The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Damania Relocated” Webcomic Mini Series

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Well, since my “Damania Relocated” webcomic mini series finished recently, I thought that I’d do the usual thing of showing off all of the ‘work in progress’ line art from when I made this comic.

If I remember rightly, there were quite a few dialogue changes between the line art and the finished comics. This was mostly because I foolishly took a “I’ll make most of it up as I go along” approach to planning the comic, which resulted in a lot of post-production dialogue changes.

As usual, you can click on each piece of line art to see a larger version if it’s too small to read here.

"Damania Relocated - Long Gone (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Long Gone (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - Smart Business (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Smart Business (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - Anachronism (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Anachronism (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - Never Mind (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Never Mind (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - The Plan (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – The Plan (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - Deal! (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Deal! (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - Grand Theft (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Grand Theft (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relocated - Safe (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relocated – Safe (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Combining Traditional And Digital Art – A Ramble

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Although there are plenty of artists who only use digital tools, I thought that I’d talk about combining digital and traditional materials today. This is mostly because I’ve done this (to different extents) in virtually all of the art I’ve made since about 2010/2011.

The interesting thing is that virtually every artist has a totally different approach to doing this. For example, in this “making of” article by Winston Rowntree (the creator of an excellent webcomic called “Subnormality), he talks about how he uses traditional materials for the line art in his comics, but adds all of the colours digitally after scanning the line art. The interesting thing about this is that, before I read this, I thought that his comics were created entirely digitally.

Still, before I read that article, I didn’t entirely realise that it was actually possible to do this. But, after some experiments with two of the graphics programs I use (an ancient late 1990s version of Paint Shop Pro and a free open-source program called “GIMP), I found that it didn’t really work out that well for “proper” paintings/drawings, but that it could be used as a quicker and easier way to make the title pictures for many of these blog articles.

I guess that the main advantage of this approach is probably the fact that traditional drawing is a lot more responsive, quick and intuitive than using a graphics tablet can be. However, adding colour using editing programs often seems a lot more labourious in some ways – not to mention that most colours in art made like this have a very “flat” and obviously digital look to them.

But with the rest of my art, I usually try to use digital tools to enhance the traditional parts of my art, to correct mistakes and to add effects that I can’t easily create using traditional materials . In other words, I usually tend to try to use traditional materials as much as possible – and then I use digital tools to make my art look better. Like this old “before and after” example:

I've used this example before, but this is an unprocessed (except for cropping) scan of the picture. It's closer to the original painting, but slightly more faded due to the limitations of the scanner.

I’ve used this example before, but this is an unprocessed (except for cropping) scan of the picture. It’s closer to the original painting, but slightly more faded due to the limitations of the scanner.

"La Chanteuse" By C. A. Brown (with a low-moderate amount of digital editing)

“La Chanteuse” By C. A. Brown (with a low-moderate amount of digital editing)

The main advantages of doing things this way are the fact that I still get to enjoy the physical experience of making traditional art (and actually have a physical painting to show for it at the end), but I also get to use digital tools to give my paintings a distinctively vivid “look” and to reduce my worries about making mistakes.

On the other hand, this usually means that I have to spend at least 10-50 minutes editing my art after I scan it. Although this isn’t usually too much of a problem with paintings, it’s become increasingly time-consuming in any of the comics that I’ve made recently (mostly because I’ve learnt several new editing techniques, and because the backgrounds in my more recent comics are more detailed and require more detailed editing).

So, how can you tell how much of your art should be traditional and how much of it should be digital?

Well, it’s all to do with practicality, artistic taste and personal preference. If you find it easier to work with traditional or digital, then this should probably be the main medium you should use. Likewise, if you have more traditional tools available than digital ones (or vice versa), then it’s probably best to mostly use the tools you have.

Likewise, if you prefer the look of either traditional or digital art – then it’s pretty self-explanatory which one you should use more of in your art.

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

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Damania Regenerated” Webcomic Mini Series

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Well, as usual, here’s the complete “work in progress” line art for my “Damania Regenerated” webcomic mini series that finished recently.

If I remember rightly, there weren’t that many major art/dialogue changes between the line art and the finished comics – although I toned down some of the violent drama in the final panel of “Creatures” (eg: the small alien actually survives in the finished comic – although it’s a little difficult to spot) because I felt that it was slightly too harsh in it’s original form.

As usual, you can click on each picture in this gallery to see a larger version if it’s too small to read.

Anyway, here’s the line art:

"Damania Regenerated - Box (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Box (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Optimism (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Optimism (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Death Maze (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Death Maze (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Killjoys (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Killjoys (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Creatures (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Creatures (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Saferoom (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Saferoom (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Plan (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Plan (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Regenerated - Battle (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Battle (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Three Things You Can Learn From Failed Comic Plans

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Well, the afternoon before I originally wrote this article, I’d been planning yet another webcomic mini series for mid-late June. This mini series would have been part of my occasional “Damania” webcomic series (which seems to be the only webcomic series I’m making these days) and it would have been called “Damania Review”.

The idea behind it was that the characters from the series would do humourous “reviews” of various films, games etc… Out of the ten comic updates I’d planned to make, I made the basic plans for about nine of them. The planned comics looked a bit like this rough plan for the sixth or seventh one:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This was the rough plan for a 'Resident Evil' themed update, about how the very first "Resident Evil" game is 'so bad that it's good'

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This was the rough plan for a ‘Resident Evil’ themed update, about how the very first “Resident Evil” game is ‘so bad that it’s good’

Even though I soon realised that this idea wouldn’t “work”, planning this abandoned mini series wasn’t a total waste of time. So, what are some of the things that failed comic plans can teach you?

1) Your humour style: Although the idea of making a mini series that was almost entirely made out of direct parodies of games, films etc.. initially seemed like a good idea, I quickly realised that this is a type of humour that I tend to do best when I only use it occasionally.

In fact, I remembered that I tend to make my best parodies when I try to tell an original story that is a pastiche/parody of an entire genre or sub-genre (probably due to all of the old BBC sitcoms I grew up with, which were forced to do this since UK copyright law didn’t actually contain an American-style exemption for direct parodies until relatively recently – and that was only because the EU told us to make this sensible change).

If your comic plan fails, then there’s a good chance that there was something wrong with the humour (or possibly the narrative, romance and/or horror if you’re making something a bit more serious). In other words, there’s a good chance that the style of humour you’re using in your failed plan is one that isn’t the best one for you.

By looking carefully at the humour in your failed comic plan, you can learn more about which types of humour you are best at writing. Even if you learn which types of jokes don’t work for you, then you’ll at least know a little bit more about your comedy writing style.

2) Comics as a whole: One of the problems with my failed planned mini series was the fact that, although there was a lot of character-based humour in it, the amount of character interaction was fairly low.

In other words, many of the planned comics only contained one of the series’ four main characters – meaning that all of the comedic techniques that can be used with two or more characters couldn’t be used that often in this comic.

By carefully looking at your failed plans as a whole, you can learn a lot of general things about making comics. After all, your plans have failed for a reason. If you can find that reason, then you can learn something new about making comics.

3) Your limits: I had initially thought of this failed mini series as something quick that I could make in a single weekend. After all, I would be making parodies of pre-existing things – what could be easier? That was the theory, at least.

It was only a little while later that I realised that this comic series would mean learning how to draw at least 5-10 celebrities and/or fictional characters. It would mean making numerous practice sketches and looking at numerous reference photos. Not only that, there was a good chance that at least one or two of the celebrities/characters that I would have had to draw would probably be difficult to work out how to draw in my own stylised art style (there’s no rhyme or reason to this, some people are just difficult to draw – I mean, it’s why I barely made any political cartoons when David Cameron was prime minister, because I just couldn’t work out how to draw him).

So, yes, failed comic plans can be a great way to see your own limitations and to either find ways to work around them (by changing your plans) or to find other projects that play to your strengths.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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 🙂

Four Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Four Years

2017 Artwork Blog fourth anniversary article

Wow! This blog is four today 🙂 I’m still amazed that it just started with a random “Hmm… Why don’t I make a blog?” idea all that time ago.

So, like I’ve done in 2014 (part one, part two), in 2015 and in 2016, I thought that I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt from making a blog for this length of time, in case they’re useful to you too 🙂 Hopefully, I won’t repeat anything that I’ve already mentioned, but it might happen.

1) You’ll find shortcuts (without even planning to): If you make a blog and update it regularly, you’re probably going to start finding shortcuts for some of the more labour-intensive parts of everything. These will probably suddenly appear to you when you least expect them and they will seem ridiculously obvious in retrospect.

For example, when I used to prepare the earlier versions of my “top ten articles” articles that I post at the end of each month, I used to schedule each draft article, preview it, copy the hyperlink and then return it to draft status. Then I’d type out the article’s title and turn it into a hyperlink. I’d do this 10-15 times in every monthly article. Pretty convoluted, right?

Well, after I’d spent a couple of years getting familiar with this site, I noticed that the “new post” page (on the old editor at least, the new one seems a bit too complicated) had an area below the title box that would give you the address of the article when it was published. All I had to do was copy & paste this, and do the same with the article title. Suddenly, my monthly “top ten articles” posts took between a third and half of the time that they used to make.

So, if you keep blogging regularly on the same site, you’ll probably end up either working out lots of time-saving shortcuts (without consciously trying to) and/or spotting all sorts of useful features that you didn’t even know existed.

2) Keep everything in one place (as much as possible): There’s a good reason why the interactive fiction project I made for Halloween 2015 is on a separate site, but the short story collection I wrote for Halloween 2016 is on this site.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, it can be tempting to put your spin-off projects on separate sites rather than on different parts of your main site. The thing to remember here is that it probably took you a couple of years to build up the audience for your main site. The instant you start another site, even if you link to it a few times on your main site, the whole process begins all over again.

So, if you want people to look at your spin-off projects, then keep them all on the same site. People who are reading the other stuff on your main site are more likely to notice them and people who discover them serendipitously might also end up looking at other parts of your main site too.

3) Your old articles will always be more popular (and that’s ok): Whenever I look at the viewership figures from this site, something always surprises me. My really ancient articles from 2013 and 2014 often seem to have more views (and more regular views) than any of my new stuff. If I didn’t understand why this happens, I’d probably feel discouraged.

In short, the older something is, the more time it has to accumulate views. The more time it has for people to discover it via online searches. As such, your older articles are always going to be more popular than your new ones for the simple reason that they’ve had more time to become popular.

But, don’t feel discouraged, this will eventually happen to your new articles too – you’ve just got to give it a bit of time.

4) Keep some last-minute filler material handy: Although you should always try to have a large “buffer” of pre-made articles so that you don’t have to post and publish your articles on the same day (I mean, I wrote this article quite a few months ago – hello from the past 🙂 ), it doesn’t hurt to keep some last-minute filler material on standby too.

Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, one easy source of inspiration when you’re uninspired are your own opinions. This has led to a few opinionated articles that I’ve pulled at the last minute (due to worrying that they’re too political, too introspective etc..) and had to replace with something else, like this.

So, if you keep some filler material on standby, then you can quickly replace any article that you aren’t really satisfied with at the last minute.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Here to the next year 🙂

A Last-Minute Line Art Preview :)

Well, there was originally going to be an opinion article here. My original scheduled article was an article about my theories about why popular culture is less “edgy” than it used to be. Ironically though, a couple of hours before publication, I worried that the article itself would be too “edgy”.

So, instead, I thought that I’d show off some of the “work in progress” line art for a few of my paintings that won’t appear here until early next year. Sorry about this, normal articles will resume tomorrow.

“Aberystwyth – Misty Morning (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Metallic Magic (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Market Seven (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Future 2004 (Line Art)” By C. A.. Brown

“The Strange Statue (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown