animation is almost always overdone and added not really for story reasons but just because it can be. I also think that converting a comic intended for print to digital this way causes other problems. Two of the main issues are panels size contrast being lost at times if the motion isn't handled carefully due to zooming and scaling of the panels and related to the panel sizes increases is some pixelation and difference in finished quality from panel to panel. It's very distracting and doesn't look professional. 

I also found the Madefire tool to be extremely clunky and unintuitive. There were a great many options I wished were easily located and obvious that just weren't there at all or if they were were hidden and awkward to discover. 

Major Project Schedule

Working from the assumption that the deadline will be around week 1-2 of August, I have a little over 3 months to complete the project. The schedule can be amended when the final deadline is revealed. 

For the first week in May I want to get the script and character designs finalised. I already have the rough plotted in place and I'll be working with Dom to create the final script and dialogue as there are a number of things I want to include in the project. The final page count should be somewhere in the region of 24-30 pages to allow me to spend enough time on each page to achieve the best possible quality. I'll continue working on the characters looks and the costume designs in this time as well.

I will spend the rest of May thumb-nailing and creating page layouts for the project. During this stage I'll spend a lot of time experimenting with different layouts of pages as well as I want to continue to try different ways of using the comic form as I did with Lost Legionnaire. I'll be creating the layouts pencils and inks in Clip-studio but will also take each layout into Illustrator and begin the lettering process as well since it will save some time later on in the project when I will want to be focused on adding finishing touches to the art. 

From the last week in May through June and July I will be creating the final artwork. As I complete each page I will export it into Illustrator to add the lettering layers and then into the final InDesign project I have set up already in preparation for printing.

This will leave a week or 2 to make any corrections or as a buffer should I struggle hitting the deadlines.

Major Project Initial Character Designs

Here are my initial ideas for how the characters will look. They are obviously quite influenced by the Fantastic Four i.e. with the matching suits no masks etc...  I've been using this as an opportunity to try and design the characters to look different. I am conscious that as I draw I tend to approach constructing figures the same way and as a result this means there are often similarities in the way the characters look to each other. You see this sort of thing with a lot of comic artists. All the generic background characters look similar. They all have the same nose because the artist draws noses the same way every time for example. I would like to try and avoid this and to do that I have been trying to approach the characters features and body sizes slightly differently.

When I come to do the final designs for the characters this will be more obvious. It's something I would like to carry through my work from this point on. What I find approaching drawing characters like this does, is gives the characters more individuality. It separates them from everyone else. They should all have their own shapes and silhouettes and personalities.

At this stage I feel like I am drawing slight variations on the same suit design over and over. I will do a bit more research and try some different approaches to see if I can come up with something a bit more iconic as I feel that these initial suit designs are very "obvious". 

Superheroes need to be unique. They need to be bright and colourful. It's practically a genre convention. 

I had been planning to do these sort of clean pencil style drawings for the book but after some feedback I feel like it's too stiff and that the life and energy of the work I did on the Lost Legionnaire is getting lost. 

I want to try and have some sort of similar messy style to the inks as I feel that comes more naturally to me. If I can somehow spend a bit of time working into that with more gradation and gray tones through hatching etc... then I might end up with something that is still my personal style but appropriate for the project. I feel that the lost legionnaires heavy black and white style is not quite fitting for a superhero book.  I prefer the drawing below on the right for example but think that it's still a little too "neat".

This chap is the villain of the piece, a Superman analogue. I quite like the idea of him wearing the american flag styled cape and have worked it into the plot. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Major Project Proposal

I mentioned in a previous post that for the major project I am going to create a piece that will fill some gaps in my portfolio and will be relevant work to show publishers  at conventions, with whom I would like to work. My main interests are horror, science fiction and superheroes when it come to genres. As I already have The Lost Legionnaire under my belt and have done freelance Science Fiction comics in the past I want this project to be about Superheroes. 

As such my main goals are:

  • To create and draw a contemporary Superhero story drawing on what I have learned from The Superhero Module specifically and in general the other research modules on the course. This will include all the elements I consider necessary to Superhero stories such as Coogan's definition of Mission, Powers, and Identity, Reynolds ideas of extra effort and Science as Magic and the contrast between ordinary and extraordinary, a political element and an overarching theme being explored in the story.
  • To include modern city environments, modern people, vehicles and technology as these things are currently lacking in my portfolio. I need to be able to show I can do these thing's effectively as well as just figure drawing or creatures. I think achieving this would result in my portfolio being quite complete.
  • To have a female protagonist. Partly because I am much more comfortable drawing males and it's something I need more practice drawing but also partly because in the past whenever I have written characters they have always been men and I would like to challenge myself to do something different.
  • To continue to experiment with page layouts and different ways of effectively communicating the story, again drawing on areas covered in the critical approaches module. I feel that previously I have focused a lot on simple effective visual narrative without really trying to do anything interesting. The storytelling is always number one but at the same time there are also multiple ways to do any one given panel or page. I liked a quote from Alan Moore talking about writing where he said he tried to never do the same thing the same way twice and was always looking for a new way to communicate the idea. During the production of The Lost Legionnaire this was helpful in forcing me to experiment with more illustrative pages - something I had always avoided maybe due to lack of confidence. I am really pleased with the results I got from The Lost Legionnaire  and want to continue exploring that aspect of my art with this major project.
The idea I have settled on will include time travel and nanotechnology induced superpowers vie DNA re sequencing with the narrative revolving around a team of enhanced people chasing a criminal through time from decades in the future to present day. 

Years ago I read an article about a time traveler who came to our time from an idealic future and while here for one month posted on message forums talking about the future and events to come. This idea, even though clearly an elaborate hoax really captured my imagination and I had always wanted to do some sort of comic around these ideas. 

I thought that combining this setting and idea with a Superhero story would be interesting to do as a Major Project.

I will be working on the script in the coming weeks. What I know now is that the story will be about Grief/Loss and will feature a team of 4 Superheros, much like the Fantastic Four really, doing battle against a Superman figure that has gone insane.  The majority of the story will take place in present day or the very near future (+2-3 years max). I think the main protagonist will be a girl on the superhero team although I don't want to sideline any of the other characters on the team either. This way I think I can achieve all the goals listed above. 

What I am unsure of at the moment is the length of the story. I would very much prefer to have it be a full story complete without the need for further work but the concern is how to achieve that in a number of pages that can be completed to the standard I am aiming for in 3 months considering I will be doing the whole production on my own. 

I have had some thoughts on how I will colour the piece in a simpler way to save time but hopefully still look good. 

For the penciling and inking style I was going to try and go for something contemporary in superhero comics but after chatting with Heather Antos and thinking more about what way I enjoy working I think I will go for what I did with The Lost Legionnaire but add more fine detail. What I did on the Lost Legionnaire had a very chunky feel to it in terms of the line work. I think I can get a similar appeal on this project but also make it looke more fitting as superhero artwork. 

Logo Final Image

Here is the final logo design. I haven't changed much from the previous pass but have remade the logo having had a bit more practice with Illustrator, I had found there were some better ways to get more precise results with the shapes. 

I started the logo from a square that I then applied filters to to get the rounded bloated edge shape and from there  I was copying and resizing the shapes and using the pathfinder tool to merge and subtract them to create the G and W as opposed to trying to specifically place vertices/anchor points precisely with the pen tool as I had done previously.  The result is much cleaner with the curves being mirrored precisely.

I will take this further next semester and include the image on a website and business cards.


Part of our brief this semester is to practice with Adobe InDesign in preparation for using InDesign to compile our major projects for printing at the end of Semester 3.

Being already familiar with adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and other Adobe apps, I found that InDesign was quite easy to pick up and get started with. Much of the functions and tools operate similarly and are located in similar places in the menus and tool bars.

I've worked through the tutorial we had from class to create pages to the anthology print specifications and dropped in placeholder text and images.

I decided to use this as an opportunity to prepare the final print file for my major project so have set the InDesign file up to have master pages and a relevant page count. For now I have dropped in some place holder artwork from 'The Lost Legionnaire' .

Previously I would have used Clip Studio for the whole process (As I did with The Lost Legionnaire) however, InDesign seems to have far more functionality and generally seems better suited for the task. The ability to export directly to PDF for printing is a plus and optionally can include the printing guides.

For the major project I will create the artwork digitally in Clip Studio, letter the project in Adobe Illustrator and prepare for print in InDesign.

One thing I realised is that I will have to match the page specifications and bleed settings with InDesign and Clip Studio. The pages presented above here were taken from Clip Studio trimmed with the bleed cut off and so don't exactly appear in InDesign as they should. When exporting from InDesign it looks like it adds the bleed to the PDF file back on again. I will bear this in mind when transferring the files between Apps.

I've exported out the pages I put together to test the exporting functions. The pdf can be viewed at the following link.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Major Project Idea

I've been planning out what I will do for my major project over recent weeks. I've decided to do some sort of superhero story so that I can fill some holes in my portfolio and give myself the best chance to get the work I want after the degree finishes up in September.

Here are some of the initial character sketches. I still need to get a team logo figured out. 

The characters are sort of purposely a mashup of the Fantastic Four and X-men with the villain being a superman archetype.

More to follow in the next few weeks.