The Complete “Damania Recovery” – All Six Episodes Of The New Webcomic Mini Series By C. A. Brown

2017-artwork-the-complete-damania-recovery

Well, in case you missed any of it, I thought that I’d collect all six “episodes” of my “Damania Recovery” webcomic mini series into one easy-to-read blog post. You can find links to many other mini series featuring these characters in the “2016” and “2017” segments of this page too 🙂

This mini series was kind of an interesting one. I’d originally planned to make a ten-part mini series called “Damania Review”, where the characters give sarcastic reviews of various films, games etc.. although this idea didn’t work out that well. Even so, I felt like I should make two mini series this month (the other one can be read here).

Since there were six days left in the month and since I’d watched a couple of series of “Poirot” on DVD a couple of weeks earlier, I wanted to make a “cosy” detective mystery comic. Surprisingly, making and planning this mini series was actually more challenging than usual, despite it’s shorter length (and a giant continuity error I’ve just noticed!).

For example, the mini series was originally going to have a totally different ending (where the obvious suspect was the murderer). But, about two-thirds of the way through making the mini series, I suddenly thought of a much better and significantly funnier way to end the comic. Seriously, this mini series has one of the best endings I’ve written in a while.

As usual, all six comic updates in this post are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence. Likewise, you can click on each comic update to see a larger version of it if it’s too small to read here.

"Damania Recovery - Manor" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Manor” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Late" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Late” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Process" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Process” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - BYOB" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – BYOB” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Denouement (pt.1)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Denouement (pt.1)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Denouement (pt. 2)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Denouement (pt. 2)” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (30th June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the sixth and final instalment of “Damania Recovery” a six-part webcomic mini series, where Harvey gets to solve another case (albeit a traditional “cosy” mystery this time). If you’ve missed the previous parts, then stay tuned for a full retrospective later tonight 🙂

If you want to see some of Harvey’s previous cases, then they can be found here, here and here. Links to many other comics featuring these characters can also be found here.

Yes, I know that this comic is a borderline breach of the series’ “No ghosts” rule, but well, it seemed like too funny of an ending not to include. Especially when compared to my original plans for the ending (where the guy in the blue jacket from earlier in the comic was the murderer).

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Recovery - Denouement (pt. 2)" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Recovery – Denouement (pt. 2)” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – June 2017

2017-artwork-top-ten-articles-june

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for my usual “Top Ten Articles” post. This is where I choose ten of my favourite articles about making art, making comics and/or writing fiction that I’ve posted here over the past month and link to them. As usual, there will probably also be a couple of honourable mentions too.

All in all, whilst this month’s articles started out well, I had some mild writer’s block near the end of the month – so, there were a few badly-written and/or repetitive articles. Still, hopefully, this will pass.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂

Top Ten Articles – June 2017:

– “Three Ways To Take Artistic Inspiration From Anime And/Or Manga (If You Don’t Use That Drawing Style)
– “Two Ways To Find Your Own “Version” Of The Cyberpunk Genre
– “Three Cool Art Tricks I Learnt From Films, TV And/Or Computer Games
– “Three Ways To Make The Lighting In Your Artwork Look More Interesting
– “Three Advantages Of Hyper-Detailed Art In Webcomics
– “Three Ways To Make Better Filler Episodes For Your (Story-Based) Webcomic
– “Three Ways To Make A Webcomic Update In A Hurry
– “Four Basic Ways To Preview Your Art (or Webcomics)
– “Four Awesome Advantages Of Watching DVDs Whilst Making Art
– “Two Basic Ways To Learn New Artistic Techniques

Honourable Mentions:

– “What GCSE ICT Taught Me About Making Art
– “Two Basic Ways To Cover Up A Failed Painting (Or Drawing)

Today’s Art (29th June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fifth instalment of “Damania Recovery” a (hopefully) six-part webcomic mini series, where Harvey gets to solve another case (albeit a traditional “cosy” mystery this time). If you’ve missed the previous parts, then they can be found here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.

If you want to see some of Harvey’s previous cases, then they can be found here, here and here. Links to many other comics featuring these characters can also be found here.

Stay tuned for part two of the dramatic finale at the usual time tomorrow 🙂

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Recovery - Denouement (pt.1)" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Recovery – Denouement (pt.1)” By C. A. Brown

Four Awesome Advantages Of Watching DVDs Whilst Making Art

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This probably isn’t for everyone, but I thought that I’d talk about something that I tend to do quite often when I’m making art. I am, of course, talking about watching DVDs in the background (usually whilst both listening via headphones and keeping the subtitles on, to avoid missing any of the dialogue).

Again, this isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to work in absolute silence, some people just like to listen to music and some people actually prefer to have other people in the general vicinity when making art. For me, solitude and non-interactive background things (eg: TV shows, music etc..) seem to work best. But, different things work for different people.

Likewise, it’s only possible to do this if you make traditional (eg: completely non-digital) or semi-traditional art that mostly uses fairly portable materials.

For example, whilst I heavily edit/process most of my art on the computer after I’ve scanned it, the actual drawing (and painting, using watercolour pencils) usually takes place in a sketchbook that is resting on my knee whilst I’m watching DVDs on my computer.

But, what are the advantages of watching DVDs whilst making art?

1) Time limits: If you’re making art regularly, then it’s often good to set yourself time limits. If you can make a fairly decent painting or drawing within 1-2 hours, then this level of efficiency is probably going to help you out when you’re making more time-intensive things, like comics projects.

In addition to this, setting a time limit also means that you’ll quickly learn to actually finish most of the pieces of art that you start making. It stops you from turning into a perfectionist who never finishes anything.

And, if you’re watching TV shows (or possibly shorter films) on DVD whilst you’re making art, then it’s a lot easier to set a time limit. After all, you can tell yourself that you’re going to finish your artwork within the time it takes you to watch 1-2 episodes of a TV show, or one 90 minute film. This can also sometimes (but not always) help you to prevent yourself from binge-watching your DVDs too.

2) Physicality And Ritual: This might just be my traditionalist side, but there’s something good about the actual physicality of using a DVD (rather than just watching modern streaming video).

Since making semi-traditional art is often at least a slightly physical experience, it just feels right that the things in the background should also share this quality too. I mean, if computers could play VHS tapes, then this would be even better. But, they can’t, so DVDs are a good substitute.

In addition to this, actually getting the DVD out of it’s case and putting it in your computer can add an interesting element of ritual to the whole experience too. The only downside is the other ritual of replacing the DVD drive every couple of years….

Whilst every artist probably has their own “rituals” (and mine also include things like drawing guide lines on the sketchbook page I’ll be using etc..), these sorts of things can help you to get into the mood for creating things.

3) Purpose: One of the strange things that I noticed after I’d been painting or drawing whilst watching DVDs for a while is that, if I watch a DVD when I’m not painting something, I’ll sometimes feel like something’s missing. I’ll sometimes feel like I’m wasting my time.

In other words, making art whilst watching DVDs can turn what is typically a fairly passive and “lazy” experience into something that feels a lot more productive. Plus, the incentive of watching a DVD can help you to feel motivated to keep up your art practice on the days when you are feeling less enthusiastic.

4) Inspiration: Watching a DVD in the background whilst making art can help you to feel more inspired in at least a couple of different ways.

First of all, having a background distraction can be useful to take your mind off of any feelings of uninspiration for a few minutes. If you’re thinking about the story of the film or TV show you’re watching, then you’re less likely to be thinking things like “Oh god! What should I paint?!?!“, “I can’t think of anything!!” etc… And, as any creative person will tell you, these kinds of thoughts only make you feel more uninspired.

Whilst you shouldn’t procrastinate for too long (see #1 on this list), a small amount of distraction can sometimes help to shake you out of an uninspired mood.

Secondly, you can also take inspiration from the things that you’re watching too. Whilst you need to know how to take inspiration properly (and the difference between inspiration and plagiarism) before you do this, it can be surprisingly useful.

In general, I’ve found that TV shows will sometimes give you a general direction that you can take your art in. Whilst you’ll still obviously have to work out a lot for yourself, having some hint of which genre you can use takes some of the uncertainty out of planning a painting or drawing.

For example, here’s a preview of what my art looked like when I was watching a cyberpunk anime series called “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex”:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th July.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th July.

And here’s a preview of what one of my paintings looked like when I watched season one of “Twin Peaks”, as you can see, it has more of a 1980s/90s kind of look – as well as some slight strangeness too.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 13th August.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 13th August.

So, watching DVDs whilst drawing or painting can help you try out different genres of art and, whilst it may not make you feel completely inspired, it will at least point you in a particular direction.

——–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (28th June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fourth instalment of “Damania Recovery” a (hopefully) six-part webcomic mini series, where Harvey gets to solve another case (albeit a traditional “cosy” mystery this time). If you’ve missed the previous parts, then they can be found here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

If you want to see some of Harvey’s previous cases, then they can be found here, here and here. Links to many other comics featuring these characters can also be found here.

Yes, interviews might work for Poirot, but it looks like Harvey is going to have to rely on good old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes -style deductions again. But, who did it? Well, stay tuned for the next episode tomorrow (and the final one the day afterwards).

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Recovery - BYOB" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Recovery – BYOB” By C. A. Brown

History, Nostalgia, Creativity And Subtlety – A Ramble

2017-artwork-nostalgia-and-subtletey-article-sketch

Although this is an article about creating historical art, historical comics, historical fiction etc…. I’m going to have to start by talking about real-life “anachronisms” and some vaguely geeky stuff. As usual, there’s a good reason for this.

The night before I wrote this article, I happened to find an absolutely fascinating historical video online. This was one of those mildly unusual things that, like colour footage of 1920s London (or colour photos of 1910s Russia) or old footage from the 1920s/30s that seems to show people using mobile phones, seemed like an anachronism. But, what was it?

It was a modern-style HD video of New York… filmed in 1993. Seriously, you can actually watch this in 1080p if you have a fast enough connection and/or enough available RAM. I watched it in 720p, but it was still pretty astonishing, given when it was filmed.

Some of the high-definition scenes in the film look wonderfully retro and some look slightly eerie (eg: modern-style footage of the Twin Towers etc..), but a few scenes look like they could have been filmed today.

For example, there’s some aerial filming which – if it wasn’t for a barely-noticeable helicopter shadow on a building– could easily be modern HD drone footage. Likewise, there’s a close-up of an old man sleeping on a bench, which literally looks like something from a modern HD documentary.

So, what does any of this have to do with creativity?

Well, one of the many interesting things about this modern-looking HD video from 1993 was the comments below it. One thing that seemed to “shock” a few people was the fact that nobody was staring at a smartphone in the footage of the busy streets. People were actually *gasp* acting like people whilst walking down the street.

I was more distracted by the retro fashions etc… to notice this (which is especially odd, given that I made an entire webcomic about smartphones, time travel and 1990s America a while ago), but the absence of smartphones seemed to be one of the things that made it stand out as something from the 1990s.

And, yet, it’s a really subtle thing.

So, this obviously made me think about works of art and fiction that are set in the past. Often, when we’re making art or comics about the relatively recent past, it can be very easy, and very fun, to go down the “nostalgia” route and exaggerate notable features from the time in question. Like with some of my own “nostalgic” 1990s-themed artwork:

"1990s Office Awesomeness" By C. A. Brown

“1990s Office Awesomeness” By C. A. Brown

"1990s Awesomeness" By C. A. Brown

“1990s Awesomeness” By C. A. Brown

But, often the most telling signs that something ‘serious’ is set in the past are a lot more subtle. For starters, many things are surprisingly timeless. Although the inclusion of these things in historical works might make them seem ‘modern’, they’re often anything but modern.

For example, the copious use of four-letter words in the fictional medieval-style setting of “Game Of Thrones” is probably closer to how people actually talked in medieval Britain (even if many written records of the time were kept by pious monks etc… who didn’t use four letter words). Even a few centuries later, the old French slang term for British people – “les godames” – comes from the fact that we used to use the word ‘goddamn’ a lot. So, it’s hardly a modern thing.

Likewise, historical change isn’t really an instant thing – so, the best way to show that something is set in the past is often to focus on these timeless things and to keep the “old” details relatively subtle.

This also reflects how nostalgia actually works. For example, in late 2016, I had a sudden and vivid moment of 1990s nostalgia that actually led to me spontaneously writing a short essay and making a cartoon.

All of these old memories were suddenly brought back to life when I happened to hear about a videogame series that I played when I was a lot younger. It was a subtle “background detail”, but it probably evoked more nostalgia than a picture of the Power Rangers playing POGs whilst watching a Tamagotchi advert that was playing on a CRT television in the middle of an episode of “The Fresh Prince” probably would.

So, yes, nostalgia and a sense of history can often work better when they’re fairly subtle.

———

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (27th June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the third instalment of “Damania Recovery” a (hopefully) six-part webcomic mini series, where Harvey gets to solve another case (albeit a traditional “cosy” mystery this time). If you’ve missed the previous parts, then they can be found here: Part One, Part Two.

If you want to see some of Harvey’s previous cases, then they can be found here, here and here. Links to many other comics featuring these characters can also be found here.

Because, well, a detective story isn’t a detective story if the suspect isn’t somewhere in this room!

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Recovery - Process" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Recovery – Process” By C. A. Brown

Two Basic Ways To Cover Up A Failed Painting (Or Drawing)

As strange as it might sound, there’s nothing “bad” or “wrong” about making a failed painting (or drawing). Quite the opposite, in fact.

Making a failed painting means that you’ve dared to experiment with something new. Making a failed painting means that you’ve boldly and valiantly kept up your art practice even when you were feeling “uninspired”. Making a failed painting means that you are wisely following your imagination, even when it is miles ahead of your current skill level.

Unlike some other types of failure, failing at making a painting or a drawing is an honourable and noble thing. And, like with learning any skill, failure is a vital part of the process. However, your audience might not know this – so, here are two very basic tips for how to disguise your failed paintings.

1) Distract your audience!: Here’s a reduced-size preview of the digitally-edited painting that I made the day before I wrote this article:

The full-size painting will be posted here on the 10th August.

Believe it or not, this is technically a failed painting. I’d originally planned to experiment with a different type of perspective, and I messed it up. This is probably most noticeable if you look carefully at the woman on the left-hand side of the painting – not only is she extremely tall, but her arms are too long and her hips are in completely the wrong place. In terms of perspective, proportion and anatomy – this painting gets a solid “F”.

But, you might not have noticed this if I hadn’t pointed it out. Why? Well, because of all of the other stuff happening in the painting….

There’s an ominous-looking hand in the foreground holding an old phone that appears to be haunted. Above, rain pours down dramatically. The badly-drawn woman stares intently at a retro-futuristic internet kiosk. A mysterious punk guy lingers in the background, smoking something. The arch of a music festival arena towers over the scene, with the stage tantalisingly obscured. Finally, the position of the hand and the slight curves at the edges of the painting hint at the fact that the painting is from the perspective of someone who is fainting or dying from fright.

If your painting contains enough visual storytelling, mystery, intriguing details and/or other attention-grabbing things, then your audience are a lot less likely to notice the parts of the painting where you’ve completely and utterly failed.

It’s a bit like stage magic. Most stage magicians rely heavily on misdirection in order to trick the audience, and you can use it too to disguise failed paintings.

2) Image editing: If you are posting your art online, then you can always try to cover up your mistakes using image editing software. After all, even if you make traditional art, then you’ve still got to digitise it (with a scanner or a digital camera) before you post it online.

If you don’t have an image editing program, then you can legally download a free open-source one called “GIMP” (GNU Image Manipulation Program) here. Although there are too many sneaky ways to disguise failure with image editing programs to list here, I’ll mention two of the basic ones.

If you’ve messed up the colours in your painting or drawing, then most editing programs allow you to alter the colours. Look for the options titled “hue/saturation/lightness”, “RGB”, “colourise” etc.. and experiment with them on either the whole image or a selected part of the image.

Likewise, if you need to make small corrections look less noticeable, then look for feature called “pick colour”, “colour picker tool” etc… The icon for this feature usually looks like a pipette or a dropper in most programs.

What this feature does is that it allows you to click on any part of the image with the pipette, and the colour of your digital brush or digital pencil will change to the exact colour of the pixel that you clicked on. So, click on an area right next to the part of your picture that you want to correct.

What this means is that your corrections will be precisely the same colour as the surrounding area – this makes them a lot less noticeable. If you just use your editing program’s stock colours for corrections (or try to manually select the colour), then it’s probably going to be at least slightly different – and it will stand out from a mile away! So, use this tool when making small corrections!

————

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art ( 26th June 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the second instalment of “Damania Recovery” a (hopefully) six-part webcomic mini series, where Harvey gets to solve another case (albeit a traditional “cosy” mystery this time). You can catch up on part one by clicking here.

If you want to see some of Harvey’s previous cases, then they can be found here, here and here. Links to many other comics featuring these characters can also be found here.

And, yes, I’m sure that no-one could have predicted that this would happen!

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Recovery - Late" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Recovery – Late” By C. A. Brown