Three Reasons Why Music Festivals Are Such Awesome Settings For Comics, Stories etc..

2017 Artwork Music festival comics article

As regular readers probably know, at the time of writing, I’m busy making a webcomic mini series that will be set in a music festival. Although it won’t appear here until the beginning of June, I thought that I’d talk about some of the reasons why music festivals are such awesome settings for stories, comics etc.. But, first, here’s another preview of the new mini series:

The full mini series will start appearing here in early June.

The full mini series will start appearing here in early June.

So, why are music festivals such awesome settings for comics, stories etc…?

1) They’re both awesome and crap at the same time: If you’re making a comedy comic, then music festivals are one of the best settings for the simple reason that they are both awesome and crap at the same time. Although I’ve only been to three of them, and that was a few years ago, they really have a strange duality to them.

Yes, there’s the mud, the grim bogs, the overpriced food, the crowded campsites etc… but at the same time, they’re the kind of place where you can watch heavy metal bands every day. They’re the kind of place where wearing dark clothing is the norm rather than something very mildly unusual. They’re the kind of place where, when your 2am party is interrupted by the people in the next tent, they’re probably just going to ask to join in or bring more drink rather than complain about the noise etc..

They’re places dedicated to joy, self-expression and fun. And, in our dour modern society, this is always a refreshing thing – even if the only places they can happen is far away from any kind of civilisation.

So, festivals are filled with dramatic contrast. And, if you’re writing comedy – then dramatic contrast is an absolutely perfect source of humour. After all, you’ve got thousands of people paying for and actively volunteering to spend a weekend in a squalid field somewhere. It’s hard not to see the comedy value in this.

2) Eccentricity: One of the awesome things about festivals is that, like on Halloween, strangeness is almost the norm.

They’re the kind of places where you can see people wearing all sorts of bizarre outfits in the middle of the afternoon, they’re the kind of places where bizarre running jokes can just spontaneously appear amongst a gigantic group of total strangers within a single day. They’re the kind of places where the audience for a concert can look like an army on a medieval battlefield, due to the sheer number of giant flags and other random objects hoisted in the air.

They’re the kinds of places where not being at least slightly drunk by the early evening is probably a little bit suspicious. They have “villages” of stalls that can sometimes look a little bit like something from “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” at night.

If you’re an artist then, needless to say, they are one of the most fun types of places to draw. Not only that, if you’re making a comic, then they provide a lot of opportunities for background jokes and/or art-heavy webcomic updates.

3) They’re a rite of passage: Although there are some awesome people who go to festivals literally every year, the most I managed was two years in a row. But, this is part of the charm of festivals -they’re something that most people should probably go to a couple of times, if possible. They’re places that fire the imagination. They’re almost a rite of passage in some way.

And, yet, they’re real things. Even if your comic has some vague pretence of being “realistic” (which my own comics gave up quite a while ago), then you can still set several comic updates at a festival.

Basically, setting your comic at a festival means that you get the chance to put your characters in a “rite of passage” kind of situation without the kind of serious dramatic weight that might come with more “old fashioned” situations of these types (eg: warfare, religious rituals etc…). In other words, it’s an instant source of drama and/or comedy.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (22nd April 2017)

Well, I was a bit more inspired (and awake) than I was when I made yesterday’s painting.

The interesting thing about this digitally-edited painting was that it was originally going to be either a film noir or a cyberpunk painting, but it ended up turning into more of a 1970s/1980s sci-fi painting for some reason (my decision to use a blue and brown colour scheme probably had something to do with it). Plus, for compositional reasons, I ended up cropping this picture to a slightly smaller size than usual whilst editing it.

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

"Archive Corner" By C. A. Brown

“Archive Corner” By C. A. Brown

Two Very Basic Ways To Give Your Webcomic A Consistent Look (Without Being Boring)

2017 Artwork Webcomics consistency article sketch

Generally, many great webcomics can be recognised instantly at a glance. Even though the comic updates may include a variety of different locations and characters, they are always instantly recognisable as being part of one particular webcomic.

However, the look of your webcomic will always change over time. This is because, by it’s very nature, making a webcomic involves lots of regular drawing practice. As you improve, so will the look of your art. If you don’t believe me, then just find a famous long-running webcomic and compare the most recent update to the very first update. They will look different, and this is good.

But, this aside, how can you make your own webcomic look as consistent as possible? Here are two very basic ways:

1) Art style: This is the obvious one. If you take the time to develop your own unique art style, then your webcomic will instantly stand out as something unique. However, if you just use commonly-used art styles (eg: manga, American comic book art etc..), then your webcomic won’t be quite as distinctive.

But, how do you come up with your own art style? I’ve written about this many times before, but it basically just involves finding other art styles that you like and borrowing techniques from them. It also involves a lot of regular drawing practice too. If your art style looks simplistic or childish, then all that means is that you need more practice.

But, even if your own art style looks fairly simplistic or is obviously influenced by another style, the fact that you’ve put the effort into using an original style (rather than a commonly-used one) will make your webcomic stand out from the crowd a bit, whilst also giving it a consistent look.

2) Location design: If you have consistent principles for your location design, then your webcomic will also have a consistent look.

This includes things like using similar colour schemes, using similar types of lighting, using similar types of weather and having a common set of inspirations for your location designs. Basically, if you have a set of principles that you can apply to most of the locations in your webcomics, then your comic will have a consistent look to it even if it includes a lot of different settings.

To use an example from my webcomics that have been posted here this year and will be posted here in the next couple of months, many of them use some variant on a blue/orange/green/purple colour scheme. Likewise, many of them feature gloomy lighting, dramatic sunsets and/or rainy weather. Likewise, the location design is sometimes inspired by films like “Blade Runner” and old computer games too.

Although I haven’t been able to do this in all of my comics (eg: it wasn’t possible in “Damania Requisitioned” or “Damania Renaissance“), here’s a chart showing how this has given some of comics (including a few that haven’t appeared here yet) a distinctive look, despite the fact that they’re set in wildly different locations. If you want to read the comic found in the bottom right corner of the chart, it can be read here.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] - As you can see, the locations are all different from each other, yet they all look similar at the same time because I've followed a consistent set of design principles.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] – As you can see, the locations are all different from each other, yet they all look similar at the same time because I’ve followed a consistent set of design principles.

So, yes, work out a set of design principles and your locations will look fairly consistent.

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Sorry for such a short and basic article, but I hope it was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (21st April 2017)

Yes, today’s digitally-edited drawing is yet another remake (of this drawing from 2014) – but I have an excuse. Basically, my sleeping patterns were being stupid the night before I made this drawing, which resulted in me being extremely tired when it came to making the art for today.

I tried sketching out ideas for a few new pictures, but they failed very quickly. Realising that I was barely awake, but had to draw something, I decided to remake an old B&W drawing of mine (because it’s quicker than a full-colour painting). Although the drawn parts of the remake don’t look as great as I’d hoped, for something I drew when I had literally started micro-sleeping whilst in the middle of drawing, it isn’t that bad I guess. It’s still better than what I could draw on a good day in 2014. Yay! Practice!

Thankfully, a second wind kicked in just before I was about to digitally edit this picture – which is why it contains lots of detailed rain etc….

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

"City Rain (II)" By C. A. Brown

“City Rain (II)” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art ( 20th April 2017)

Well, despite a ludicrous amount of digital editing, today’s painting didn’t really turn out as well as I’d hoped. Originally, it was going to be a 1990s-style painting, and then it turned into a painting of a large outdoor area – but the background really didn’t look that great, so I had to reduce it sigificantly before adding paint. Even after that, this picture still required a lot of extra digital editing.

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

"Garden" By C. A. Brown

“Garden” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art ( 19th April 2017)

Well, although I was still feeling uninspired, I was able to get around it by making a new version of one of my old horror-themed paintings (called “Late Return) that was originally posted here early last year.

When I made the old version of this painting, I was just beginning my “limited palette” phase -and, although I’m glad of all I learnt during this phase, this particular painting certainly works well with a slightly more expanded palette. Likewise, I’ve also learnt a few new digital editing techniques that I didn’t quite know when I was editing the original painting.

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

"Late Return (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Late Return (II)” By C. A. Brown