Today’s Art (31st May 2016)

Woo hoo! My old “Damania” webcomic returns with all new episodes for yet another mini series. You can catch up on the previous two mini series here and here.

Yes, in the middle ages/ Tudor times, this probably would have been treasure.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Returns - Treasure" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Returns – Treasure” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – May 2016

2016 Artwork Top Ten Articles May

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to give you a list of links to what I consider to be the best ten articles about art, comics and/or writing that I’ve written this month. I’ll probably include a couple of honourable mentions too.

All in all, this probably wasn’t the best month in terms of articles. Due to being busy with making this comic and parts of this webcomic mini series [that was posted back in April], as well as going through a couple of uninspired times – quite a few of the articles this month were either fairly short articles about making comics/ webcomics, random rambling articles and/or articles that repeated things that I’ve said in previous months. Still, there were at least a couple of good articles here this month.

So, without any further ado, here’s my “top ten” list…

Top Ten Articles – May 2016:

– “Character Rotation In Webcomics
– “Making The Art In Your Webcomic Look More Detailed Than It Actually Is – A Ramble
– “How Much Of Yourself Should You Put Into Your Webcomic? – A Ramble
– “What To Do If You Make A Terrible Webcomic Update
– “Thinking Of Your Webcomic Like A Sitcom
– “Three Advantages Of Making Stand-Alone Webcomic Updates
– “Three Tips For Creating Unique Fashion Designs For Your Art
– “Three Very Basic Ways To Salvage A Failed Painting With Digital Editing
– “Five Ideas For “Lazy” Art Projects (That Look Impressive)
– “Three More Ways To Deal With Unenthusiastic Times (If You’re An Artist, Writer And/Or Comic Maker)

Honourable Mentions:

– “Four Tips For Making A Comic In Just Two Days
– “Why Is The Fear Of The Unknown So Important In The Horror Genre?

Today’s Art (30th May 2016)

Woo hoo! My old “Damania” webcomic returns with all new episodes for yet another mini series. You can catch up on the previous two mini series here and here.

Ah, if there’s one thing worse than suddenly finding your old guitar, it’s realising that you don’t really remember how to play much on it.

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

"Damania Returns - Old Guitar" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Returns – Old Guitar” By C. A. Brown

Why Do Comics With “Badly-Drawn” Art Get Published? – A Ramble

2016 Artwork  Comics minimalism article sketch

Near the end of last year, I was reminded of a topic that I’ve talked about at least a few times before. I am, of course, talking about art quality and comics. Even though I’ll mostly be talking about single-panel comics/ cartoons here, everything in this article can also apply to comics that contain multiple panels.

Amongst the things I got for Christmas last year were several books of cartoons. Most of these were single-panel cartoons that had either been published in magazines or newspapers, or they were political cartoons.

The interesting thing was that virtually all of them used fairly simple and fairly basic black and white line art. Some of them looked like the kind of thing that anyone with any drawing experience could easily scribble in a few minutes.

And yet, they were deemed fit to be published professionally, in actual books. Why? Well, it’s all to do with the writing.

The most difficult part of making a humourous cartoon or a political cartoon, (or even a full comic) isn’t making the art. No, it’s the writing and/or the idea behind your comic. This is the part that makes people laugh, this is the part that makes people think, this is the part that makes a point. This is the most important part of your cartoon or comic.

The art can enhance the writing and it can illustrate some ideas in a better way than words ever can. But, if the idea behind your comic isn’t any good. If the joke in your comic isn’t funny, then your art could look like something from the Renaissance and your comic would still be kind of crappy.

However, if the writing is good and/or your comic contains a suitably interesting idea, then as long as the art vaguely resembles what you’re trying to depict, then people will ignore the art and focus on the writing. They’ll laugh at the joke you’re telling, they’ll think about the point you’re making. The art can help you to express your idea or illustrate your writing, but it can’t be a substitute for either of these things.

Of course, it helps if the art also looks good – but this isn’t essential if the writing or the idea behind your comic is really good.

A good metaphor for this would probably be the difference between a badly-written and unoriginal Hollywood movie that has multi-million dollar special effects and a really cool TV show with a lower budget, but better writing and more interesting characters. One of these is something that you’re probably going to watch once and forget about, the other is something that is probably going to linger in your imagination for quite a long time after you’ve watched it.

So, yes, although comics are a visual medium – the most important part of any comic or cartoon isn’t the art, it’s the writing.

And, this is why comics and cartoons with “badly-drawn” art end up getting published professionally. The writing is so good, the humour is so funny or the ideas are so interesting that they more than make up for the low-quality artwork.

————————–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art ( 29th May 2016)

Woo hoo! My old “Damania” webcomic returns with all new episodes for yet another mini series. You can catch up on the previous two mini series here and here.

Well, this cartoon ended up being a bit more political than I expected. Originally, it was going to be just another cynical comic about how old FPS games are better than new ones. But, then I remembered this Eurogamer article I read a while ago about how some modern games companies pay large licencing fees to arms companies in order to include their guns in their games (it’s like a strange form of inverted product placement).

To get a little bit more political, I believe that this kind of stuff is only really a problem for gamers over the pond in America. Given that, in many other parts of the world (including the UK, if not especially the UK) game companies can advertise real guns as much as they want but people thankfully can’t usually actually buy them.

Still, it’s yet another reason why FPS games should return to the good old days of including a vast array of interesting, cool-looking and most importantly very much imaginary weapons.

I also made some visual edits to this cartoon after I’d scanned it. In most of the series so far, I’ve had to edit the dialogue for quality/flow reasons, but this is one of the most major visual changes. Basically, I removed a large dramatic-looking mushroom cloud from the last panel, since it accidentally made the accompanying dialogue imply that nuclear war was “cool”. Which it isn’t.

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

"Damania Returns - Big Fictional Guns" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Returns – Big Fictional Guns” By C. A. Brown

Mini Review: “Strange Aeons (V 3.6)” [WAD For “Ultimate Doom”/ “Doom II”/ “Final Doom”/ “ZDoom”)

2016 Artwork Strange Aeons WAD review sketch

Well, although I’m currently over halfway the final episode of this WAD at the time of writing, I thought that I’d take a quick look at a WAD for Ultimate Doom called “Strange Aeons (V 3.6)“.

This WAD may have been updated by the time that this article goes out [Edit: it was already up to version 3.7 a day or so after I originally wrote this article], but I’ll be reviewing version 3.6 because that’s the version I played.

As usual, I used the “ZDoom” source port when playing this WAD and, from what I’ve read, it requires this source port in order to work properly. Although I don’t know if it’s also compatible with “GZDoom” too.

Anyway, let’s take a quick look at at “Strange Aeons (V 3.6):

Screenshot_Doom_20151224_110125

Strange Aeons (V 3.6)” is a 36-level total conversion for “Ultimate Doom” featuring new levels, weapons, graphics, power-ups, music and monsters. The thing that first interested me in this WAD was the fact that it was apparently based on the works of H.P.Lovecraft.

The story behind the events of the game is that you play as a man who tries to find his son’s spirit by travelling through several strange Lovecraftian dream worlds. This WAD has much more of a story than many WADs do – with custom story text (and artwork) at the end of each episode.

And, yes, these text screens are written in a very Lovecraftian way.

And, yes, these text screens are written in a very Lovecraftian way.

Although you have to wait until episode four before you can see anything even resembling Cthulhu....

Although you have to wait until episode four before you can see anything even resembling Cthulhu….

Whilst some parts of this WAD certainly have a wonderfully creepy and very Lovecraftian atmosphere to them, this varies somewhat throughout the game. Since this WAD is based on Ultimate Doom, it is split into four episodes – each of which has their own unique setting. This structure comes with all of the usual benefits and flaws inherent in traditional episode-based FPS games.

One cool feature about the episodic structure is that, in the first three episodes, you begin each episode in the main character’s bedroom – before stepping through a portal into the dream world that you’ve chosen to visit.

Yay! Cosmic horror :)

Yay! Cosmic horror 🙂

In my opinion, episodes one and four are probably the most Lovecraftian (episode one takes place on a collection of floating islands and episode four takes place in an icy wasteland). Episode three is also kind of cool and it’s set in an ancient Egypt-themed area of some kind.

But, apart from one really cool level (E2M5), most of episode two is – quite frankly – boring. It’s full of dull “industrial” areas, with only one level set on a giant vehicle (plus an epic boss battle at the very end of the episode) to break up the dreary monotony.

Seriously though, it's worth slogging through the first four levels of episode two to play this one level. The boss battle in level eight is pretty cool too.

Seriously though, it’s worth slogging through the first four levels of episode two to play this one level. The boss battle in level eight is pretty cool too.

In terms of difficulty, this WAD actually has something of a difficulty curve to it. The first episode is ridiculously easy and the game gradually gets more and more challenging as it goes on. Most of the time, the difficulty doesn’t rise above “mildly challenging” (if you’re an experienced “Doom” player), but it was still fun nonetheless.

However, some of the difficulty in this WAD is due to the level design itself, so expect to get stuck searching for a well-hidden switch or key occasionally. Some of these are hidden in extremely fiendish ways – for example, in E4M4, a switch you need to press in order to complete the level is only revealed when you’ve defeated two large monsters that you’ll probaby just run away from when you first see them.

So, there’s both the fun kind of difficulty (eg: during the boss battles etc..) and the occasionally frustrating kind of difficulty here.

The boss battle at the end of the second episode is my favourite so far. Before you encounter the boss, you have to fight quite a few monsters in an arena. It isn't quite a "slaughter map" level, but it vaguely reminded me of one.

The boss battle at the end of the second episode is my favourite so far. Before you encounter the boss, you have to fight quite a few monsters in an arena. It isn’t quite a “slaughter map” level, but it vaguely reminded me of one.

One interesting thing to note is that, although this WAD has jumping disabled by default, the second level of the first episode is seemingly impossible to complete without leaping across a chasm at one point. So, make sure to enable jumping before playing this WAD.

As for the new weapons, I’ve only found three so far and they’re each surprisingly useful. The basic pistol has been replaced with a slightly more futuristic laser pistol. The chaingun has been replaced with an assault rifle that looks and sounds wonderfully dramatic.

In later episodes, the chainsaw is replaced by something called the “Scepter Of Souls” which is like a chainsaw, but it has a slightly longer range – which makes it extremely useful. The basic shotgun now also has slightly better sound effects too.

It's a sceptre... and it's made from skeletons and magic too. Nice!

It’s a sceptre… and it’s made from skeletons and magic too. Nice!

The new monsters in this WAD also help to keep the gameplay fresh and to add a lot to the atmosphere too. Although a few of them have been borrowed from other classic FPS games and/or other Doom WADs (eg: the spiders from “Blood“, the giant worms from Freedoom, the sewer monsters from “Dark Forces“, modified “Hexen”/”Heretic” monsters etc… ), there are at least a couple of monsters here that I haven’t seen before.

Yes, that floating red thing is actually a monster. And a surprisingly powerful one!

Yes, that floating red thing is actually a monster. And a surprisingly powerful one too!

Yay! There are ghosts here too :)

Yay! There are ghosts here too 🙂

Another cool thing about this WAD is that it contains a few new power-ups. One of these is a red orb that gives you unlimited ammo for thirty seconds – and, yes, you will find these after you’ve picked up the BFG 🙂 However, there’s another very similar-looking power-up that doubles the rate of fire for all of your weapons. And, yes, it’s easy to confuse the two power-ups (and waste ammo) if you aren’t careful.

I'm not sure if this was meant to be an "Incredible Hulk" reference or not...

I’m not sure if this was meant to be an “Incredible Hulk” reference or not…

The other new power up is a green “mutant power” orb, this turns you into a tall mutant creature (with a lot of health) who can defeat most monsters by punching them a couple of times. This is really cool, but one annoying side-effect of it is that, when it’s active, you can’t pick up keys, ammo etc…

As for the music, it’s pretty much what you would expect from a H.P.Lovecraft- themed WAD. It’s quiet, creepy and ambient.

All in all, this is a rather cool WAD even if it is let down by annoying level design in some parts. Even so, this WAD certainly tries to be as Lovecraftian as possible and it succeeds about half of the time. It’s fun, occasionally challenging and kind of cool.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would just about maybe get a four.

Today’s Art ( 28th May 2016)

Woo hoo! My old “Damania” webcomic returns with all new episodes for yet another mini series. You can catch up on the previous two mini series here and here.

Yes, I know, this is quite literally the oldest joke in the book. Still, it amused me enough to make me want to turn it into a comic.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Returns - Holiday" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Returns – Holiday” By C. A. Brown