Thursday, November 16, 2017

Guest Post: Mharz and The Angel With Black Wings

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the years of doing art is that it’s an endless experimentation. It’s fascinating how each artists have their own sets of principles, and methods of doing things. Today, I am happy to share my very own comic making process in this nice little blog post!


First off, a bit about me. Hello my name is Mharz and I’ve been doing webcomics since 2014. Prior to that, I was working in animation industry since 2012. I never went to art school and all the knowledge I have in art is based from my experience working in the industry and self-learning. I currently have three webcomics: The Angel with Black Wings, about the friendship between a human boy and a guardian angel; CHAMPS, about an MMA’s conquest in the octagon and in love; and The Robonoid Fan about different kinds of adults. In addition to that, I’m also currently doing pencils and inks for Donathin Frye’s I, Necromancer. I know… I have many stuffs to do.


I also do occasional drawing tips based on my experience in animation. Anyway, enough about the intros and let’s get this process started. I kinda have like a wide variety of methods but for the sake of simplicity, I’m just gonna discuss my comic making process for The Angel with Black Wings.


For starters, I’m gonna divide my process into three phases. This is something I have adopted in animation production: Pre-production, Production, and Post-production.

Pre-production


This is the phase where I outline, plot and thumbnail the story. I usually do it every 5 chapters so I won’t burn out. This is the most gruelling phase for me and really requires me to use too much mental power.


I am very old-fashioned when it comes to writing and I really prefer to write in paper because (1) I get tired easily if I sit in the computer for too long and I can write on paper while I’m lying down, (2) I can bring them anywhere in case I unexpectedly thought of something, I can write it without the need of gadgets and internet.
I like to keep notebooks for writing. WP_20171104_002.jpg


Here’s one of the pages of the notebook scanned. I deeply apologize for my ugly handwriting. XD


written story sample.jpg

As you can see, I prefer writing in prose than in script format. In this stage, I’m not thinking of the panelling and layout just yet and my priority is to just the story flow. I’m not that smart to think of so many things at once. So I continue this process until I finished five chapters before proceeding to the next stage which is thumbnails/storyboard.


Now this is the stage where I start to think of the story as a bunch of comic page. My thumbnails are really just a bunch of very rough sketches. I also do this in paper as well.
thumbnails.jpg


I have worse sketches than this, trust me. I usually sketch very fast on this stage so that the momentum and my brain won’t slow down. Bear in mind that this layout is not set in stone. If I thought of something better in the production phase, I’d definitely roll with that but it’s nice to have a clear visual reference. Once all five chapters has been fully thumbnailed, it’s finally time to move onto the next phase.

Production


This is the phase where I really draw the actual page. It’s finally time to go digital because I prefer drawing in digital. Before I start of the actual page, I do the backgrounds first. I’d be the first one to admit to you that I don’t have much patience in drawing backgrounds especially buildings so to make up for it, I’m gonna use my good ‘ol buddy, Sketchup.


For those who don’t know, Sketchup is a 3D software. It’s definitely not the best software around but I chose it since it’s fairly easy to use (at least I think so) and also the myriad of 3D models they have in 3D Warehouse. (I usually just use the most generic looking 3D models)


3dsketchup.jpg


This particular model was made from putting some buildings I made in addition to pre-made models I’ve downloaded from 3D warehouse. Another reason why I prefer using sketchup is they have this setting where the models look like they’re 2D lineart as seen on the image and I’m heavily utilizing it. This way, I don’t really have to spend extra time lining them. (Of course, I can make it work since my setting is modern day.)


Anyway, let’s just save the more elaborate explanation and usage of sketchup in a future post. We still have a lot to discuss.


After I picked the proper camera angle for the background, I exported it as a PNG image and now it’s time to move onto the pencils (but I really just refer to it as rough sketches).


I’m using Medibang Paint Pro for pencils and inks, by the way. I just love how tight their stabilizers are and it’s really compatible with my hand strokes. The paper size I use is A4 at 300 dpi since it’s a pretty common size in our country and it’s also directly proportional to my intended print size which is A5.


With my thumbnails as the guide, I do these in order, sketch the panel border, paste the backgrounds, draw the character constructions.
ruffs.jpg


I usually add the background first so that I can figure out the perspective and the footing of the characters. I do the construction in red lines out of habit really. If you look back from the thumbnails you’ll notice that I made some last minute changes at the layout of the last panel. I realized that one panel where Ray is looking from behind is pretty redundant so I took it down and shifted the bottom panel to be wide.


Now I can add details or what we normally call in our studio, tiedown.
tiedown.jpg


I use blue lines for this one so I won’t confuse it with grays/black once I start to ink. These steps are very essential to me since I tend to flop at drawing without doing these steps. Once I finished the tiedown I can finally do inks/clean-up.


I almost forgot to mention what brushes I used for the sketches. Anyway, I only use Medibang’s default pencil and pen brush. No fancy mumbo jumbo there.
brushes.jpg
Now using the same pen brush, I ink the lovely characters.


cleanup.jpg


I’m gonna clean the backgrounds and remove the lines that should be obscured in a bit but first I’d like to point out something first: When I do the inks I make sure that the lines are aliased. For those who aren’t familiar of the term, aliasing is the sharpness of the lines. Example:


anti-aliasing.jpg


Aliased lines are more sharp and crisp albeit jagged when zoomed-in. The reason I picked aliased lines when inking is because it’s easier and cleaner to flat than anti-aliased lines and since I’m drawing at 300 dpi, the jaggedness won’t be that obvious. Although I wouldn’t recommend it for lower resolution drawings.


After all the inking. Medibang’s job is now complete and I’m gonna jump onto a different software: Good ‘ol Photoshop. I actually just use an old CS2 because I can’t afford the monthly ones.


I added the legit panel borders and cleaned up the unnecessary lines and viola! Time for do the tones!
clean.jpg


When adding the tones, I select the areas I want to fill with the magic wand tool. Here’s my settings:
magic wand.png


I expand the selection so the grays will go slightly underneath the lines and won’t have those strange white gaps. To do this go to Select > Modify > Expand like shown in the image:
expand.png


After some doohickey, the grays and blacks are now added. I separated the grays and black in different layers. I just use gradients on the backgrounds. I only add shading if I need to emphasize on the lighting so most of the time I only have flat and gradients on the pages. I also added some noise filter so the tones have texture and not plain looking.

tones.jpg


This is the end of the production stage.

Post-production


In animation, this is the phase where you add fancy effects. In my comic making process, in addition to adding effects when necessary, this is where I do the texts as well as the final edits. I added the text first before adding the speech bubbles. If you can afford it, get an editor. Sadly I’m a poor sap who can’t afford to pay people so I have to do everything on my own.


ch11pg07-08.png


And it’s done! I usually export it for print size before shrinking it down for web uploads. I usually do Production and Post-production in a per page basis. With this method I can finish 1-2 pages per day. The 3D backgrounds helped considerably in my production time. This is the method that worked for me but like I said at first, every artists have their own set of principles that worked for them so be sure to constantly experiment to find what’s suitable for you!


If you have any questions, or want to stay updated if I posted new artworks or drawing tips, you can follow me in these parts of the internet:






Website, comics and drawing tips: http://mharz.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NOCAZfest Announcement


It's that time of year again!  I'm tabling at NOCAZfest in New Orleans, Louisiana November 18th and 19th!  NOCAZfest is a two day indie comic show held at the New Orleans Public Library on 219 Loyola Avenue.  There's tons of great artists, comic creators, zine makers, and more, and admission is free!  Family friendly tables will be marked by balloon, so if you're shopping with little ones, head for those tables.

I'm flying in from Nashville, and I'll have copies of my Inktober 2017 zine, Lilliputian Living.  I'll have free copies of Cicada Summer- Pickin n Peelin for kids and to trade, as well as stickers, mini prints, wooden charms, and more!  For those of you who missed me at Mechacon, this is a great opportunity to get caught up!


On Sunday, I have a hands on inking workshop-
Lets Get Inky is a combination panel and workshop that will present attendees with a variety of inking materials and present an opportunity to play.  This is a free workshop that is open to the public, and all are welcome to attend and learn a little about traditional inking.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guest Review: Feather on Minso and Yokoyaya

Two Japanese Dollar Stores: Minso and Yokoyaya


Hello!  I’m Feather and this is my first review here!  I’m just a weird little fledgling comic artist, creator of Prompt Execution and Perfection, a Mary Sue story.  I am not the most well versed in art in terms of all the different mediums but I do enjoy trying them.  With that out of the way, let’s get into things.


Just a little about this post, if you love Japanese Dollar Stores, then this is the post for you.  I’m going to drop two store rundowns, one I found in Hong Kong and then revisited again in my local area, and the other one is pretty much a Daiso store with another name.


NOTE! I am just focusing on the stationary sections of the stores, these are general stores with other cool items and things to explore. Another thing is I am not a professional, so I do recommend everyone to give everything a fair go due to probably knowing more about the materials than I do.  I just like to have an excuse to buy stationery and art supplies.


Yokoyaya





Yokoyaya is the store which I mentioned being the Daiso store with another name.  Daiso is another Japanese Dollar Store, with products usually in the $2 CAD (I live in Canada) range.  Everything I see in the aisles of Yokoyaya, I have seen at the Daiso.  Even the packaging had Daiso’s branding on it.  It also seems to have shorter shelving than my local Daiso, meaning you had to slightly crouch to look at things.  At least the flags telling you what the items in the area are really did help.  It is also slight smaller than Daiso as well, with Daiso being on two floors and Yokoyaya being only one floor but slightly wider.







Since I really didn’t need anything from this shop, I went and grabbed three things actually.  Well, the last one is just a bag of candy because I enjoy some hard soda flavoured candies but two actual things from the Stationery section.








First thing I picked up were these postcards, made of pretty sturdy cardstock.  I needed a bunch of them for Christmas cards so this was my main pick up.  I will be testing all the pens from my other purchase on this paper.  I also realized taking pictures of bright white paper on my white desk was stupid so I put a bit of grey newsprint underneath to show off the sheets. They are four inches wide and a bit bigger than five and a half inches long.  Like… 5.75 inches? There are 55 of them and I think they are a really good deal at two dollars a pack.


The packaging for stickers is beyond necessary

Yokoyaya Happy, seriously

The second thing I bought happened to be this really overly packaged bundle of sticky notes.  It has a good spread of different sticky notes I would totally use everyday like the ‘Don’t forget’ and ‘To Do list’, except for the weird Happy Sticky note.  Like I have no idea why I would ever need a Happy Sticky note and it still boggles me why they pick Happy as their final word choice.  I didn’t open up this one and try it because I have tried this product in another general amount and all I can say is it sticks, you can write on it, that’s all.  Stick time is decent, just don’t play with it too much.  Also I’m gifting it to a friend who doesn’t have a Daiso, Yokoyaya, or a Minso near them.  Tragic.


Would I recommend either product?  I do recommend the postcards, they are really nice and has a good snap to them.  The Sticky notes book set?  I prefer normal ones but if you really want to go all out on decorating, go for it.


Since it took me around 45 minutes to get to the Yokoyaya, instead of the 10 minutes it would take me to go to the closer Daiso near me, I would not go back to Yokoyaya again unless I’m in the area to begin with.


Wrap up Thoughts:
Pros:
  • Price - Everything is around $2, which is great.
  • If you don’t have a Daiso in your area, you might have a Yokoyaya.
  • Better signs than Daiso to tell you where things are.
  • Not as crowded as a Daiso.



Cons:
  • (Personal) Location, I’m near a Daiso, I don’t need to go to a Yokoyaya.
  • Smaller space, less selection.
  • The lower shelving might be hard for some people’s backs.
  • (Personal) I also somehow hurt myself on the metal spinners trying to get into the shop for some reason.  Don’t be like Feather, enter shops carefully.






Silly Yokoyaya, that isn’t from Daiso…

Minso









First note about their stationary section is they have a lot more sets to sell than their loose items.  They are a $2.99 CAD store, which is literally three dollars okay we don’t even have the penny anymore!  It ranges up of course, seeing up to eight dollars and I think some items around the store are even more.  I noticed they have a bunch of oil pastels and coloured pencils.  I didn’t pick up any of those because they are not mediums I’m familiar with or use frequently.





There was a good selection of notebooks to pick from, which I picked one up as well as a tester.  Funny enough, it was the most expensive thing in comparison out of everything else I bought.  They had a lot of assorted options, I didn’t have time to check them all which is a shame.








Here is the pen area, it was just one side of the shelves and one tiny display.  They were buy three for three dollars, pretty much a dollar each which was a great deal.  I grabbed a bunch here.


NOTE!  Here was a mistake I did, I just grabbed and didn’t check.  A few of my pens had a plastic seal over them to keep them fresh, and I didn’t check all of them, meaning I accidently grabbed either their testers which were unmarked or someone already opened them to test out.  It was some bad luck but remember to check your pens always!


So what was my actual Minso haul?  Well first I want to note I have been to this store before when I was visiting family in Hong Kong, so I already had some Minso brush pens, and I bought doubles for testing and for a friend.




I bought the Hong Kong set awhile ago, HK Pens at Work


The bottom two were my duplicates, which you will see tested later.  And here is that postcard paper doing it’s work, showing it can handle the mediums quite well.  It was really nice to use these brush markers, having a nice brush tip and a bullet nib I can use to write notes with.




The three there are the ones I picked up from this store, with their smaller colour selection.  Definitely something I have to mark them down for, their lack of colour choices limits what you can do greatly. The writing flow is smooth with no hiccups, and the tips can take pressure and abuse well due to my heavy hand when I write.  I will always buy these again when I use up my current ones.





These were some alcohol based markers, I am not very well versed in this category either.  I tried them out and they didn’t smell as heavy as other brand of alcohol based markers so I give that a plus since the smell is what puts me away from them in the first place.  I say they are slightly streaky from when I tested them, but it could be me putting uneven pressure on it.
Lol Branding



Fun little thing, I found a Minso brand Fine Tec and then I remembered I had something similar so behold my Dong-A pen which is the exact freaking pen.  Just the branding was different and some of the labels.  They wrote the same way, and had the same colour.  But the fun fact is they cost me differently. It was a sad discovery.


Death Marker
I cry


This acrylic paint marker was one of the ones I think I grabbed the tester of, the nib was already saturated with the liquid, and had a chip in it.  It was one of those shake and press to get it to work type of pens and I’m never good with those markers so I will definitely never use this much and probably never buy anything of that same vein.  I didn’t like the flow of it and I found it really spotty.  It kinda also just went everywhere when I tried to do the nib pressing thing.








The blue marker of the two watercolour pens was another of the already opened and used ones.  The metallic marker was fresh though, and I love how bright it is and how metal it looks.  Flows nicely, both of them actually, but I am not sure what I would use them for other than maybe an accent on some line art.  Nib press with control, because my heavy hand just makes it puddle everywhere.  But the puddle was smaller than the previous pen.




Test all the markers, That’s metal


Here is the compiled look of all the supplies, tested on that postcard paper.  Cool note is the alcohol based marker didn’t bleed through to the other side, just barely started to.  Might be good for all those people who use a lot of alcohol based markers.








Here is that book I talked about.  I didn’t own a lot of sketchbooks with rings on the short end, so I picked it up.  Had really nice cream tone paper, but it was kinda thin.  Probably good for landscape sketching. Had a somewhat hard cover, basic enough to keep the book a book.






Of course I tested my more frequently used mediums on it, and that alcohol based marker a try as well.  Well the paper is super thin so I don’t think I will be using the backside of it if I do drop a few strokes of colour on it.  


I definitely recommend the water based brush pens, and specifically the metallic watercolour pen with the shake and press nib.  The Fine Tec is decent but I had a few Fine Tecs before and sometimes they jam up really badly due to ink drying and I have to get a new one.  Everything else is things I don’t frequently use, so I can’t give a strong recommendation to them.


Wrap up Thoughts:
Pros:

  • Price - Everything is around $3, a little bit more expensive than Daiso but you can still get the deals
  • Good quality for what they are selling
  • Good place to find some brush pens for cheap, even could be a cheaper alternative to the same thing


Cons:

  • Limited colour selection, and general limited selection when comparing locations
  • Be careful of people who uncapped the pens already, or accidentally picking up a tester since they are unmarked
  • (Personal) Got assaulted by their perfume section right at the front of the store when walking in.  Had to exit to breathe and cough.


Thank you so much for reading!  I hope you found some supplies you would like to try or look around for these two stores!  Thanks to Becca for being an amazing person.  Have a great day everyone and keep looking for those dollar stores!


You can find me at:


I go by FeatheryJustice on almost all my social media.




Thursday, November 09, 2017

Inktober Warmup Highlights

For almost every day in October, I tried to fill three pages with warmup sketches, all done with a Pentel brushpen.  Loose, gestural, and often full of mistakes, these sketches were intended to help me practice folds, figures, and faces without relying on construction.  Rather than subject you to 60 pages of sketches, I thought I'd share the highlights here.











My goals for these warmups were:

  • Study folds
  • Study shading
  • Practice gauging distance with eyes, not by using construction
  • Practice gesture
  • Practice flow

I filled three pages per day, as a bit of a test exercise for the 600 page sketchbook challenge I hope to tackle in January 2018.  I have no qualms with filling a 600 page sketchbook with studies- that's 600 pages of studies that needed to happen for my artistic improvement.  The real challenge was not filling the pages, it was finding reference that hit on the topics I wanted to practice, so to slay the 600 page challenge, I'm going to need to enter prepared with topics I need to practice.



Want to see all 60 pages?  How about early access to all of my Inktober illustrations, as well as monthly PDF sketchbooks including not only sketches, but finished work?  Join my community of Artnerds, and you'll get access to monthly sketchbooks, as well as my library of comics and zines.