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Trazoi
2011-09-03, 06:38 AM
I've decided to join up on the latest craze and do one of these daily drawing improvement challenges. Apparently they're all the rage around here.

Like the others, I've been meaning to improve my drawing skills. I've been through several phases where I'd work on my abilities for a month or two, then I'd drift off to some other hobby and let all I've learned stagnate. My usual mode is to do little pencil doodles while doing something brainless like watching TV, which is fun but ultimately not doing much in improving anything. I get stuck in ruts where I work on the same small area without working on the more serious problems.

Ultimately I'd love to be able to illustrate my own computer games. I'd also like to do a webcomic, which was my previous idea to force me to work on my skills. Unfortunately I get stuck in a mode where I don't think my skills are good enough to launch, which somewhat defeats the purpose of the exercise.

So seeing the success of the other threads, I'm going to join in and get something done every day. I'm usually doodling something anyway, but now I'm forcing myself to post it. I'm hoping the critique will help point out what I need to work on and stop me going around in circles without improvement.

Notes, goals, miscellanea:
I'll try to put in an hour or so a day, even if I can't get around to posting it until later. If I have to post some rough sketches or doodles up I will. Part of the exercise is to force me to pay attention to what I'm doing so I realise I'm spending the entire month sketching the same character in the same pose over and over again (don't do this)
I'm an Inkscape fan, so I'm leaning strongly towards vector art and that Flash style, vector-y cartoon feel. It's what I usually draw anyway.
However, I'm afraid that working too much in a stylised style might become a crutch, so I may try a bunch of other things too. I might need more skilled artists to throw metaphorical shoes at my head to force me out of any style induced ruts.
I currently use pencil on paper and a bunch of different programs. I don't ink very well at all; I'm not even fond of writing in pen. Everything smudges so easily.
I'm a mite worried I'm too slow at most things, particularly the vector tools in Inkscape.
My anatomy drawing skills kinda suck. My vector-y tastes probably aren't helping. I also need to work on hands; I know I used to be better at them than I currently am.
Any and all advice, critiques, what-have-you welcome.

That's enough blathering, I'll get some art posted.

Trazoi
2011-09-03, 07:20 AM
Day 1: That Current Thing I Call "Art"

An idea I nearly did as a warm-up for drawing was to run and illustrate a Lets Play for Zeliard, an 1987 action platformer from Game Arts. I might still do that someday as a tribute to a fun game, but I reckoned it was too much work as an excuse to draw stuff. Still, I thought drawing the player character Duke Garland in my current cartoony style might be a nice intro as to where I'm currently at. Here's how I went:

Total time: 2 1/2 hrs.
Music: Super Ponybeat Vol. 1 (http://odysseymusic.bandcamp.com/album/super-ponybeat-vol-1) (because apparently ponies are mandatory for these things but I probably won't be drawing them)

Initial Sketch:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-initsketch-4.jpg
A little stick scribble. I think most of the 9 minutes was done finding reference pictures.
These sketches are done in ArtRage Studio Pro BTW, using my Wacom tablet; I'm doing this one all digital. I like the pencil in Artrage; it's almost like scribbling on actual paper.

Sketch 2:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-sketch2-4.jpg
I've gone over the sketch in a new layer fleshing out the basic structure of Garland. This is pretty close to the sorts of doodles I make all the frickin' time instead of doing proper drawing. Clock's on 18 minutes total, so this took another 9.

Sketch 3:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-sketch3-4.jpg
Another 7 minutes spent on smaller details in a new layer and getting the draft sketch right. Then it's time to export this and load it up into Inkscape.
Looking at this shrunk down, it isn't too bad as a rough cartoony sketch for 25min work. I'll have to see if the trade off in the extra hours I spent in Inkscape is worth it. Vectors take time, but I'm also pretty crap at inking and colouring in raster too so I'm not sure about the trade-off. Something to consider for another time I guess.

Blocked out in Inkscape:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-blocked.jpg
Looking at the sketch image it seems I quickly sketched a rough background; forgot I did that.
Here's the basic building blocks of Garland in vector form. It ain't that pretty, and it took me about as long to do as the initial rough sketch. :smallfrown:

Detailed and Shadowed:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-shadows.png
Add another dozen minutes or so for the little extra details, and a full 50 more for playing with colour and shadow.
I still don't have the knack for shadowing and proper use of colour yet; I'm working on it. This is an area I think I might be using the vector-y style as a crutch, as it's easier to fudge lighting.

Oh, and he's meant to be wearing socks. I had a rough idea for the first couple of episodes of the LP sketched out - it would have made sense. :smallwink:

Finished with Background:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-finished.png

Larger version (927x755 PNG 106KB) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-large.png)
Garland looks weird in a pose in blank space, so I threw in a quick background to give him some context. Backgrounds are something I should be working more on; most of my doodles are of characters, so I need to stop avoiding that. For this first image, I threw in some shapes with the straight line tool and tried to make it look like a cave. I'm not sure how well it worked - where the heck is the lighting coming from?

*headdesk* I forgot to draw Garland with a scabbard. I'm an idiot. :smallsigh:

So that's where I'm at. I can see I need to work on hands; Garland's gripping fist is a hack of a blob.

Kasanip
2011-09-03, 07:45 AM
I like the style you show. It is nice to see the process of sketch and draw. I hope you continue this style. It can show your speed of certain section of the process. It helps you notice problems also.

But there is some confusion. What is the finished time of the total?

Please do your best! :smallsmile: :smallredface:

Ninjaman
2011-09-03, 10:29 AM
it is quite nice.

averagejoe
2011-09-03, 09:47 PM
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-finished.png

Larger version (927x755 PNG 106KB) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-large.png)


I like the design. Kind of old-school, and he has a few nice details that help flesh him out and tell who he is, making him more than just generic fantasy warrior #1182517. The colors and his helmet help make him easily-identifiable and noticeable, which is important for cartoons. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the deep blue/purple on his shoulder pads considering the rest of the colors, but this is a minor point.

You did say you need to work on anatomy, and that seems to be the main problem with this. Overall he looks very two dimensional, even with the shading. His shield makes it look kind of like he had his arm cut off at the elbow and his shield strapped to the stump. I'm also not sure what's up with his sword, which seems to be curved the wrong way. The shape of his eyes seems wonky, and I'm not sure what his expression is supposed to be.

Those are all just details though. The biggest problem IMO is that he doesn't really own the scene. His pose makes it look like he's about to hit someone, but his expression and pose are far too relaxed for that. He could be training or something, or posing, but there's nothing to really indicate that. Pictures are still storytelling devices, and the characters should have a purpose or place in them, even if it's just a doodle.

The background is simple but serviceable. It's not good enough to carry a picture by itself, but that's probably preferable because the guy should be the focus. It gives the character a place to be, and that's pretty much what it needs to do. My main criticism would be that having a flat cave floor seems kind of off to me. It's possible that such a thing could exist, of course, but it still looks kind of weird.

Thanqol
2011-09-03, 10:17 PM
Awesome! Welcome to the process :smallbiggrin:

I've thrown my general suggestions for the process up elsewhere, so I won't go through it again other than to say 'set the requirements for this thread low'. It's much harder to lose interest due to fatigue if you've got the option to take it down a notch for a while.

As for the specific piece, my big gripe with it is the dark blue shoulder pads. They clash horribly with the red/green/yellow he's got going elsewhere and make him look more like a jester than a hero. Also, he has no eyebrows :smallwink:

Hiro Protagonest
2011-09-03, 10:32 PM
Finished with Background:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-finished.png

Larger version (927x755 PNG 106KB) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110903/garland-large.png)


Nice! As you mentioned, he's missing the scabbard. As averagejoe mentioned, his shield is facing the wrong way. His expression and pose look fine, but his sword is held wrong, the blade should be facing away from his body on a single-edged sword.

Trazoi
2011-09-04, 02:30 AM
Thanks for all the replies!

@Kasanip: I've got the final time marked as 145 minutes, so about 2 1/2 hrs total. I'm keeping track of the time so I can see if I'm spending it wisely. I think I need to put more time in the initial sketches, less on fiddling around with minor tweaks in Inkscape.

@Ninjaman: Thanks! It came out a heck of a lot better than I thought it would.

@averagejoe: I can't take credit for the design of Duke Garland; the colours and helmet are how he was in the game:
http://img823.imageshack.us/img823/5448/zeliard033.png
http://img840.imageshack.us/img840/2415/zeliard074.png
http://img823.imageshack.us/img823/7048/zeliard176.png

My contributions to the design were to cartoonify him and put him in socks.

The flatness of the poses is an issue I need to look at. It might partly be due to the flatness of the style, but it's probably mostly due to my lack of work on building complete scenes. I've got to work more on characters interacting with each other and their environment.

@Thanqol: I tried to make him look more dweeby than the original with his hilarious pecs. I think the jester look suits him. :smallsmile:

I'm going through a "no eyebrows" phase at the moment. Previously it was "no noses" :smalltongue:. I'll see how well this works: the eyebrows definitely help in selling emotions, but sometimes I think I'm cluttering up the face with too many features for the style.

@Swiftmongoose: Yeah, the shading on the sword is a mess. I haven't got the hang of shading and I think I was treating the blade like it was a cylinder there. Derp.

averagejoe
2011-09-04, 02:44 AM
@averagejoe: I can't take credit for the design of Duke Garland; the colours and helmet are how he was in the game:

Huh. Well that ended up being a somewhat more negative review than I'd intended. >.>

Trazoi
2011-09-04, 08:39 AM
Huh. Well that ended up being a somewhat more negative review than I'd intended. >.>
Those were the sorts of pointers I need.

Day 2: Argument Sketch

I blew this one. I thought I could get some background sketches done while watching TV before moving to the computer, but nothing I tried looked right. Then I got hooked on the feature film and blew all my available time. I'll have to take this more seriously and stop being foolish. :smallannoyed:

What I was aiming for was to draw two characters having an argument. I picked a couple from my fledgling webcomic idea (working title "Rock Bottle"; everything is still open to change).

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110904/argument.jpg

This is the most complete rough sketch of the pair, Ava in the background on the left, Ivy in the front on the right. I couldn't draw Ava in a pose that felt right. She's meant to give an air that she's confident and (mostly) in control, with an air of higher status, but nothing seemed to work. It's the arms and hands; I couldn't figure out what to do with them.

Trazoi
2011-09-05, 09:27 AM
Day 3: I came here for an argument.

I'm not getting the hang of arguments. For these I did a few practice sketches on paper, before using ArtRage. I decided to stick with ArtRage as I feel like shifting around different editors in today's practice. Oh, and I forgot the timer too.

Rough Sketch:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-1.jpg
(Larger version) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-l-1.jpg)
I couldn't get the poses right for either character here. They're both swished, and there's confusion in places as to what is in front of what. I'm also concerned that I can't get enough emotion out of these poses and faces; it's like the amount my drawings can emote can only get up to about 20% of what I should do.

Inking over Sketch:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-2.jpg
(Larger version) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-l-2.jpg)
I switched to the Ink Pen to do some inking, of which I'm not that great at - which you can see if I remove the pencil sketch layers:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-0.jpg
(Larger version) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-l-0.jpg)
I don't know if this just requires more practice or if I'm doing the wrong approach here.

Watercolour:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-3.jpg
(Larger version) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110905/angry_sketch-l-3.jpg)
ArtRage has a few different paint styles and I haven't used the watercolours much before. It's a bit sluggish sometimes compared to the other tools and my technique is atrocious but it was fun to go all colouring book on that sketch. :smallwink:

Does anyone have any advice on what I should work ont? There's plenty of issues in these current posed drawings that need working on - I'd open to recommendations on what's the most crucial.

averagejoe
2011-09-05, 01:36 PM
The first thing that strikes me is that, if it is an argument, the little one should be leaning in and not away. As it is it looks like she's falling backward from the force of his shouting. You can pretty much determine the intensity of an argument by how close together the arguers are standing.

As for the big guy... not quite sure. Squatting or kneeling seems too relaxed to me. Those are the sorts of things you do to accommodate someone who can't look you in the eye, like people going down to the level of children. I think if they're arguing he should be trying to get in a more dominating position, using his size to the best of his ability and standing over her.

Dunno, just my thoughts. May be something to try.

Zorg
2011-09-05, 03:02 PM
Agreeing with Averagejoe here - it seems less an argument and more the big guy going "you eeediot!".

The day 2 one has more equal amounts of snark between the two characters, so feels more argumentative to me.

Domochevsky
2011-09-05, 04:44 PM
Argument, go! o/

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/Challenge/Argument_1.png

averagejoe
2011-09-05, 05:12 PM
Argument, go! o/

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/Challenge/Argument_1.png

Scott McCloud says: asymmetrical poses are a great way to show disharmony in a character's thoughts and feelings. (Or something like that. Can't find my copy of his book.)

Trazoi
2011-09-05, 07:10 PM
Argument, go! o/

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/Challenge/Argument_1.png
Ooo that is nice! I like the positioning of the arms and the curvature of the spines, and the mirrored poses is great.

While I entitled the thing "argument" I really wanted to capture more of an expression of furious anger on the giantess, and I didn't get that. She only gets to "quite cross". The dwarf-sized one is horrible because I picked her as the target because I wanted to play with the size difference, but I didn't put enough effort in capturing an expression that matches her character as I don't see her getting angry or even arguing that much. A more accurate reaction would be cheerfully agreeing and then doing whatever the hell she wants regardless.

Trazoi
2011-09-06, 10:01 AM
Day 4: Masker-aid

Borrowing a drawing idea from Thanqol, I've done a 25 Essential Expressions (http://napalmnacey.deviantart.com/art/25-Essential-Expressions-55523083) sheet for a masked character. I've got a supporting cast of "Larvae" in my webcomic idea - basically magic shadow worm-like thingies in masks:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110906/Shades27.jpg

There's not a lot of facial features to work with - basically just the eyes, maybe the head tentacle thingamy too. Here's the sheet, sketched in ArtRage using the pencil tool doing one box at a time:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110906/larva_exp.jpg
I'm going to have to look at this with fresher eyes tomorrow. I know I haven't been able to distinguish between two similar emotions that well, and some of the more complex ones are a wash (how do you draw a flirty masked worm? Wait, don't answer that.) I've also got to work on drawing that mask the same shape every time.

averagejoe
2011-09-06, 01:36 PM
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110906/larva_exp.jpg

Pretty nice, though at the end they tend to be somewhat weaker. Following yesterday's theme of, "What body symmetry indicates," the "confident," one doesn't seem very confident at all. Body asymmetry often indicates confusion, doubt, discomfort and so on. Think of a person with their arms crossed. This often indicates strength (http://www.dragoart.com/tuts/pics/9/6646/40105/how-to-draw-superboy-step-2.jpg) and confidence (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bI80s6kFWhU/S8fwmB3-ylI/AAAAAAAABBI/GerhNW-859s/s400/prostars.jpg). However, it can also indicate someone who's angry (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/14619872/2/istockphoto_14619872-angry-young-woman.jpg) or upset (http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/fleyeing/fleyeing0909/fleyeing090900007/5459270-watchful-asian-young-lifeguard-standing-and-attentively-looking-up-with-arms-crossed-in-red-life-or-.jpg). Some of this is in their expressions, but a lot of it is in their pose as well. I'm simplifying things a lot for the sake of example, there are a lot of ways to tell how a person feels, but pose symmetry is a big one. It's the difference between guarding (http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/1589/PreviewComp/SuperStock_1589R-26579.jpg) and being guarded (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/14313386/2/istockphoto_14313386-serious-young-businesswoman.jpg). It can show conflict (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/4947286/2/istockphoto_4947286-stiff-competition.jpg) or longing (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_YUZDZPmjihw/TUnL1WrfsZI/AAAAAAAACYI/maoltxr5-Vs/s320/images.jpg). Everything is right with a person who stands up straight (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/13472075/2/istockphoto_13472075-brunette-woman.jpg), but even a small imbalance can show that something is probably somehow wrong. (http://cloud.graphicleftovers.com/28930/677970/businesswoman-disapproving-latina.jpg)

I could go on about the subtleties of body expressions, but that's not really what we're talking about, though it is instructive, since facial expressions work much the same way. The position of the head, for example. A head tilt can mean the difference between attentive (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/17107956/2/istockphoto_17107956-psychotherapy-session.jpg) and confused (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/14787161/2/istockphoto_14787161-confusion-young-man-scratching-his-head-on-white.jpg). You can even tell when it's a dog doing it (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/1876328/2/istockphoto_1876328-intrigued.jpg). It's the difference between a cruel (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/10948392/2/istockphoto_10948392-mean-man.jpg) smile (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/3559423/2/istockphoto_3559423-evil-man.jpg) and a happy one (http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-10172423-smiling-businessman-with-colleagues-in-the-background.php?st=2324a64). Doesn't she (http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/5965602/2/istockphoto_5965602-modern-professional-businesswoman.jpg) look kind of uncomfortable? can you see why?

You expressed confusion of how to do, "Flirty." stock photos (http://www.istockphoto.com/search/text/flirty/source/basic#5d5694a) are often your friend here. Get references from what other artists have done. this (http://www.verabee.com/image/girlshowsnake_lg.jpg) to me seems like a good example of, "Flirty," or this (http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-video-8921437-woman-flirts-at-bar.php?st=63a8e5a). In general, "flirty," seems to be smiling, head maybe slightly to the side, and head turned slightly away from where the eyes are focused (though they are focused). Eye contact, but not direct eye contact, if that makes any sense. At least, that may be a good starting point.

Thanqol
2011-09-06, 06:57 PM
Day 4: Masker-aid

Overall, very cool! I do like the design of the critter!

Nitpicks are 'irritated' and 'tired' could almost switch places and be better. Fear could do with the head being placed further back in the frame, leaning away from whatever's scary - current looks kinda interested. Flirty needs a more curved brow and cocked head. I'd lower the brows just a smidegon on seriousness.

Overall, just try variating the angle of the mask and where it's placed in the frame a bit more. Confident and upbeat emotions are slightly taller and straighter, angry or sad ones are more hunched. :smallsmile:

When I get back today I'm going to try the same thing again on my end.

Trazoi
2011-09-07, 08:02 AM
Thanks averagejoe and Thanqol! I'll try playing around with poses soon so I can get a feel of body expressions. I'll do an expression chart again soonish too, mix it up a bit and see what improvement I can make with a few iterations.

Day 5: Anatomy for noobs

Today I did a quick sketch of drawing someone based on anatomy charts, to start to get a feel of the mechanics of what's going on under the skin.

Basic Sketch:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110907/anatomie_block.jpg
Here's the basic neutral standing pose. I didn't want to do anything at all advanced for this try.

Skeleton:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110907/anatomie_skellies.jpg
I drew the skeleton on the right first, and realised I'd made the legs too small. I copied and shrank the guy to make the skelly on the left with longer legs. I think the heads might be slightly too large as I always tend to draw them that way; it's an artifact from cartooning too much and liking excessively giant heads.

Muscular System:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110907/anatomie_muscles.jpg
I'm not sure how much detail to go into muscles when getting a feel of anatomy for art. The arms look still on the bony side to me. And the legs don't look right.

Skin:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110907/anatomie_dudes.jpg
Whatcha doing, dude, levitating next to large skeletons in your undies?

He's pretty off in a lot of areas - especially those hands, legs and feet - but I'm sure he's better drawn than if I were to free-wheel it without drawing the fundamentals.

Bonus paint playtime go!
Havin' fun with ArtRage's digital paint tools:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110907/argue_paint.jpg

Thanqol
2011-09-07, 06:36 PM
As to the legs on that anatomy sketch, the front of your leg is completely flat while the back is much thicker, because that's where all the muscles are. Using incredibly bad text illustration powers:

|\
| )
|/
||

Same deal with the arms; the muscles are bunched up near the joints.

Nice curvature on the torso though. :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-09-07, 09:59 PM
Yeah, I'm not sure what happened with the limbs there. I think I didn't look close enough at the diagram I was woring off, while I had another nicer one for the torso.

On another topic: does anyone have any favourite digital raster editors for drawing directly with the computer (i.e. not scanning in inked work on paper and touching up?) I'd like to practice a bit with raster editor techniques and then with Inkscape to gain a feel of the differences in terms of technique and time. I'd like to look at inking first, so I'm looking for raster editors with really nice pen tools. ArtRage is nice, but I'd also like to try a few others.

araveugnitsuga
2011-09-07, 10:33 PM
On another topic: does anyone have any favourite digital raster editors for drawing directly with the computer (i.e. not scanning in inked work on paper and touching up?) I'd like to practice a bit with raster editor techniques and then with Inkscape to gain a feel of the differences in terms of technique and time. I'd like to look at inking first, so I'm looking for raster editors with really nice pen tools. ArtRage is nice, but I'd also like to try a few others.
There is Photopaint which some claim is good.
Photoshop is the obvious choice (and the one I use if only working on raster). It's also the one with the greatest amount of tutorials.
GIMP is free and rather good.

Fireworks is my favourite since it's vector and raster and it's the one I use the most. I do the doodling with editable vectors, scale to desired size, work a bit with raster and export to Photoshop.

At the end I use Illustrator for Line-work, open in Fireworks for a general colouring scheme and posing/shading, export to Photoshop and do the colouring and effects. At the end, what you see is raster, but there is normally a vector model underneath.

Trazoi
2011-09-07, 10:51 PM
I've got a copy of Adobe CS3 which I use for document and image tweaking (and playing with Flash), but I haven't had great luck in using it for basic art. You can feel the decades in the layers of UI, and I feel like I'm piloting the space shuttle instead of drawing critters.

I haven't looked much at Corel's offerings yet. They tend to be pricey like Adobes even with any discounts.

I've also got a copy of Manga Studio Debut 4 when it was on a super special a while back, so I'll trial that out too since it's designed for a very similar purpose. I've used it a tiny bit but I also never got the hang of the interface. I probably didn't do it justice so I'll give it another look.

Eleanor_Rigby
2011-09-08, 04:11 AM
MyPaint is nice for inking, it's very much not an editing suite though so you would need to export your stuff into another programme for cropping etc.
A much touted one round here is Open Canvas, although only the old version is free, I believe. I've used it but I'm not enamoured with it as of yet. It can do some nice smooth lines though.
I've used MyPaint for 'inking' and colouring some of Mazeburn's (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=206689) sketches:

http://i1196.photobucket.com/albums/aa405/Zomp_Jorr/colouredshadowcaller-1.jpg
http://i1196.photobucket.com/albums/aa405/Zomp_Jorr/colouredlittlekid.jpg
neither the characters nor the original art in these examples is mine.


GIMP... I'm fond of it but getting smooth line work from it can be tricky. GIMP Painter has a G-Pen that worked really well but it's not compatible with the most recent version of GIMP. It's a very nice editor though.

Trazoi
2011-09-08, 08:17 AM
Day 6: Ink practice

Not a lot of time tonight. I'm currently downloading MyPaint to give it a try, but it's taken a while to configure MacPorts and grab all the dependencies. In the mean time I've played around with a few packages I've already installed.

ArtRage:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110908/lux.jpg
Quick ink cartoon and coloured in with me playing around with the felt marker tool. I'm liking the ink tool in ArtRage - it's got a feel to it that feels natural. Colouring is a bit labourious because ArtRage mimic art tools; you've got to act like you're actually colouring it in with a marker.

I also had a quick look at Manga Studio Debut, but I'm not sure what's going on with the pen tool. It's got some form of auto-correct on that I haven't got the hang of. If I'm to give this a proper go I'll need more time.

If MyPaint installs tonight I'll give it a quick so, otherwise I'll schedule it for tomorrow.

Edit: Man, I need to work on feet. I always make them look so skewed.

Eleanor_Rigby
2011-09-08, 08:47 AM
Colouring is a bit labourious because ArtRage mimic art tools; you've got to act like you're actually colouring it in with a marker.


This is a feature of MyPaint as well, I didn't think to mention it since I moved to MyPaint from GIMP and hadn't got the hang of getting the bucket tool to work on much more than a basic square so I never got too attached to the method. Still, your practice picture looks a lot smoother than most things I've coloured with markers in real life so...

The inked lines look pretty smooth too. :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-09-08, 08:57 AM
The bucket tool is often a pain too because you've got to make sure you've closed the entire region for every little bit in the image.

And after hours of downloading dependencies, MyPaint has failed the build. Grr open source installation grr *fistshake* :smallannoyed:

Eleanor_Rigby
2011-09-08, 09:03 AM
The bucket tool is often a pain too because you've got to make sure you've closed the entire region for every little bit in the image.

And after hours of downloading dependencies, MyPaint has failed the build. Grr open source installation grr *fistshake* :smallannoyed:

I seem to recall the GIMP bucket tool not extending all the way to the edges of an enclosed brush drawn shape, but I could be confused...

I use a PC so I hadn't thought of Mac issues. Although supposedly everybody in the art world uses Macs anyway so you'd have thought they'd have made more of an effort for an art programme to be compatible with it. Meh. It sounds like ArtRage could be a pretty handy substitute anyhow.

Thanqol
2011-09-08, 09:47 AM
The bucket tool is often a pain too because you've got to make sure you've closed the entire region for every little bit in the image.

Welcome to my pain. It gets even worse if you're using layers :smallwink:

Domochevsky
2011-09-08, 11:03 AM
...
A much touted one round here is Open Canvas, although only the old version is free, I believe. I've used it but I'm not enamoured with it as of yet. It can do some nice smooth lines though.
...

Touted by me, incidentally. I use v5 for my stuff, of which there's a 30 days trial. :smallwink: (and yes, v1.1 is free.)

Capt. Ido Nos
2011-09-08, 02:19 PM
Welcome to my pain. It gets even worse if you're using layers :smallwink:
I pretty much gave up on the bucket years ago. Instead, I get creative with the magic wand and large brushes. That's where layers actually become useful for filling.

Say I have a shape I want to fill. Instead of using bucket on the inside, I use the magic wand on the outside. Then, make a new layer, invert the selection, and fill with a big fat brush. If I want to be fancy I can contract the selection a little bit beforehand, otherwise I'll just do a once-over with the eraser if I go over anywhere.

I'll use this for coloring, in which I have my lineart on one layer set to Multiply, and then run my colors on separate layers. This way, my selections tend to put the borders of my colors on the lines themselves, which you can't see due to the multiply.

... Gosh I hope this makes a lick of sense and doesn't sound overly complicated >_>

Trazoi
2011-09-08, 05:58 PM
My usual trick for avoiding the bucket tool is to do everything in vectors in Inkscape, but that's got other caveats. :smalltongue:

MyPaint appears to be choking on compiling with Numerical Python, because as everyone knows, the most important skill for artists is how to properly link to Numerical Python. Since this isn't resolved after a day's worth of fixes I'll have to give this a pass.

ArtRage is fine for what I want it to do, but I'm a teensy bit concerned about its resolution. The program is geared to work at 1:1, so at 100% a pixel on the screen is a pixel in the image. I don't know if that will bite me on the posterior in the future, particularly if I webcomic with it. You can work at higher resolutions but the tool sizes are calibrated to that 1:1 size (possibly not an issue for only twice as big). The file sizes are a bit on the massive size though.

Also: it's coming up to the weekend and the one week mark, so I'll need some suggestions for what to work on next week. I've been mostly fooling around this week; a stronger target to focus on may be beneficial. Any suggestions?

Thanqol
2011-09-08, 06:05 PM
My usual trick for avoiding the bucket tool is to do everything in vectors in Inkscape, but that's got other caveats. :smalltongue:

Really, my Secret Technique is that Photoshop has a fill-all-layers option on the paintbucket. If I could move 5% of the features from Photoshop to Corel I'd be so much happier.

Incidentally, Corel's gradients are useless to the point of being insultingly ridiculous. I'm at a loss as to why they'd implement a gradient feature in their program if they were just going to do it like that.


Also: it's coming up to the weekend and the one week mark, so I'll need some suggestions for what to work on next week. I've been mostly fooling around this week; a stronger target to focus on may be beneficial. Any suggestions?

I recommend going for extremely realistic pictures. The stuff I've learned from doing living people pictures applies amazingly well to other styles and formats.

Domochevsky
2011-09-08, 06:55 PM
...
I recommend going for extremely realistic pictures. The stuff I've learned from doing living people pictures applies amazingly well to other styles and formats.

I support that notion. Knowing realistic anatomy helps with knowing how to compress that down into cartooning. :smallsmile:

(You could try making realistic GenGame characters. [/shamelessplug] :smallwink: )

Trazoi
2011-09-09, 07:19 AM
I got lost looking at GenGame. I've got no clue what's going on with that. :smalleek:

Day 7: Read all about it!

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110909/paperboy.jpg

I was playing around with the GIMP for most of today's art time. It's not that bad if you want simple sketching - move the cursor, make a line where the cursor goes, it works well. It's interesting to use a highly paletted version such as a 1-bit black and white only format. But it feels more suitable to cleaning up artwork, such as when I scan in a draft and get it ready for import into Inkscape. Rough sketching in the GIMP isn't as natural feeling as in a natural art tool program such as ArtRage.

So I switched to sketching some drafts on real paper and then on to ArtRage. I tried out only using pencils on one main layer, erasing construction lines as I go, to get a full draft sketch with less hassles. Also with this sketch I tried to get some perspective happening, viewing the paperboy from above.

And that's one week! Next week I'll try for a more realistic theme, working on natural poses and some more anatomy, and see how that goes.

Domochevsky
2011-09-09, 01:33 PM
I got lost looking at GenGame. I've got no clue what's going on with that. :smalleek:
...

Oh noes! D: (How did you get lost? We'll need feedback for improvements!)

shawnhcorey
2011-09-09, 01:42 PM
Have you tried MyPaint (http://mypaint.intilinux.com/)? It's a FLOSS raster-based drawing application which emulates the traditional tools of the artist, pencils, pens, charcoal, oils, watercolours. Although I use Inkscape a lot, I sometimes use this for special effects.

Capt. Ido Nos
2011-09-09, 02:49 PM
Wait! Trazoi? You said you have Photoshop and you're having trouble using it? What are you having problems with? I shoop all the time, maybe I can help you out?

Trazoi
2011-09-09, 08:32 PM
Oh noes! D: (How did you get lost? We'll need feedback for improvements!)
When I first tried checking it out, the main site was down and I ended up in the wiki and didn't know what I'm looking at. I'm guessing you're meant to start at the beginning to figure out what's what? :smallconfused:


Have you tried MyPaint (http://mypaint.intilinux.com/)? It's a FLOSS raster-based drawing application which emulates the traditional tools of the artist, pencils, pens, charcoal, oils, watercolours. Although I use Inkscape a lot, I sometimes use this for special effects.
While I like open source tools due to their cross-platformness, MyPaint doesn't seem to like Macs. I can't get the blasted thing to compile, and don't feel up to dedicating a whole weekend to figuring out why. I've got a Win/Linux PC next to this one on the desk, but then I'd have to switch between the two and I've got my tablets hooked up to this one. MyPaint seems to follow the same function as ArtRage (although maybe it's more like Corel Paint?) so I've already got a natural art tool available.


Wait! Trazoi? You said you have Photoshop and you're having trouble using it? What are you having problems with? I shoop all the time, maybe I can help you out?
The interface is overwhelming. It's not as bad as Illustrator, which I spent a fair chunk of time trying to use and then giving up, but it's still confusing. Panels everywhere, tiny tiny icons, and all the keyboard shortcuts are different from what I expect. It's not so bad if I'm only using it to do tweaks to an existing image, but when working from scratch I feel like I'm fighting the interface rather than doing art, and that's toggling between two mental states that do not go well together.

Domochevsky
2011-09-09, 09:06 PM
When I first tried checking it out, the main site was down and I ended up in the wiki and didn't know what I'm looking at. I'm guessing you're meant to start at the beginning to figure out what's what? :smallconfused:
...

Uhm, yes, checking the beginning of the comic to make sense of it seems like a sound move. There's even a link to it on the right side. >_>

(The wiki is more complementary to it, to be read and expanded once you read the main thing.)

Trazoi
2011-09-10, 06:50 PM
Day 8: Sketches

I ran out of time and direction yesterday, and spent a hour doing sticky pose sketches in ArtRage:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110910/sketch.jpg
There's about a dozen of these. At the moment I know I need to work more on more realistic human forms, but I don't know the best approach to do that, other than "draw more people".

Thanqol
2011-09-10, 11:08 PM
Day 8: Sketches

I ran out of time and direction yesterday, and spent a hour doing sticky pose sketches in ArtRage:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110910/sketch.jpg
There's about a dozen of these. At the moment I know I need to work more on more realistic human forms, but I don't know the best approach to do that, other than "draw more people".

Nice expressive poses, they've got a lot of character to them :smallsmile:

Realistic forms practice involves getting a photograph of some kind and trying to draw it. It's way hard, but hard in the sense that it'll teach you a bunchtonne.

Trazoi
2011-09-11, 07:52 AM
Day 9: Reverse Sketches

Today I mixed it up a little and made an exercise to look at human poses from photographs. Basically: take some photographs, draw sticky-block figures over the people. It's an exercise to get a feel for natural body poses.

My source was a whole bunch of pictures of the DragonCon Parade 2011. Photos taken by Jason Riedy, (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jason-riedy/6135969122/) distributed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). I went through about ten or so images, doing a rough sketch over as many people as possible.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110911/steamxmen.jpg

This was a surprising amount of fun to do.

Thanqol
2011-09-11, 08:30 AM
Day 9: Reverse Sketches

Today I mixed it up a little and made an exercise to look at human poses from photographs. Basically: take some photographs, draw sticky-block figures over the people. It's an exercise to get a feel for natural body poses.

My source was a whole bunch of pictures of the DragonCon Parade 2011. Photos taken by Jason Riedy, (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jason-riedy/6135969122/) distributed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). I went through about ten or so images, doing a rough sketch over as many people as possible.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110911/steamxmen.jpg

This was a surprising amount of fun to do.

These are great fun! I did a day of these, but I thought that I should find pictures to model off that'd have people in exotic and dynamic poses. For that purpose I used pictures of riots. Got me thinking a lot about balance and people in motion.

Trazoi
2011-09-11, 08:48 AM
I've had trouble drawing people walking naturally, so this was a nice fit. Plus the crowd had some good poses of people crouched on the ground or taking photos. And I got to trace over Ghostbusters.

Trazoi
2011-09-12, 07:29 AM
Day 10: Thinking...

So yeah... ArtRage, mock charcoal, The Thinker, Rodin:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110912/thinker.jpg

Large version (254kb) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110912/thinker_large.jpg)


Time: 1 Hour? I wasn't keeping close track of time
Music: MIDI from Monkey Island 2

The pose is from a couple of reference photos off Google Images. I got almost to the end when I realised I'd screwed up the position of the right leg (left from our view) and did a sneaky cut & paste to make it look somewhat decent.

Thanqol
2011-09-12, 07:34 AM
Day 10: Thinking...

So yeah... ArtRage, mock charcoal, The Thinker, Rodin:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110912/thinker.jpg

Large version (254kb) (http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110912/thinker_large.jpg)


Time: 1 Hour? I wasn't keeping close track of time
Music: MIDI from Monkey Island 2

The pose is from a couple of reference photos off Google Images. I got almost to the end when I realised I'd screwed up the position of the right leg (left from our view) and did a sneaky cut & paste to make it look somewhat decent.

That is legit cool, good work :smallsmile: Only thing that bugs me is the hand; it's not charcoaled at all so attention is drawn to it's weird proportions.

Trazoi
2011-09-12, 07:37 AM
That is legit cool, good work :smallsmile: Only thing that bugs me is the hand; it's not charcoaled at all so attention is drawn to it's weird proportions.
Yeah, now you've pointed it out I can see it looks like a cooking spatula or something. I was focusing too much on the legs and didn't notice.

Trazoi
2011-09-13, 09:42 PM
Day 11: Arms and Hands #1

I didn't have a lot of time yesterday - roughly half and hour? - so I only got a couple of sketches done. I'm reading a book on art anatomy for hands by Burne Hogarth and tried sketching the structure of a few of the diagrams.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110913/hand.jpg

Needs work, but I did learn a new thing about how the arm muscles all fit together.

Edit: Note for Day 12, I ended up drawing some more arms and hands for a hour. I'll upload Days 12, 13 and 14 together; I've only done a little bit today (Day 13) and I'd like to do something worth posting for tomorrow so there's something to comment on.

Trazoi
2011-09-16, 05:39 PM
Three day update! I was fairly busy these days, so they're about an hour's work (including scrapped sketches).

Day 12 Arms and Hands #2
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110914/arms.jpg
More arms and hands sketched from the book.

Day 13 Hurdler
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110915/hurdler.jpg
I wanted to try something involving a different leg position. I feel I skimped on the effort with polishing this one. Note to self: draw more legs and feet.

Day 14 Wyvern
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110916/wyvern.jpg
I got inspiration from Thanqol and tried my hand at a wyvern. I'm not sure how to draw dragons, so I mashed together the skeletons of a swan, snake and fruit bat. It's not quite right - I tried putting scales on its back like a stegosaurus but I couldn't get them right which suggests I haven't properly figured out the spine - but it's a workable design for more dragony pictures. The background's rubbish though - I only threw a few lines in because it looked weird hovering in space. I'll put backgrounds on the list of stuff I need more practice with.

Trazoi
2011-09-17, 07:49 AM
Day 15: Swamped

I didn't feel like painting any anatomy today, so I painted this swampscape:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110917/swamp.jpg
A bit rough on the details and I need to get the colours and light right next time

Thanqol
2011-09-17, 08:17 AM
Day 14 Wyvern

Awesome! Unfortunately the bulk of the body looks kinda weird; I know wyverens don't have forearms, but the rear legs look like they should be a bit further back.


Day 15: Swamped

This is legit cool. What tools did you use?

Trazoi
2011-09-17, 09:43 AM
Awesome! Unfortunately the bulk of the body looks kinda weird; I know wyverens don't have forearms, but the rear legs look like they should be a bit further back.
I agree. I screwed up the skeleton when I sketched it and didn't notice until I was too far into the sketch. If I'd looked closer at the swan skeleton refs I might have positioned them better. *shrug*


This is legit cool. What tools did you use?
I'm using ArtRage (http://www.artrage.com/) for most of these. I really like its pencil for sketching, and the ink pen is turning out nice for inking. And the digital paints are just plain fun to play around with. For the swamp I tried using the airbrush more than I have before which works in some places, but it others I think it still looks a bit too airbrushy.

Trazoi
2011-09-18, 10:59 PM
Day 16: Technically Not Ponies

I haven't done much Inkscape recently, so for today I did a basic skill test. Something I'm unsure about my whole "start a webcomic" plan is how long it will take to draw. For this test, I took a vector-y image and saw how much I could get done in the hour. It's more of a craft skill practice than anything something that counts as "art" because it's basically tracing.

Here's my source image:
http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/1802/ponyhouses.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/690/ponyhouses.jpg/)
It's a background shot from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, chosen a) because I love the style of the backgrounds in that show and b) it's vector-y, but it's still got a lot of details so I'm unlikely to finish in the time. The challenge is to see what I get done so I can work faster and smarter next time.

And here's what I did in an hour:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110918/house.png
Just the cottage, unfinished. Most of the base shapes are there but the choice of colours is still in the temp values I picked while I was working from my standard Inkscape palette so there's some errors there. You can also see that most of the shapes are still in the form of straight line segments. What I do when tracing Inkscape shapes is to use the straight line tool to make nodes in the first pass, then come back to delete some of the nodes turning them into smooth curves. I didn't have time to do that pass in the hour.

It's not that bad at this stage. I wasn't keeping track of where I was spending the time when, but I'm sure a fair chunk of it was playing with the layer settings and tools to get things just right - stuff that will be trivial to set once next time. What I need to do is come up with a few different ways of achieving the same end result, then do some tests as to which is the most efficient.

Trazoi
2011-09-19, 07:56 AM
Day 17: Background x2

Second verse, same as the first. Take an image with a vectory background:
http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/7127/ponyshopfront.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/696/ponyshopfront.jpg/)

...and try to vector up as much as possible within a fixed one hour time limit...
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110919/shop_front.png

I got a fair bit more done this time round when the hour alarm went off. I've left the rough edges in because, hey, that's how it was when it was done. This has been really good at shutting down that perfectionist bug where I feel the need to get every node just right when I'm drawing them, meaning it takes countless hours to do the simplest little thing. If you shrink this image down to half size it doesn't matter so much if the curves are really straight line segments or they don't quite match up. Obviously all the hard work in planning the scene was done for me, but I think if I can manually vector up a background like this in an hour it's entirely feasible to vector up my own backgrounds for a webcomic in a sensible time frame.

Edit: Wait a minute, is that the house behind the shop showing through in the shop window? I thought it was part of the store display. Did I copy in a Flash error in my exercise verbatim? :smallconfused:

Thanqol
2011-09-19, 08:20 AM
Edit: Wait a minute, is that the house behind the shop showing through in the shop window? I thought it was part of the store display. Did I copy in a Flash error in my exercise verbatim? :smallconfused:

I think it's a second window rather than an error?

Also, these are actually quite cool, and I'm not just saying that because they're pony-associated :smallwink: I need to get around to doing backgrounds myself.

Trazoi
2011-09-19, 06:10 PM
I really like the backgrounds in MLP:FiM, as they're a great use of simple shapes for maximum effect.

One thing I'm not sure of for my own stuff is the use of colour and gradients. MLP uses gradients on nearly everything it seems, which can give a nice effect. However for web images it means I'd have to choose between a rather large crisp PNG or a pixellated JPEG (JPEG artifacts are more noticeable on cartoony images). For flat colours like in my background above the PNG file is super small - it's fantastic.

Then there's the choice of colours. I'm currently using a swatch palette of 247 colours, so technically I could go down to 8 bit if I wanted to (good ol' VGA :smallsmile:). And when doing things fast, the palette makes things so much quicker. But there's only so many colours I can have, and it's easy to get stuck when you need to pick something like a light cream colour and the only choice I've got is pure white. :smallfrown:

(Here's my current palette, which I've been using in Inkscape for ages. It's based on an decent spread of hue, saturation and lightness.)
http://img825.imageshack.us/img825/6738/palettep.png (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/825/palettep.png/)

Thanqol
2011-09-19, 08:06 PM
I really like the backgrounds in MLP:FiM, as they're a great use of simple shapes for maximum effect.

One thing I'm not sure of for my own stuff is the use of colour and gradients. MLP uses gradients on nearly everything it seems, which can give a nice effect. However for web images it means I'd have to choose between a rather large crisp PNG or a pixellated JPEG (JPEG artifacts are more noticeable on cartoony images). For flat colours like in my background above the PNG file is super small - it's fantastic.

Then there's the choice of colours. I'm currently using a swatch palette of 247 colours, so technically I could go down to 8 bit if I wanted to (good ol' VGA :smallsmile:). And when doing things fast, the palette makes things so much quicker. But there's only so many colours I can have, and it's easy to get stuck when you need to pick something like a light cream colour and the only choice I've got is pure white. :smallfrown:

(Here's my current palette, which I've been using in Inkscape for ages. It's based on an decent spread of hue, saturation and lightness.)
http://img825.imageshack.us/img825/6738/palettep.png (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/825/palettep.png/)

Urgh, I've tried and tried and can't find a way to get a custom colour swatch or decent gradients functioning in Corel. Which means that to get them working I got to switch mid-art to Photoshop, which has it's own problems and complexities. Corel has a pretty decent colour palette, though, and the colour wheel covers me for most other things.

Cream is very slightly yellowed white, which isn't difficult to acquire if you've got a colour wheel handy?

Trazoi
2011-09-19, 08:51 PM
Cream is very slightly yellowed white, which isn't difficult to acquire if you've got a colour wheel handy?
I haven't timed using the colour wheel. Previously I've been tweaking with RGB or HSL sliders, which takes a while. With the wheel though it's probably a matter of a second or two if it's a casual tweak. There might however be difficulty in keeping colours constant; you can pick the same colour again and again with the swatches.

I'm also partly debating whether going with a fixed palette might be a interesting style choice. Originally my webcomic idea was heavily video game oriented, so a fixed palette makes some sense. However I keep bumping against the limitations when I have to throw together multiple variation of the same hue.

Maybe I should stick with 12 basic hues but allow whatever saturation and lightness I want. That could give a colourful cartoony look while still allowing graduations in shade.
Edit: Although I've had a devil of a time trying to decide how to pick those hues. :smallsigh: My current palette is the RGB space divided evenly. That gives me a lot of greens but not a lot in the red to yellow range. Something between red & orange and orange & yellow might be nice.

Thanqol
2011-09-19, 09:02 PM
I haven't timed using the colour wheel. Previously I've been tweaking with RGB or HSL sliders, which takes a while. With the wheel though it's probably a matter of a second or two if it's a casual tweak. There might however be difficulty in keeping colours constant; you can pick the same colour again and again with the swatches.

You can keep the colours constant across the same picture with a colour wheel using a paint dropper, but keeping them constant across multiple pictures or constant characters is more annoying if you can't add it to a wheel. It's not impossible, just time consuming.


I'm also partly debating whether going with a fixed palette might be a interesting style choice. Originally my webcomic idea was heavily video game oriented, so a fixed palette makes some sense. However I keep bumping against the limitations when I have to throw together multiple variation of the same hue.

Maybe I should stick with 12 basic hues but allow whatever saturation and lightness I want. That could give a colourful cartoony look while still allowing graduations in shade.

I'm not qualified to comment on this ^^;

Domochevsky
2011-09-19, 10:32 PM
So... what's stopping you from using both? Pick from the wheel as necessary and build a swatch out of the more often used colors as you go along. It's how i do it. :smallwink:

Trazoi
2011-09-19, 10:53 PM
So... what's stopping you from using both? Pick from the wheel as necessary and build a swatch out of the more often used colors as you go along. It's how i do it. :smallwink:
That's what I've been doing in ArtRage. Inkscape however doesn't have editable swatch palettes within the program. You've got to tinker with a text editor or write a small script to generate your own palettes. That's open source for you, where everyone is expected to be a programmer. :smalltongue:

Domochevsky
2011-09-20, 06:02 AM
Pff, what are you doing with Incscape anyway? I thought you wanted to brush up on your drawing skills, not your construction abilities. :smalltongue:

Trazoi
2011-09-20, 07:07 AM
A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B. :smalltongue:

I'm working through a checklist of stuff I'm not sure about my webcomic ideas - should I go raster or vector? How much stuff can I do in the time available.?I'm currently strongest with Inkscape, but is that workable? And will that also improve my art skills or side-step them? Currently I'm leaning toward doing a rough draft in ArtRage and then vectoring it up in Inkscape, but if it takes all weekend to do one crappy page then it might be better to stick to ArtRage and make a twice as crappy webcomic five times as fast. Or not, because I've got no idea of the times required. Which is why I'm testing my backgrounding speed while also studying some vector style stuff.

Paragraph over, and this one will probably be the last of the pony set:
Day 18: Treescape

Darn trees. I slowed down on this one to pick colours with the dropper tool and be careful with the shapes, so I didn't get as far:

Original:
http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/1328/ponytreescapehq.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/196/ponytreescapehq.jpg/)

As far as I got in an hour:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110920/treescape.png

I might finish this one off later in the week, as this is an example that uses a lot of gradients to make it work. Then I've got to try a few backgrounds from scratch, as well as get back to more anatomy.

Capt. Ido Nos
2011-09-20, 09:55 AM
Wow, that looks pretty darn spot on there, Trazoi! Good job :smallbiggrin:

How are you thinking of using gradients? I think it might be my work monitor, but I don't see any gradients in the original reference? :smallconfused:

Trazoi
2011-09-20, 04:52 PM
Wow, that looks pretty darn spot on there, Trazoi! Good job :smallbiggrin:
Well as Domochevsky said it's more construction than proper art, as I'm using the original image as an overlay when making the larger shapes. It's basically tracing in vector form. It's more of a "getting comfortable with Inkscape" thing than an art thing.


How are you thinking of using gradients? I think it might be my work monitor, but I don't see any gradients in the original reference? :smallconfused:
They're subtle but they're everywhere. In that image it's clearest on the grass and the path, but most large patches of colour have a gradient applied to them. If you check the RGB values of the pixels you can see they vary.

Trazoi
2011-09-23, 05:46 AM
I lost a couple of days there due to time pressures but I'll make up for them. The little doodles I did aren't worth mentioning so those days don't count.

Day 19: Posemaniacs, Treescape again

Capt. Ido mentioned Posemaniacs (http://www.posemaniacs.com/?pagename=thirtysecond) to me and I checked them out today, and it's a really neat exercise. You have to sketch the figure in 30 sec. I should have tried this out yesterday - while I didn't have a lot of time I could have sqeezed in twenty minutes of this:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110923/poses-01.jpg
I can fit two figures in a layer in ArtRage before I have to make a new one. This is great practice - there's a whole bunch of poses thrown at me that I've never attempted before.

Most of time for today's art was spent finishing off the MLP Treescape and seeing how gradients go in Inkscape:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110923/treescape-gradients.jpg
Gradients are actually a lot easier to work with than I thought. Once you get used to the tool you can do a decent flat gradient in a few seconds. It's still an extra time sink stage to factor in, plus I need to switch to JPEGs, but it's certainly not worth writing them off the production process just yet.

Trazoi
2011-09-25, 05:30 AM
Day 20: More Poses

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110924/poses.jpg

I was not on my best art game yesterday. I forced myself to crank out several dozen 30-sec poses, but it wasn't flowing nearly as well as before.

Day 21: Shadow Throne (rough sketch)

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110925/shadowthrone.jpg

A scene I'd like to draw is a somewhat sinister throne room full of shadow, but I'm not sure how to structure it. Here's a first attempt at designing the room, with a magical portal as a light source behind the throne and smaller magical lights behind the pillars.

Honestly after sketching this I think if I'm going with a shadow throne room I'd stick to having one main light source because with all those little lights the number of shadows adds up to insane levels.

Saeyan
2011-09-26, 02:24 AM
Posemaniacs sucks unless you're learning muscular anatomy, and even then it's still kind of useless. Draw real people, draw from photos of real people, you'll improve much faster.

The most pressing issue: either all the poses you got have some serious foreshortening going on, or you're not paying attention to proportions at all when doing the figures.

Some people like 30s as it warms them up. IMHO 30s only works when you've got a nice big sheet of newsprint and charcoal to work with, and is too short to be much use in digital. 1 minute is a nice time to start at - not too long, not too short.

Treescape: I like it. Next step is to try vectors with your own drawings, once you get there.

Trazoi
2011-09-26, 07:08 AM
Thanks! At the moment the two things I'm using Posemaniacs for is a) drawing figures that aren't standing in a neutral position (way too easy to fall into that trap) and b) practicing legs, because I always seem to screw them up majorly. I probably should mix it up with some other exercises focusing on legs and feet too. What I really should do is take proper stock of what I've done the last few weeks and the advice I've got and come up with some new exercises focusing on the weak points.

I'm fairly sure the first figure in that batch has some foreshortening; I'm not sure about the others. One trap I have to unlearn from cartoony style drawings is drawing the heads way too big and the legs too short.

Thanqol
2011-09-26, 07:43 AM
I'm fairly sure the first figure in that batch has some foreshortening; I'm not sure about the others. One trap I have to unlearn from cartoony style drawings is drawing the heads way too big and the legs too short.

Yeah, I was sort of wondering if they were meant to be in a cartoony style. The reference meme I use is that the legs are about as big as the entire rest of the body.

Trazoi
2011-09-26, 04:48 PM
That's what I should be doing. Looking at my usual cartoon style I'm defaulting to the half-way point being at the top of the waist, combining the hips into the leg half. I'm not sure how it evolved into that - I think it might have been because I was drawing hips like they were two massive leg joints instead of a separate block with the leg joints contained underneath. I'll try blocking them out again with the half-way point at the bottom of the torso instead and see if that makes the legs look more natural.

Edit: I'll post the day's sketches next time, as they're more poses done before this discussion.

Trazoi
2011-09-27, 04:54 PM
Day 22: More Poses

Another half hour session of these:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110926/poses.jpg

Day 23a: Pair of pair of legs

I got a couple of new art books, including a book on anatomy ("Classic Human Anatomy" by Valerie Winslow). It's going to take a while to read properly, so for now here's me sketching some of the pictures. This time it's legs:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110927/legs.jpg

Day 23b: Character line-up #1

And then I completely forget about anatomy and work on some character design:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110927/sketchivy.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110927/sketchlineup.jpg

I know it's bad form to completely trash your art when posing them up but I'm really not happy with the way these sketches came out. In these I was ensuring I got the legs-to-the-rest ratio right (as well as other little details like a revert in hairstyle for Ivy) but it didn't quite work as a whole.

In the top Ivy sketch I was working off a four-heads model when I'm usually used to drawing Ivy as three-heads, so the result looks really lanky to me. That might be better in the long run, but I'll have to get over the initial change first.

In the bottom one I've got the five main cast of my webcomic idea sketched out, and I played around with stretching them to get an approx. look of their height differences. They're all lined up like I'm Captain Von Trapp. I wish I'd done this in real-life pencil first as this all-digital version doesn't look right in so many ways. There's also this nagging issue in the back of my brain that I'm blending realism with cartoony vectors a bit too much in places and I should peg the mark somewhere. My gut feeling is I should sketch far more realistic and then simplify down to an aesthetically pleasing form, but it's a lot easier to type stuff like that then know how to actually do it. I'm also not sure if having such wildly different heights will be a bane when I get to doing actual interaction scenes.

Trazoi
2011-09-28, 09:22 AM
I wanted to play around with action poses, but I'm not sure where to begin with learning how to properly draw them. The few I tried quick-sketching were stiff and unnatural so I'm missing something fundamental. I'll need to do some more reading to learn some basics, so here's a simple background-y scene for today instead:

Day 24: Arches

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/110928/arches.png

Savannah
2011-09-28, 12:40 PM
Yeah, action poses are hard. This (http://fri-freeman.deviantart.com/favourites/?offset=48#/ddeq1f) might help; I ran across it ages ago, and it struck me as being both simple and useful.

Trazoi
2011-09-28, 05:38 PM
That looks really useful, thanks! I've also got a couple of animation books I picked up in one of my Amazon book buying binges that I should check for tips on how to imply force and action curves.

Trazoi
2011-10-01, 09:10 AM
Welp, I've not been very good at posting updates daily. :smallfrown: The last couple of days I've been meaning to do that research into action poses and come up with some killer exercise to take those first steps into lively action poses. But when it comes to the crunch I feel too exhausted or intimidated and don't put in a proper session. Also I'm currently hooked on Frozen Synapse when I should be digitally drawing.

I've done a few half-done more detailed drawings but they're very incomplete and really awful. What I have been drawing is my usual no-brainer cartoon sketches, the usual when I'm tired. I'm not that happy with having to post some of these because I should have been working harder, but hey, I should be posting what I've done if it's simply to motivate me to draw more tomorrow. And I've got a new scanner to trial, so no excuse not to!

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111001/sketch-0.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111001/sketch-1.jpg

I've got sheets and sheets of these. They're more character construction tests than art though. I've been doing stuff like these for ages as story ideas gestate, and I fear I've got several horrible habits from their blocky nature ingrained into me.

If you're willing to let me ramble on about what I've been thinking about, here's what I've been trialling with this designs:

The hair and outfit. Obviously you haven't seen the evolution of this character (Ivy), but I constantly tweak parts of the design over time - same with all of them. At the moment I've reverted back to an older form with a circular vortex of hair instead of the (more recent) spiky hair, and a ragged cut of the lower dress.
The proportions. I'm not sure exactly how tall to make Ivy, or what proportion to make the legs. I've developed a taste in drawing characters with ridiculously oversized heads, stemming from their origins as very simple doll-like figures. She's currently measuring at four heads, which is a setup from the three head mark she was at for ages (originally everyone was at two, which is where the "big head" style stuck).
The overall style. The problem is I need a cartoon look that "feels right" in neutral poses but will also work in action - and often I can't even get the neutral poses feeling right, let alone ones in motion. I'm fairly happy with the four head pose I finished with on the right of the row in the second image, but I'm not sure how well it will hold up when Ivy's in a non-standing pose. I'm also not sure if my big head style is making everyone look a lot younger than they should; Ivy's meant to look like a short young adult rather than a young child. I might need to tweak her build a bit more to look more like a gymnast, and see if that works in action poses with that huge head.


Edit: Bonus! Look what I found in my repository dated from exactly a year ago:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111001/Ivy03.jpg
Exactly the same thing! Why haven't I launched this webcomic yet?!?! *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

Thanqol
2011-10-01, 11:43 PM
Welp, I've not been very good at posting updates daily. :smallfrown: The last couple of days I've been meaning to do that research into action poses and come up with some killer exercise to take those first steps into lively action poses. But when it comes to the crunch I feel too exhausted or intimidated and don't put in a proper session. Also I'm currently hooked on Frozen Synapse when I should be digitally drawing.

*Snip*

Exactly the same thing! Why haven't I launched this webcomic yet?!?! *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

Easy there, don't freak out about this. Having a drive for improvement is great but you can't let it burn you out. I know the feeling of how hard it is to start some complex sounding project well.

My suggestion for how to deal with is to lower your standards to zero, especially if you notice them creeping up. Pick up a challenge, even if you're tired, and give it a shot and don't care if it's bad. A lot of challenges are way worse in your head. My Day 135 looked outright impossible and, moreover, I was in a positively foul mood when I started it, but by putting myself in perspective and settling to release a bluepen sketch one day made it come together surprisingly well.

Remember. This isn't about producing art. This is about learning, and screwups are so informative. :smallwink: :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-10-02, 06:38 AM
I'm more annoyed with myself for toying with webcomic ideas for too long rather than forging ahead and giving myself some licence for being really crappy to begin with. Otherwise I'll be back to where I was a year ago with this project, which is a completely overdeveloped world with a cast of two dozen plus main characters in at least three intertwined epic storylines that would take a decade to write. :smallamused:

Anyway, better get back to numbering these updates:

Day 25: This Is Not A Left Hand

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111002/hand.jpg

It's a drawing of a hand. No wait, it's a drawing of an upper arm. Actually, it's a couple of sketches on top of each other. Also that's my right arm inverted by the webcam. Not a left hand at all.

The lines around some of the fingers didn't come to a point as well as they should, and I'm not sure about the way I drew the knuckles in or the shading.

Thanqol
2011-10-02, 07:32 AM
I'm more annoyed with myself for toying with webcomic ideas for too long rather than forging ahead and giving myself some licence for being really crappy to begin with. Otherwise I'll be back to where I was a year ago with this project, which is a completely overdeveloped world with a cast of two dozen plus main characters in at least three intertwined epic storylines that would take a decade to write. :smallamused:

Anyway, better get back to numbering these updates:

Day 25: This Is Not A Left Hand

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111002/hand.jpg

It's a drawing of a hand. No wait, it's a drawing of an upper arm. Actually, it's a couple of sketches on top of each other. Also that's my right arm inverted by the webcam. Not a left hand at all.

The lines around some of the fingers didn't come to a point as well as they should, and I'm not sure about the way I drew the knuckles in or the shading.

God, it's like an Escher drawing @_@

Trazoi
2011-10-02, 04:30 PM
God, it's like an Escher drawing @_@
Did I screw up a line in there somewhere? :smallconfused:

smuchmuch
2011-10-02, 04:45 PM
It may be only me (and for waht i'm able to juge, wich is not a lot), but, even putting cartoonisness aside, three of the fingers look indeed a little weird.

The ring finger look almost longer than the major and more importantly, wider than the other fingers (though it might be a question of angle) and it make it look like it's seen from front while the rest of the hand look like it's looked upon by a side angle.
I think also both the ring finger and the little finger should start higher (and be slightly shorter.)

Also the thumb look like it's too close from the observer as where is postion should be ont he hand. ?(not sure here , though.)

Trazoi
2011-10-02, 05:17 PM
It's drawn from reference, so cartoonish shouldn't be an issue, other than my mutant hands. :smalltongue:

Looking at it again, all the fingers are too thin. Some of the earlier sketchings that I've faded out are more appropriate. It appears I did the last inking based on my intuition as to where the fingers should be rather than using my eyes to actually see where the fingers are. The ring and pinky should start higher up and all of them should be thicker. Also the points aren't drawn right and might be playing tricks on the appeared perspective; the thumb and outstretched fingers are pointing towards the viewer as are the knuckles of the curled fingers, the arm is receeding back.

Trazoi
2011-10-03, 07:20 AM
Welp, I'm having issues with the poses of the characters I'm trying to draw tonight, and my scanner is playing up so it might be difficult to post one of the rough sketches. I'll finish this up in tomorrow's session.

I haven't yet figured out the most effective way to get art from concept to rough sketch to draft to finished image yet. I'm juggling different tools at the moment. I'm sure it's a lot more streamlined for people who drawing has become more natural.

Also I still can't draw legs. They never look right. :smallfrown:

Edit: Ugh. Seriously, I might need to spend an entire week on legs. Why can the arms look close to acceptable if you squint a bit but the legs are so obviously wrong.

Editx2: Oh what the heck - I should be posting work in progress if I can, even if it's crappy. I'll need some pointers on legs and poses.

Day 26: Owls (work in progress)


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111003/owl2.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111003/owl1.jpg


Scan quality is crappy as I'm using my webcam. Sketch quality is crappy because these are rough drafts because I can't get the darn poses and legs right. :smallannoyed: The second one with the lone "owl" is getting there, but it's still got severe leg issues. Also capes and cloaks - can't draw 'em either.

Thanqol
2011-10-03, 04:53 PM
Legs, my only advice is that they're both thicker and longer than you'd expect. Legs are really big.

Capes, though! Capes I've done some thinkin' about! What you need to do to make 'em look natural rather than a wet towel strapped to the middle back is curve 'em. They need to fold over themselves a bit, wrap around the legs and curve inwards. They're not flat papers, they're half-cylinders. :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-10-04, 04:24 PM
Yeah, I'm starting to get the knack of legs, although I still need loads more practice. I'm finding it's a lot easier to approximate the muscles if I'm going for a slightly cartoony style rather than try to draw them all; draw the muscles on one side and suggest the muscles on the other, depending on the angle of the limb. I'll need to try more advanced poses than different styles of standing to get the knack of it though. (Will post images next time, as last session was a lot of sketches of mashed together poses with legs).

Trazoi
2011-10-05, 06:42 AM
Yesterday was leg sketching practice, but since I didn't get anything finished and posted I won't add it to the day count.

Day 27: Owl Inquisitor (sketch)

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111005/scowl_owl.jpg

It's still rather sketchy and mistakes a-plenty, but I like how the face came out. The way I've drawn it I'm not sure how the goggles work with relation to the hat. The "talon" punch dagger is really odd, I still need to work on body poses, and I really need to work on hands. But it's starting to get the spark of character in there somewhere.

Trazoi
2011-10-09, 05:29 AM
Whoops. I took a day off due to being mildly ill, and it dragged out to a a couple more. I''ll try to get back into drawing and posting something, even if it isn't brilliant. For today, here's a quick sketch:

Update 28: Dance!
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111008/lux_dance.jpg

Based on this ref:
http://img835.imageshack.us/img835/827/charleston1.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/835/charleston1.jpg/)

My drawing is too stiff; there isn't that feel of motion to it. :smallannoyed:

Thanqol
2011-10-09, 06:23 AM
I think the sense of motion in the reference picture comes from the fact that the girl's torso isn't vertical. The other part, I think, is that her limbs are crossing. See how the left knee overlaps the right one just a bit? That adds depth to the picture, which gives the illusion of motion.

My art book says that you've got to make sure the person has about the same amount of mass on both sides of the centre line in order to make them look balanced. Within that, you can get away with a lot.

[/dimly understood and completely academically unfounded theorising]

Trazoi
2011-10-09, 06:33 AM
Yeah, it's always the legs isn't it? :smalltongue: I can usually get them looking okay if I draw some practice poses, but sometimes it takes about two dozen. I'll go back to the ref books and check the musculature for the next one.

Edit: Other things to practice: drawing faces in profile.

averagejoe
2011-10-10, 02:26 PM
My art book says that you've got to make sure the person has about the same amount of mass on both sides of the centre line in order to make them look balanced. Within that, you can get away with a lot.

This actually has a scientific basis - for something to stand on its own, the center of mass must be above the base of support.

Trazoi
2011-10-12, 07:30 AM
Update 29: Abort, Retry, Fail?

Aaargh, nothing is coming out right. :smallannoyed: I needed to get something up, so I drew another pose:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111012/crouching_ava.jpg

I'm still not happy with my poses. They're too stiff. I'm torn about whether I should spend some time reading through an animation guide to get a better idea of portraing cartoon motion. The alternative is to attempt to do a few warm-up comic strips, which I'm going to have to get to sooner or later.

Savannah
2011-10-12, 09:27 AM
Personally, I found that doing my strip improved my poses, because I had a reason to draw the pose and an emotion I wanted to show instead of just drawing it for the heck of it. (Admittedly, my strip is OotS-style, so your results may vary.)

Domochevsky
2011-10-12, 10:05 AM
And here's your third of the challenge, posed to all of you.

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/Challenge/Challenge_LTD_1.png

Go go go! o/

Trazoi
2011-10-13, 07:27 AM
Go go go! o/
Update 30: Mechanical Problems
Music: She's a Pony Remix (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t38DPnkDjTM) (I blame Thanquol)

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111013/challenge.jpg

Humbug
2011-10-13, 08:06 AM
This is just speaking from experience, but the reason why the poses look stiff is that the torso is too straight, just making the torso curve immediately adds dynamism. I'm not good at telling tho, I draw by feel. :smalltongue:

Trazoi
2011-10-13, 08:11 AM
This is just speaking from experience, but the reason why the poses look stiff is that the torso is too straight, just making the torso curve immediately adds dynamism. I'm not good at telling tho, I draw by feel. :smalltongue:
Ooh that is an issue, isn't it? Their spines are steel rods. Whoops.

Thanqol
2011-10-13, 08:55 AM
Update 30: Mechanical Problems
Music: She's a Pony Remix (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t38DPnkDjTM) (I blame Thanquol)

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111013/challenge.jpg

It's not my fault there's so much fantastic pony music!

I wish it was. Maybe it should be. Maybe I'll start a learning to muzak thread once I've mastered drawing!

The background for this looks interesting, actually, how did you do it?

Trazoi
2011-10-13, 09:13 AM
The background for this looks interesting, actually, how did you do it?
Playing around with loads of layers in ArtRage.

The base stuff is a really crude painting of a narrow workshop-like environment. I didn't care too much with details because it's quick and dirty and was going to be really faint anyway. It's just basic shapes looking vaguely like things:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111013/challenge_bg1.jpg

There was a slight green tint over that (a layer of nothing but green with low opacity).

Then there was a couple of layers of "static", which was the paint roller tool in ArtRage done in black and white:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111013/challenge_bg2.jpg
I used these twice, once in front of the background (with low opacity) and once in front of the foreground (with even lower opacity). So there's a faint staticy look over the entire image but less so around the figures so they're less obscured.

Domochevsky
2011-10-13, 01:17 PM
This is just speaking from experience, but the reason why the poses look stiff is that the torso is too straight, just making the torso curve immediately adds dynamism. I'm not good at telling tho, I draw by feel. :smalltongue:

This, pretty much. A spine is a pretty bendy thing. You should make use of that. :smallsmile:

*ponders adding a specific challenge for Trazoi that involves acrobatics*

Trazoi
2011-10-14, 07:15 AM
*ponders adding a specific challenge for Trazoi that involves acrobatics*
I might need one. :smallfrown:

Update 31: Mixin' Tools

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111014/lux_test.png

I wanted to try GIMP out for inking, but this turned into a multiple program experiment. GIMP doesn't feel that great for me for raw sketching, so I went over to ArtRage to do a rough digital pencil figure. I then used GIMP to draw the figure in 1-bit. Then I went over to Inkscape for some vector based colouring and touch-up. Basically an excuse to play around with all three programs and try to see which does what best.

Trazoi
2011-10-17, 06:21 AM
I might need a little help on this one. I'm trying to draw one of my planned webcomic characters in some more dynamic poses: Ira, the one on the far right of this mash-up I made a while ago:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/rb/rb_char_mash_01a.jpg
Ira is tall (giant even) and extremely strong woman. I can't seem to get the build looking right if going for a notch more realistic style. I think it's the effect of comic styling: strong men can look like a bunch of beer barrels lashed together, but strong women are rarely drawn that different from a regular female build.

I think I'll spend the rest of this session trying to get a feel for the right build type, maybe sketch some lines over some rugby pictures since that's roughly the right build. Any tips for how I can get Ira looking right? Is it just a question of more anatomy practice?

Thanqol
2011-10-17, 06:39 AM
I might need a little help on this one. I'm trying to draw one of my planned webcomic characters in some more dynamic poses: Ira, the one on the far right of this mash-up I made a while ago:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/rb/rb_char_mash_01a.jpg
Ira is tall (giant even) and extremely strong woman. I can't seem to get the build looking right if going for a notch more realistic style. I think it's the effect of comic styling: strong men can look like a bunch of beer barrels lashed together, but strong women are rarely drawn that different from a regular female build.

I think I'll spend the rest of this session trying to get a feel for the right build type, maybe sketch some lines over some rugby pictures since that's roughly the right build. Any tips for how I can get Ira looking right?

I think a slight change to the eyes could do a lot; slightly more feminine, longer eyelashes. Otherwise, I can't offer any more advice, this is something I'm still very haltingly exploring myself.

Trazoi
2011-10-17, 06:48 AM
I can do the more feminine eyelashes thing, although that feels like a Ms. Pacman copout (slap eyelashes, lipstick and a bow, insta-girl!). I've got a lot of hang-ups from drawing simplified stick figures where stuff like eyelashes and choice of hairstyles and clothing were the only gender cues. Now I'm moving towards a more realistic style it doesn't feel enough.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111017/ira_strong1.jpg

I think she needs to have a strong build including the wide shoulders, she'll wearing armour and often a helmet with short hair otherwise.

Edit: BTW has everyone got an Insane Twilight Sparkle avatar now? It's getting hard to tell you all apart.

Thanqol
2011-10-17, 06:58 AM
I can do the more feminine eyelashes thing, although that feels like a Ms. Pacman copout (slap eyelashes, lipstick and a bow, insta-girl!). I've got a lot of hang-ups from drawing simplified stick figures where stuff like eyelashes and choice of hairstyles and clothing were the only gender cues. Now I'm moving towards a more realistic style it doesn't feel enough.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111017/ira_strong1.jpg

I think she needs to have a strong build including the wide shoulders, she'll wearing armour and often a helmet with short hair otherwise.

Well, maybe it's a feature not a bug? Try looking at some real life masculine, heavy built, athletic women with short hair. They tend to look pretty boyish. And the area of subtle distinguishments is kind of out of my area of expertise when I can't draw girls to look like girls so hopefully someone else will swing by to help out.


Edit: BTW has everyone got an Insane Twilight Sparkle avatar now? It's getting hard to tell you all apart.

It was my idea, actually, as a halloween thing. It's nightmarish, innit?

Trazoi
2011-10-17, 07:17 AM
Well, maybe it's a feature not a bug? Try looking at some real life masculine, heavy built, athletic women with short hair. They tend to look pretty boyish. And the area of subtle distinguishments is kind of out of my area of expertise when I can't draw girls to look like girls so hopefully someone else will swing by to help out.
I guess. I've got a few sketches in my archive when I was figuring out the costume and head shapes where she doesn't look that bad:

http://img804.imageshack.us/img804/9994/ira01.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/804/ira01.jpg/)


It was my idea, actually, as a halloween thing. It's nightmarish, innit?
... So it's for the entire month? I'm gonna have to change my avatar to this:

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/4926/ponyspikeuhoh.gif (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/195/ponyspikeuhoh.gif/)

Thanqol
2011-10-17, 07:25 AM
I guess. I've got a few sketches in my archive when I was figuring out the costume and head shapes where she doesn't look that bad:

http://img804.imageshack.us/img804/9994/ira01.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/804/ira01.jpg/)

For my money, I could call that as female without prompting.


... So it's for the entire month? I'm gonna have to change my avatar to this:

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/4926/ponyspikeuhoh.gif (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/195/ponyspikeuhoh.gif/)

Terrorponies are bestponies.

Trazoi
2011-10-17, 07:38 AM
For my money, I could call that as female without prompting.
I'll have to draw her with a nose now, but I'll see if I can get that look working from different angles.

And terrorponies are creeping Spike out. :smalltongue:

Domochevsky
2011-10-17, 02:37 PM
Hm... about about some orc warrior-ness for potential reference?

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/RAW_15.png

Dunno if that's what you're going for. :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-10-17, 04:40 PM
The orc barbarian look is pretty close, thanks! I love how your sketches look so natural. If I can get the skeleton right and put effort in the right sort of musculature then hopefully it will look better.

What program do you use for sketching? ArtRage is pretty good, but it's not so good for huge resolutions as the resulting files are massive.

Domochevsky
2011-10-17, 05:19 PM
I'm using openCanvas 5, which costs about 60 bucks, but has a 30 day full trial if you want to give it a shot. I'm quite happy with it so far. It has all the necessary tools without being overencumbered or getting in your way. [/ad jingle]

It also includes an event recorder, which tracks everything you do on the canvas, so i could send you the event file for the orc barbarian and you can play its making back in your oC, including tool/layer usage and at adjustable speed. Watch me meander my way towards a full sketch! o/

I have yet to get a file bigger than 5mb, incidentally, and event files are even smaller. :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-10-20, 07:28 AM
Update 32: Gonna get this right someday...

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111020/ira_sketch.jpg
...but not today. :smallfrown:

Errgh, it looked better in pencil form. On the bright side it is a little better than a lot of the awful sketches I've been playing with. I guess I need to hit the books on the weekend and figure out how to make this work.

Other miscellanea:
That face. Even though it's rough, I'm not sure my old vectory style is working with the increased detail.
That axe. How many times do I have to redraw you and still have you look awful?
Pauldrons. The armor I designed has them, but I guess I haven't figured out how they work when arms are lifted above your head.

Thanqol
2011-10-20, 07:42 AM
Other miscellanea:
That face. Even though it's rough, I'm not sure my old vectory style is working with the increased detail.

Dat tongue, man.

Only thing I can recommend is doing a bunch of photorealistic faces to get that right, and then simplifying. If you're starting from stylisation, you're going from abstract into further abstract and you lose touch with reality quickly. As Jayden tells me, each time something is translated it loses some realism. Reality to drawing, drawing to stylised drawing, stylised drawing to uncanny valley.


That axe. How many times do I have to redraw you and still have you look awful?

Know that feel, bro.


Pauldrons. The armor I designed has them, but I guess I haven't figured out how they work when arms are lifted above your head.


They don't! Pauldrons are worn as part of full plate, which is worn by mounted knights. The motion you make as a mounted knight is a horizontally held lance, or a left-to-right diagonal slash at someone below you, usually at waist level. You can't raise your arms above your head while wearing pauldrons because you're not supposed to! You're not meant to be attacking anything taller than you, and you've already got a height advantage due to your horse.

Trazoi
2011-10-20, 07:59 AM
Dat tongue, man.

Only thing I can recommend is doing a bunch of photorealistic faces to get that right, and then simplifying. If you're starting from stylisation, you're going from abstract into further abstract and you lose touch with reality quickly. As Jayden tells me, each time something is translated it loses some realism. Reality to drawing, drawing to stylised drawing, stylised drawing to uncanny valley.
I think ultimately I started from smiley faces and moved out from there. I've got the archive of doodles that chronicle everything.

Yeah, I sort of gave up on the face in the pre-sketchig phase because I was focusing on the rest of the body. It wasn't until after I scribbled on some ink that it struck me how goony it looks. You're right - I should crank up the realism a few notches before shapifing everything again.


They don't! Pauldrons are worn as part of full plate, which is worn by mounted knights. The motion you make as a mounted knight is a horizontally held lance, or a left-to-right diagonal slash at someone below you, usually at waist level. You can't raise your arms above your head while wearing pauldrons because you're not supposed to! You're not meant to be attacking anything taller than you, and you've already got a height advantage due to your horse.
That makes sense. I suspect I added them in the armour as a homage to the ludicrous shoulder pads in video games, or more likely to hide some really bad joining of the arms to the torso. Looks like they aren't going to work. I'd better replace them with leather straps or something.

Trazoi
2011-10-22, 06:45 AM
Update 33: Take two? Or is that three?

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111022/ira_lunge.jpg

The stick figure looked okay-ish, but when I blocked her out something was seriously wrong with the legs, like I'd put the wrong ones in the wrong sockets. I spent ages redrawing and reconfiguring those legs. It ended up in reverse from what I intended as now both the left leg and left arm are forward, but that's what seemed to look best. Then when I put the details on it everything started looking wonkier. Still, better than last time.

And this just in: Feet, hard to draw right.

Domochevsky
2011-10-22, 12:31 PM
Hm, how to describe this... needs more combat stance. :smallwink:

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/Challenge/ira_lunge_edited.png

If one shoulder goes forward the other one goes back, since you're twisting your torso. Also, you've chosen quite a difficult perspective here to work with. >_>

Trazoi
2011-10-25, 05:54 AM
The previous days I've only spend half an hour drawing rubbish unfit to post. I'll need to hit the books because I'm still not sure how to properly draw a punch that feels alive.

Update 34: Not enough punch

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111025/ira_punch.jpg

It's another punch sketch. Still not right. :smallannoyed: Also I know I picked that skirt for an ancient warrior look, but it's hard to draw even when still. Damned if I know how to draw a skirt in motion.

I'd like any suggestions on what to draw next because I'm getting a little hung up on drawing punches.

Thanqol
2011-10-25, 07:06 AM
I'd like any suggestions on what to draw next because I'm getting a little hung up on drawing punches.

Characters or exercises? Exercises, one I'm planning to do once I have time, is draw someone at every stage of a jump. The run-up, the leap, the way the feet bend and move in the air, the landing, and the come out into a run again. Characters? Jayden (http://thanqol.deviantart.com/#/d420n30)!

Trazoi
2011-10-26, 04:11 AM
Exercises, one I'm planning to do once I have time, is draw someone at every stage of a jump. The run-up, the leap, the way the feet bend and move in the air, the landing, and the come out into a run again.
Me trying to draw that will end up like this:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111026/jump_anim.gif


Characters? Jayden (http://thanqol.deviantart.com/#/d420n30)!
Who's she? She looks a little familiar, but that might be the headphones.

Thanqol
2011-10-26, 04:22 AM
Me trying to draw that will end up like this:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111026/jump_anim.gif

Aww, that's cute. But here's a freerunning (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEeqHj3Nj2c)video - look at how these guys move, the various stances that lead up to the jump. Pause the video, take a sketch, advance a few frames, and pause again. That's on my list of things to do when the schedule frees up.


Who's she? She looks a little familiar, but that might be the headphones.

Jayden Mavel, a character of mine (though this drawing was a commission, done before I started to learn how to draw). I've tried my hand at drawing her a fair few times.

Trazoi
2011-10-26, 05:53 AM
Jayden Mavel, a character of mine (though this drawing was a commission, done before I started to learn how to draw). I've tried my hand at drawing her a fair few times.
Update 35: Jayden - Rough sketch & Mock watercolour

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111026/jayden_sketch.jpg

I don't know anything about the character. Or how to properly use the watercolour tool. Things get messy.

Thanqol
2011-10-26, 06:02 AM
The instant and picture-breaking problem is the two mouths. I've got no idea what's going on there. I can't see anything else.

Stuff about the character:

Forces Mage. Really good with big, obvious effects involving all kinds of force (lightning, fire, friction, gravity). Specialized in sound.
Relentlessly optimistic and confident. At it's best form, it manifests as faith that the world is better than people give it credit for. At it's worst, it manifests as arrogant pride.
Former catholic schoolgirl, come counter-culture celebrity. Possesses an improbably broad skill set - celebrity, musician, athlete, scientist, mechanic, programmer, wizard. Masters anything she sets her mind to with almost offensive ease.

Trazoi
2011-10-26, 06:10 AM
The instant and picture-breaking problem is the two mouths. I've got no idea what's going on there. I can't see anything else.
It's a special today. Draw one mouth, get an extra free.

(I bailed out on doing a final sketch layer or inking. Those marks are a guide where the mouth and lips should be if I drew them. I should have touched it up a little so it's not so distracting, but I got focused on how to draw the coat around the legs and then distracted by watercolours.)

Thanqol
2011-10-26, 06:21 AM
It's a special today. Draw one mouth, get an extra free.

(I bailed out on doing a final sketch layer or inking. Those marks are a guide where the mouth and lips should be if I drew them. I should have touched it up a little so it's not so distracting, but I got focused on how to draw the coat around the legs and then distracted by watercolours.)

It'd be the action of about twenty seconds to fix, surely?

Apart from that, managing to force my eye away from it, the picture actually looks decent. It's rough, but it feels like it has depth.

Trazoi
2011-10-26, 06:38 AM
It'd be the action of about twenty seconds to fix, surely?
Well yes, but it sort of defeats the exercise of posting stuff that's horribly flawed and having to leave it up for all to see. :smallwink:

Here's a retouched version:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111026/jayden_sketch2.jpg

Thanqol
2011-10-26, 06:54 AM
Well yes, but it sort of defeats the exercise of posting stuff that's horribly flawed and having to leave it up for all to see. :smallwink:

I panicedit stuff all the time. It's really easy to get so hung up on detail work that you don't see a really obvious flaw until taking a break and looking at it again with fresh eyes.

Looking at the fixed version, it the coat looks good; natural and flow-ey. The face I'm not convinced on, though.

Domochevsky
2011-10-26, 10:31 AM
Needs more contrast between character and background. :smallwink:
(That is, use a lighter wood color for the wall, so they don't blend together as much.)

Trazoi
2011-10-26, 04:49 PM
Needs more contrast between character and background. :smallwink:
(That is, use a lighter wood color for the wall, so they don't blend together as much.)
Oh crud, I was going to use the neon light glare for that and I forgot to do it.

Trazoi
2011-10-27, 06:37 AM
#36: Flyboy

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111027/flyboy.jpg

I can't get the hang of inking. It looked semi-reasonable while the backing sketch was still there, but remove the sketch and it's all wonky. I had to redraw the jet wings a dozen times before they weren't an abomination. Also I think I got the position of the body wrong for that type of aerial maneouver.

I guess the inking thing is a matter of practice, as long as I stop putting that stage off.

Thanqol
2011-10-27, 06:52 AM
While there may be wrong stuff there, I think that overall the impression of the picture works great. There's depth and motion there.

I know the pain of moving from sketch to inking, too. With a sketch it's vague and half-formed, so your brain fills in the gaps with what it's supposed to look like. With inking it's BIG and HARD and if there's a mistake you can SEE IT. If you have any tips there, I'd like to hear them :smallwink:

Trazoi
2011-10-27, 04:34 PM
I know the pain of moving from sketch to inking, too. With a sketch it's vague and half-formed, so your brain fills in the gaps with what it's supposed to look like. With inking it's BIG and HARD and if there's a mistake you can SEE IT. If you have any tips there, I'd like to hear them :smallwink:
I don't know. I'm going to experiment with inking in 1-bit formats again. You only need to use one pen tool and switch between white and black, and when you work really huge it looks okay when you shrink it down.

Trazoi
2011-10-28, 07:25 AM
If Thanqol's going to draw pegasus ponies, I'm gonna draw more cute flying things. :smalltongue:

#37: Fairy Flyby

Small Coloured:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111028/sprites_coloured_s.jpg

So yeah - it started off a bit Powerpuff Girls and kept going that way. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing.

This was mostly another inking test. I wanted to try the GIMP to see how it fared for inking, so I drew a few simple cartoon characters and started playing around.

Sketch (done in Artrage):
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111028/sprites.jpg
A charcoal sketch done in ArtRage, done a few times to get a feel of the composition.

Inked (done in GIMP & Inkscape)
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111028/sprites_inked.png
I loaded the sketch up in GIMP and tried inking using the pencil tool. I wanted to try inking in 1-bit, i.e. black and white, no in-between. It usually works better in higher res, but I thought I'd give it a shot as is. The main advantage of the GIMP's pencil tool is that I can toggle between black and white with a single button. Black draws ink, white is erasing. GIMP's pencil tool feels "floaty" and otherwise the interface is a pain, but for this specific task it's not so bad.

I ran the binary image up in Inkscape and vectorised it to smooth it out a little before exporting it for colouring back in ArtRage.

Large Coloured (done in ArtRage):
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111028/sprites_coloured.jpg
Back to ArtRage for colouring using the digital art pens, pretty straight forward.

Thanqol
2011-10-28, 07:32 AM
If Thanqol's going to draw pegasus ponies, I'm gonna draw more cute flying things. :smalltongue:

So if I draw cute flying things, then you draw pegasus ponies?

Trazoi
2011-10-28, 07:36 AM
So if I draw cute flying things, then you draw pegasus ponies?
I draw cuter, more flyingly flying things!

Or maybe lizards. I'm overdue a few lizards.

Thanqol
2011-10-28, 07:44 AM
I draw cuter, more flyingly flying things!

Or maybe lizards. I'm overdue a few lizards.

The gauntlet is thrown, Trazoi, if that is your real screen name.

Domochevsky
2011-10-28, 12:23 PM
So you didn't even try opencanvas? Tsk, tsk and tsk. :smallwink:

Trazoi
2011-10-28, 03:45 PM
The gauntlet is thrown, Trazoi, if that is your real screen name.
If you're calling for a cute-off, it is on.

So you didn't even try opencanvas? Tsk, tsk and tsk. :smallwink:
I would but I'm using a Mac.

Trazoi
2011-10-29, 08:47 PM
I'm playing with the digital watercolours again.

#38: Flying Lizards

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111030/helizards.jpg

Edit: Nuts, I've just noticed I've Escherised the skid. *facepalm*
Editx2: Okay, fixed. The back of the skid isn't straight either which really bugs me, but that is a non-trival fix.

(Original Eschered version:)
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111030/helizards_escher.jpg

Domochevsky
2011-10-30, 10:53 AM
...what's a skid? >_>

Trazoi
2011-10-30, 05:01 PM
...what's a skid? >_>
Helicopter feet.

Domochevsky
2011-10-30, 06:06 PM
Ah. Ok, now that correction makes more sense. >_>

(Incidentally: That scene is pretty good in itself. Unexpected, even. :O )

Trazoi
2011-11-01, 06:52 AM
(Incidentally: That scene is pretty good in itself. Unexpected, even. :O )
To be fair the helicopter is pretty close to the reference image (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-F7DZBxgs1YY/TePI7zQVQpI/AAAAAAAAFIE/kB86U8A9gK4/s1600/Bell+47+helicopter+%252810%2529.jpg). I tried to tilt it a little but the pose in the ref images came through stronger than I'd hoped. I got somewhat involved with that one because hey, cute helicopter. Plus I had some time in the morning when I've got more creative energy; I should do that more often.

#39: Inking Benchmark

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111101/bench_ivy.jpg

This is a quick digital ink drawing to see how well it came out. Basically it's a regular ink line drawing with an extra inking run through to put a thicker outline with some depth. The head is attached somewhat wrong; I'll need to look into how that style works and the positioning of the neck so it's more natural. But the style itself is definitely workable given how relatively quick it is (half an hour? I wasn't keeping track); with more practice I could definitely build a webcomic off of that.

Trazoi
2011-11-02, 06:44 AM
#40: Science!

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111102/science.jpg

Near the end I noticed that the costume looks a lot like the picture for "Mad Scientist" in Wikipedia and top hit in Google, especially after I added the stripes on the gloves to help distinguish them, so whatever Wikipedia and Google. If I were to use a mad scientist character again I'd have to mix up the costume a bit, although there's only so many variantions on the theme you can go through. Mad scientists have their traditions.

Thanqol
2011-11-02, 06:49 AM
#40: Science!

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111102/science.jpg

Near the end I noticed that the costume looks a lot like the picture for "Mad Scientist" in Wikipedia and top hit in Google, especially after I added the stripes on the gloves to help distinguish them, so whatever Wikipedia and Google. If I were to use a mad scientist character again I'd have to mix up the costume a bit, although there's only so many variantions on the theme you can go through. Mad scientists have their traditions.

Jumper cables AND a monocle? He's the best mad scientist ever!

Trazoi
2011-11-02, 07:12 AM
Jumper cables AND a monocle? He's the best mad scientist ever!
He's a character I drew back when I was teaching myself Inkscape a few years back. I should have the files in my archive somewhere - I'll dig them up:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111102/surgery.png
Huh. That's not that bad, at least for me back then. He's got the yellow rims on the gloves too, and I was drawing those jaggedy smiles. And that's actually a genuinely nice clock-taped-to-a-heart.

Trazoi
2011-11-03, 07:52 AM
#41: See 'Em Why Koloured Ink

Flat colours:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111103/ivy_colour.jpg
With quick shadowing:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111103/ivy_shadow.jpg

I've been playing around with colour and appropriate palettes, and today I tried out some print based colouring. I'm using the CMYK model mimicking the old comic book style printing. Black (K) ink is used for solid blacks, and colours were a mix of 25%, 50% or 100% of cyan, magenta or yellow ink. For this experiment I used digital ink pens on layers set to multiply to get the ink subtractive model, using three layers of cyan, magenta and yellow seperately to get a feel of what they're like. That's why there's some experimenting off to the side. Then after I got some flat colours done, I did some playing around with hard black shadows, all quick like.

It's only a quick test, but I'm liking the feel of the colours available. It's very comicky. I hadn't tried blue hair with this character before but it works well. If I was to do this regularly I'd make a proper palette so I'm not colouring everything on separate layers for each link, and I'd probably go with some GIMP paletting magic to go to a format like PNG to remove the JPEG artifacting. But for now it's fun to play with the CMY layers individually to get a feel of how they combine.

For anyone else working digitally, especially if you work on comics, by how much do you shrink down the image size? I'm usually shrinking down to 50%, to be large enough to see each stroke in ugly glory without taking the entire screen. But I'm wondering whether I should go to 25% size, like here:

Quarter Size:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111103/ivy_shadow_s.jpg

Although if I were to do that for a full scale piece, I'd need to scale the canvas when I'm working to be double the actual screen size, which means four times the memory and file size.

Domochevsky
2011-11-03, 11:36 AM
...
For anyone else working digitally, especially if you work on comics, by how much do you shrink down the image size? I'm usually shrinking down to 50%, to be large enough to see each stroke in ugly glory without taking the entire screen. But I'm wondering whether I should go to 25% size, like here:

Quarter Size:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111103/ivy_shadow_s.jpg

Although if I were to do that for a full scale piece, I'd need to scale the canvas when I'm working to be double the actual screen size, which means four times the memory and file size.

Well, i used to scale it down to just about half size as well (good standard), but after a while i just worked smaller and stayed at that size. Ultimately that had the same results to the casual eye anyway. :smallsmile:

(Meanwhile, the coloring of that particular character is pretty good, but i'm partial on the full-black shadows. Can be interesting to work with though.)

Hey, speaking of black spaces... why don't you try making some black space and then erase things out of it until you get something approaching a character? :smallwink: (You are at least partially allowed re-add black space, naturally.)

Savannah
2011-11-03, 11:52 AM
The 25% looks weirdly jagged on the edges to me, so I'd stick to the 50%.

Trazoi
2011-11-03, 04:44 PM
Negative spaces, huh? That might be a neat experiment.


(Meanwhile, the coloring of that particular character is pretty good, but i'm partial on the full-black shadows. Can be interesting to work with though.)
I'm up in the air on how religious I should be with a fixed palette. If I go with the old comic book style, that means 64 colours. Shading either has to fit with that palette or I do all the shading in B&W ink with cross-hatching.
That said there's some vectorised Inkscape legacy in my style that might mean a print based colouring system isn't the best fit. I'll see what fits.


The 25% looks weirdly jagged on the edges to me, so I'd stick to the 50%.
If I play around with post-processing settings I'm sure I can fix that.

Trazoi
2011-11-04, 06:41 AM
#42: Filler

I ran out of time to draw anything unique today, so I'll have to settle for posting some of the random doodle sketch thingies I drew throughout the day - which lately all seem to be on the same theme of "let's draw this one character and try to get it right":

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111104/sketch.jpg

For the weekend, as well as that negative space exercise I also need to make a note to do some more practice on spines.

Trazoi
2011-11-07, 07:08 AM
#43: Reverse Rorschach Test

Okay, for this quick session I painted a big black splotch and quickly erased bits and saw what shapes they made. Does this reveal anything about my psyche?

#1:http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111107/shadow1.jpgMan doing funky dance with fat seahorses?

#2:http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111107/shadow2.jpgAngel with sword and goblet?

#3:http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111107/shadow3.jpgRunning man with aersol can?

#4:http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111107/shadow4.jpgSexy Young Queen Elizabeth II okay exercise over I'm outta here

Thanqol
2011-11-07, 07:34 PM
That's a brilliant exercise, I'll be doing it once the next few days clear up. :smallbiggrin:

Trazoi
2011-11-11, 07:33 AM
Ran into a few issues this week (mildly ill, then running around with tasks and shonky time mangement) so it looks like I haven't got a proper art thing to show this week. I could scan in some of my pencil sketches but they're pretty similar to the other filler ones. Best thing to do is make up for it with stuff on the weekend.

Here's the update I did yesterday but didn't get around to posting:

#44: Ghost Girl Ink Test

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111110/tristy_ink.jpg

A rather simple ink cartoon of a pre-designed characters because I wanted to play around with CMY ink again. She looked cleaner until I did a final test of a big fat black border which was a little messy. I'm also not sure about the best way to do shading; if I religiously stick to a CMY 100%,50% or 25% rule like was done in old-style comic books then there aren't that many colours to use. Of course there's nothing stopping me breaking that and I'm not sure it's a good rule anyway, but I need to have some limitations; I work better that way.

Trazoi
2011-11-12, 07:21 AM
#45: Wooden Manikin Test

Another quick experiment: I've got one of those wooden manikin dolls that you can pose to get an idea of anatomy, so I decided to see what it would look like if I did a rough trace and called that a figure:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111112/trace2.jpg

Answer: Kinda funny looking. The back doesn't bend very well so he looks rather stiff. And if I were to do this for real I'd need to put a proper head on him, because that one is weird. Maybe the doll works fairly well as a rough base for static standing figures, but he looks pretty weird in action.

Trazoi
2011-11-13, 07:28 AM
I spent most of my allocated time playing around with colour palettes and colouring, noticed the time, and realised I had to draw something. So I tried drawing something quickly without worrying too much about getting it super right, and ended up spending most of my time playing with the colouring again. It's like I'm pretending this is a colouring book.

#46: Soup's On

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111113/soups_on.jpg

I'm not happy with the gripping hand - even though I looked at my own first for reference, it still came out as a big ol' set of strips.

Character designs need some tweaking. These are from my set, but now I'm drawing everyone a head or so taller I need a lot more practice to compentate.

Colour palette I was trying out was pretty whack. Didn't realise until late on that there was no dark grey, which meant a lot of purple. Next time I'll try thicker inked outline so that the colouring is easier.

Trazoi
2011-11-14, 06:52 AM
#47: Can't Draw A Punch

I'm on a self-imposed moritorium on colouring stuff this week so I work more on poses, figures and general structure. I wasn't sure with what to start with, so I went back to drawing punches. I can't get the figures to look right. I tried rough drawing some figures for a short while to see what works and what doesn't, but other than "practice more" and "look at more examples" I'm not sure what to look at next in drawing dynamic action poses.

Here's the sketches. Warning: there's a lot of them all together, so unspoiling this will make the post loooooong. I've also sketched stuff I immediately thought, so fair warning on that and bad handwriting too.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch04.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch05.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch06.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch07.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch08.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch09.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111114/punch10.jpg

Thanqol
2011-11-14, 11:35 PM
As far as punches go, my biggest recommend is learning some basic martial arts. See, a punch is all about stance, shoulders and hips, action reaction. One hand goes forwards, the other goes back. One shoulder goes forwards, the other goes back. When you punch, your whole body has to move with the punch - knee bends, hip goes forwards, body shifts sideways - the arm is almost the smallest part of that. That's why straight-backed standing punches look weak - because they are!

Make all the force, angles, and momentum of the body go in the same direction. It's a single movement with your whole body behind it.

Stance wide. Forward leg flat on the ground, back leg on the ball of the foot. Both legs bent. Feet facing forwards. Back straight. Head straight - don't lean into it, it just lets them punch your face. Back arm by your side. Good luck!

Trazoi
2011-11-15, 06:29 AM
Learning a whole new sport might be overkill just to draw a punch, although practicing a few and paying attention to what's going on isn't a bad idea for next time. Thanks!

Today I tried to get a cartoony ink look from ArtRage's ink pen when naturally drawing. Without much direction I ended up going a handful of little sketches. It didn't help that I was doing an operating system repair on another computer on the desk at the same time (I'm finding multitasking and art doesn't go too well together).

One of these sketches was of various cartoon arms. I should eventually do some work on proper realistic limbs, hands and feet, but I'm not sure if it's reasonable to do some practice on getting cartoony stylised ones first. I know it's a heck of a lot easier, but a little voice in the back of head is worried that this is a false economy.

#48a: A Couple of Ivy Sketches
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111115/cartoon.jpg

#48b: Arms
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111115/cartoon2.jpg

I'll need some ideas for something more ambition to draw once I've shaken off this annoying mild lurgy. Sometime I'd like to attempt to draw some of my pre-defined characters in another style, as a challenge.

Domochevsky
2011-11-15, 08:50 AM
Well, in that case... try GenGame style, just 'cuz. :smallwink:

A think of notice: You seem to ...compartmentalize your characters. Aranging bits and pieces together into a body, but don't bother to actually connect these pieces, making them look disjointed, especially at the ...well, joints. (If that makes sense.) :smallconfused:

(And i still can't figure out how that front piece of hair connects to her head. >_> )

Trazoi
2011-11-15, 09:28 AM
Well, in that case... try GenGame style, just 'cuz. :smallwink:
I can give that a go. :smallsmile:


A think of notice: You seem to ...compartmentalize your characters. Aranging bits and pieces together into a body, but don't bother to actually connect these pieces, making them look disjointed, especially at the ...well, joints. (If that makes sense.) :smallconfused:
You mean I'm not properly drawing knees and elbows? I can sort of see that. Or is it everything? :smallconfused:

I'll see what I can do to try and fix that, thanks. Maybe if I mix the style up a little as an experiment, try to draw stock character in a more realistic style.


(And i still can't figure out how that front piece of hair connects to her head. >_> )
It sort of sticks out from under a headband. It might be a remaining artifact from a simpler iconic style though. This character design evolved from a much older one back when I was drawing one step removed from OotS stick figures. She looks bald if I remove it.
Oh, and she's meant to have bracelets; I keep forgetting to draw those.

Savannah
2011-11-15, 04:05 PM
#48a: A Couple of Ivy Sketches

In that first one, it looks like you chopped two figures, one bigger and one smaller, in half at the waist and stuck the bigger legs on the smaller torso. Seriously, how does she have hips 3x the size of her waist and 1.5x the size of her shoulders?!

Trazoi
2011-11-15, 05:20 PM
In that first one, it looks like you chopped two figures, one bigger and one smaller, in half at the waist and stuck the bigger legs on the smaller torso. Seriously, how does she have hips 3x the size of her waist and 1.5x the size of her shoulders?!
Yeah, she's looking a little weird. Her design at the moment is having hips a smidge larger than her shoulders, but it's out of whack in that one.

I'm also drawing figures taller than I'm used to. Ivy there used to be drawn at a cute-ified three heads height, and now I'm drawing her at four. I don't think I've got the hang of it yet.

Edit: Here's a previously scanned and mashed up image showing everyone in an earlier, shorter form:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/rb/rb_char_mash_01a.jpg

Savannah
2011-11-15, 05:56 PM
Even in the three-heads version it looks weird. Waists are not that tiny; she has to have internal organs somewhere in there! Not to mention the fact that the suck in at the waist is shortly above the hips, not right under the bust -- there's also a rib cage in there. (The lady with the bun is much more reasonable.)

Trazoi
2011-11-15, 06:36 PM
Really? I thought the lady with the bun had a body type too similar to Ivy (the one in the recent drawing, spiky hair and oval head on the left). Part of the point of the design exercise was to get a whole bunch of body types so they weren't all carbon copies wearing different wigs.

This might be a style fail. I've used Inkscape for so long I love simple geometric designs, so everyone has body made of one or two very simple shapes. Ivy's is the oldest by far (she's been reincarnated from a bunch of different projects and was the lynch-pin for this one) so there's a fair chance there's some legacy cruft in there that I'm now far too close to see unassisted.

(Ivy's been reinvented about a dozen times. Originally in terms of design she was a semi-stick-figurish version of (classical) Eris (http://www.theoi.com/image/img_eris.jpg), but she's changed a lot from style to style.)

Savannah
2011-11-15, 10:36 PM
Well, all I'm really saying is that the lady with the bun doesn't have such disproportionately wide hips and her waist is in the right place. Whether or not the body styles are too similar is a totally separate issue.

Trazoi
2011-11-15, 11:18 PM
It won't hurt to go back to skeletal basics and rebuild. The way my story notes are going she'll need a more gymnastic style build anyway, so stronger shoulders would be a plus. I'll work up from the basics and see how that goes. Thanks!

Thanqol
2011-11-16, 12:23 AM
Trazoi, your avatar has been zooming in on that bird for months now and it's creeping me out.

Capt. Ido Nos
2011-11-16, 12:36 AM
Trazoi, I've been looking at your poses, and there is a lot of improvement going on and I love your "pointy" style, there has been something that bugs me, and I JUST figured out what it is. You have really dynamic poses, much better than mine in any case, but at least with your neutral poses, they feel very wide. Actually going off of Thanq's bit about martial arts, half the time your character's neutral pose looks more like they are practicing their horse stance, with their legs about a shoulder and a half apart from each other, and then their arms are floating out to the sides. All in all they're alright, but as I've seen this same general stance for a while now, it's looking less and less natural.

I guess what I'm getting at is that everyone you draw needs to be a bit less tense? Legs a smidge closer together, arms more at the side if they're just in a neutral stance.

That said, I envy how you shape limbs, it's not fair at all. :smalltongue:

THAT said, Thanqol has now pointed out your avatar, and I can't unsee it.

Trazoi
2011-11-16, 12:54 AM
Trazoi, your avatar has been zooming in on that bird for months now and it's creeping me out.
I was hoping if I did it slowly enough no-one would notice. :smalltongue:


Trazoi, I've been looking at your poses, and there is a lot of improvement going on and I love your "pointy" style, there has been something that bugs me, and I JUST figured out what it is. You have really dynamic poses, much better than mine in any case, but at least with your neutral poses, they feel very wide. Actually going off of Thanq's bit about martial arts, half the time your character's neutral pose looks more like they are practicing their horse stance, with their legs about a shoulder and a half apart from each other, and then their arms are floating out to the sides. All in all they're alright, but as I've seen this same general stance for a while now, it's looking less and less natural.

I guess what I'm getting at is that everyone you draw needs to be a bit less tense? Legs a smidge closer together, arms more at the side if they're just in a neutral stance.
*slaps forehead* yeah. Yeah. That's something that's been on my subconscious for a while now. The legs are always wrong, and if I stop and look then I knowi it's their position, but somehow I always keep drawing them that way. I don't know why - maybe it's because if I'm lazy and don't concentrate that's what I always do? It needs to be pointed out to me so I can unlearn that. Thanks.

I'll need to figure out how to draw limbs more naturally.


That said, I envy how you shape limbs, it's not fair at all. :smalltongue:
I don't know, they're still really weird looking to me. :smalltongue:

Anway, since I'm getting some great tips on fixing general structure I thought I'd rework the Ivy character to see if I can make the composition better. I'll post stuff in stages when I get time to draw & post them.

#49a: Ivy Baseline Sketch

This is a quick line sketch of how I'd draw the Ivy character without putting too much thought into what I'm doing, not working from any sample sketches, and not fretting too much if things look weird if that's what I'm natural drawn. This is the baseline of what I'd draw from instinct so I can bring out any ugly habits I've developed and maybe shed light on where I'm going wrong. I've saved snapshots of the sketch as I was drawing it in ArtRage.


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_04.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_05.jpg

Savannah
2011-11-16, 01:20 AM
To me, your legs and hips problem is related. You have huge wide hips, which makes the legs way too far apart. Also, your hips are very level, and people often stand with more of an angle (and their feet not pointing out, although that may be the cartoony-ness). Do a Google image search of "standing" or "standing woman" (or man, if you prefer) and take a look at all the different ways people hold their legs, hips, torso, shoulders, and arms while standing. Actually, that may help a lot with your goal of having different body shapes -- different shapes is okay, but you should have different poses, too, if you want them to really look different.

Trazoi
2011-11-16, 01:56 AM
To me, your legs and hips problem is related.
They probably are. As well as your pointers, I don't think I'm getting the join between the torso and the legs right, or the proper 3D positioning.


You have huge wide hips, which makes the legs way too far apart.
I don't know - part of the reason for the wide hips is to counter-balance the huge heads, otherwise I feel they're top-heavy.


Also, your hips are very level, and people often stand with more of an angle (and their feet not pointing out, although that may be the cartoony-ness).
But yeah, that's a thing. I should be arching the spine a little to make the standing poses more natural, and in a slightly different way for each character. Thanks again!

#49b: Ivy Sketch 2
Same character as before, this time looking at the line sketch I drew last time and concentrating on (some of) the problems.

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyB_01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyB_02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyB_03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyB_04.jpg

I think it's getting there from the waist up, but the legs are still really odd.

Also the far hand is always a little weird. I don't know why that is. It's not bad in this case because it's covered, but I did sketch it and it wasn't right.

I'm also in debate on the goofy lips. It's very cartoony and fun which I love but I'm slightly concerned it makes everyone look a little too Matt Groening.

Savannah
2011-11-16, 02:42 AM
I think the problem is that she's standing at 3/4 view so you shouldn't be able to see the back of her calf on the right side of her forward leg -- it should be on the left as with the back leg. The waist looks much better to me now; I don't keep wondering where the heck her liver got to :smalltongue:

Domochevsky
2011-11-16, 04:35 AM
Comparison shot, go! o/

http://wildwestscifi.net/Misc/Challenge/ivy_ex.png

(I think i made the legs too short. Still within the acceptable range, i guess. It illustrates just how short your characters are, though.)

Trazoi
2011-11-16, 05:16 AM
Comparison shot, go! o/
Interesting. So you go from a stick figure to a full outline in one step? I'm blocking out the torso as two different shapes.


(I think i made the legs too short. Still within the acceptable range, i guess. It illustrates just how short your characters are, though.)
You should have seen when I was in my "two heads tall" phase. Shorter than chibis.

Currently I'm operating on a general rule of the legs taking up half the body length. However since I'm also using huge heads, that means the torso has to be tiny. I sort of like the resulting gangly look but it might be why they look vaguely like teenagers instead of young adults.

#49c Ivy Sketch 3:


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyC_01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyC_02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyC_03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivyC_04.jpg

Trazoi
2011-11-16, 05:52 AM
#49d: Ivy GenGame Style (kinda):

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_gen.jpg

Domochevsky
2011-11-16, 05:59 AM
There's some resemblance, admitedly. But didn't you get the note? Art upgrade says characters have always had shoulders and subsequently visible arms. :smallbiggrin:

(Height/width is pretty good. But maybe use less gangly legs.)

Trazoi
2011-11-16, 06:23 AM
Actually that GenGame one is uncannily like how I used to draw. Except for one key difference, obviously. In that style, Ivy would look like this:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111116/ivy_gen_s.jpg

Trazoi
2011-11-17, 06:21 AM
#50: Ivy in Inkscape

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111117/ivy.png

This is Ivy 3 from #49 in vector form. Drawing is problematic as one of my writing fingers has blistered up, so I'm using Inkscape and the mouse. Maybe I'm out of practice, but it takes freakin' long to play with shapes.

I'm not sure about the shadowing and I didn't know what to do with the hair. I'm also uncertain about the stylistic choice of the floating eye; maybe it would go better with a more stylised look.

Savannah
2011-11-17, 01:19 PM
Ooh, I really like that body shape! She looks much more like an adult woman now, instead of a teenager (which I think it something you said you were going for). Also, this is the first time I've realized her belly isn't exposed...

Trazoi
2011-11-18, 07:15 AM
Update today: I'm giving my drawing hand a rest until my finger properly heals. I tried doing more Inkscape and mouse work playing around with different vector forms, but without a sketch background to work off it's hard. I spent most of my time manipulating yesterday's vector image and that's mildly dangerous. I like the look and editability of vectors in Inkscape, but it's far too easy to get sucked into abusing cut and paste.


Ooh, I really like that body shape! She looks much more like an adult woman now, instead of a teenager (which I think it something you said you were going for). Also, this is the first time I've realized her belly isn't exposed...
Thanks! I'm thinking B&W isn't going to cut it. :smallsmile:

As a character design, I'm not entirely sold on the dress. It's meant to look vaguely classical Greek but functional enough for acrobatics and climbing walls, and I'm not sure it functions as both. Maybe I should go more Middle Eastern with appropriate pants.
Edit: Now I've got to find the right search terms to research ancient pants.

Trazoi
2011-11-20, 06:17 AM
#51: Gloved Sketch #1

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111120/cartoon.jpg

Yeah, this is terrible. It's a quick sketch without much thought, and what it shows is that I can't do good cartoon people without doing the proper planning. I can however still do nice cartoon duckies.

I'm trying out using a glove with my Wacom to see if the stylus is what's causing my finger to blister. It's awkward. I'll need to do a bunch of horrible sketches to get used to it so I can concentrate on what I'm drawing rather than the glove.

Trazoi
2011-11-21, 06:50 AM
Drawing with a gloved hand is bloody annoying. I really don't like it for freehand draft sketching, so I'll avoid using the tablet except for inking when I need it. For now, I'll use wooden pencils on copy paper and scan them in. My scanner quality is slightly crappy but if it's for draft sketching, it's fine.

#52: Duckie Knight

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111121/duckie.jpg

I hated that abomination I drew last time so I had another go. Currently just the sketch. I might get around to inking this tomorrow if I can't think of something else I'd rather draw.

Bonus practice sketches trying to get the anatomy vaguely decent:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111121/duckie1.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111121/duckie2.jpg
(note: as a leftie, when I'm free-thinking and drawing sketches I tend to fill the page from right to left.)

Edit: the design and style is a leeeeetle too close to that in Ben Chaldwell's "Fantasy Cartooning" - I'm using that as a guide for cartoony muscles - but I've got to launch off drawing from somewhere. :smallwink:

Domochevsky
2011-11-21, 08:30 AM
Don't be a wuss. Lose the glove and take the blister like a man. It's like being a guitarist, except for pens. Hardening your skin in that spot is good for you. :smallwink:

(Also, stop squeezing the pen so hard.)

Trazoi
2011-11-21, 04:14 PM
It's more in line with an allergic reaction than a callus blister, unfortunately. I've had this kind of reaction before with some mechanical pencils. I'm suspecting it has to be the rubber grip. The treatment advice I've got is to avoid contact with the irritant.

Now I think about it, I've got an old tiny Graphire tablet around somewhere and its stylus is all plastic. That should work perfectly for now.

Capt. Ido Nos
2011-11-21, 04:26 PM
Huh, if that's the case, Trazoi, what if instead of wrapping your hand, you wrap the pencil and stylus?

Trazoi
2011-11-21, 04:45 PM
Unfortunately the Intous3 pen is like this:
http://img818.imageshack.us/img818/9876/zp501e.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/818/zp501e.jpg/)
The grip is unremoveable and already very thick, and there's a button in the middle. I'm not sure what to do about that. Wrapping gauze or something around the pen will make it ludicrously thick, and I don't want to permanently alter the pen (it isn't cheap and a discontinued model, so hard to replace).

Capt. Ido Nos
2011-11-21, 04:48 PM
What about like, plastic wrap? That's thin, and you'd still be able to have the same general feel, and use the side button :smallsmile:

Trazoi
2011-11-21, 05:26 PM
If I have to, I might end up doing that. :smallsmile: The pen will be really weird though.

Savannah
2011-11-21, 06:29 PM
I wonder if you can get a pair of extra small latex gloves (or non-latex, if that's your problem), cut off one finger, cut off the top of the finger to make a tube, and slide it over the pen to make a snug wrapper. You can usually buy the gloves I'm thinking of in the store in the healthcare/beauty section.

Trazoi
2011-11-21, 07:13 PM
The confusing thing is I don't know exactly what it is that's causing the reaction - it could be latex, non-latex, or something completely different. It could be a reaction to metal spoons for all I know. I'm using trial and error to figure it out. At the moment signs point to the Wacom stylus.

I was in a rut with using ArtRage anyway, so being forced to use pencils can be regarded as a good thing. And maybe this will force me to experiment to find a better grip.

Trazoi
2011-11-22, 05:07 PM
#53: Essential Expressions #2

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111122/ivy_heads.jpg

This is all first draft stuff, figuring out expressions as I go. I'll need to do this a few times to get the hang of it. I haven't yet exaggerated the expressions enough that they really pop.

Next time I'll do the sheet at double size as drawing in those tiny boxes is a pain. Or I'll do them all separately and cut-and-paste the expressions into the sheet.

I'm not sure why the scanner picks up smudged fingerprints so well.

Trazoi
2011-11-26, 07:11 PM
My routine got shook up this week. I did cartoon sketches of my usual stock characters trying to work out kinks in my style, but I'm not sure they're worth posting; I'm not that impressed with most of them.

I did some sketches last night using Ben Chaldwell's "Fantasy Cartooning" as a guide, but they're pretty rough, incomplete and even I can see the serious problems in anatomy:

#54: Miscallenous Fantasy Sketches

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111126/scan1.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111126/scan2.jpg

I think I need to look back at what I've done and where I want to go and highlight the key areas I need to work on, otherwise I'll be back to drifting.

Trazoi
2011-12-01, 05:25 AM
I've been falling behind on my updates due to a number of reasons which ultimately I have to file under "poor time management". After I've reviewed where I'm at and the comments I've had I'll have a better plan of what to work on.

For now though, I'd be grateful if anyone has some suggestions on what I should draw. Anything should do, so I've got an objective for what I should spend an hour of drawing time on.

Thanqol
2011-12-01, 07:18 PM
I've been falling behind on my updates due to a number of reasons which ultimately I have to file under "poor time management". After I've reviewed where I'm at and the comments I've had I'll have a better plan of what to work on.

For now though, I'd be grateful if anyone has some suggestions on what I should draw. Anything should do, so I've got an objective for what I should spend an hour of drawing time on.

People kissing!

It's high on my list because it seems like a super hard challenge. So many squishy bits and limbs and such.

Trazoi
2011-12-05, 06:11 AM
So, back to posting art. I've been off the routine of posting stuff for too long.

#55: Line Drawing Practice

This is for the Art Upgrade Project (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=223506) thread, which is starting with a line drawing exercise and is a decent warm-up to getting back in this thread. I haven't tried sticking paper to a wall and drawing from arm's distance before.

These are all drawn on A4 paper stuck to the wall (using magnets on a whiteboard):

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111205/scan1.jpghttp://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111205/scan2.jpgThese two were done at an arm's distance, trying out sweeping strokes. I'm not that good at keeping the lines straight.


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111205/scan0.jpgThis one is a more medium distance, using the elbow.


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111205/scan3.jpgThis one is a lot closer, similar to the distance I'm used do drawing on a clipboard.

Trazoi
2011-12-14, 11:52 PM
I've been slacking off. I've been doing Posemaniacs exercises and other sketches, but I haven't done anything I felt worthy of posting. I feel guilty about not having interesting updates every missed day. Maybe I should aim a little lower, keep doing daily exercises but only post whenever there's something I feel I need feedback on.

#56: Hands, how do you draw them

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111214/hands.jpg

So yeah, hands, how do you draw them? My drawn hands are always horrible and my current attempts to improve them aren't working. I'm not sure how I can screw up drawing my own hand so badly when I'm looking at the drat thing as a reference. Any pointers?

the_druid_droid
2011-12-15, 02:10 AM
I've been slacking off. I've been doing Posemaniacs exercises and other sketches, but I haven't done anything I felt worthy of posting. I feel guilty about not having interesting updates every missed day. Maybe I should aim a little lower, keep doing daily exercises but only post whenever there's something I feel I need feedback on.

#56: Hands, how do you draw them

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/111214/hands.jpg

So yeah, hands, how do you draw them? My drawn hands are always horrible and my current attempts to improve them aren't working. I'm not sure how I can screw up drawing my own hand so badly when I'm looking at the drat thing as a reference. Any pointers?

This is gonna sound weird, but hear me out. Get a piece of plastic or glass large enough to cover your hand (tape the edges if it's glass). Then put your hand in a pose you wanna draw and trace it directly on the glass with a marker to get the basic outline. Then try and transfer the outline to paper before looking at your hand again to add any details. It's how I drew this, which I'm reasonably proud of as a study:
http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee385/the_druid_droid/img007.jpg

Trazoi
2011-12-15, 02:25 AM
This is gonna sound weird, but hear me out. Get a piece of plastic or glass large enough to cover your hand (tape the edges if it's glass). Then put your hand in a pose you wanna draw and trace it directly on the glass with a marker to get the basic outline. Then try and transfer the outline to paper before looking at your hand again to add any details. It's how I drew this, which I'm reasonably proud of as a study:
http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee385/the_druid_droid/img007.jpg
... That's not weird, I've actually done that exercise once, years ago. I've got to try that again. I remember it's really hard to balance the plastic on your hand.

The other thing I can do is take a photo of my hand and trace it, but that's cheating. Plus I'm not sure if that can translate to every hand pose I'd want to draw.

Thanqol
2012-01-04, 08:18 AM
Trazoi, I am disappoint.

You're better than a three week delay. I know you're better, you know you're better - and here we are.

It's this, right here, this gap that you have to beat if you want to achieve your stated objective, which was said to be dedicated, consistent improvement.

I'll make you a bet. Do a hundred days of updates in a row. Never miss a day. And then, after those 100 days, rules come off. You don't have to do anything. You can quit drawing forever if you want.

I bet that you won't stop. If you can break that initial hurdle, you'll be set.

Domochevsky
2012-01-04, 04:24 PM
I am prepared to take your hat as well. Or your bird. :smallcool:

Trazoi
2012-01-05, 05:41 AM
But my avvie is all bird. :smallfrown: You could take its eyebrow.

Yeah, I got derailed over Christmas. I did some experiments with colour but it didn't really go anywhere I hadn't gone before. And I did some character design experiments that mainly consisted of me being indecisive over hairstyles for a solid week and realising I still can't draw legs properly.
Edit: BTW thanks for the push to get back to posting. I needed that. :smallsmile:

#57: Romanian Castle Sketches 01

Today I did some quick sketches of some Romanian castles (using GIS as my reference). I'd like to get a better feel of their look.

Bran Castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bran_Castle):
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120105/bran01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120105/bran02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120105/bran03.jpg
Bran Castle is apparently known as Dracula's Castle although in my quick search I'm not sure exactly why other than the obvious tourist attracting reason. I think it's quite friendly looking. I like the tower at the back with the turret in the middle.

Hunyad Castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunyad_Castle):
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120105/hunyad01.jpg
This castle is really cool looking and my sketch doesn't do it justice. I'd like to draw this one again from a few different angles.

Trazoi
2012-01-06, 07:48 AM
#58: Romanian Castles 02

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120106/hunyad02-01.jpg
Unfinished as I ran out of time experimenting with stuff. I might keep working on this tomorrow. It's a cartoony version of Hunyad Castle.

Trazoi
2012-01-08, 05:34 PM
Weekend stuff:

#59: Shapes and things
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120107/boxes-01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120107/boxes-02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120107/boxes-03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120107/boxes-04.jpg

Not a lot of time on this: just some basic shapes as practice for the drawing thread. I'm mainly uploading this so as not to have another multi-day gap and because my practice sketches and doodles on paper are too rushed and crappy to warrant the effort of hauling out the scanner.

Trazoi
2012-01-10, 08:58 PM
#60: Character design sketch
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120110/tristie.jpg

I did this as a doodle sketch experiment thing in ArtRage and forgot to upload it yesterday.

Savannah
2012-01-10, 09:40 PM
She's cute! (Also, how do you have such nice handwriting with a tablet? Mine's terrible.)

Trazoi
2012-01-10, 10:12 PM
She's cute! (Also, how do you have such nice handwriting with a tablet? Mine's terrible.)
Thanks! I'm concerned her design is a little too simple now - I'm drawing most cartoony figures at around four heads tall, but Tristie doesn't work at more than two. She's like a purple monster baby.

My handwriting was atrocious, but after writing on whiteboards for a few years I had to neaten it up a little so people could read it.

Savannah
2012-01-10, 10:27 PM
Hmm....based on the shadow, I was assuming she was floating, and a shorter, floating figure looks quite reasonable to me.

And as for the handwriting, I was more referring to the fact that, every time I try to write with a graphics tablet, the letters come out wrong -- it's like I can't quite connect the beginning and ending of a letter right.

Trazoi
2012-01-11, 12:57 AM
Hmm....based on the shadow, I was assuming she was floating, and a shorter, floating figure looks quite reasonable to me.
Hopefully. I'll need to do some more tests. I'm trying not to get stuck with drawing characters that are all the same size, and of my current cast she's the shortest. I'm glad she looks like she's floating, because she does :smallsmile: (it's a trick to get around issues with height differences)


And as for the handwriting, I was more referring to the fact that, every time I try to write with a graphics tablet, the letters come out wrong -- it's like I can't quite connect the beginning and ending of a letter right.I don't think I've had much of an issue once I got used to the whole look-at-the-screen-while-drawing-on-the-tablet thing. I've currently only got the one grip and it's a horrible left-handed fist, so it's probably better for hand-writing than the actual drawing.

Trazoi
2012-01-12, 07:38 AM
#61: Character design #2

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120112/gulli.jpg

I'm working up my cast roster in height order. This one might need some work. Currently the design is a character that is: a) short, b) plump, c) wearing a dress, d) needs to work with relatively active poses and e) still cartoony. I've never got her to look right and I don't think I've attempted nearly enough action scenes to fully test whether I can draw her properly. I'll need to dedicate some more time to this.

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-12, 11:35 AM
#61: Character design #2
[sneeep]
I'm working up my cast roster in height order. This one might need some work. Currently the design is a character that is: a) short, b) plump, c) wearing a dress, d) needs to work with relatively active poses and e) still cartoony. I've never got her to look right and I don't think I've attempted nearly enough action scenes to fully test whether I can draw her properly. I'll need to dedicate some more time to this.

The only answer to this is to strap pillows to yourself, dress up in drag, set up a camera to film yourself/ take timed photos and pretend to be a ninja. The only answer.

...Actually, I think when people where trying to get the animation right for Snow White dancing in her long dress with the dwarves they just hired a woman who was about the right build, stuck her in a similar style of dress and got her to dance. (that sounds ruder than I meant it to.)

Dresses are tricky. It might be easier to handle if it were a kilt-like-skirt but that might not meld well with the style. Also, it would presumably lead to a lot of accidental panty-shots for that character. I don't really see how you can do a whole lot of action in a skirt much longer than kilt length though. Unless there's a slit down at least one side. [goes back to examine character]

Trazoi
2012-01-12, 05:20 PM
I am indeed stuck in that loop - my resolution in 2012 is to break out. Heck, the point of the comic was a vehicle for art practice so it's catch-22 that that is the reason why I'm stuck (well, there's also my writing which is worse than my art. But that's also part of the same catch-22.)

I'm planning on signing off on a starting look for all the main cast so I stop spending months redesigning hairstyles for the umpteenth time, then I'll do a few practice non-canon arcs so I can get a feel for the writing and character voices. By then I should have a plot outline finalised so I can pull the trigger, make that buffer and launch.

I should pick up the pace though. Maybe a week to finalise the designs? They're never going to be perfect, and I have been procrastinating over everything for far too long. That way I have to be posting sample comics for feedback sometime around the weekend of 21st-22nd.

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-12, 05:41 PM
I am indeed stuck in that loop - my resolution in 2012 is to break out. Heck, the point of the comic was a vehicle for art practice so it's catch-22 that that is the reason why I'm stuck (well, there's also my writing which is worse than my art. But that's also part of the same catch-22.)

I'm planning on signing off on a starting look for all the main cast so I stop spending months redesigning hairstyles for the umpteenth time, then I'll do a few practice non-canon arcs so I can get a feel for the writing and character voices. By then I should have a plot outline finalised so I can pull the trigger, make that buffer and launch.

I should pick up the pace though. Maybe a week to finalise the designs? They're never going to be perfect, and I have been procrastinating over everything for far too long. That way I have to be posting sample comics for feedback sometime around the weekend of 21st-22nd.

Hahaha, sorry for having just edited out all the bits from my post that put your post into context. :smallredface:
I got an idea in my head that I was rambling about nothing again.
By the way, if you want to see some of my character line-ups, which are mostly dodgier than yours, PM me and I'll show you a few scans. If I ever do write this comic of mine I'll probably do it under a pen-name because it's very weird. (Yes, Eleanor_Rigby is a pen-name too, but the storyline version of the comic isn't forum appropriate so I couldn't host it here and there are big swathes that couldn't really be discussed here either, so I probably won't associate it with my GitP account). The newspaper length versions are 'clean', if a little bland and poorly conceived. The line-ups are also 'clean' - all of the existing art is "PG" it's just that a lot of the backstories and planned story arcs aren't... well, I think there are a couple of sketches of one or two of the characters with a black eye, but that's about as bad as it gets. :smallsigh:

Those plans sound good though. Fingers crossed for you that you can carry 'em out!

Trazoi
2012-01-12, 06:30 PM
Hahaha, sorry for having just edited out all the bits from my post that put your post into context. :smallredface:
I got an idea in my head that I was rambling about nothing again.
Instead you were right on the money. :smallsmile:


Dresses are tricky. It might be easier to handle if it were a kilt-like-skirt but that might not meld well with the style. Also, it would presumably lead to a lot of accidental panty-shots for that character. I don't really see how you can do a whole lot of action in a skirt much longer than kilt length though. Unless there's a slit down at least one side. [goes back to examine character]
Everyone's costume is from schizo of time periods but it's meant to be vaguely medieval fantasy-ish with greco-roman tones (except for the exceptions :smallwink:). The character's role is as housekeeper/maintenance so she has an apron and a dress. I should go back to references though because I think I've veered into more of an 18th/19th century great houses look than medieval fantasy.

While everyone needs to work in action, as long as she can run, leap and take a pratfall it should be fine. She needs full mobility of the arms but it's okay if she doesn't do any spin-kicks in the story. It's not a realistic drama and they're all vaguely supernatural anyway so being able to sprint in a full-length dress can be a superpower. :smallbiggrin: As long as I can figure out how to draw it...

Savannah
2012-01-12, 07:10 PM
On skirts, it depends on the cut and material. I have an ankle-length denim skirt that I could run and kick in, as it's very loose and heavy enough that it doesn't want to wrap around my legs as I run. So I can definitely see the character being able to do the things you want her to. (Running is easiest if you pick up the hem of the skirt, though -- just something to keep in mind.)

Thanqol
2012-01-12, 08:46 PM
She's cute! (Also, how do you have such nice handwriting with a tablet? Mine's terrible.)

Part of the trick is treating writing like drawing. If you try to write something, years of instincts kick in and it gets messy. If you view each letter as a picture you can really control your work. The best trick for this is to flip the canvas and write upside down. That's also the trick behind forgery.

Trazoi
2012-01-15, 09:26 AM
#62: More character stuff:

Another batch of Gulli(?) design pics:
(Still up in the air on names; she's probably going to be called Gul- something.)

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120115/gulli00.jpgI wasn't sure whether to go to a four head height for Gulli or stick with three. Drawing her at three feels more natural, but it might be some residual elements from when I was stuck in a rut drawing every character at a cute three head size for ages. She's meant to be built like a fantasy/folklore dwarf though so I think it will work.

I'm not sure about the apron; I've drawn it for a while like the 4 head figure on the left, but it's starting to make more sense to build it into the dress.


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120115/gullis1.jpg
Working through costume and slight build variations in pencil.

I usually fall into the trap of doing slight variations while posing the characters in a neutral 3/4 standing position. If I'm not careful I can waste a week of drawing playing around with hair styles.


http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120115/gulli01.jpgBack in ArtRage, I was trying to see if I could get a feel of how a three head high dwarf build body would work in different poses. I did this page without refs and thought I was getting stuck on bland stiff poses.

So I tried firing up Posemaniacs without the timer and adapting all the poses to fit Gulli's build:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120115/gulli02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120115/gulli03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120115/gulli04.jpg
First thing is I realised I need to learn how to draw those cartoony heads in profile, because it's not working naturally at the moment. Other than that though, I think the cartoony three head poses can work. Despite the blobby frames and the huge head, because it's a cartoon I can stretch and cheat the limbs quite a bit.

Trazoi
2012-01-18, 09:10 AM
#63: Proportions aren't right

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120118/ivyava.jpg
I've been playing around with two medium-tall character builds with respect to the shorter one of Gulli from last time and the proportions don't seem right. I don't know if it's because I've been drawing them at three head height for so long but they seem too gangly in comparison. It might just require a lot of practice to get them looking natural. I think this is moving in the right direction, but maybe I have to draw the entire cast together a few times rather than everyone individually so the tall and short can be compared to each other.

Also I saw Thanqol's new avatar and got distracted:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120118/ppivy.jpg

Thanqol
2012-01-18, 07:24 PM
Also I saw Thanqol's new avatar and got distracted:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120118/ppivy.jpg

Adorable! :smallbiggrin:

Trazoi
2012-01-18, 08:10 PM
Adorable! :smallbiggrin:
You found my art weakness. I loved the geometric shape look in that show.

Trazoi
2012-01-20, 06:13 AM
#64: Playing with Pens

I've been playing around with different media to see which I can cartoon the most naturally - (real) pencils, vectors in Inkscape, and digital pens in ArtRage. I haven't yet clicked to any one thing yet - stuff doesn't look quite right.

Here's some pictures from me trying to get the hang of different ArtRage tools and pen settings:

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead00.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead01.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead02.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead03.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead04.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead05.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead06.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead07.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead08.jpg
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120120/luxhead09.jpg

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-20, 06:58 AM
On the subject of eyebrows: yea or nay?

I'm always tempted to say EYEBROWS, KEEP THE EYEBROWS IN! (At that volume, with that enthusiasm) But plenty of characters and styles that I like just fine seem to appear for the most part completely without eyebrows unless making certain expressions. Without having seen eyebrows on your lady in the apron or on the other characters, particularly, I feel like they'd benefit from having eyebrows: preferably 'personalised' ones. But it might be that if you throw eyebrows in there it's just one detail too many and it doesn't look right.

The important thing, I guess is that you have expression in the brow, which your characters do when they're pulling faces. I think Flapper Girl in particular though could benefit from eyebrows; carefully 'pencilled' ones would accentuate the Flapper look if you got them right, although they're a bit of a faff. Having FG be the only one in the main cast who had constant eyebrows - because she draws them on herself - is a strangely amusing concept for me... but I get amused by odd things like that. I'm also constantly getting hung up in little details which often don't translate well when scaled up or down so... :smallconfused:

As far as the apron/dress goes, I can see pros and cons to both styles (built in and seperate). If the apron is built in then it's much easier to 'animate' in a lot of ways because you only have to worry about how that one layer reacts - however if this is a character whose legs are already restricted and if you can't show a whole lot of animation in her lower part because she's all covered up - an apron that's a seperate layer which flaps about goes a long way towards helping to suggest movements. It's more work, but if you get it right, you get more out of it, basically, I guess. I don't know if you've read any or much Astérix, but those comics are an interesting reference for women with skirts that go right down to the ground who are still full of character and 'movement'. Goscinny and Uderzo got criticised a lot for underrepresenting women in their comics, but when they do appear they tend to be treated in the same way as the male characters: they're just as ridiculous (apart from Panacea, I guess, who's arguably one of the blandest characters in the series, aside from Tragicomix and that couple in the village that got divided directly down the middle in that one comic...)
I feel this is relevant because sometimes the ladies wear aprons. Incidentally, as far as I recall, all of those ladies have eyebrows. The style is pretty different though, so just because it worked for Uderzo doesn't mean it would be the best approach for your comic... (eyebrows)

Another cartoonist reference for skirts/dresses, would be Martin Brown, illustrator of the Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary. They doubtless have at least one book that covers the period that you're interested in, and they do seem to try to represent women as much as their data will allow them. Most of the action poses are men though, although I guess some of the toga, Ancient Egyptian shifts and "kilt" shots might be adaptable for your more actiony girls. I dunno if you've heard of Martin Brown or not. He's Australian (I had to google him to get his name) apparently, and you're from that hemisphere, so I feel as if you ought to be aware of him. I'm not quite sure that's how it works though... :smallconfused:

As an aside, I didn't think your 'static looking poses' looked all that static. I guess they were maybe fairly generic, but they still had plenty of character and seemed pretty impressive for work that didn't have any references. :smallsmile:

eyebrows

Thanqol
2012-01-20, 07:07 AM
Goscinny and Uderzo got criticised a lot for underrepresenting women in their comics, but when they do appear they tend to be treated in the same way as the male characters: they're just as ridiculous (apart from Panacea, I guess, who's arguably one of the blandest characters in the series, aside from Tragicomix and that couple in the village that got divided directly down the middle in that one comic...)
I feel this is relevant because sometimes the ladies wear aprons. Incidentally, as far as I recall, all of those ladies have eyebrows. The style is pretty different though, so just because it worked for Uderzo doesn't mean it would be the best approach for your comic... (eyebrows)

Your deep familiarity with the Asterix series pleases me <3

Trazoi
2012-01-20, 08:14 AM
On the subject of eyebrows: yea or nay?
Oh my, now there's a thorny question. :smallsmile: I experimented with this a year back and I know I decided on "no eyebrows" but I can't remember why. I'll crack open the archive and have a look.

When I was playing around with character designs for a webcomic idea before this one - the one I had to take an axe to because I'd faffed around with character designs for a year and realised I had a cast big enough for four complete stories - I'd keep playing around with elements like eyebrows. I was going for a simplified vectorised stye for Inkscape, and in the name of geometric-y simplified designs I went through two flavours of eyebrow choices:

No eyebrows:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/legacy/Hero14.jpg
and HUUUUGGE FLOOOOATING EEEEYEEBROWS:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/legacy/Wagner02.jpg

Looking through my archive of scanned in drawings there's only a few eyebrowed examples of the early prototypes that would survive the axing and become the current batch, but there's some:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/legacy/Ivy34.jpg

The debate I had was about what was better: having the eyebrows as an extra tool for expressing emotion, or whether they cluttered up the minimalist look of the face (note the lack of noses).

I'm not that sure now, especially since the designs have evolved since then. The archives show I scrapped eyebrows after I'd axed the old idea and morphed into a simpler one, but by then I'd decided everyone had pointy ears which act like a substitute (perk up when excited, flop down when dejected, etc). I haven't done one of those "essential expression" things in a while, so maybe I should try one on the weekend and see if it works with or without eyebrows.

Thanks for the suggestions on the apron too - I guess it's a question of throwing a few action situations appropriate to the character and seeing if they work.

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-20, 08:18 AM
Your deep familiarity with the Asterix series pleases me <3

[doffs hat]
...but does it please Trazoi and his avatar's scrutinising brow, I wonder? :smallbiggrin:

I'm not actually obsessed with eyebrows. I just rely on them very heavily when I sketch and automatically put them into attempts at mimicing other people's styles without realising that they weren't initally there.

ETA: Oh hey, somebody posted while I was rambling/ editing my post. And it was the OP. Most unusual. :smallbiggrin:

I have Lots More Things to Say about eyebrows and noses but I shall have to keep them to myself for a few hours and try to do some actual work.
I have looked at your eyebrow archive though and I do have some Opinions on them. (I don't know whether or not they're coherent though :smalltongue:)
As for the 25 essential expressions thing... I can't remember having ever succesfully completed one of those. I usually get mystified at the ones like 'OMG' and 'drunk' and start getting distracted about how 'drunk' is a physological state and not an emotion and how furthermore, there are usually many stages of 'drunk' for any one person and therefore one teeny box labeled 'drunk' is Inadequate for my Purposes. Context!
...One day I'll actually fill one of those in for a character... just to prove to myself that I can do it without getting sidetracked. Well. Maybe.:smallredface:

[Eleanor_Rigby remembers she has course work that allegedly won't complete itself / meals to eat and attempts to run away]

Domochevsky
2012-01-20, 04:16 PM
Well, on the topic of eyebrows... Dungeons Of Dredmor. That is all. :smallbiggrin:

(That is, they need to be noticable and attached to the face. So no floaty.)

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-20, 05:00 PM
[googles dungeons of dredmore]
raises comparitavely small eyebrows. :smalleek:

I was thinking more along the lines of Lego Minifigures eyebrows, they seem to make good use of them and often make pretty surprisingly good likenesses of the franchised characters considering the limitations of the medium (or even not considering the limitations of the medium sometimes). But the Minifigures have smaller eyes than your characters and they don't have the benefit of face shape. Still, I'm inclined to agree with Domochevsky: if you're going to go for eyebrows, it's usually best to keep them at least mostly on the face. Some people carry off floating eyebrows better than others though.
[has waking nightmares about Croc and his blinking yet entirely lidless and unprotected eyes...]

Trazoi
2012-01-20, 05:56 PM
http://img513.imageshack.us/img513/9426/eyebrow.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/513/eyebrow.jpg/)
But look at all that face real estate that floaty eyebrows save!

averagejoe
2012-01-21, 03:11 PM
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/legacy/Ivy34.jpg

Here the eyebrows look kind of like hair features. I suspect detached eyebrows is one of those things that works better with cartoons, since they're always moving in such a way that it's obvious what they are. Or possibly comic designs in which the people have larger foreheads.

Trazoi
2012-01-21, 09:53 PM
Here the eyebrows look kind of like hair features. I suspect detached eyebrows is one of those things that works better with cartoons, since they're always moving in such a way that it's obvious what they are. Or possibly comic designs in which the people have larger foreheads.
Originally that's what they were for. When I was playing around with Inkscape years ago, my goal was to figure out a style I could use to illustrate game ideas rather than sucky programmer art. The original platformer hero template was to look something like this:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/legacy/hero_simple.pngReally simple and something that if I figured the algorithms out right I could animate (never figured out how to get the feet to work)

As well as the animation I was worried about whether I could get enough facial expression into a face that's just eyes and a mouth:
http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/legacy/character_expressions.png
Since the characters might be really small (and I really didn't get body language at all back then) I was worried the eyes alone would be too subtle. So the solution was to add eyebrows and make them big.

I guess I got wedded to the style and am finding it hard to shake. I like the clean geometric minimalist style because when done well it feels very pure and strong, but I've got to get better at the fundamentals and other more realistic styles in order to do it properly.

Speaking of which I'm back to drawing the strong giantess character I attempted back on back on page 4. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214012&page=4) and am still having the same issues. I'm trying to draw something vaguely anatomically correct and then abstract it away to a cartoony style that fits everyone else, but it's not working.

Trazoi
2012-01-23, 08:17 AM
#65: Strong Female Character

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120123/ira_coloured.png

This was part an experiment to get the figure right, part an experiment of using ArtRage in tandem with Inkscape (end result is all vector), and part an experiment in colouring. I did the inking way too thick; I'll get it if I keep practicing it.

I spent the weekend's drawing time trying to capture the right appropriate cartoony strong look for Ira, this character here. I don't think I've quite got it, but it's better than some of my earlier attempts.

Also I need to get around to doing those practice comic strips to get a feel of art for a purpose, as well as actually doing some proper writing instead of character notes and plot ideas. It's going to take more than a few bad attempts before I can write half-decent dialog.

Trazoi
2012-01-24, 08:29 AM
#66: Conversation Test

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120124/luxgulli.png

A quick digital sketch of a bunch of characters, posed for a conversation in a standard webcomic "sit-com" fashion. Well it was meant to be quick, but I imported it into Inkscape to trial colouring again. It's not especially time consuming, but at the moment it's not exactly speedy either even for simple block colours. Plus I haven't decided on the colour of anything.

I'm not happy with the posing - I didn't think much about it, so it's very plain. Technically it is the standard sit-com camera that most webcomics use - camera straight ahead, roughly eye level, with the cast slightly facing towards the camera rather than each other. But it's a bit dull, even if it is fast, and I'm not sure how well it's working with characters of radically different heights.

Trazoi
2012-01-24, 06:22 PM
Quick question for the experienced artists - why does everything look better as rough pencils or charcoals than when I do the inking? When in scribbly pencil I can get a better feel of the shape of figures, make the lines thicker where they need to be thicker and thinner where vice versa, and generally even if it's a scribbly mess I can see what I want there to be in there. But the inked version is always so sterile and bad. Is it merely a practice thing, or am I going about the inking all wrong?

Sean Mirrsen
2012-01-24, 06:36 PM
Quick question for the experienced artists - why does everything look better as rough pencils or charcoals than when I do the inking? When in scribbly pencil I can get a better feel of the shape of figures, make the lines thicker where they need to be thicker and thinner where vice versa, and generally even if it's a scribbly mess I can see what I want there to be in there. But the inked version is always so sterile and bad. Is it merely a practice thing, or am I going about the inking all wrong?My sketches also always look better than the final outlines. The key, in my opinion, is the chaoticness of the rough lines. With the sketchy lines, your brain interprets what it sees, finding proper and familiar forms among the mess. When the lines are clean, they don't have the same effect, and if they're not exactly as they should be, the outline will seem wrong.

Also, sketches in pencil or charcoal usually have a sort of unintended shading effect, with the smudges from erasing and such. Compared to them, a clear inked picture will look empty and flat. This is normal, I think, but you can compensate for shadeless areas with thicker lines to get rid of some of that effect - unless of course you plan on actual shading later.

Trazoi
2012-01-25, 06:32 AM
I might be finding it hard to adjust because I've never went away from pencil on paper on real life tools, and never bothered erasing the guide lines. I never liked ink because of how permanent it was and how easy it is to smudge.

#67: Double the Lines

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120125/thicklines.jpg

A quick test of what it looks like if I do the inking twice, once with a standard pen like I was doing before and then again with a slightly thicker pen to give a thicker outline around the figures.

It doesn't look that bad in theory, but I need to figure out the best way to apply it intelligently - which areas to give thicker lines to make the figure pop from the page.

Edit: In other news I'm finding I'm terrible at planning a plot. Out of my half hour blocks I spend ten minutes on my plot notes and twenty on Wikipedia looking up mythology or medieval shoes and so on.

Also I only just realised that currently my cast consists of six main female characters with a powerful female superior and the only significant male character is the dragon. :smallredface:

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-25, 07:04 AM
I find inking pretty hard. You need a responsive pen or brush and a good deal of patience. Another thing to note is that some things can be taken care of with correction fluid or the digital equivalent thereof and that apparently even professionals often still make use of those.
Your inking looks pretty good, at least from one novice to another...
I guess one forum friendly way to check up on whether you're using breadth intelligently might be to review the line weight exercise on Saeyan's Art Upgrade thread, but it seems to me like you've generally followed those pointers.

As for your (almost) All Female Cast - I just assumed that was deliberate, although these things do seem to happen. Strangely enough I found myself quite frustrated to realise that all of my primary characters for my series were male about two years ago, inspite of the fact that I'm female and don't hang out with a lot of guys particularly. It's balanced out a little bit now although I am at that stage where you have male and female characters but they all seem to be deliberately there to balance each other out and if feels a bit staid and deliberate...? I dunno.
My collaborative sets of characters seem to be a bit more balanced genderwise than the ones I create by myself. I think that's possibly because the person I create characters with occaisionally is just a bit better at it than I am though. :smalltongue:

The plot thing I definately sympathise with. Getting a plotline sorted out and then figuring out how you're meant to storyboard it and all that jazz is much more complicated than I always seem to think it is. It's much easier to get caught up in all the little details, like the research you're talking about, for me at least...

Thanqol
2012-01-25, 07:14 AM
Edit: In other news I'm finding I'm terrible at planning a plot. Out of my half hour blocks I spend ten minutes on my plot notes and twenty on Wikipedia looking up mythology or medieval shoes and so on.

Also I only just realised that currently my cast consists of six main female characters with a powerful female superior and the only significant male character is the dragon. :smallredface:

I'm pretty confident in my writing, so if you need help, advice or an idea wall, you can get in touch with me via emails or MSN :smallsmile: Use my hotmail address for either.

Trazoi
2012-01-25, 07:32 AM
I guess one forum friendly way to check up on whether you're using breadth intelligently might be to review the line weight exercise on Saeyan's Art Upgrade thread, but it seems to me like you've generally followed those pointers.
It would be good for me to check up on that again.


As for your (almost) All Female Cast - I just assumed that was deliberate, although these things do seem to happen.
The all female cast is deliberate. The similarity to a certain animated show with a crazed fanbase in the forums is not. I'm surprised I didn't see it even though I am cribbing art design notes from it.
Also it's weird that is very loosely based on ideas from Faust. Just not, uh, that Faust.


The plot thing I definately sympathise with. Getting a plotline sorted out and then figuring out how you're meant to storyboard it and all that jazz is much more complicated than I always seem to think it is. It's much easier to get caught up in all the little details, like the research you're talking about, for me at least...
The characters I think should work together in a sitcom premise kind of way, but at the moment the plot doesn't fit together in a way that works. Which is hard for a webcomic idea because the premise requires I need to put some plot heavy elements in the beginning to start off.

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-25, 09:24 AM
The all female cast is deliberate. The similarity to a certain animated show with a crazed fanbase in the forums is not. I'm surprised I didn't see it even though I am cribbing art design notes from it.
Also it's weird that is very loosely based on ideas from Faust. Just not, uh, that Faust.

Ahahhaahaa... I'm not quite sure how I missed that you were making a My Little Pony reference... Doy.
Also now I feel like my observations about my own 'cast' just show me as some sort of odd sexist. It just turned out that way, honest!



The characters I think should work together in a sitcom premise kind of way, but at the moment the plot doesn't fit together in a way that works. Which is hard for a webcomic idea because the premise requires I need to put some plot heavy elements in the beginning to start off.

You know, I'm pretty sure that Shaenon Garrity approached... Mr McWhosit Jeffrey Channing Wells, when it came to doing the webcomic Skin Horse as opposed to the other round (which sometimes seems like it would be the more common way) - she's the artist and she came up with the characters, but he does the writing, or that's what he's billed there for. They seem to share things out fairly evenly, in a lot of ways. If the writing really is something that's dragging you down you could always consider collaboration along those lines, I suppose? Particularly if the main thing you want to get out of this project is improved drawing skills and that side of stuff...
[shrugs]

Trazoi
2012-01-25, 10:16 PM
Ahahhaahaa... I'm not quite sure how I missed that you were making a My Little Pony reference... Doy.
Also now I feel like my observations about my own 'cast' just show me as some sort of odd sexist. It just turned out that way, honest!
Weeeeeeell, I am a little worried about that sort of thing given that the main cast are effectively minor deities or personifications of the seven deadly sins. They're meant to be loosely based on groups like the Furies or the Muses so I hope it makes sense.

(They're also a legacy from the previous webcomic idea which due to a quirk of world building disease grew an all female pantheon. It started with one religion based around an Athena-liked goddess, who got a second goddess to oppose her. Then I added a third indifferent group who naturally needed a patron goddess of their own. Then another fantasy race with their own religion and hey, let's make it symmetrical and give them their own three goddesses. And so on and so on because, hey, why not?)


If the writing really is something that's dragging you down you could always consider collaboration along those lines, I suppose? Particularly if the main thing you want to get out of this project is improved drawing skills and that side of stuff...
[shrugs]Drawing practice is important, but I'd like to work on my writing too. I hadn't realised how tricky it is to get right though until I sat down and tried fleshing it out. I thought since I roughly knew the cast, where to begin and where to end that I could piece everything together but hah, it's not that simple.

Trazoi
2012-01-26, 07:46 AM
#68: Yo yo random

http://www.trazoi.net/images/ext/giantitp/daily/120126/yoyo.jpg

Running low on time, couldn't think of what to draw.

I think the poses I draw are still too stiff, and I'm not sure of the best way to overcome that other than "attempt more dynamic stuff".

Domochevsky
2012-01-26, 09:23 AM
Might be related to her having a completely closed stand and no curve in her pose whatsoever. You might wanna adjust that. :smallsmile:

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-26, 02:31 PM
I suppose yeah, she is standing fairly upright with no bends to any joints or any such thing. Maybe even if she were just tilted slightly forward or slightly back and was following the path of the yo-yo with her eyes? (The point of articulation here would be heels toes or ankles, I guess...) I dunno.
I am one of the world's worst yo-yo operators so I'm not the best placed in giving instruction as to how a person might be positioned when working a yo-yo.
The pose doesn't give much away though: is she good with a yo-yo? is she rubbish at using a yo-yo? Does she know what a yo-yo is? Has she used one before? why is she using one now? To while time away? As an excuse to ignore somebody? Because yo-yos are awesome if you know how to play with one?
It's an interesting sketch and it has a certain amount of expression to it, but it is something of a closed book. The lack of articulation of anything but the arms and a perhaps a slight tilt of the head probably has something to do with it.
[feels like a meanie]

As to writing, yeah - I can understand wanting to do the writing yourself, especially in a first project of this nature. I suggested collaboration to you, but if I ever do a webcomic with my cartoon cast, I probably want to do the writing myself for that as well.
Looks like Thanqol's a better person to go to for writing advice, as my plot is still pretty non-existant. It's all castles in the air for me at the moment... speaking of which, do you have a title yet? Not the most important part of the webcomic development process, but sometimes helpful to link back to in writing I guess. Friendship is Magic, to take an example pulled from thin air, basically has every single episode revolving around the title's premise, which is sweet and all, but pretty intensive to keep up - hence the need for a writing team to keep on topic and prevent writer burnout, in part. But another part is that that's how the animation industry works, and the animation industry is one thing and the webcomics industry is another even though they're related so... mutter mutter mutter mutter... That being said - 'Friendship is Magic' or even just 'Friends' (nobody would call a series that though) is a pretty lose theme which gives a lot more room for loads of episodes than a work that makes a conscious decision to attempt to engage every episode with its title than something like... 'How I Met Your Mother'... or something equally er, hypothetical. [shifty eyes]

Trazoi
2012-01-26, 05:10 PM
Might be related to her having a completely closed stand and no curve in her pose whatsoever. You might wanna adjust that. :smallsmile:
Yeah, I really wasn't thinking when I drew her as I didn't draw a basic spine curve to anchor the figure. The trap with these established designs is that I fall into the mindset of drawing them piece by piece - first the oval head, then a pair of squishy gem shapes in a figure 8 configuration, then the tube-like arms, done - which leads to a rigid pose. Quick to draw and involves no thinking though. :smalltongue:


The pose doesn't give much away though: is she good with a yo-yo? is she rubbish at using a yo-yo? Does she know what a yo-yo is? Has she used one before? why is she using one now? To while time away? As an excuse to ignore somebody? Because yo-yos are awesome if you know how to play with one?
Yeah, I didn't put enough thought into the expression. Really all the thought process was "dang, I've only got half an hour left, better draw something."


speaking of which, do you have a title yet? Not the most important part of the webcomic development process, but sometimes helpful to link back to in writing I guess.
My working title is "Rock Bottle". I find it hard to work on a project if it doesn't have a name. It still kinda fits so unless a better title strikes me I'll go with it.

I'll make an effort on the weekend to pull everything together to the point where I can experiment with strip format. I've got no idea how long they're going to take - last one I did took hours but I was learning everything as I went.

Domochevsky
2012-01-26, 05:39 PM
Yeah, I really wasn't thinking when I drew her as I didn't draw a basic spine curve to anchor the figure. The trap with these established designs is that I fall into the mindset of drawing them piece by piece - first the oval head, then a pair of squishy gem shapes in a figure 8 configuration, then the tube-like arms, done - which leads to a rigid pose. Quick to draw and involves no thinking though. :smalltongue:
...

Congratulations, you have discovered the Mookie way. :smallwink: Can you feel the shame?

Trazoi
2012-01-26, 06:00 PM
Congratulations, you have discovered the Mookie way. :smallwink: Can you feel the shame?
Hey that webcomic has been going for ten years now, surely that means I'm drawing like the experts, right? :smallsmile:

(Admittedly with the writing especially I am paranoid that if I don't plan everything properly I could end up like Dominic Deegan.)

Thanqol
2012-01-26, 08:37 PM
Hey that webcomic has been going for ten years now, surely that means I'm drawing like the experts, right? :smallsmile:

(Admittedly with the writing especially I am paranoid that if I don't plan everything properly I could end up like Dominic Deegan.)

DD's writing sin is a failure of genre. Everything else flows from there. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a slice of life? Is it an adventure? Who knows? Who knows what's going to happen, with it jumping over the place all the time?

From there, everything flows. Wanting to write a comedy leads to cowardice in killing off main characters. Wanting to write an adventure leads to situations where the main characters must be put at risk, causing dissonance when comedy is used to revoke risk. Wanting to write a slice of life leads to long, pointless interludes while the audience is waiting for the 'real' story to resume. Wanting to write a drama causes mood whiplash and raises serious questions as to why people don't use their powers to their maximum effect, something excusable in a comedy.

It's a failure of genre, of not knowing what you want to write. One of the more common critiques of DD is "Good ideas executed poorly". That's because the story's fundamental assumptions change on a daily/weekly basis and an idea executed in a comedy is very different to the same idea executed in a drama.

Pick your genre and figure out the conventions and assumptions that come with that. And be prepared to stick to the genre even when your personal mood is different. If possible, get an editor you can trust. That should dodge you a lot of DD's pit traps.

Trazoi
2012-01-27, 01:16 AM
Thanks Thanqol! That's managed to help me get my head around where I'm blocked. I'd lost track that I'm meant to be writing something along the lines of Narbonic which puts comedy and character above intricate plot.

Eleanor_Rigby
2012-01-27, 05:58 AM
Thanks Thanqol! That's managed to help me get my head around where I'm blocked. I'd lost track that I'm meant to be writing something along the lines of Narbonic which puts comedy and character above intricate plot.

Thanqol's genre advice up there was fairly helpful just speaking generally, actually: made me think a bit more about boundries for at least one of my own projects, so that was nice. :smallsmile:

I haven't read Narbonic, save for the first 'chapter' or so, but I really enjoyed Skin Horse (I'll admit to having fallen behind recently) and at some point I totally intend to read Narbonic.

When you say 'along the lines of Narbonic' though, do you mean format and updating schedule as well or purely the general tone and comedy hijynx to plot ratio? I'm just wondering... well mostly because I'm nosy, if I'm honest... but also; single bank comics are way harder than I always imagine they are. I mean like... you have fewer drawings to do, but then you also have fewer drawings in which to make your point. In case it wasn't abundantly obvious, I'm the sort of person who finds just making my point in a fairly limited space preeetty difficult. I admire people who can do it well... I always seem to miss one part or another or try to cram too much into too little space.
I mentioned updating schedule, but I have no clue what Narbonic's was like. SH updates every week day with a Sunday special... I guess Narbonic's might have been similar as even early on they had that ...Ferret(?) song that some enthusiastic fanatic sent in, mixed in among the actual updates.

'Rock Bottle' is an interesting title. I don't see how it fits yet, but that's kind of understandable. Is it meant to sound a bit like 'Rock Bottom' or is that co-incidental? I find it interesting that you say you always work with titles in mind because I'm pretty rubbish at those: I tend to just think of a series as being 'Character X and co.' 'Character Y and Character Z' or 'Character Set Connected by Theme N.O.P'... Exciting, eh? One set of characters did have a title for their series but it was somewhat Eponymous and made no sense for the series as a whole whatsoever. I have some working titles now, but they're mostly quite forgettable. :smallsigh:

Trazoi
2012-01-27, 10:00 PM
I haven't read Narbonic, save for the first 'chapter' or so, but I really enjoyed Skin Horse (I'll admit to having fallen behind recently) and at some point I totally intend to read Narbonic.

When you say 'along the lines of Narbonic' though, do you mean format and updating schedule as well or purely the general tone and comedy hijynx to plot ratio?
Narbonic hit a good combo for daily humour strip with on-going plot. There was plenty of wacky hijinks but the central cast were fleshed out enough to be relatable. It also did a good job of hitting punchlines in nearly every strip save for the handful that were especially dramatic moments.

(Skin Horse is enjoyable too and is similar but as of now doesn't IMO work as well as Narbonic did. It's far more about the wacky hijinks and not enough about the central cast. The prime missing thing is an equivalent to Dave Davenport, an everyday person who gets swept up in the madness. The equivalent newcomer is Tip, and as a cross-dressing army psychologist who is irresistible to the ladies he doesn't work in that role.)


I'm just wondering... well mostly because I'm nosy, if I'm honest... but also; single bank comics are way harder than I always imagine they are. I mean like... you have fewer drawings to do, but then you also have fewer drawings in which to make your point.
I prefer a shorter format for punchline humour. Two or three panels for the set-up, then the punchline. A horizontal newspaper strip-like format works well for this, but won't be so good for action or extended drama. I'm going to play around with formats to find what I like. For webcomics you've always got the option of mixing up the formats if you need occasionally need a full page spread.


I mentioned updating schedule, but I have no clue what Narbonic's was like. SH updates every week day with a Sunday special... I guess Narbonic's might have been similar as even early on they had that ...Ferret(?) song that some enthusiastic fanatic sent in, mixed in among the actual updates.
Narbonic was the same - regular updates six days a week with a special on Sunday. Sometimes letters to the characters, sometimes fanart, sometimes additional stories like the Victorian-era variants of the characters. I've got the book succinctly named "Webcomics" where Shaenon explains her work process - basically she jots down notes and rough thumbnails weeks in advance and then when art time comes she draws and inks a whole week of six strips at once.


'Rock Bottle' is an interesting title. I don't see how it fits yet, but that's kind of understandable. Is it meant to sound a bit like 'Rock Bottom' or is that co-incidental?
That's intentional. I like it in that it can work on several layers - the whole premise is about a "rock" in a "bottle" made of "rock" which everyone wants to shake about (i.e. "rock") and there's plenty of other "rocks" and "bottles" to make things more confusing. :smallsmile:

What I don't like about the title is that it's about the plot and setting not the characters, and the characters are more important. And while it does have some meaning it's not that direct so it has a somewhat "Sluggy Freelance" vibe to it. Plus it sounds like a garage band and I'm not too sure whether adding electric guitars to the story just to make another pun on "rock" is a good idea.
This will probably happen.


I find it interesting that you say you always work with titles in mind because I'm pretty rubbish at those: I tend to just think of a series as being 'Character X and co.' 'Character Y and Character Z' or 'Character Set Connected by Theme N.O.P'... Exciting, eh?
Actually I'm terrible with naming things, but unless the project has a name then I can't work on it because I've got nothing to call it. With game ideas I usually get away with a working title of "Project <noun>" where I know I will replace it later, but with webcomics it didn't work.