An Advancement ala Artwork

An Advancement ala Artwork

Postby Matt Trepal on Tue Oct 15, 2002 5:11 pm

So, you may or may not have noticed a subtle advancement in my artwork. These flashback strips are, in my studied opinion, are some of the most visually rich ones that I've done yet. Of course, using the phrase "visually rich" when discussing FCE is a bit of an oxymoron no matter how detailed I get. But my point is that I'm working harder to draw full backgrounds in many panels, adding details to character design, and working on adding the details that make the characters look more "full." For example, look at the following strip:

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It's got everything I've been talking about. The full backgrounds, particularly in the second and third panels. The details to the outfits of Squires Hamm and Hogg in the second panel. The "shading" lines used in places like the maiden's hat and Dozer's arm.

I also want to move away from greyscale fills and move towards straight black-and-white images. Shading will (ideally) be accomplished with crosshatching. I'm making this move because I don't like the way the grey floodfills look; I feel they give the strips an unfinished feel, since I've filled some areas but haven't gone full-bore and done the whole strip in greyscale. And if I'm willing to go full greyscale for the strip, why not go full color? Which is a direction I'm not ready to go.

Anyway, that's what's happening, and if you see things changing in the strip in the near future, that's why. Feel free to let me know what you think of this, or if you'd even noticed.
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Postby CaptainSpam on Thu Oct 17, 2002 3:38 am

I'd say it's worth it... more background adds more of an atmosphere to the comic, really. Just make sure you don't overdo it and make backgrounds that start getting in the way of the foreground. THAT'S never good. :-)

Removing the greyscale DOES make it look cleaner, but like I mentioned before, it might be somewhat of a trick making sure it doesn't look like everyone has blond hair and white clothing... but that might just be a problem I have.

So, in short, it looks cool thus far, Matt!
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Postby Matt Trepal on Sun Jan 12, 2003 5:31 pm

So, a subtle but significant shift in the art begins tomorrow (Jan 13), with the complete elimination of grayscale shading, as well as of CG effects. Wednesday's strip is, I think, the best one I've ever drawn, but some of the strips later on are pretty good, too.

Let me know what you think.
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 12701 on Sun Jan 12, 2003 6:54 pm

It says in the panel "Markus Hogg" --- Markus Dozer? Is that it?

er... nevermind. I see what you're meaning now :)

Cool so far, Matt! I like what you've done so far and probably won't notice the differences. At least until they get as different as todays strips and "Enter Yerzle" --- which, by the way, I liked the titles of each strip like that. Maybe you should bring that back?

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Postby Matt Trepal on Tue Jan 14, 2003 12:37 pm

Stalks-The-Wind's-Shadows wrote:It says in the panel "Markus Hogg" --- Markus Dozer? Is that it?

No, it's "Hogg." Dozer's just a commoner, defending the Imperial family, who now include the Hoggs. I'll admit, though, that Markus Hogg does look like a young Dozer. :oops: Sorry for any confusion.

Cool so far, Matt! I like what you've done so far and probably won't notice the differences. At least until they get as different as todays strips and "Enter Yerzle" --- which, by the way, I liked the titles of each strip like that. Maybe you should bring that back?

Lizard Rat out.

Erf. I stopped the strip titles because I ran out of catchy things to put down there. It was an idea I got from Sabrina Online and The Class Menagerie, but it turned out not to be something I could sustain. And if I redo to strips to make them print-quality, I will probably remove those titles.
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Postby CaptainSpam on Tue Jan 14, 2003 12:58 pm

Matt Trepal wrote:Erf. I stopped the strip titles because I ran out of catchy things to put down there. It was an idea I got from Sabrina Online and The Class Menagerie, but it turned out not to be something I could sustain. And if I redo to strips to make them print-quality, I will probably remove those titles.


Though my comic doesn't have titles like that for the actual on-site comics, they do on-paper. You could try doing it like I do and put fairly senseless names on them. I name 'em based on whatever's going through my head at the time, whatever's currently blaring out my TV, things I've noted about my drawings, things I'm noting about the current plot, etc, etc.

For example, the January 10, 2003 comic is called "Can Opener" (Makes more sense if you could see the polearm that Steve's holding), December 26, 2002 is called "They'll Never Believe Me..." (Nobody's gonna believe that I'm actually setting up events AND locations to affect the comic two or three years down the line), and January 6, 2003 is called "A Not-So-Elaborate Setup" (It's the same general setup and camera angles for speaking comics I've used over and over again). And the ones called things like "Japanese Clown Tree", "MRxL", etc. that I snagged from MST3K episodes don't relate to the comic at all, etc...

Of course, you don't know any of the titles. More of a running gag for myself, I guess.

Basically, what I'm saying is if you've run out of relevant things for comic titles, go with nonsequitur and bizzare. :-)
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Postby Scrubbo on Wed Jan 15, 2003 11:32 am

Matt :

Your artwork is mucho cooolo. Seriously. I'd been so busy the last couple of months that I wasn't updating my comic, let alone reading any comics. So I just came back and caught up a bit with your comic.... and you're much better than I remember! Especially with perspective and suchlike.

Just wanted to say "attaboy!"

Oh, and spammy, I'd believe you were setting things up for stuff that'll happen in a year or more. I'm still working my characters towards a confrontation that I scripted out and put into the comic in Nov, 2000. ;)
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Postby Matt Trepal on Wed Jan 15, 2003 6:04 pm

scrubbo wrote:Matt :

Your artwork is mucho cooolo. Seriously. I'd been so busy the last couple of months that I wasn't updating my comic, let alone reading any comics. So I just came back and caught up a bit with your comic.... and you're much better than I remember! Especially with perspective and suchlike.

Just wanted to say "attaboy!"

Hey, thanks, Scrubs!

I'm trying. Like I've mentioned elsewhere, I think these strips are the best I've done. It's nice when you are just puttering along and you suddenly realize Oh! So that's how it's done! That's what I was going through with these strips. Stuff just fell into place; suddenly I could draw things that I couldn't, before. Freaky.
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Postby Kellogg on Mon Jan 20, 2003 8:52 am

Matt,

I think your artwork has been quietly coming up to match
your skills as a storyteller. (Though, that's not really a fair
comparison. When you can match The Gneech, Eric Schwartz
and The Carspeckens, THEN your art will be as good as your
storytelling. :D )

Anyway, I mean no offence, but I think straight black and white
artwork, where it's all done with the pen is... overrated.
I *like* the stuff you've been doing with the grey filled shadings.
I've seen other comics move away from that and I found that
a lot of their stuff became very stark when they were straight
black and white.

Inking techniques are cool and they teach you a lot, but looking
at other strips... Well, when you've got a complex background
that's all in black and white with no greyscales or colors, my eye
just has a hard time figureing the background from the foreground
and stuff.

So, basically, what I'm trying to say is, yes, do go ahead and
try more shading with your pen, but no, I don't think you should
move away from using grey fills and stuff in your backgrounds.

I think the color work you've been doing in the "Booked Solid"
and the guest strip you did for me were really excellent. Don't
be afraid to experiment more with color and stuff.

But, yeah, linework is a great way to learn new stuff.

Strip Titles:
Actually, I kinda like strip titles. They're an extra bit of fun.
However, I put mine in the alt tag for the comic, and it's not that
difficult to do either.

Usually, I come up with an alt tag while I'm scanning and coloring
the strip in question. And it's just kind of a fun "Easter Egg" for
the folks in the know. :)

Anyway, in summary:
You've improved a lot over the years. Keep it up! :D

Scott
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Postby CaptainSpam on Mon Jan 20, 2003 4:03 pm

And hey, just thought I'd mention the pen-made line-based backgroundy bits (today's comic, first panel) look cool. Nicely done. :-)
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Postby Matt Trepal on Tue Jan 21, 2003 6:11 pm

No offense taken, Scott, but I hope I don't disappoint you too much. I use a variety of line widths, so I hope that will work to differentiate between foreground and background. I'm aiming for a look similar to "Nukees" or "Ozy and Millie;" do these strips have the problems you're talking about?

You mention some good points, though, and I will strive to fulfill my promise without going nuts. And, maybe, I'll figure out a way to combine my newfound mad inking skillz with the coloring talents I've also just discovered that I seem to have. THAT would make for a sweet-looking strip.

But that old saw about cartoonists says "First you get good, then you get fast, and then you get good and fast." I'm still working on getting good.
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Postby ZOMBIE USER 12701 on Tue Jan 21, 2003 9:01 pm

Don't bring yourself down, man! You're GOOD and getting better! Personally, I don't think "getting fast" matters... you need to have a pace you're most comfortable at, so to speak, and damn those who dissent ;) I wish I had 1/8 the talent you have for drawing strips. Or 1/8 the paitence to learn to draw them for that matter --- maybe you should have a few "how to draw FCE characters" pages. [/obnoxious fanboy rant]

BTW I *love* the look on Yerz's face in the 3rd panel of Jan. 20th's strip. It speaks volumes. Looks like he never got over Portia and Fawn meeting up the last time ;)
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Postby Kellogg on Wed Jan 22, 2003 2:40 pm

Matt Trepal wrote:No offense taken, Scott, but I hope I don't disappoint you too much. I use a variety of line widths, so I hope that will work to differentiate between foreground and background. I'm aiming for a look similar to "Nukees" or "Ozy and Millie;" do these strips have the problems you're talking about?


Those two are both very well inked. :)

One thing I'm experimenting with myself is the use of heavy ink lines,
and I'm pretty happy with how it looks so far.

Basically, I ink the whole thing with a fine marker (Micron 0.005). When
I'm done, I go over the outlines of the characters and their contours
with a 0.05 pen. So, like the outline of the head has a really nice
dark line to set it off from the backgrounds. I also do some details of
the face, like the hair around the forehead.

For an example of where I use a really heavy line width, take a look
at panel 3 here:
http://www.suburbanjungle.com/d/20020819.html

Everything else, is pretty much left in light ink lines.

Personally, I always try to use detailed backgrounds to distract the eye
to keep people from looking at my drawings of characters. If they
actually looked at the way I draw them, they'd go YUCK! :( But, detailed
backgrounds mean that the characters can get lost in the murk.

Scott
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Postby Matt Trepal on Wed Jan 22, 2003 4:46 pm

Stalks-The-Wind's-Shadows wrote:Don't bring yourself down, man! You're GOOD and getting better! Personally, I don't think "getting fast" matters... you need to have a pace you're most comfortable at, so to speak, and damn those who dissent ;) I wish I had 1/8 the talent you have for drawing strips. Or 1/8 the paitence to learn to draw them for that matter --- maybe you should have a few "how to draw FCE characters" pages. [/obnoxious fanboy rant]

Thanks, Stalks! But I do need to get faster, and anybody who's drawn a comic strip knows what I'm talking about; I would like to be able to put a strip out in some time less than the two hours it takes me now. And I really haven't gotten any faster since I've started, (see above quote).

FCE character tutorials, eh? Interesting. I've been thinking about also making an obligatory "How I do this" page, so that's something else to go there. Of course, I still need to finish that "Viewer's Guide to the Middle Kingdoms" first....

Stalks-The-Wind's-Shadows wrote:BTW I *love* the look on Yerz's face in the 3rd panel of Jan. 20th's strip. It speaks volumes. Looks like he never got over Portia and Fawn meeting up the last time ;)

Thanks again! I think it came out really well, too! And, yes, he's a little peeved that it appears Portia still thinks ill of Fawn. Though, what else is he supposed to do in such a situation?
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Postby Matt Trepal on Wed Jan 22, 2003 5:00 pm

Kellogg wrote:
Matt Trepal wrote:I'm aiming for a look similar to "Nukees" or "Ozy and Millie;" do these strips have the problems you're talking about?


Those two are both very well inked. :)

Well, I gotta aim high, right? :wink:

Kellogg wrote:One thing I'm experimenting with myself is the use of heavy ink lines, and I'm pretty happy with how it looks so far.

Basically, I ink the whole thing with a fine marker (Micron 0.005). When I'm done, I go over the outlines of the characters and their contours with a 0.05 pen. So, like the outline of the head has a really nice dark line to set it off from the backgrounds. I also do some details of the face, like the hair around the forehead.

This is sort of what I do, except with a heavier line weight all around.

I use Rapidograph drafting pens (they've got stainless steel nibs and refillable ink reservoirs; expensive but better than any marker I've used). I use a .30 pen for details such as faces, markings and other fine detail, and a .50 pen for general outlines and close-in backgrounds. For far-away background detail I use the .30 pen. I got two other pen sizes in the set I bought (.35 and .60), and a .80 Staedtler ink pen that I got from one of my coworkers, but I don't use them. Yet, anyway.

Kellogg wrote:Personally, I always try to use detailed backgrounds to distract the eye to keep people from looking at my drawings of characters. If they actually looked at the way I draw them, they'd go YUCK! :( But, detailed backgrounds mean that the characters can get lost in the murk.

Scott

Methinks you're being too hard on yourself, Scott! I like the look of your character design! I also like the way you've been able to get lots of detail into the backgrounds of your strips. That's something I'm only beginning to work at, now that I'm comfortable and confident enough in my abilities to draw my characters. I've also limited myself due to the size that I work at. Since I've only got a letter-sized scanner, I can only draw on a letter-sized page (unless I want to paste the strip together, which I don't). So I try to draw my characters large in the panels so I have less space to fill up with backgrounds. :wink:
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Postby Kellogg on Wed Jan 22, 2003 5:14 pm

Scanner size:

I've recently changed my art configuration so that I get more
size per panel. The transition actually starts appearing today.
(Or *would* do if Keen were up. (argh!))

Until fairly recently, I'd been using 8.5*11 paper divided on the
long axis into four rows. Then I got ahold of a 11*14 pad, and
started using it, divided on the long axis into four rows. Couldn't
scan the whole thing in one go, but I could cut & paste.

However, my actual scanner is is about 8.5*11.7. So, what I'm
doing this time is to use a 9*12 pad, divided along the Short
axis into two rows. This basically doubles the size of the panels
since I did Tiffarella last summer.

I'd give you a shot of the new stuff, but.. Keen is down! ARGH! :p

Anyway, you might want to think about trying redividing your
panels up and around to make more use of the paper.
You're effectively limited by the length of the scanner. (You're not
using all of the 8.5 inch dimension, are you?) You might want to
try reconfiguring yourself to work around it.

Yeah, it's a bit of a stretch, but it worked for me. Your milage may
vary of course, tax and title not included, this offer void where
prohibited.

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Postby Matt Trepal on Wed Jan 22, 2003 6:13 pm

Kellogg wrote:Until fairly recently, I'd been using 8.5*11 paper divided on the
long axis into four rows. Then I got ahold of a 11*14 pad, and
started using it, divided on the long axis into four rows. Couldn't
scan the whole thing in one go, but I could cut & paste.

However, my actual scanner is is about 8.5*11.7. So, what I'm
doing this time is to use a 9*12 pad, divided along the Short
axis into two rows. This basically doubles the size of the panels
since I did Tiffarella last summer.

But you still have to cut'n'paste, right?

I use 9x12 Bristol board, but I still continue to draw a single strip across the center of the sheet. long-wise. The dimensions I draw at are 10 inches wide by 4 inches high. The images on the site are 720 pixels wide @ 72dpi, so if you were to print one out it would be life-size!

Kellogg wrote:I'd give you a shot of the new stuff, but.. Keen is down! ARGH! :p

I feel your pain, my friend!
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Postby Kellogg on Wed Jan 22, 2003 6:40 pm

Matt Trepal wrote:But you still have to cut'n'paste, right?


Only if I do a strip that requires more than 2 rows of panels.

I use 9x12 Bristol board, but I still continue to draw a single strip across the center of the sheet. long-wise. The dimensions I draw at are 10 inches wide by 4 inches high. The images on the site are 720 pixels wide @ 72dpi, so if you were to print one out it would be life-size![/quote]

More paper is better. Honest. If you can go to 11 inches long,
do it.

I mean, look at all the really cool artwork you see on the web.
How do they get so darn good?!? One thing is that while we're
cramming 3-4 panels into a 4 inch box, they've got the whole
darn piece of paper to get the lines to flow!

Now, if you went to a strip size of 4.4X11, you'd retain the same
overall dimensions. Heck! Splurge a little and go to 4.5X11. :)

Proof? Okay, look at the pinups you've done of Portia with a full
page instead of a 4 inch panel. More paper is better.

Now, if the idea of changing your format seems weird or "That's
not the way comics are supposed to be", remember, we're not
in the newspapers. We can make 'em any size we want!
Heck! Look at "Framed!" The size and format goes everywhere.
Very experimental. You don't have to go that far, but the
priority shouldn't be fitting it in the boxes, but getting it to look
good. :D

Just think about it. :D

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Postby Matt Trepal on Wed Jan 22, 2003 6:59 pm

Kellogg wrote:More paper is better. Honest. If you can go to 11 inches long, do it.

I mean, look at all the really cool artwork you see on the web. How do they get so darn good?!? One thing is that while we're cramming 3-4 panels into a 4 inch box, they've got the whole darn piece of paper to get the lines to flow!

Now, if you went to a strip size of 4.4X11, you'd retain the same overall dimensions. Heck! Splurge a little and go to 4.5X11. :)

Proof? Okay, look at the pinups you've done of Portia with a full page instead of a 4 inch panel. More paper is better.

Oooh! See how you are, putting all these thoughts into my brain?

This is something I'll probably try, since when I increased the size of the strip from 3 to 4 inches high I became a lot freeer in what I could put in the panels....
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Postby Kellogg on Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:05 pm

Matt Trepal wrote:Oooh! See how you are, putting all these thoughts into my brain?

This is something I'll probably try, since when I increased the size of the strip from 3 to 4 inches high I became a lot freeer in what I could put in the panels....


Good! And remember, I'm every bit as self taught as you are!

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