Friday, July 17, 2009

Self-portrait of the Artist With Her Favorite New Book

No, this isn't about a book I wrote. It's one I bought on July 9th from Amazon. This is Crescent, by Phil Rossi. I first listened to the podcast of this book last year, and fell in love. It's a creepy cool science fiction/horror tale about a haunted space station where all sorts of nasty things lurk in the dark. When I heard Crescent had been picked up by Dragon Moon Press for publication, I was very happy. When my copy arrived on my doorstep earlier today, I was jumping with joy. And to show you all how ecstatic I am over my newest addition to my library, I drew this picture.

See? Don't I look happy? If you're into horror and sci-fi, if you like a sexy, scary read, give this book a try. You can find out more about the print book and the free podcast version over at

PS - that gorgeous cover art is by Neil Aschliman.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episode 34 - Summer Fun!

Yes, Princess actually said this to me.

For the last couple of summers, I've tried to have a theme for our fun time activities, something the girls can dress up for and act out. The first two summers, it was princesses or fairies. The girls get to choose, and I'm kind of stuck with whatever they come up with. Naturally, princesses and fairies aren't exactly my cup of tea (in spite of the fact that I am mother to a Princess and a Pixie, but that's a little different). I tried last summer to get them to play pirates or zombies, but no dice. This year, though, Princess surprised me. She wants to be a ninja. We haven't made ninja costumes yet, but if I can just get to the craft store and find a pattern, we should be good to go.

We've also been playing zombies a lot, and Princess has recently discovered another princess she likes, perhaps even more than Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. She now wants to be Princess Leia. I can not tell you how happy that makes me.

You may have noticed that I'm doing things much differently this week. This week's strip was drawn, inked, and lettered entirely by hand. I only used Photoshop to add the titles. But everything else is as it came off my drawing pad. I didn't even use the zip tones in Manga Studio, relying instead on cross hatching to shade things.

Much as I like Manga Studio, it's simply faster to draw the cartoons by hand. I've been practicing inking with a brush pen and have been pleased with the results. I still need to work on the lettering a bit, but today's strip came out well enough that I can live with it. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Episode 33 - School's Out! (But Is Color In?)

So it's taken me a couple weeks to get this one done, and I'm a little irritated about that.

To get things done faster, I've switched to pencilling and inking by hand. This works better because I can carry a drawing pad with me wherever I go, and if I have a few minutes where I'm sitting and waiting for the kids, like I did the last couple of weeks, I can whip out the drawing pad and get to work. I even bought a shiny new mechanical pencil for this purpose, along with some red leads to go in it. Using a red pencil lets me scan in the drawing without having to worry about erasing the pencil marks. I just drop out the red in the channels palette and voila! All I'm left with is my ink work. Pretty neat, huh?

But then I got to thinking (and this is where the trouble usually starts)...

Maybe, just maybe, I should try doing the cartoon in color. Yeah, it might require an extra step or two, but wouldn't that be cool?!

No, it turns out it would not. Manga Studio Debut is not cut out for colorizing cartoons. I tried to get it to work, and had lotsa problems. First off, I want to be able to publish these cartoons as a collection at some point, a print collection, and there are very few webcomics that come out in print in color. Black and white is far easier and cheaper to print. Fact of life. So I would still need to prep the cartoon for black and white as well as color, meaning I'd still need to put in all those gray scale tones I've been using. I though I could kill two birds with one stone by doing the tones in color, but no matter what I tried, I couldn't get the tones to come out in the colors I wanted them too. You can see that this week's cartoon is pretty washed out. It looks like a hand tinted photograph, almost.

So not sure what to do. I'll keep exploring my options, but hopefully won't allow it to interfere anymore with production. Meanwhile, you guys let me know. Color? Or no color? There are ways of getting that vibrant color I wanted, but I'd have to skip the toning to get things out fast.