Today’s Art (31st August 2017)

Well, it’s been quite a while since I last made any artwork set in Victorian times (I haven’t really made much since this webcomic mini series). But, this digitally-edited gothic Victorian painting was probably mostly inspired by a TV series based on “Dracula” that I was watching on DVD when I painted it.

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

"Upon Such A Night" By C. A. Brown

“Upon Such A Night” By C. A. Brown

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Top Ten Articles – August 2017

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Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to compile my usual list of links to my ten favourite articles about making art, making comics, writing fiction etc… that I’ve posted here during the past month. As usual, I’ll also include a couple of honourable mentions too.

This month was kind of a strange one, since there were far more writing-related articles than usual (mostly because, due to writing these articles in advance, I was also busy writing these short stories whilst preparing this month’s articles).

Likewise, thanks to being busy with other projects, I ended up using recycled title graphics quite a bit this month – although thankfully, the quality of the actual articles didn’t really suffer though. Plus, it also meant that my planned review of “Shadowrun: Dragonfall” has been pushed back even further, since I had been too busy to complete all or most of the game whilst preparing this month’s articles.

Anyway, here are the lists 🙂

Top Ten Articles – August 2017:

– “Three Reasons Why It’s Important To Be “Well Read” (In Written Or Visual Media) If You Are An Artist, Writer etc…
– “Three Tips For Making Minimalist Art (Or, My Interpretation Of It)
– “Three Tips For Finding Your Own Artistic Interpretation Of ‘Retro’
– “Four Ghoulish Tips For Making 1980s-Inspired Horror Artwork
– “Three More Tips For Making Better Paintings When You’re Extremely Tired
– “Three Random Tips For Writing Cyberpunk Comedy
– “Three Basic Tips For Coming Up With Cyberpunk Stories
– “Three Basic Ways To Connect A Group Of Cyberpunk Short Stories
– “Do You Need To Be Tech-Savvy To Write Cyberpunk Fiction?
– “Four Tips For Writing Cyberpunk Fiction Quickly

Honourable mentions:

– “Three Tips For Writing (Cyberpunk) “Flash Fiction” Stories
– “Three Tips For Including Popular Culture In Your Webcomic

Today’s Art (30th August 2017)

Well, although this digitally-edited retro cyberpunk painting started out well, I couldn’t work out how to get the background right. So, in the end, I had to replace large parts of the background digitally. This, unfortunately, had the side effect of making the painting look a lot more deserted than it was originally supposed to be.

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

"Cyberspace Junction" By C. A. Brown

“Cyberspace Junction” By C. A. Brown

How Much Difference Does Digital Image Editing Make? – A Ramble

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[NOTE: I prepare these articles quite far in advance of publication. And, in the gap between writing this article and it appearing on this blog, I’ve learnt a few new image editing techniques (although they probably won’t appear here regularly until some of next year’s daily art posts). As such, I don’t really consider this article to be accurate any more. Still, I’ll include it for the sake of posterity.]

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Well, after reading about “remastered” albums online, I was curious if it was possible to do the same thing with art.

If, like me, you use a mixture of traditional and digital materials when making art – then it could theoretically be possible to go back, re-scan an old picture and then use all of the extra image editing knowledge that you’ve learnt since you first edited the original to make an improved “remastered” version of the original.

Since I’d just finished making a new webcomic mini series (that will appear here in October), I decided to try this with one of my old webcomic updates that was originally posted here in 2016 (but made in late 2015). Here’s a cropped, but otherwise unprocessed, re-scan of the original comic.

This scan has been cropped, but there's no further editing. This is exactly as the comic update would have appeared before I edited it in late 2015.

This scan has been cropped, but there’s no further editing. This is exactly as the comic update would have appeared before I edited it in late 2015.

And here is what the comic update looked like after my original digital editing in late 2015:

"Damania Resurgence - Smart Phones" By C. A. Brown [Originally posted 12th April 2016, made in late 2015]

“Damania Resurgence – Smart Phones” By C. A. Brown [Originally posted 12th April 2016, made in late 2015]

The programs I used were MS Paint 5.1 and a late 1990s image editing program called “JASC Paint Shop Pro 6”. If I remember rightly, my original editing mostly consisted of replacing a line of dialogue in the final panel, altering the brightness/contrast levels (eg: lowering the brightness slightly and heavily increasing the contrast), maybe making a small “hue map” adjustment (I’d just discovered this technique back then) and making lots of small corrections using MS Paint.

So, with somewhere between one and two years more experience, I was curious to see whether I could create a better re-edited version of this comic update. After about 30-45 minutes of digital editing (using the same two programs I used in 2015), here’s the result:

Here's the new re-edited version of my old comic update.

Here’s the new re-edited version of my old comic update.

At first glance, the main changes are changes to the content. I’ve changed the colour of the old mobile phone (so it fits in with the colour scheme of the rest of the comic), I haven’t altered the dialogue from the original and I’ve altered the characters’ noses (and the width of their necks) to make them look more like my current style. I’ve also been a little bit more thorough with correcting small mistakes too.

However, most of the extra digital editing is the kind of subtle stuff that is only noticeable upon close inspection. For example, I’ve digitally added more realistic skin tones to both characters (by altering the RGB levels to +11% red/ -4% green/ -18% blue).

Likewise, I’ve darkened some of the backgrounds slightly to make them look more consistent. I’ve also made small changes to the colour saturation in the image too. I’ve also made the green areas of the image look slightly bolder and more consistent too.

Still, the two comics still look reasonably similar. Yes, the new one looks slightly better – but they both look somewhat “old”. After all, they’re both based on the same old comic from late 2015.

I guess that what I’m trying to say here is that you can only do so much with digital image editing. Yes, you can make your old art look slightly better by re-editing it. But, the best way to create an “improved” version of an old painting, comic update etc… is probably to re-draw or re-paint the whole thing.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (29th August 2017)

Woo hoo! I was feeling a lot more inspired than I’d expected when I made this digitally-edited painting 🙂 Yes, it’s another 1980s/1990s-style cyberpunk painting (after I went through a gigantic retro cyberpunk phase last month, I’d planned to take more of a break from the genre) – but, well, this seems to be the genre that inspires me the most at the moment.

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

"Report" By C. A. Brown

“Report” By C. A. Brown

Three Random Sources Of Inspiration For (Self-Contained) Webcomic Updates

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Well, since I was busy making the final update for a webcomic mini series (that will appear here in October) at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk about some of the ways that you can find ideas for self-contained webcomic updates.

Apologies in advance if I’ve mentioned any of this stuff before in previous articles. I was kind of in a rush when I wrote this one, so there’s a chance that I might end up repeating myself.

So, how can you find ideas for self-contained webcomic updates?

1) Procrastination: When you’re looking for webcomic ideas, random internet surfing, DVD watching etc… is more than just procrastination. It’s also research! No, I’m serious. You’d be surprised at how many interesting ideas you can find when supposedly “wasting time”.

For example, one morning, I made the otherwise foolish decision to read a few pages on TV Tropes. This is a fascinating website that can literally gobble hours of your time if you aren’t careful. Anyway, an article on that site led me to learn about something called the “Loudness War“. This is something that was a lot more prominent in the ’00s and it’s where record companies use all sorts of clever audio editing techniques to make CDs sound louder, even when played at low volumes.

It’s the reason why, for example, Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” album sounds about twice as furious and energetic than you might expect. It’s one possible reason why Iron Maiden’s albums from the early – late ’00s have a suitably epic sound to them that is instantly recognisable as “modern Iron Maiden”. It’s one reason why the Distillers’ “Coral Fang” album is so wonderfully, breathlessly intense. Plus, as a bonus, it also annoys pretentious people who care more about barely noticeable audio quality differences than about how good the actual music is too.

So, after forming my own opinion about it (namely that anyone who complains about audio quality in metal or punk music is missing the whole point of these two genres), it gave me the idea for the next webcomic update that I made. Here’s a preview of two panels from it:

 The full comic update will be posted here on the 8th October.

The full comic update will be posted here on the 8th October.

So, yes, one easy way to find webcomic ideas is simply to do a random internet search on somewhere like Wikipedia or TV Tropes and see if you can find an interesting subject that makes you think “I want to make a webcomic update about this!“.

2) Random situations: Another easy way to come up with webcomic ideas is just to show two or more of your characters doing something “ordinary”. Yes, this requires you to know your characters fairly well, but it can be a very easy way to find an idea for a comic. This is because you can show your characters’ reactions or interactions during everyday life.

For example, I had writer’s block whilst making the comic update that I was making at the time of writing this article. So, in the end, I just thought “what would happen if Harvey and Rox went into town on market day?“. Needless to say, the comic update pretty much planned itself after that.

Making these types of “everyday life” comic updates can also help you to learn more about your characters too. For example, although Harvey and Rox get along really well normally – lots of hilarious bickering and sarcasm occurs whenever they go shopping together.

3) An image: Another way to come up with an idea for a webcomic update is just to think of a suitably interesting image of one of your characters and work backwards from there. Yes, this technique doesn’t always work (so, do it during the planning stage rather than when actually making your comic!) but it can add some interesting artistic variety to your webcomic when it does work.

For example, I’d been going through a dystopian sci-fi phase before planning one of the updates in my upcoming mini series. So, I wanted to include some kind of dystopian sci-fi scene in one of my comics. I wanted to draw Derek as some kind of futuristic hyper-authoritarian “Judge Dredd”/”Robocop”-style character. The image was surprisingly vivid in my mind and I quickly sketched it.

So, from that, I had to work backwards and ask myself “how, in a mini series that is set in the present day, would Derek be in that situation?“. The answer was, of course, virtual reality. Once I’d found that idea, I was then able to come up with lots of other ideas for the comic too (eg: controversies about violent videogames etc…).

So, find a cool idea for a picture of one of your characters and then work backwards from that.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (28th August 2017)

Well, I was feeling slightly more inspired when I made this digitally-edited painting than I was when I made the failed painting that I posted yesterday. Even so, this painting ended up being somewhat more minimalist than I had originally expected it to be.

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

"Hidden Street" By C. A. Brown

“Hidden Street” By C. A. Brown