Semi-recent drawings

Hey! Long time no see… It’s about time to revive this blog and show some of the latest things I’ve been doing. Here are two drawings from a short story I illustrated for an Easter issue of a children’s magazine.

Easter story #1 Easter story #2

I got the magazine sent to me, and I have to say that the vivid color scheme I used looked very nice in print! I’m quite happy about that.

My process on a comic project – part 2

I talked briefly about my traditional drawing process in this post (My process on a comic project – part 1). The following are some thoughts about how I tried out a digital workflow.

Digital inking
Mid-way in the comics project I’ve been doing, I started doing the inking digitally. This happened while working on the fourth four-page comic. I had discovered Kyle’s brushes, and I have since invested in a vast collection of his digital brushes. The brushes are capable of imitating a wide selection of traditional media, and it has been a lot of fun to try them out.

Side1-5-sketch2Side1-5-finished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would still start with a pencil drawing, and then scan it at a very high dpi. At the time, I thought that working with a high dpi (somewhere between 340-350 dpi) would make the art look good. But the result was probably the opposite, as I had a tendency to zoom in a lot and add details that would be too small to make sense in print.

This is one of a few things I learned about digital inking. I also found out that what worked best for me was to find two brushes that work well together, and stick with only those two. In the end, I worked with one called Clean Comics on the characters and foreground, which in my opinion needed clean edges and a reasonable amount of line variation. I tried to draw most of the background with a less “flexible” brush named Comics Tech Pen 12px (Clean Comics and Comics Tech Pen 12px are both Kyle T. Webster’s brushes).

Now, there are a few stylistic differences between my first comic and the final comic I did. Doing this project has been a learning process for me, and I can’t deny that my drawing style has evolved a bit while working on the comics. Just look at these panels, the first one from the first comic and the second from the seventh.

side01-01Side01-07

(Side note: The first panel of the comics usually had this gang of kids walking along the street, setting the season and the mood of the weather.)

Let me just say that I like working hands-on with the traditional process I mentioned in the previous post. I also have to mention that I personally feel it’s easier to draw and sketch loosely with a pencil and paper. And last, but not least, a pretty detailed pencil drawing was required for me to have something to work with when inking digitally. But all in all, I think I saved some time by eliminating the traditional inking step. Also, I could easily listen to a podcast or have an episode of a TV-show running in the background while working on my big iMac screen… Which in turn made the tedious task a bit easier.

My process on a comic project – part 1

A few weeks ago, I finished the seventh and last story in a series of comics I’ve been working on since Autumn of 2013. The comics, most of them four pages long, have been run as a series in a Christian children’s magazine. Below are a few sample panels, and a brief explanation of how I went about drawing the comics. In part 2, I’ll explain a bit about how I switched to working more digitally.

Traditional inking
I went for the traditional approach when I drew the first three stories. Two of the stories were made as comics, and the third was presented as an illustrated short story. I should mention that I didn’t do any of the actual writing on this project, but I had a lot of freedom in how I wanted to illustrate the manuscript that was delivered to me.

Print

I almost always placed the text and dialogue in panels in either InDesign or Illustrator first (pictured left, speech bubbles left empty), so that I could pace the story and size the panels appropriately. I would then print small versions of the pages and draw loose sketches of the characters and environment within the panels. I usually used cheap copy paper for this. When I was more or less happy about how it looked, I went on to draw a more detailed and refined version on bristol board (Daler Rowney Bristol Board). I would then ink the lines with a couple of Micron Pigma pens in various sizes (02, 03 and 04). From there, I would scan the comic pages at a ridiculously high DPI, add a threshold filter in Photoshop to get crisp, 100% black lines, and start coloring. Below is an example of the aforementioned steps. The last image is the finished full page width panel (without speech bubbles).

regular-lines

crisp-lines

panel-colored

Here are a few sample images that I produced using this procedure. I might also mention that the last step in my process was to import the comic into a template in Illustrator, in which I added word balloons and lettered the comic.

big-illustration-sample

chicken-dog-and-girl

The animated gif below shows how I usually colored the comic panels/illustrations.

coloring

Now I didn’t plan to make this post when I made the comics, so it’s not possible to show the real “step by step” procedure. However, I hope you get the gist of how I tend to work when making comics. In part 2 I will write about how I started using digital inking brushes in Photoshop (and saved some time in the process).

Happy 2014

Happy New Year, you guys! As I sit here eating leftover Christmas chocolate, I want to write a quick “year in review” for 2013, just to get it out of the way. And also to give the blog a fresh start for 2014.

I revisited this post from March last year, where I shared some thoughts about having goals. I’ll be bold and summarize the last year as a productive year. I made comics and illustrations for print, I started working freelance with drawing, continued my freelance engagements in graphic design, and I’ve learned more about being creative. I’ve also learned something that I kind of knew already… that there’s way too little time to be able to work on, and complete, every project and every idea I happen to have.

From August and through the latter part of 2013, I felt like there was always something going on. Either some graphic design work, drawings that needed to be done or comic pages to finish. This also resulted in me working late afternoons and often during the weekends. Luckily, this has made me more diligent about keeping an eye on my work schedule and, to some degree, planning things ahead. To my knowledge, I’ve never missed an important deadline, so it has always worked out fine. But I’ve also realized that I have to resist saying yes to every project or commission that comes my way.

Stress-related things aside, I’m grateful that I get to draw comics and create cool things for people. I’m busy as ever, but that’s not a bad thing. I also get astounded by the following fact on a regular basis.

Making comics

So there you have it! I look forward to keep making better and better things in 2014, and I hope to share as much as I can with you. Comment below if you want to tell me your New Year’s resolutions, or if you just want to say hi! I’ll be updating this blog with more stuff from my sketchbooks, new comics and (hopefully) fresh musings and thoughts about things that I learn as I go along.

If you happen to like the illustration above, I can tell you that I made it in Photoshop (based on a pencil sketch) with Kyle’s Ultimate ‘Mr. Natural’ inking brush and Kyle’s Ultimate ‘Wet & Wild Watercolor’ brush. I bought them quite recently, and they are super fun to use. I highly recommend them to anyone with Photoshop and a Wacom tablet! You can get them both, and a lot of other pretty amazing brush packs, here (some of them are free/’name your price’). While you’re at it, you can also check out his Twitter (@kyletwebster).

Study and travel blog illustration

A while ago (longer than I dare to admit), I promised a friend I would draw an illustration for her study and travelblog. It wasn’t supposed to be anything more specific than an eye-catching representation of what her blog was about.

I picked a few themes from Anette’s blog that were easy to illustrate, namely food, culture, modeling and travel. Now, these are not the only things you can read about should you wish to visit her blog. Anette has written a lot about her experiences as an exchange student in Japan, going to a lot of events and festivals, done a lot of sightseeing and she has also posted tons of great pictures!

In fact, I wish now that I had managed to make a more elaborate illustration that could tell a coherent story. But, since I’ve procrastinated this little project for so long already, I should just show what I’ve made. You can also get a glimpse of the process behind the illustration below.

Hint: You can click the image to visit Anette’s blog! Also, you can get a closer look of the image by clicking here.

Process
Below is one of the first sketches I drew. I originally had a bigger portrait of Anette on the left side of these “icons”, but decided not to include it because it turned out to not look like her… Uh, yeah, perhaps I should practice my portraiture skills. Also, it looked too different style-wise.

I scanned the first sketch, made it bigger in Photoshop and the printed it out with pale blue lines. Then I inked the lineart based on the print-out. The result can be seen below.

I had planned to make the circles for the icons in PS, so they’re not inked here. I cleaned up the above image and used the lineart when coloring in PS. On the topic of color choices, I have to admit that I just figured out the palette as I went along. I ultimately went with a bright and simple color palette, avoiding bold shadows and heavy contrasts. Maybe that’s just my style?

Anyway, I’ll finish this process post with a closer look on one of the icons. This was actually one thing that Anette suggested I should include. She was chosen through a competition to be a Fuku Musume at a famous festival called Toka Ebisu. There are several posts on her blog about different events she attended, so it’s worth checking out!

Photoshop habits

I’m a regular reader of the well known webcomic called “PvPonline”. It’s one of the longest running webcomics around, and it’s made by the very prolific and excellent cartoonist, Scott Kurtz. I happened to read an interesting blogpost he posted on PvPonline.com, and I would like to share the a link to it here.

It’s about how an artist tend to stick to his own habits when working with graphics, or more specifically, layers in Photoshop. Kurtz shares a few interesting thoughts on the subject, and it’s worth checking out if you’re a digital artist, graphic designer or if you’re just curious as to how these cartoonists work. If you don’t know who Mike and Jerry are (referred to by Kurtz), they’re the creators behind the widely popular webcomic “Penny Arcade”.

How do you work in Photoshop? Do you like to have lots of layers and give a name to every one of them, or do you merge them when you’re satisfied, abandoning the opportunity to go back and redo something?

“I’m always very excited to see photos of another cartoonist’s studio or watch a video of them drawing.” Scott Kurtz