Do I need to go to school to finish chapter 2?

So, yesterday I uploaded “In which Mira learns a lesson pt 5” which concludes chapter 2. There are a lot of hand pictures on my phone. I use Pinterest to find photos for reference, but sometimes it is so hard to find something doing the thing at the right angle! Also, I can pose the body, but I have no idea how the folds in their clothing work.

However, I love making this webcomic. I have learned a lot. I have practiced facial expressions, posing, face angles, hands, and backgrounds. I also tend to over soften a piece, so using cell shading has changed how I see shading and lighting. I feel I am a better artist on page 25 of chapter two than I was on page 1, or chapter 1. And there’s more to go.

Do you need college to be an artist?

No*. Pencil and paper is a good place to start, but pick a medium and have fun. To be a professional artist, the answer is still no. There are successful Youtube artists and people on Instagram that are doing very well with no college education (at least in art). These artist have a wide range of styles, from cartoony to hyper-realism. Their set up ranges as well. Jazza tries a large range of mediums and new toys, ranging from trying traditional mediums like oil paint and marble sculpting to painting with food and laser designs. DrawingWiffWaffles goes for trying new mediums or coming up with interesting design requirements. She opens subscription boxes or creates art based on food or colors. Other artists stick with one medium, markers or watercolors, exploring the full range of what is possible. Sakimichan uses Patreon to create fanart and personal art, available through subscription. The more one pays, the more one gets, such as high resolution pictures, not safe for work variations, books, and how to videos.

* Here’s the exception.

1: Gallery artists. The artists I have mentioned before here, are popular on social media platforms and generate income by creating content, using Patreon, and selling merchandise. Gallery artists show off their work in galleries and events, which then sells at a high price to individual consumers or museums. This can become a game of who you know, in which art school is helpful.

2. Graphic Design. I can paint people. I cannot make a great website. Graphic design is a wide term including website design, logo design, creating flyers or magazine layouts and the visuals for social media posts, packaging, and occasionally some other things like photography. Fine art skills like drawing and color theory are helpful, but a fine artist and graphic designer are different. Typography? I know two fonts and what sans seins means. A lot of graphic design jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or a good deal of experience. I know enough about graphic design to know I’m not good at, could learn it, and don’t know how to get better without attending school.

2b: Interior design. I just know there’s a lot to know that I don’t know.

please hug your teacher friends

3. Art teacher. Certification requires a bachelor’s degree, preferably art education, and a content area test. Certification varies depending on state (for example having a studio art degree but completing education courses and the test). Community colleges require a masters degree in art.*
*I know 2 bassoon teachers who taught at a university with only a bachelors degree, but they had big deal experience to make up for not having a higher degree.

4. Concept Art/Illustrator. This is in between. I believe a strong portfolio will outweigh not having a degree. It will take intense self study, especially for concept art, but I believe it is possible. Illustration has such a wide variety of styles that being consistent in one or two styles will be more beneficial than attending school.

Practice makes perfect…sort of. Perfect practice makes perfect. Part of being a musician is learning how to practice, just like being an artist. “Draw every day” or “draw a lot” is thrown around. Yes, drawing often helps, but drawing thoughtfully helps more.

Here’s how I got better at drawing (I’m not great, but I do alright).

1. Draw from real life (even if you have a style). If that is not possible, draw from a good photo. Start with 1 light source and sharp shadows and highlights. (cute instagram photos are probably not good to start with. Add “reference” to a search on google or pinterest or use a pose site). Mirrors, smart phone cameras, and yourself are great for modeling.
2. Watch other people create art. Learn from them then try the technique. If you do not apply the technique, you have not learned it. Sometimes learning from others means learning what we don’t like or what doesn’t work. You may also copy others artists. DISCLAIMER: do not post it as your own. Best practice is to keep it as a study and not share it OR ask the artist before sharing it, with the disclaimer it is a study. Obviously you don’t have to ask Rembrandt, but still state it’s a study. This is also how you discover your style.
3. Analyze your art work. How is mine different from the original? Being able to copy what you see is an important skill. Being able to apply that to your art is also important. If you want to learn how to draw cats, draw a cat as it is, try to get as close to capturing it as possible. Then try to redraw it in your style. How do I feel about this technique? Does it work with my style, does it make creating easier, does it improve my art?

How I make a page of Fortune’s Fancy

I’m back and making comics again! I’m almost finished with the final section of chapter 2!

I’m still refining exactly how I approach things. The steps are the same. I’ve been working one page at a time, but the last two parts I work on a group of pages. A page by itself takes 3 to 6 hours, depending on a variety of factors: do I have to redraw something, is there magic, is there something complex (like hands or detailed scenes).

I use Clip Studio Paint EX. I have my comic pulled up to the side and the page I’m working on. I open other pages for reference to keep consistent colors. The main colors I use I have saved in a color palette. I have a Huion Kamvas GT 121 (I think that’s the number?). Screen tablets make linework easier, but any pen tablet will work. I resize things quiet often, so I prefer digital. Occasionally I move panels around.

Fortune’s Fancy started as a book with no intention of being a webcomic. So the first step is to translate long paragraphs of text into a script. The book version gives me an idea of how things should look, how characters feel and their reactions, so I don’t keep this in the script. The most important information for me is what the characters are saying. I also include sighs and whispers.

My canvas is 5433 x 7488 at 600 dpi. I set it up through the comic option on Clip studio and I had no idea what I was doing. So that’s the size. It’s 230 x 317 mm, with a binding and boarder size of 210 x 297. I didn’t like how big the boarders were on the default A4 size. I would have to do some fenagling to print Fortune’s Fancy.

I start zoomed out and draw the rough boxes, characters and text bubbles. I know which circle is Drexel or Mira, so this stage can be pretty messy and incomplete. It can range from a circle with some lines, to actually drawing characters expressions and positions. If the background is part of the character layer (I won’t blur it out), I will draw it. If the background has changed, I will sketch it to give an idea of where they are. I might put in a single word to know which text bubble says what. The script is pulled up next to me, so I have a good idea.

I add the boxes and the text. When I do the lineart, I don’t have to worry about a hand that is going to be covered by a text box. Clip studio has a panel tool, text tool, and bubble tool. Thought bubbles I have to use the extra resources for, so it can be an extra step and an extra layer. On the panel layer, I use the special selection tool to select the space outside of the panels. I fill a layer with white. Anything drawn outside the panel will not show. (I used to do a lot of extra work instead of this step)

I lower the opacity of layer 1 and sketch the characters. I sketch in red. Clip studio has a feature to turn a layer into a blue draft, which I use. The color of the sketch doesn’t really matter, it’s just one of those “I like it so I do it” things. I added a third layer for the interior that characters interact with (The wall with the fire place, the cabinets, the doorway Mira leans on). I remove the first sketch layer and make some final fixes. This sketch layer goes pretty smoothly, but if I have a difficult section like a hand or a pose, I can be sketchy and use extra lines to figure it out. When I ink later, the extra scribble is not visible. Doing an ink layer here would be difficult to clean up. For all of these layers, I use G-pen at 15 pixels, where the size is related to pen pressure.

I do the linework. Straight lines like the fireplace and doorframe are done with the straight line tool, pressing shift to make it straight up and down, side to side, or 45 degrees. It does not have a line weight variation option that I have found. Most of this is tracing the red layer, but I do occasionally change a few things. The linework, panels, and speech is done in a dark brown, not black.

I use the fill bucket tool and lay in the flat colors. This is tricky. I don’t close my lines so if I use the fill bucket straight out of the box, it will fill the whole square. For example, if I use it on Drexel’s goatee, it will fill his whole face orange. I set it to know to stop at gaps. Drexel’s goatee area is still pretty tricky, the end of eyebrows, and Mira’s ears. I go in with the turnip pen, usually set around 30 pixels, and fill in these spaces. I don’t use white for the eyes, it’s a cream color and looks really weird on the white background.

I do the backgrounds. For interiors and exterior city scenes, I use the rectangle tool set to fill. For example, the wall and door behind Drexel, the table and bookcase behind Mira. I use gaussian blur set to 40 to blur out the background. For organic backgrounds, I paint them by hand using the pen tool or brush tool. Since I blur background, I never spend much time on details. Background that characters are interacting with or showing an important location, I will draw as part of the scene. After the backgrounds I reward myself with shading the characters. I shade on the flats layer.

Magic is fun. I will paint with the paint brush the desired effect and then add a layer with a glow or light effect on top. Using a blending brush set with no color, I can add effects like a soft glow. I may also use a blur or motion effect to make the magic look soft rather than using harsh lines. In this example, I have a pen set to low opacity. I swipe it on top of the normal color to get the lighting effect. I then use a pen at full opacity to pick up the new color and use it to add light. Pages with magic have a lot of extra layers. I don’t bother naming layers, which gets messy when there’s a lot of magic on a page.

The file is saved on the comic file. I then save a clip studio file in the chapter folder. I save a .png full size and a .png sized to 800 pixels wide for webtoons and tapas. I use the .png full size to make the clips that I post here and on facebook. My saving process is complicated and convoluted.

In which there is Depression: Comments on latest update

Chapter 2 page 14 took me two weeks to make. In part because I started a new job that consumes a lot of time and energy and in part because I had a horrible bout of depression. I have bipolar II and it happens. I recently had a med change that messed things up pretty bad and I’m still recovering from it.

I include themes of mental health in the comic, although it’s going to take a while to get there. Drexel has PTSD including some depression that leads to suicidal ideation. I don’t depict it, but he mentions he has thoughts of not wanting to live. He also has panic attacks.

Mira falls into the Sad Clown trope. Things at home were bad so she’s just plucky comic relief to cope. She’s very slow to reveal her backstory so I’m going to leave it sort of vague for now.

I’m really happy with how Drexel’s eye turned out. He’s thinking of burning Resultum so I added fire to his eye. It took 2 or 3 layers.

His eyelashes? I had to draw those bastards at least three times. Why is his sad eye always his left? I don’t know.

Drexel explains later more of his intents and reasoning for casing the spell that destroyed Resultum. He also deals with a lot of guilt for it. Resolving that guilt and other traumas is the main theme of the story.

Mira knows more than she’s letting on. How does she know so much about Drexel? I can’t tell you until chapter 3.

Remember from “In which Drexel meets Mira” that Mira doesn’t want to work for royalty. She’s not antagonizing him. She’s being a little too frank in asking for his reasoning of living alone in a small town that doesn’t pay well and gives him dirty looks.

She gets a little cocky when she asks if he would work for a nobleman if they were to hire Drexel. Drexel has no desire to play politics anymore. He’s reasoned that if one dog bites, they all bite. I sort of alluded to a young Drexel in a panel, but it could be anyone, right?

The last page was tricky but sort of fun. Mira asks Drexel if he would ever hurt her. She gets these moments of asking questions in a round about way and appears sad for a moment, but Drexel never pushes. Mira reveals her past much later and Drexel pokes at it in the meantime.

I have Drexel sort of change the subject for a few reasons. First, he doesn’t want to offend her. He’s afraid to ask. Second, he’s lived alone for 20 years, he has no idea how to approach it. He recognizes it’s a tricky subject and avoids it.

There’s a Christmas page? I suppose so…

Drexel’s humility and secrecy towards his abilities reappears. He’s very indifferent about it. Sure I have all this power, but what good am I going to do?

In which Mira learns a lesson: comments (Part 1)

I loved the well scene so much that I added Archimedes and used it as a cover. I love the lighting and their curious looks. I’m really happy with how Drexel’s hair looks like it’s being affected by gravity. It’s another opportunity to allude to Drexel and Mira being different. As I drew, I thought of Drexel looking down with an “Oh, jeez” expression, while Mira just smiles and says “cool”

Because it was prose before a webcomic, I have to figure out how to condense multiple paragraphs of explaining time passing into a few panels with visuals.

Also, I figured out what color the sky was. I color picked a picture. It’s more turquoise than I imagined. I mean, can you swivel around a color wheel/square and select the right-ish color?

Drexel’s house’s interior was so hard to draw. First I had to use perspective rulers. Second I had to draw a stupid amount of books. Why? Drexel says it best. “I’m a hermit, what else am going to do?”

Why doesn’t Drexel have a bedroom? I think of him as very practical in that he didn’t need a large space, so why add a bedroom? I also imagined his house like a studio apartment. He’d just fill the bedroom with books instead of bed-related things anyway.

What’s on the shelf of his bookcase? A telescope. Oh, the other thing? I don’t know. Just drew some stuff, thought it looked cool. He should have more magical instruments strewn about, but that requires me inventing them.

Drexel’s hair randomly got longer for a few panels. I might have been excited?

What is he putting away and where? I don’t know. I’m so bad at food in art or writing, so nothing is anime level tasty.

Drexel’s expressions in the last two panels is great. Really, he should comment on how dragons aren’t real, but there’s wasn’t room. The last panel captures the “Seriously, Mira?” look that he wears quite often. I love pairing Mira’s almost sarcastic, excited way of speaking with Drexel’s literal interpretation and deadpan expression.

About those birds… I think it took less time to do Mira’s room than Drexel’s house, but I had gotten used to the tools. I really wish I could better express Mira’s gratitude at the gesture of creating a personalized room. I reveal her history later. There’s also a big contrast in what Mira envisioned a page or two earlier and what she gets. She would have been thrilled with a cot on the floor.

I used reference for this. In part because hands are hard, in part because it’s the ASL sign for bowl. When I was writing, I thought, “Crap, how do I write out the sign for bowl?” When I was drawing I thought, “Crap, how do I show the sign for bowl…in a webcomic that doesn’t move.”

Later they sign for “candle,” which involves a finger wiggle….not sure about that.

Also notice that Drexel is a little excited? about creating Mira’s room and pleased to show her magic. When she asks for him to teach her magic and he answers “I suppose.” I imagine it’s a fake sort of inconvenienced sound. “I suppose I could be troubled, but I’m also really glad you asked.” I gave him a little smirk. It’s a bit subtle. Later Mira tells Archimedes that Drexel likes talking about magic.

Drexel has also been alone, reading about magic for years. While some of it is practical application for himself, some of it is proper pedagogy. What should students learn first, what happens when this goes wrong? It’s something that appears later that he’s good at explaining, correcting, and modeling.

I also imagine that Drexel is very pleased to have someone who doesn’t dislike him for breathing and taking up space.

Mira almost looks smug. I can see her saying it as in, “this was what you said, please clarify” but also “you said I’m too good for that.”

I’m excited for the next segment. Mira seems to know about Drexel and mistakes it for knowing Drexel. It’s the start of really seeing their personalities clash a little.

In which Drexel Meets Mira: Comments

Note: Most posts won’t be this long. Since I’ve already drawn and posted chapter 1, I just wanted to get it all out of the way

Ch1, pg 1

I started writing Fortune’s Fancy in September and somewhere in October, where my posts about it got little attention, someone asked if it was a webocomic.

So I drew up the first page and I really enjoyed it. I recommend drawing main characters and the first few scenes a few dozen times before actually starting a webcomic. In the first few pages, how Drexel’s hair is drawn changes a few times. Drexel and Mira’s proportions change a little as well. My overall process has developed a lot through chapter 1.

Ch 1, pg 2

So, I hate drawing backgrounds. But it would be a very boring story if everything was on gray. I used a lot of textured brushes and blur the background so the focus in on the characters yet I have interesting settings. Honestly in most scenes the background is slow to change. Most of the story takes place in Drexel’s house or in Northwick. I don’t need to draw a lot of different complex settings.

Ch 1 pg 3

I really felt clever for the fire background, but Drexel looks too old. I meant for him to look extra sad and sort of aged, not about to turn to dust.

Drexel destroyed a large portion of a very large city with a single spell. It’s discussed more in chapter 3 (In which there are thunderstorms). It is the reason he lives alone. My plan is to draw a lot of flash back scenes in that chapter to break up the dialogue.

I love Drexel’s “what?” face. It’s only going to get better. The “what” face returns many times.

There’s a weird green line that magically appeared behind Drexel. I’m too lazy to go back and fix it, but it’s one of my favorite thumbnails from the chapter.

Ch 1, pg 5

Is Drexel sad? Let’s see if there’s a close up of his eyes.. Yeah, he’s sad. I spent a long time getting Penta’s (Orterian Wine) eyebrows to look sort of angry, so drawing Drexel’s eyebrows was the opposite. But I’ve learned a lot about how to make someone look sad.

The magic is a lot of overlay layers and bright colors. Mira’s fireball was super fun to draw. I’m very excited for the fireballs in chapter two. Bigger, better, bluer?

Ch 1, pg 6

Anytime Mira mentions being free or freedom, birds appear. This alludes to chapter two (In which Mira learns a lesson), where Drexel does her room in a bird motif. Later, Drexel gives her the nickname, Little Bird.

Mira says “Resultum wasn’t your fault.” Drexel replies “Were you even born yet?” She was not. Mira is 17 at their first meeting and Resultum was 22 years ago. Don’t worry, I explain why Mira knows these things and why she sought Drexel out.

Note on page 6: Mira’s hands were easy. Drexel looking over his shoulder gave me trouble, but it’s one of my favorites.

Ch 1, pg 8

This page (page 8) was 9 panels. And they all had house backgrounds. I almost died. Most pages take around 4 to 6 hours, I think this one took over 6. However, I love the juxtaposition between Mira and Drexel entering Northwick. Drexel being nonchalant almost sad and Mira being super happy, especially since Drexel just agreed (sort of) to take her as an apprentice.

Can we agree that Rowan is adorable? I don’t know what 12 year olds look like.

ch 1 pg 9

Totally Penta and Belhear from Orterian Wine. After drawing the first panel of page nine with like 12 people in it, I ran out of faces. They would never be this mean to Drexel. Belhear doesn’t have a mean bone in is body.

On page 9, I didn’t add the ellipses until I had finished the entire page. And yes, that house took forever. I had to use some references of Victorian houses. I don’t like the idea that all fantasy is medieval. I used a brush to get the points on the fence. Probably would have been a good idea to work from back to front on the house, but I did not.

ch 1 pg 9

I could also have named this section “In which there are rats of unusual size.” There’s some big rats in there. I had a lot of fun doing the lighting in the last few pages. I started with the shadow color and added the normal base color as a highlight (usually the other way).

ch 1, pg 11

At this point, Drexel and Mira are pretty solid on appearance. I don’t think Mira evolved as much, but I haven’t noticed any derpy faces in chapter 2… yet.

The background through the Longbottom house is a lot of shapes with some quick vague shapes for paintings. Since they blur anyway, there portraits take maybe half an hour? I got those bad boys out pretty fast.

ch 1, pg 13

That water pump spout thing, right? It went pretty smooth too. I use the red in a lot of other places (the rooves, Mrs. Longbottom’s dress, everywhere). I used a low opacity brush with a light blue to make the water, then went over another time for the highlights.

If we feed Drexel pie all day, there’s no story. Technically, according to the prose, this is breakfast. Grown wizard license.

I just really loved the cherry pie closing out the chapter. Yeah, I’ll use the elliptical tool to make better plates and tables….