Four Ways To Make “Lazy” Art Well

The day that I originally wrote this article was something of a tired and busy day. What this meant was that I didn’t really have as much time or energy to make daily art as usual. Still, the night before, I’d prepared some rather generic line art for a landscape painting (but, I fell asleep before adding paint to it).

Still, realising that I didn’t have time to start a new painting, I realised that I had to do something with this line art. It had to be quicker and easier than adding paint (and waiting for it to dry etc..), but it also had to be better than just adding the line art itself to the daily art post that I was preparing for January. So, I just scanned the line art and added colour, shading and a background to it digitally. It actually turned out relatively well, here’s a preview:

This is a reduced-size preview – the full-size picture will be posted here on the 28th January.

But, I wasn’t always this good at making “lazy” art or this confident about it. So, why am I now (and how can you be) ?

1) Keep a schedule: Keeping a regular art schedule with an almost religious level of devotion is, ironically, one of the best ways to learn how to make “lazy” art well. Because you’ll have days when you aren’t inspired but you still have to make art, this will force you to come up with ways to make original paintings with relatively little thought or effort.

It’ll teach you things like creating the illusion of detail, using clever lighting to shroud large areas of the picture in darkness (in a way that looks good) to cut down on painting time, how to take inspiration properly etc.. In other words, keeping a strict practice schedule actually comes in handy when you need to make a “lazy” piece of art.

In addition to this, keeping a regular art schedule will teach you how to make art quickly. It’ll teach you how to make a vaguely decent-looking piece of art within the space of a couple of hours (or less). Knowing how to make ok-looking art quickly can come in handy if time, energy or inspiration is an issue.

2) Multiple mediums: Although I have a preferred art medium (eg: a mixture between watercolour pencil painting, drawing and digital image editing), I have a basic knowledge of a couple of similar mediums. Namely monochrome B&W artwork (like this) and some rudimentary digital art skills learnt from my image editing experience.

Knowing how to use a couple of art mediums, even if they’re fairly similar, can be absolutely invaluable when you have to make a “lazy” piece of art. Since having multiple options available to you will allow you to instantly choose the “quickest” or “easiest” one and then focus more time and effort on actually making art.

3) Use what you’ve got: This one is fairly self-explanatory but, if you’re making a “lazy” piece of art, then no effort should be wasted. So, if you’ve got an old failed painting or an unfinished piece of artwork or even an unused idea, then use it.

Likewise, if you’re well-practiced at one type of art, then make that type of art (eg: this is one reason why a lot of my more recent “uninspired” paintings have been cyberpunk paintings. Since this is a genre I can pretty much paint in my sleep). It’ll be easier and it’ll look better too, thanks to all of your previous practice.

4) Know the theory: The difference between a good and bad piece of “lazy” art can often come down to how much the artist knows about the theory of art. This includes things like knowing where to add shadows and shading, how to use different types of perspective, knowing which types of compositions work well, having a basic understanding of what complementary colours are etc…

For example, one of the things I’ve been focusing on over the past year or two is getting better at choosing colours in my art. So, when it came to making the “lazy” digitally-edited drawing at the beginning of this article, I was able (after a little experimentation) to make the colours look like something from a modern 1980s-style album cover or an old comic book. In terms of the colour scheme, I went for a very slight variation on the classic red/green/blue one. Likewise, I also tried to add as much realistic shading as I could to the picture too.

A couple years ago, I probably wouldn’t have known how to do this and the picture would probably be a clashing mess of colours and/or just a series of boring “realistic” colours. Likewise, the lack of proper shading would have made it look much more “rushed” and “undetailed” too. So, yes, theory and knowledge can make a lot of difference!

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (27th December 2017)

Well, today’s (heavily) digitally-edited painting was originally going to be a perspective experiment (eg: trying to draw a “selfie”-like perspective). But, it quickly ended up turning into a random 1980s/90s cyberpunk style painting instead.

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

“Batteries” By C. A. Brown

Three Ways To Deal With Topics You Don’t Feel Able To Create Things About

Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about creative self-confidence and self-censorship. This was mostly because when I was preparing a mini series of six comics (with the theme of “introspection and philosophy”) that will appear here in mid-late January, I realised that there were a lot of “introspective” topics that I just didn’t feel like I could make comics about.

Surprisingly though, these limitations probably actually improved the comics. But, more on that later.

So, I thought that I’d list a few ways to deal with topics that, for whatever reason, you feel you can’t write or make comics about.

1) Private side-projects: This is a fairly obvious one but, if most of your feelings that you “can’t” write or make comics about something come from worries about what other people will think, then make it anyway and don’t show it to anyone else.

If you don’t have the time, then remember that no-one other than you will ever read it. So, it doesn’t have to be a high-quality thing. Even if it’s a comic with hastily-scribbled artwork and swiftly-scrawled text, you’ll still get the feelings of catharsis and self-expression that you might get if you sunk more time and effort into it. After all, if you aren’t showing it to anyone else, then it doesn’t have to be technically perfect in every way.

If you don’t have the privacy or confidence to do this, then daydream about these projects. Imagine what they would look like. Imagine what you would write or draw if you could. Although this can sometimes be a miserable experience, it can sometimes also make you feel more inspired – and that inspiration can carry over into projects that you feel you can make.

2) Think of your audience: Earlier, I mentioned that realising that a lot of “introspective” topics were off-limits for my comic actually improved my comic. This was mostly because it made me think of how my audience will think about my comics. In other words, it forced me to make comics that were actually concise and funny, rather than rambling, confusing or miserable or whatever.

It also made me much more conscious of the emotional tone of my comics and helped to ensure that my upcoming comics still remained vaguely within the emotional tone of my previous comics featuring these characters. So, it helped to keep the comics at a vaguely good level of quality.

But, more importantly, thinking of your audience forces you to extract universal lessons from the topics you “can’t” write about and then find a way to express that underlying idea in a way that you feel confident about posting and which other people will find interesting or enriching.

3) Treat it as a puzzle: Worry-induced self-censorship can be a dispiriting thing. But, one way to feel better about it is to treat it as a challenge or a puzzle. To ask yourself: “Ok, I can’t write about this directly. But, how can I sneak a bit of it into my comic anyway?“.

If you’re focusing on adding “Easter Eggs” to your comics (that only you will understand) or you’re focusing on sneaky ways to express thoughts that you “can’t” express directly, then you aren’t focusing on “Oh , WHY don’t I have the creative courage to write about this!?!?

And, best of all, treating it like a puzzle or treating it like the director of a film trying to sneak something past the censors will make you feel like a little bit of a rebel. It won’t be as expressive or cathartic as fully expressing yourself. But, it’s better than nothing.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017)” Webcomic Mini Series

Well, since my Christmas webcomic mini series finished recently, I thought that I’d do my usual thing of showing off the “work in progress” line art that I scanned whilst making it.

If I remember rightly, there weren’t that many major changes between the line art and the finished comics (I added a MS Paint snowman to the final version of “Spirit” and there were some very minor art changes to “Display”).

Anyway, here’s the line art. You can click on each piece of line art to see a much larger (and more readable) version.

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017) – Novelty (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017) – Spirit (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017) – Movies (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017) – Display (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017) – Carols (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2017) – Sales (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Doctor Who – Twice Upon A Time” (TV Show Episode)

Well, although it’s a little on the late side of things, I thought that I’d review this year’s Christmas episode of “Doctor Who”.

So, let’s take a look at “Twice Upon A Time”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

“Twice Upon A Time” begins with a recap… of an old episode from the 1960s starring William Hartnell as the first Doctor.

Yes, if you were expecting a recap of the ending of the series from earlier this year, you’re in for a surprise…

Dying, he stumbles out of the TARDIS into the South Pole whilst displaying a Churchillian level of determination to stay alive. However, much to his surprise, he meets the current Doctor (who is also dying) – but doesn’t recognise him.

As they begin to talk, the falling snow around them suddenly freezes in the air. A rather confused WW1 officer then interrupts their conversation. It quickly becomes obvious that something is wrong with time itself..

Don’t worry, I’m sure that Baldrick has a cunning plan…

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it is classic “Doctor Who”. It is able to be serious without being miserable. It is able to be poignant without being depressing. It is able to be profound and deep, but is still able to be intriguingly mysterious. It is able to be morally complex without being too morally ambiguous. As send-offs go, this is one of the best ones that I’ve seen.

As you would expect, this is an episode about memory and death. A lot of the episode’s story revolves around whether our memories make us who we are. Not only is this shown in the many humourous and dramatic interactions between the two Doctors, but the premise of the episode also allows for a few appearances from familiar characters from earlier in the show (eg: Bill, Clara, Nardole etc..). And, in a lot of ways, the episode’s theme of memories also reminded me a little bit of both “Blade Runner” films. Which is never a bad thing 🙂

Of course, “Blade Runner” isn’t the only thing this episode reminded me of. This scene contains a brilliant parody of and/or homage to “Alien” too 🙂

Another cool thing about this episode is that time travel is a really central part of it. Although the entire show revolves around time travel, it is often more of a background detail or an excuse for the characters to be somewhere interesting. This episode, on the other hand, is all about how time affects people. A lot of the episode’s story revolves around the complex interactions between the past, the modern age and the distant future – and this is handled really well.

Such as this brilliant little moment when a man from the 1910s finds a piece of 1980s/90s technology whilst standing inside a time machine from the distant future.

The episode also approaches the topic of death with the high level of maturity, complexity, compassion and humanity that you would expect. The episode is also something of an exploration of the fear of death too (albeit in a somewhat stoical and understated way). Seriously, I cannot praise the writing in this episode highly enough.

Although some of the episode’s poignancy and emotional resonance will only “work” if you’ve seen Peter Capaldi’s other episodes on the show, the episode packs one hell of an emotional punch if you have. However if, like me, you haven’t really seen any of the pre-2005 episodes of the show, then some of the episode’s references may seem a little bit confusing.

For example, whilst these two characters are obviously the first Doctor’s companions, I have no clue what their names are etc….

The characters in this episode are absolutely brilliant. Although William Hartnell’s version of the Doctor is obviously played by another actor, he certainly seems like a character from an old TV show.

He’s a grumpy, patronising and stubborn old man – who somehow manages to be both steely and Churchillian, yet hilariously old-fashioned, at the same time. He could have easily turned into a caricature, but he comes across as a character who is both set in his ways and yet highly inexperienced at the same time. It’s a really difficult balance to get right, and the episode nails it perfectly.

Plus, he even wears a monocle at one point too.

Likewise, the WW1 officer in the episode is also a more nuanced character than he appears to be. Although he is something of a typical “stiff upper lip”-style character, he doesn’t really stray too much into the realm of Blackadder-esque caricature most of the time, and he comes across as a surprisingly nuanced and complex character.

The Doctor and Bill are, as you would expect, the same excellent characters as they have been for the past couple of series of the show too. And it is great to see them getting a proper ending to their story (as opposed to the “deus ex machina” ending of series ten):

Yay! There’s some proper resolution to this chapter of “Doctor Who” 🙂

Jodie Whittaker’s much-anticipated appearance as the next Doctor is also a really cool moment. The scene in question is dramatic, funny (eg: the Doctor’s amazed reaction when she looks in a mirror) and is quintessentially “Doctor Who”. But, it is literally just a moment. This awesome scene is over within the space of about a minute… and with a cliffhanger ending too!

And, in contrast to Capaldi’s gloomy portrayal of the Doctor, Whittaker’s Doctor seems to be more of the eccentric and/or cheerful David Tennant/Matt Smith school of Doctoring. Well, this is what I guessed from the few seconds she actually appeared for…

As you would expect, the dialogue in this episode is absolutely brilliant. Although there are lots of serious lines (such as the Doctor’s brilliant soliloquy before he regenerates), the episode is also filled with lots of amusing and witty dialogue segments too. Again, as a send-off for this era of the show, it is absolutely brilliant!

Seriously, this is the best “ending” episode that I’ve seen 🙂

The set design and lighting in this episode are brilliant too. Not only does the episode sometimes use lighting to create atmospheric colour schemes (eg: red and blue, blue and orange etc..) but there’s also lots of beautiful chiaroscuro/ tenebrist lighting here too. Seriously, the lighting in some scenes looks like something from a Caravaggio painting 🙂

Yes! THIS is how to use lighting 🙂

Seriously, this scene could almost be a Caravaggio painting!

However, this episode does have the annoying modern habit of using lots of lens flare sometimes….

This is also complemented by some brilliant set design too, with many of the episode’s locations evoking a theme of oldness, bleakness and/or decay.

Including a segment set on a post-apocalyptic planet that looks like something from an old horror movie 🙂

And check out this location that manages to look ancient and futuristic at the same time 🙂

The episode’s special effects are also reasonably ok too. Although the CGI effects are sometimes a little bit obvious, this doesn’t really matter as much as you might think since the story of the episode is so gripping that you’ll probably be willing to overlook any minor flaws with the effects. I mean, it could have 1980s special effects and it would still be a compelling episode.

Yes, some of the CGI effects look like something from at least a decade ago. But, the story is so compelling that this doesn’t matter.

All in all, this is a brilliant way to end this era of the show. This episode is poignant, funny, dramatic, spectacular, intelligent and visually brilliant. My only real complaint about it is that the scene introducing the new Doctor was far too short.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a five.

Merry Christmas Everyone :)

Merry Christmas everyone 🙂 Normal daily articles and art posts will resume tomorrow. But, in the meantime, here’s an extra Christmas comic (more festive comics featuring these characters can be found here and here). And here’s the line art for this comic too.

I’m also not sure when or if I’ll review the Christmas episode of “Doctor Who”. If I review it, the review may or may not possibly appear until anything up to a few days later.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Merry Christmas 2017" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Merry Christmas 2017” By C. A. Brown