Today’s Art (14th July 2017)

Well, today’s digitally-edited cyberpunk painting actually exists in three different versions.

This is quite fitting, because I’d originally planned to make a fan art painting of Rachel from “Blade Runner” (a film with at least five versions) but quickly decided to make an original painting instead – however, this ended up lending the painting more of a “film noir” atmosphere than some of my other recent cyberpunk paintings. This painting also ended up being a lot more detailed than I had expected.

At one point during the editing process, I strongly considered converting this picture into a sepia image in order to make the line art stand out more. However, although I made a sepia copy (albeit with varying levels of brightness between the foreground and background), I eventually decided that it lacked the visual variety of the original and replaced it with the original again shortly after completing this post.

As usual, this painting (and the alternative sepia and line art versions ) are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Architecture" By C. A. Brown

“Architecture” By C. A. Brown

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My ‘Damania Recovery’ Webcomic Mini Series

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Well, since my ‘Damania Recovery’ webcomic mini series finished recently, I thought that I’d do my usual thing of showing off all of the ‘work in progress’ line art that I scanned whilst making this mini series.

If I remember rightly, apart from a few small dialogue and art corrections [For example, the line art for the last two panels of the first comic mistakenly showed Rox using a smartphone… which is totally out of character for her] , there weren’t that many post-production changes to this comic. Unusually, most of the major changes (to the art, dialogue, panel layouts etc..) took place between my original plans for this comic and the line art that is included in this article.

You can click on each piece of line art to see a larger version of it, if it’s too small to read here:

"Damania Recovery - Manor (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Manor (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Late (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Late (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Process (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Process (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - BYOB (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – BYOB (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Denouement pt.1 (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Denouement pt.1 (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Denouement pt.2 (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Denouement pt.2 (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Four Awesome Advantages Of Watching DVDs Whilst Making Art

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This probably isn’t for everyone, but I thought that I’d talk about something that I tend to do quite often when I’m making art. I am, of course, talking about watching DVDs in the background (usually whilst both listening via headphones and keeping the subtitles on, to avoid missing any of the dialogue).

Again, this isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to work in absolute silence, some people just like to listen to music and some people actually prefer to have other people in the general vicinity when making art. For me, solitude and non-interactive background things (eg: TV shows, music etc..) seem to work best. But, different things work for different people.

Likewise, it’s only possible to do this if you make traditional (eg: completely non-digital) or semi-traditional art that mostly uses fairly portable materials.

For example, whilst I heavily edit/process most of my art on the computer after I’ve scanned it, the actual drawing (and painting, using watercolour pencils) usually takes place in a sketchbook that is resting on my knee whilst I’m watching DVDs on my computer.

But, what are the advantages of watching DVDs whilst making art?

1) Time limits: If you’re making art regularly, then it’s often good to set yourself time limits. If you can make a fairly decent painting or drawing within 1-2 hours, then this level of efficiency is probably going to help you out when you’re making more time-intensive things, like comics projects.

In addition to this, setting a time limit also means that you’ll quickly learn to actually finish most of the pieces of art that you start making. It stops you from turning into a perfectionist who never finishes anything.

And, if you’re watching TV shows (or possibly shorter films) on DVD whilst you’re making art, then it’s a lot easier to set a time limit. After all, you can tell yourself that you’re going to finish your artwork within the time it takes you to watch 1-2 episodes of a TV show, or one 90 minute film. This can also sometimes (but not always) help you to prevent yourself from binge-watching your DVDs too.

2) Physicality And Ritual: This might just be my traditionalist side, but there’s something good about the actual physicality of using a DVD (rather than just watching modern streaming video).

Since making semi-traditional art is often at least a slightly physical experience, it just feels right that the things in the background should also share this quality too. I mean, if computers could play VHS tapes, then this would be even better. But, they can’t, so DVDs are a good substitute.

In addition to this, actually getting the DVD out of it’s case and putting it in your computer can add an interesting element of ritual to the whole experience too. The only downside is the other ritual of replacing the DVD drive every couple of years….

Whilst every artist probably has their own “rituals” (and mine also include things like drawing guide lines on the sketchbook page I’ll be using etc..), these sorts of things can help you to get into the mood for creating things.

3) Purpose: One of the strange things that I noticed after I’d been painting or drawing whilst watching DVDs for a while is that, if I watch a DVD when I’m not painting something, I’ll sometimes feel like something’s missing. I’ll sometimes feel like I’m wasting my time.

In other words, making art whilst watching DVDs can turn what is typically a fairly passive and “lazy” experience into something that feels a lot more productive. Plus, the incentive of watching a DVD can help you to feel motivated to keep up your art practice on the days when you are feeling less enthusiastic.

4) Inspiration: Watching a DVD in the background whilst making art can help you to feel more inspired in at least a couple of different ways.

First of all, having a background distraction can be useful to take your mind off of any feelings of uninspiration for a few minutes. If you’re thinking about the story of the film or TV show you’re watching, then you’re less likely to be thinking things like “Oh god! What should I paint?!?!“, “I can’t think of anything!!” etc… And, as any creative person will tell you, these kinds of thoughts only make you feel more uninspired.

Whilst you shouldn’t procrastinate for too long (see #1 on this list), a small amount of distraction can sometimes help to shake you out of an uninspired mood.

Secondly, you can also take inspiration from the things that you’re watching too. Whilst you need to know how to take inspiration properly (and the difference between inspiration and plagiarism) before you do this, it can be surprisingly useful.

In general, I’ve found that TV shows will sometimes give you a general direction that you can take your art in. Whilst you’ll still obviously have to work out a lot for yourself, having some hint of which genre you can use takes some of the uncertainty out of planning a painting or drawing.

For example, here’s a preview of what my art looked like when I was watching a cyberpunk anime series called “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex”:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th July.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 15th July.

And here’s a preview of what one of my paintings looked like when I watched season one of “Twin Peaks”, as you can see, it has more of a 1980s/90s kind of look – as well as some slight strangeness too.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 13th August.

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 13th August.

So, watching DVDs whilst drawing or painting can help you try out different genres of art and, whilst it may not make you feel completely inspired, it will at least point you in a particular direction.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Ways To Make A Webcomic Update In A Hurry

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Although I talked about filler updates yesterday, I thought that I’d look at something subtly different today – namely, how to make a webcomic update quickly.

This is mostly because, the day before I wrote this article, I found that I had relatively little time to prepare the second of the two comic updates (to be posted as part of a mini series in late July) that I’d planned to make that day.

Luckily, I still made the comic update. Here’s a reduced-size preview of it:

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 26th July.

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 26th July.

So, how was I able to speed everything up? Here are a few tips:

1) Three panels or one panel: Most of my webcomic updates tend to have 4-5 panels per update, this comic update only has three – even if this is cleverly disguised by the unusual panel layout. Although this might sound like it would be more difficult to write (since there’s less space for dialogue and storytelling), it actually isn’t if you’ve had a bit of practice.

Whilst longer comics might require more complex writing or structure, three panel comics often just follow the rule of “premise, set-up, punchline“. The first panel sets the scene, the second panel creates an expectation (about the third panel) and the third panel then shatters that expectation in an amusing way.

When you’ve seen this done enough times (typically in newspaper comics) and have practiced it a bit, then it’s a very familiar and easy rhythm that can help you to come up with quick comic ideas when you’re in a hurry.

Likewise, the general rule with one-panel comics is to set up an expectation with the art or the dialogue, and then subvert it with whichever one you haven’t used already (eg: art or dialogue) to set up the expectation.

2) Recycling: If you’re in a rush, then you probably won’t have much planning time for your comic update. So, take all or part of an idea or a joke from one of your previous comic updates and try to find a new twist on it (or add something to it). Don’t repeat the joke or idea exactly, but borrow the parts that made it so good the last time you used it.

For example, when I was making the comic update that I previewed earlier in this article, I didn’t have a huge amount of planning time. So, since it was a science fiction comic, I borrowed elements from the joke from this old four-panel comic of mine about VR technology and then used a slightly different punchline.

Although recycling your own stuff isn’t the most creative thing in the world and it shouldn’t be done that often, it can be useful for actually making something when you are in a hurry.

3) Art tricks: There are probably too many of them to mention every one here, but it’s always a good idea to learn some tricks that make the art in your comic look better than it actually is. This will save you time, whilst also allowing you to make impressive-looking comic updates.

These tricks include things like giving the illusion of detail, using realistic lighting to distract from the lack of detail in other parts of the artwork, making the setting look larger than it actually is, using simplified backgrounds, numerous digital editing techniques etc……

For example, most of the art in the preview at the beginning of this article is in the large middle panel. In case you can’t tell from the preview image, most of the art in that panel was created digitally using a few image effects. What this meant was that the bulk of the update’s art could be created by just selecting a few areas of the picture and applying various image effects.

However, the other two panels are made traditionally using ink and watercolours (albeit with some digital image editing after I scanned them). Since the comic starts off and ends with a traditional panel, it still gives the impression that the comic update was mostly made traditionally. Even though only about 25% of the entire update was created by slightly more time-consuming traditional methods.

If you learn sneaky tricks like this, then they can come in handy when you are in a hurry.

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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

2017-artwork-damania-revelry-lineart-article-sketch

Well, as usual, I thought that I’d show off the “work in progress” line art for my “Damania Revelry” webcomic mini series.

If I remember rightly, there weren’t too many art or dialogue changes between the line art and the finished comics.

Most of the post-production changes occur in the third comic (“Authentic”). The line art features more dialogue in the first panel and very slightly different dialogue in the fourth panel. Likewise, it also shows Roz and Derek holding suspiciously-shaped cigarettes in the third panel (and the date includes an extra digit too), but doesn’t show anyone snorting anything from a smartphone screen in the final panel.

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

"Damania Revelry - Festival Queue (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Festival Queue (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Journal (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Journal (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Authentic (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Authentic (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Preparation (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Preparation (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Rockstar (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Rockstar (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Bogs (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Bogs (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Unsigned (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Unsigned (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Revelry - Aftermath (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Aftermath (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Doing Research Before Making Art – A “Making Of” Essay (With An Art Preview)

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Although it goes against the ridiculous popular idea that “art is made completely spontaneously and is 100% imagination“, research can often be a surprisingly important thing for artists.

Not only can research make you feel more inspired and/or confident about what to paint next, but it can also give your artwork a certain extra level of realism and/or detail too.

So, for today, I thought that I’d describe the research process for one of my upcoming paintings, in case it’s interesting and/or useful. Usually, I don’t research my paintings quite this much (mostly due to making paintings in a few genres/ setting types that I’ve already researched and/or due to time limitations), but it makes a good example.

First of all, here’s a reduced-size preview of the digitally-edited cyberpunk painting that I’ll be posting here in early-mid July:

The full-size painting will appear here on the 10th July.

The full-size painting will appear here on the 10th July.

Although I’d been making quite a bit of cyberpunk art before I made this painting, I first had the idea for the painting after accidentally finding this online article that contains a rather futuristic-looking photo– I was astonished to read that it was actually a real photo taken in Beijing during a heavy smog in 2013.

Needless to say, I suddenly felt inspired and knew what my next painting would be about. But, of course, I couldn’t just paint a copy of the photo in the article – not only would that be lazy (and illegal) plagiarism, but the subtle variations in colour would be difficult to re-create with my own high-contrast art style, and the materials (both traditional and digital) that I use. So, I’d have to make a totally new painting that was more suited to my art style.

Although I’d instantly decided to give my painting a cyberpunk look (so, it would have to be set at night in order to get the atmosphere right, and to make the lighting stand out), I also realised that I’d have to research how to paint smog.

So, I started by doing a few image searches about smog. Although most of the photos were taken during the day, looking at lots of them also provided me with some general information that I could later add to my painting to make it look more realistic.

After this, I wanted to research what smog looked like at night. Although I went through a phase of trying to learn how to paint fog in early 2016 (with varying degrees of success), I’d forgotten some of what I’d learnt. So, I decided to look at the few photos taken at night that had shown up in my initial image search.

From what I could tell from looking at several photos taken at night – the light tends to be a lot more diffused than it is during the day and the sky often tends to be a dark orange/brown colour, rather than pure black.

In addition to this, whilst looking at the search results, I found a picture of some “Pea Soup” smog from 1950s London. Realising that many photos from this time period were in black and white, and that there were likely to be more photos taken at night – I did an image search for smog in 1950s London. One of the advantages of looking at black and white images is that they allow you to see variations in lighting, detail etc.. more clearly.

These photos confirmed my theory that one easy way to paint a smog-covered city was to make the foreground look very detailed, whilst making the background look extremely blurry.

Although I had originally planned to include a gradual, gradiated haze in the final painting – I actually ended up relying on this simpler technique for both practical and time reasons. I further simplified this by using various digital effects to give the background a much blurrier look than it had in the original painting:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is a cropped, but otherwise unprocessed, scan of the original painting.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is a cropped, but otherwise unprocessed, scan of the original painting.

As you can see, the original version of my painting included the dark orange/brown sky that I had mentioned earlier. However, this ended up being significantly darkened during the editing process because I realised that it didn’t create much contrast between the background and the lighting in the foreground. After all, if you want to make something appear brighter in a painting, the easiest way to do this is to make everything surrounding it look darker.

As for the buildings in the foreground, I remembered some of my usual cyberpunk inspirations (eg: “Blade Runner“, “Deus Ex” etc..) whilst coming up with ideas for futuristic city architecture. Although this probably reduced the “authenticity” of the futuristic Chinese streets in the painting slightly, it seemed to work well on an artistic level.

Finally, I added text to the image. Although some pre-internet era European and American artists might have gotten away with just including random impressionistic scribbles when rendering large text that uses different alphabets, that sort of thing tends to be frowned upon these days (this is also why I digitally recoloured the loosely-sketched picture on the front of the map, lest it’s lines be mistaken for fake Chinese text).

Not to mention that, since everything posted online has a global audience, it’s much more likely to be read by people who speak Chinese. Since I don’t speak Chinese, I decided to keep the amount of text in the painting to an absolute minimum (the only words rendered in Chinese are “Luxury” and “Map”) and to use an online translation to make it at least vaguely accurate.

Since I was only including individual words, rather than full sentences, the chances of badly-translated grammar appearing were at least somewhat lower.

 I found the text by using an online translation. If you're going to include other languages in your art, it's usually a good idea to do this at an absolute minumum. You can possibly also just make out where I've had to cover up and re-draw part of the first character too.

I found the text by using an online translation. If you’re going to include other languages in your art, it’s usually a good idea to do this at an absolute minumum. You can possibly also just make out where I’ve had to cover up and re-draw part of the first character too.

So, yes, this is all of the research that went into making this one painting. As I said before, I don’t usually research my paintings this heavily, but it seemed like a good example to use.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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

2017-artwork-damania-relocated-lineart-article-sketch

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