Today’s Art (27th July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the ninth “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, Episode Five, Episode Six, Episode Seven, Episode Eight

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

And, yes, the old guy in the background in the fourth panel is none other than a really old version of Harvey. It’s a reference to this really old comic from 2012. Which was actually part of a three-part story arc (1, 2, 3). Interestingly, I wrote this story arc before Rox appeared, so that’s why the only characters in it are Roz, Derek and Harvey.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - Special Forces" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – Special Forces” By C. A. Brown

How To Change Art Mediums Quickly And Easily

And, if anyone is wondering, this picture is a hybrid traditional/digital picture. The line art and lettering were created traditionally, but the colours and background were added digitally.

And, if anyone is wondering, this picture is a hybrid traditional/digital picture. The line art and lettering were created traditionally, but the colours and background were added digitally.

Well, for today, I thought that I’d look at how to switch from one art medium to another quickly and easily. Although I’ve only really done this properly once (eg: my switch from using coloured pencils to using watercolour pencils in late 2013/early 2014).

1) Know your skill type: Art skills fall into several basic categories – drawing-based skills, painting-based skills, sculpture-based skills and/or digital-based skills.

Work out which skill type you are best at, and then see if there’s any version of the new medium that you want to switch to that allows you to use some of these skills (eg: if you use a graphics tablet for digital art, then search for a drawing pen that has similar dimensions to your stylus). Although you’ll probably still have to learn some new skills, having some pre-existing similar skills will help you to get started with the new art medium right away.

Since my skills are mostly drawing-based, when I was curious about painting, I chose to use watercolour pencils. Since these are basically just coloured pencils that turn into watercolour paint when you go over them with a wet paintbrush, they allowed me to use (and keep) all of my drawing skills – whilst only having to learn a few basic painting skills (and change the type of paper and pens that I used).

Likewise, if you want to switch from painting to drawing, then something like alcohol-based markers (I’ve never tried these though) or oil pastels might be worth taking a look at. Since, from what I gather, you can still use them to create some painting-like effects (eg: blending colours easily etc…). Plus, they seem to be slightly less “precise” than traditional pens and pencils too – if, unlike me, the lack of precision in traditional painting is something you actually like.

2) Try it out: If at all possible, get a cheap version of the medium you want to switch to and experiment with it. The only true way to know if you’ll get on well with a new medium is good old-fashioned hands-on experimentation.

To use a computer-based example, I was fascinated by Linux (again) the day before writing this article. So, I made a live DVD of Lubuntu Linux. One of the things that this showed me was that my graphics card causes screen-flickering issues with this version of Linux(Ironically, my old Puppy Linux live CDs had better functionality!). Even so, I was able to try out a totally different operating system without having to buy a new computer or anything like that, which was really cool.

Going back to art, the first time that I actually used watercolour pencils was when I got a cheap set of them for Christmas in 2013. This set only contained something like 8-10 pencils and it lacked a few important colours. Likewise, I actually had to use a traditional paintbrush and a bottle of water at first. But, even with these limitations, the medium fascinated me enough to make me want to get more pencils and a (much more user-friendly) waterbrush.

Likewise, I learnt that I really don’t get on well with pastels after I was given an old set of oil pastels by a relative. Although I liked the fact that you could use them to draw on cardboard, they were just slightly too imprecise for my tastes. Not to mention that I was worried about messing up the bed of my scanner if I scanned too many pastel drawings.

Plus, if you want to get into digital art and/or digital image editing, then it might be worth checking out a free and open-source graphics program called “GIMP“. Yes, the loading times for it can be a bit long on old computers, but there are a lot of tutorials for it online ( not to mention that it contains many or all of the basic features that you’ll find in most commercial image editing programs).

So, if you’re curious about switching to a new art medium, go for something cheap and just mess around with it. If you like it despite it’s limitations, then it might be worth investing more in the new medium. The other advantage of trying out cheap paints, pens etc.. is that you won’t have to worry too much about wasting them whilst messing around. And, if you don’t like it, then it’s no major loss.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (26th July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the eighth “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, Episode Five, Episode Six, Episode Seven

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

Surprisingly, despite being a fairly rushed (and barely planned) update, this one is probably the most cyberpunk episode in the series so far. And, yes, Derek doesn’t exactly have a great history with VR.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - Records" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – Records” By C. A. Brown

The Joy Of…. Unfinished Stories, TV Series etc…

2017-artwork-the-joy-of-unfinished-stories

The afternoon before I wrote this article, I’d just finished watching a DVD boxset of a TV show that was cancelled after it’s first season. No, it wasn’t “Firefly”, “Tokko” or “Harsh Realm”.

It was a TV adaptation of “Dracula” from 2013. It was clear that the makers of this show had anticipated a second season since, whilst not ending on a cliffhanger, the ending of the first season seems to be gearing up for a much more epic second season. A second season that never happened.

But, do I regret watching this unfinished TV series? No, not in the least.

One of the cool things about unfinished stories is that they’re often more about the journey than the destination. We may never know for certain what happens to the characters in an unfinished story, but we get to enjoy their adventures without any thought of the outcome. In other words, reading a story or watching a TV series with the knowledge that the story isn’t finished means that you get to see it more as an experience than as a traditional story.

Likewise, unfinished stories show us part of something greater and then leave it up to us to imagine what happens during the parts of the story that we don’t read or watch. Unfinished stories are kind of like a springboard for our own imaginations. They give us the building blocks of a longer story and then ask us to try to work out what the rest of the story looks like. And, well, your imagination is probably going to create a more enjoyable story for you than anyone else’s imagination will.

Another cool thing about unfinished stories is that they’re a little bit like daydreams. After all, whenever you have a daydream, it usually isn’t a complete “story”. It’s part of a larger story, almost like a single scene from a movie. And, well, unfinished stories (whether prose fiction, comics, games, TV shows etc…) are vaguely reminiscent of this.

Yet another reason why unfinished stories can be so fascinating is because they show that people have tried to produce something great. Generally speaking, nobody sets out to write an unfinished story or film an unfinished TV series. With fiction, real life can get in the way. Likewise, with prematurely cancelled TV shows, uncreative money-obsessed studio executives are usually responsible.

But the fact that some fragments of the story, comic, game, TV series etc… that could have been still exist is a testament to the power of creativity and determination. It shows that someone cared enough about one of their ideas to actually try to make it, even though there was a risk that it would be doomed to failure.

Finally, another interesting thing about unfinished stories is that they are realistic. After all, all of our lives are unfinished stories. No-one can know for certain what will happen in the future or anything like that. So, unfinished stories can be realistic in this way.

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Sorry for the short, rushed article (I was making a webcomic at the time), but I hope it was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (25th July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the seventh “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, Episode Five, Episode Six

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - Chips" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – Chips” By C. A. Brown

Four Basic Ways To Downgrade Your Webcomic (To Stay Inspired)

2017-artwork-downgrading-a-webcomic

Although the webcomic mini series I’m posting here at the moment has fairly detailed art and a slightly elaborate storyline, the next mini series will experience something of a downgrade when it appears here in early September. Here’s a preview:

The full comic update will appear here on the 4th September. As you can see, it looks and reads more like one of my "old" comics from 2016.

The full comic update will appear here on the 4th September. As you can see, it looks and reads more like one of my “old” comics from 2016.

Why? Well, it was mostly because, when I was preparing August’s daily art posts, I was extremely reluctant to make comics. After all of the effort I’d put into the mini series that’s being posted here at the moment, making comics started to seem like an arduous, time-consuming thing. It was only when I noticed that I hadn’t included a single comic in any of August’s art posts that I realised that I was in danger of succumbing to comics burnout (like I did for pretty much all of 2014). So, drastic action had to be taken.

In other words, I began to make a fairly heavily downgraded short mini series for September, as a way to ease myself back into making comics. But, how can you downgrade your webcomic if you need to stay inspired, if you have less time, if you have less enthusiasm etc…

1) Comic type: There are two types of webcomics – webcomics that tell continuous stories and webcomics where each comic update is self-contained. Both of these comic types have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ease of writing.

Different people find different types of comics easier to make. So, if you want to downgrade your comic, then just choose the type that you find easiest. Interestingly, this can work both ways- I switched to “continuous story” comics for the comics I posted earlier this year because I felt that it was easier than having to think of new ideas for each comic.

However, after a while, coming up with suitably interesting plot ideas became more difficult. So, during my recent downgrade, I switched back to self-contained comics. So, yes, it can be something of a cyclical process.

2) Art downgrade: The easiest way to save time and energy if you need to downgrade your webcomic is to simplify the art slightly. There are literally loads of ways to do this.

For example, you can switch from colour artwork to black & white artwork. Yes, knowing how to make good black & white artwork is a skill that has to be learnt but, if you know how to do this, then you can save a surprising amount of time.

Or, you can do what I’ve done in my upcoming mini series and simply reduce the level of background detail in each comic. Whilst most of the comics I’ve posted here this year tend to feature detailed outdoor background locations, the next mini series will go back to mostly featuring simple interior locations. This means that, for most of the backgrounds, I often just have to draw a single wall or two – rather than, say, an elaborate cityscape.

This allows me to keep the overall “look” of the comic, and the writing within it, at a reasonably good level whilst also saving me a large amount of time. In addition to this, I had a lot of practice with using simplified backgrounds during 2016, so it was a way to recapture some of the “spontaneity” that I used to feel when making those old comics.

3) Know what to downgrade: Have you noticed how I’ve only really talked about downgrading the art in your comics or changing the format you use? Well, this is because there’s one thing that you should never downgrade. I am, of course, talking about the writing in your comic. Don’t downgrade the writing!

I’ve probably mentioned this a few times before, but the writing is the most important part of a webcomic. Even if the art looks simplistic, a webcomic can still be interesting, compelling or funny if the writing is good enough.

So, don’t downgrade the writing!

4) Time and length: One ‘downgrade’ that I applied to my webcomics before I even made them was to release them in short 6-17 comic mini series. Whilst this is fairly unusual for a webcomic, it was a decision that I made because I’ve learnt from experience that there are limits to how long I can focus on a single comic for.

Likewise, one subtle form of downgrading that I’ve used in order to stay inspired whilst making webcomics over the past year or two is to vary the lengths of the mini series. If I’m not feeling hugely inspired, then I might only make a six-comic mini series. If the art was particularly detailed, or the story required a lot of planning, then I might limit myself to just eight comics.

In fact, this was probably why I had so many problems after I finished the mini series that is being posted here at the moment. Due to it’s artistic complexity, it should have been a 6-8 comic mini series. But, since I was having so much fun making it – even if it was a bit of a challenge – I overstretched and made twelve comics.

So, yes, don’t be afraid to do things like releasing comics slightly less often or reducing the length of your comics, if it keeps you inspired.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (24th July 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the sixth “episode” of a new webcomic mini series called “Damania Replicated”. You can catch up on previous episodes here: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, Episode Five

Links to many more mini series featuring (non-robotic versions of) these characters can be found here.

And, yes, this update unintentionally ended up being something of a recap/filler episode for the mini series’ main plot (mostly because I made it a few hours after yesterday’s comic, when I was feeling even more tired). Plus, it’s the only “Damania” comic I’ve ever made where the main characters hardly appear at all. Seriously, the supporting cast in this comic is more interesting than I’d initially thought.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Replicated - Disguised" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Replicated – Disguised” By C. A. Brown