Today’s Art (18th September 2018)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the third comic in “Damania Reconnected”, a six part narrative webcomic mini series. Although this mini series can be read on it’s own, it also follows on from the events of this mini series and this one. You can catch up on previous episodes of this mini series here: Comic One, Comic Two

Many more comics featuring these characters can also be found on this page.

And, yes, even though this comic isn’t actually set in England (since the setting is loosely based on Aberystwyth), there’s something amusingly quaint about the night watchmen of old England(who were later made obsolete by the invention of the police in the 19th century) which seemed too amusing not to include.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Reconnected – Watchman” By C. A. Brown

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Today’s Art (17th September 2018)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the second comic in “Damania Reconnected”, a six part narrative webcomic mini series. Although this mini series can be read on it’s own, it also follows on from the events of this mini series and this one. You can catch up on previous episodes of this mini series here: Comic One

Many more comics featuring these characters can also be found on this page.

And, yes, I know that Rox would need a Game Boy Advance (rather than an original Game Boy) in order to play “Doom II” during a power cut. But, well, artistic licence.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Reconnected – Hurly Burly” By C. A. Brown

Two Tips For Binge Creativity (eg: Binge Writing, Comic Binges etc..)

Well, to my surprise, I ended up finishing making the six-comic webcomic mini series I’m currently posting here in about half of the time I’d initially expected to spend on it. This was mostly because I prepared it during two marathon sessions spread across about three days. So, for today, I thought that I’d talk about binge-creativity.

Binge creativity is something that I’ve dabbled with occasionally ever since I discovered something called the “3 Day Novel” contest in 2009 and decided to unofficially try making one as a challenge (and ended up writing a 21,500 [?] word novella in about four days). Although I generally prefer the steady pace of “little and often” when it comes to creating things, there is something exhilarating about binging very occasionally.

So, although it isn’t something you should do regularly, I thought that I’d offer a couple of tips:

1) Plan for it: Whether it’s setting aside the right amount of time, structuring your project in a way that makes it easier to binge or just finding an idea that enthuses you enough to make you want to have a marathon writing or drawing session, you need to plan.

The most obvious reason for this is that the last thing you need when binge-writing or binge-making comics is to get writer’s block. So, knowing where your story is going before you start is incredibly useful. Even if you have a better idea whilst actually making the project (and decide to do that instead), having a backup plan is a useful way to prevent writer’s block.

Time is the most important consideration when binge-creating. Ideally, you should have several large unbroken blocks of time (eg: a free weekend or, if you’re nocturnal, several nights). But, failing this, you need to structure your project in a way that can be fitted into lots of smaller blocks of time.

In other words, you need to include things like short chapters and short comic updates that give you the sense of accomplishing them when you finish, but also mean that there are lots of points where you can temporarily leave the project without the feeling of leaving any one part of it unfinished.

Likewise, it’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t judge your rate of productivity based on your first “session”. When you start a marathon project, you’ll be filled with excitement, energy and enthusiasm. So, you’re going to make more stuff better and more quickly during your first “session” than you will during subsequent sessions. So, plan for this!

This slight drop-off in energy or enthusiasm is also something you should plan for too. For example, in my webcomic project, I structured the story so that the first couple of pages would have more background detail than the later parts of the comic. Since this works in context, it meant that I could still produce reasonably good-looking comics throughout the project.

Likewise, project length is a very important consideration too. The thing to remember here is that a finished project is always better than an unfinished one. So, err on the side of shortness when planning how long your project will be. If you have extra time and/or enthusiasm whilst actually making it, you can always make the project longer.

2) Efficiency: Simply put, you need to be as efficient as possible when binge-creating. So, knowing yourself and knowing the tools you use are absolutely essential.

It is important to know yourself because you need to know what type of conditions are best for your creativity. For example, I tend to be at my best when I’m in absolute solitude – but with some kind of non-interactive distraction in the background, such as music or a DVD. Likewise, with writing-based things, taking short breaks to read things online too can help stop me feeling burnt out creatively. But, of course, different things work for different people. So, know yourself.

Likewise, know the tools that you will be using. For example, when making art and comics, I usually use a mixture of traditional and digital tools. This came in handy when binge-making my current webcomic mini series since, because I know how to use various features on the image editing programs I use, I was able to add things like starry skies, realistic skin tones etc… to my comics within the space of seconds. Likewise, I was able to correct mistakes and re-edit the dialogue relatively quickly too.

With the traditional elements of my comics, I use a mixture of waterproof ink rollerball pens, a small palette of 5-7 watercolour pencils, a waterbrush (eg: a brush with a water reservoir in the handle) and thin, cheap watercolour paper. This a set-up that, from experience, I’ve found to be the best and most efficient. But, of course, your own preferred set-up could be different.

Plus, finding the most efficient tools for you might not always be immediately obvious. For example, although I’ve experimented with a graphics tablet and with left-handed mouse set-ups in the past, I actually find that the most efficient tool for image editing (but not for drawing or painting) is to use an optical computer mouse right-handed. This is mostly because I’ve had a lot of experience with gaming, general computer use etc.. with a mouse, mostly on computers that are set up for right-handed users. So, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, using a mouse right-handed just feels more intuitive whilst editing.

To give some writing-based examples – if you’re typing your story, then decide whether you want to use a spell-checker whilst writing (since they can be a distraction). Likewise, choose a font size that feels right when writing (you can always change it later). If you’re writing by hand, then choose a type of pen (ballpoint, rollerball or fountain) and paper (eg: spiral-bound notebooks, hardback notebooks, loose sheets etc..) that you’re comfortable with.

So, knowing a bit about the tools you use and, more importantly, knowing yourself can make your projects a lot more efficient.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (16th September 2018)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the first comic in “Damania Reconnected”, a six part narrative webcomic mini series. Although this mini series can be read on it’s own, it also follows on from the events of this mini series and this one. Many more comics featuring these characters can also be found on this page.

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

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Reconnected – Return” By C. A. Brown

When To Wait For Inspiration (And When Not To) – A Ramble

Well, since I’m busy making this month’s webcomic mini series (which will be a stand-alone mini series that also follows on from the events of this mini series) at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk about when to wait for inspiration (and when not to).

But, first, here’s a preview of the first update from the new mini series which will start appearing here tonight:

Stay tuned for the full comic update this evening 🙂

Although I’ve written before about how waiting for inspiration can reduce your creativity, there are circumstances where it can come in handy.

The trick is to either set yourself a deadline and/or have some kind of backup plan for what to make if you don’t feel inspired. Basically, if you know that you are going to make something in the near future regardless of how inspired you feel, then waiting for inspiration can actually be useful.

The trick here is to see waiting for inspiration as a chance to improve something you’re already going to make rather than something that is absolutely necessary in order to create anything. In other words, getting a moment of inspiration before you start your next project should be a bonus rather than a requirement.

But, it is very important to set time limits to stop yourself waiting for months or years, instead of days or weeks. Plus, if you know that you are going to make something before a specific time, then this shifts your focus towards searching for ideas and being attentive for any moments of inspiration rather than the tedium of just waiting and waiting for a good idea to finally appear in your mind.

Likewise, having a backup plan (even a mediocre one) for your next comic, story etc… means that the stakes are slightly lower. It means that, even if inspiration doesn’t arrive, it isn’t the end of the world because you can still make something. This takes a lot of the pressure off of you and this can help to put you in a better frame of mind for having moments of creative inspiration.

To give you an example of all of this in practice, the webcomic mini series I’m making at the moment was something I’d initially dreaded making. I realised that I had to make a comic for this month, but I just didn’t have the enthusiasm or energy for it.

But, I knew that I was going to make one within the next few days (after all, I’d set myself an informal time limit). Then, that afternoon, I happened to see a parody of “Star Trek” on the internet. And, shrugging, I thought “A ‘Star Trek’ parody is as good an idea as any“. So, I started making a rough plan:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is an extract from the rough plan for a “Star Trek” parody comic I’d planned to make for the next instalment of my long-running occasional webcomic.

So, I started to plan out a six-page parody comic where my characters travel forward in time and get mistaken for the inhabitants of a desert planet by a visiting spaceship. But, the planet turns out to be the barren post-apocalyptic ruins of Earth in the distant future and Derek gets blamed for destroying the planet (after foolishly claiming to be the leader of it).

But, before he can be put on trial, he gets let off because one of the other characters mentions that they’re from the 21st century. The spaceship captain has a geeky obsession with the 21st century. So, the captain shows them his collection of 21st century artefacts but Roz and Rox end up looking at books/films that haven’t been released yet, causing a rift in the space-time continuum that….. Yeah, it wasn’t the best idea ever.

But, it was an idea. It now meant that I didn’t have to worry about not having an idea for a webcomic mini series. Still, since I had a few days, I decided to wait and see if a better idea would turn up. And, the next day, there was a power cut in the early evening. Needless to say, this seemed like a much more amusing source of inspiration for a comic. And, to my surprise, I’d planned and started the mini series the day afterwards.

So, the lesson here is that it’s ok to wait for inspiration if you also have a deadline and/or a backup idea (in case inspiration doesn’t appear). But don’t rely on waiting for inspiration if you don’t have either of these things.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (15th September 2018)

Well, although I had planned to make another “film noir” drawing for today’s art post, there were two power cuts. In addition to reminding me of this hilarious SMBC cartoon I’d read a few weeks earlier, I also happened to notice the early evening light shining through the bathroom window. And, when the power was eventually restored properly an hour or so later (after going on and then going off again fifteen minutes later), I decided to paint it from memory.

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

“Bathroom Window (During Power Cut)” By C. A. Brown