How To Start A Webcomic (Comic)

Well, I suddenly realised that it’s been ages since I last made a proper instructional comic-based blog article. So, I thought that I’d make a short comic about how to start a webcomic for today.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "How To Make A Webcomic" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “How To Make A Webcomic” By C. A. Brown

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Re-Visiting An Old Art Instruction Book

2015 Artwork Revisiting old art guide article sketch

The day before I wrote this article, I ended up getting another copy of an art guide that I read for the first time when I was a kid. This is a book called “How To Draw Anything” By Mark Linley and it was first published in 1989 (although both the paperback copy I remember and the copy I got recently were published in 1995).

I can’t remember exactly when I first got a copy of this book, but I remember that I was a kid and I found it in a bookshop somewhere in either Portsmouth, Waterlooville or Southsea. At the time, I used to draw lots of little cartoons and I was insterested in making them look better -so, this drawing guide was naturally quite interesting and thankfully, my parents bought it for me.

But, although I was impressed by all of the illustrations and examples in the book – I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do. I read as much of the text as I could, but it somehow never occurred to me that I was supposed to copy the examples in order to learn more about the techniques used in these drawings. Not that I really knew how to copy things by sight back then anyway.

So, the book ended up being nothing more than a random curiosity – a book full of interesting cartoons, portraits, natural landscapes and nude drawings that were way above my skill level.

At some point, it ended up getting lost amongst my many other books. I have a vague idea where my old copy of it is, but I’m probably wrong – since I’ve re-organised my books more times than I can remember.

Flash forward to a few months ago and, as I said earlier, I found myself in possession of another copy of this book. So, I decided to take a look at it once again (with about three years of regular drawing practice behind me) and my reactions to it were totally different.

In short, I still spent most of the time looking at the pictures – but, this time round, I actually found myself studying the pictures properly. I found myself actually analysing them to see exactly what Mark Linley had done in each picture to make it look more realistic.

I’d look at a picture and think either “I can draw this“, “I might be able to draw this” or “Ha! Not a chance!“. But, even with the “not a chance” pictures, I found myself carefully looking at each line to see what he had done in order to draw that particular picture.

In fact, I even attempted to draw a few practice copies of some of the illustrations (from sight, of course) just to see if I could. I don’t know if I can include them here, so I’ll err on the side of caution and leave them out of this post.

But, in short, I learnt a little about how to draw trees (or, rather, I learnt a few techniques for shading trees more realistically). In fact, I was able to incorporate these techniques I learnt into a painting that I made a while later. The painting as a whole didn’t turn out very well, but at least the tree looks quite good:

"Practice Park" By C. A. Brown

“Practice Park” By C. A. Brown

But, trying to copy some of the nude illustrations this book also made me realise that I still need to learn how to draw human anatomy and proportions properly. I could copy some of these drawings very well, but I had no clue how to do anything new or original with the techniques shown in the examples. So, I should probably read this chapter more closely.

This book was interesting in that it showed me more about what I didn’t know, than about what I knew. It was also quite telling that I instinctively skipped the chapters about drawing animals because I’m absolutely terrible at drawing animals and probably need more practice than I’m willing to admit.

But, most of all, this experience showed me a lot about how to learn how to draw. In other words, it reminded me that the most important skill that an artist should have is being able to copy things from sight alone.

The trick here is to look at the actual outlines of things and to be able to visualise three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional way. If you have to learn this by tracing other people’s drawings, then do this – but don’t do it too much because tracing is cheating (and you’re only cheating yourself).

Once you’ve learnt how to do this, you can learn how to draw literally anything. But, the only way to learn how to do this is through practice – so, don’t be afraid to try copying everything interesting that you see. Yes, you will fail again and again – but, eventually you’ll start getting better at it.

The other skill that is worth learning is being able to visualise things in three dimensions. Although copying an example from a book will teach you how to draw that one picture, it won’t teach you how to do anything else with it. But, being able to visualise things in three dimensions means that you’ll be able to do all sorts of new stuff.

Once you’ve learnt these two things, then drawing guides will be a lot more useful to you.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

How To Draw An Animal, Any Animal

2014 Artwork Animal Drawing Article Sketch

Although I’m fairly good at drawing people, I have nowhere near as much practice when it comes to drawing animals.

But, most of the time, this isn’t really too much of a problem because I know enough basic drawing skills and techniques to be able to work out how to draw (and paint) most animals fairly quickly. Like this chameleon:

Hi there.

Hi there.

And, well, I thought that I’d share some of these basic skills and techniques which most artists use when drawing animals they’ve never drawn before (or anything else unfamiliar) with you. There’s nothing particularly new or spectacular in this article, but I hope that it at least points you in the right direction.

1) Find references: First of all, go online and search for as many pictures as you can of the animal in question, taken from as many angles as possible.

If you can actually take a look at the animal in question in real life, then this can be better – although there are advantages to be able to look at a still image for a long time and study it carefully.

So, perhaps, if you get to see a real example of the animal in question – then maybe take a couple of photos.

Anyway, once you’ve got your reference photos, then we can move on to the next stage.

2) Study them: Take a careful look at your reference photos and study them closely.

Pay close attention to things like the precise shape of the animal’s head (eg: the exact outline of it rather than the shape you imagine it to be), the texture of their skin etc… Also, be sure to look at how different the animal looks when it is photographed from different angles too.

Remember, photos are actually two-dimensional images which trick the viewer into thinking that they’re looking at a three-dimensional scene. So, the exact shapes and outlines of things in photos might look slightly different to what you expect them to look like.

If you’ve been drawing for a while, you’ll probably already have a good instinct for this – but it can be kind of confusing if you’re new to drawing. So, study your photos carefully.

Once you’ve done this get your sketchbook. Although your final drawing or painting shouldn’t be a direct copy of any of your reference pictures, you’ll need to do some…..

3) Practice: Using a pen or a pencil, try exactly copying the most important parts of your reference photos to get some practice at drawing the animal (or the exact outline of it at least) from several different angles.

Ideally, you should copy your references the old-fashioned way by looking at them and then trying to draw them yourself. But, if you’re totally new to drawing – then you can cheat and trace the outlines original pictures (either by hand or digitally), but don’t make a habit of this. Copying by sight alone is one of the most useful and important skills that an artist can learn.

For example, before painting my chameleon picture, I looked at a couple of public domain photos on Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Commons (I got the idea to look there from a Shoo Rayner video, I can’t remember which one) and tried to copy the exact shape of the chameleon’s head:

From the second angle, the chameleon's head seems to be almost lemon-shaped.

From the second angle, the chameleon’s head seems to be almost lemon-shaped.

Practising is important, because it allows you to make mistakes and learn in your sketchbook rather than in your finished picture. Not only that, it helps you to feel more confident when it comes to drawing the animal in question.

4) Simplify: This is something which many artists do automatically and something which you should probably do (or learn to do) when you’re practising.

Generally speaking, you don’t have to copy literally every detail of your reference photos (eg: every feather on a bird’s wings etc…) when you’re practising. You just have to learn how to draw the most important parts of the animal (eg: it’s eye, the outline of it, it’s mouth, the shape of it’s wings and legs etc…).

The reason for this is that these are the parts of the animal that your audience will probably focus on when they look at your final picture, so these are the most important things to get right.

For the rest of the animal (eg: it’s fur, it’s feathers etc…), all you really need to do is to give the impression of detail (eg: lots of squiggly lines to denote feather or fur, lots of small curved lines to denote scales etc…) and your audience’s imaginations will fill in the gaps.

5) Bring it all together: Once you’ve learnt how to draw a simplified version of the animal from several different angles through copying and you can imagine what the animal looks like in three dimensions, then it’s time to use your own creativity and create your completely new and original final picture.

Try drawing or painting the animal in a different position or from a different angle to the ones in your reference photos, try drawing the animal with a different expression etc… the only limits are your own imagination and level of artistic knowledge.

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Sorry that this guide was so basic, but I hope it was useful 🙂

Best Of The Blog (1st April – 30th April 2014)

2014 Artwork Best Of The Blog 30th April Sketch

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for another “Best Of The Blog” article 🙂

As usual, this is a compilation of links to all of the articles about art and/or writing I’ve made over the past month (excluding things like reviews etc…).

Interestingly, this month’s articles ended up being a lot more art-based than writing-based. I’m not sure if this trend is going to continue, but since I’m focusing a lot more on making art than writing fiction these days, it may well do.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

– “Five Ways To Build Your Artistic Confidence
– “Five Ways To Explore Your Own Imagination
– “Drawing Or Painting Portraits From Life – Four Very Basic Tips
– “How Autobiographical Should Your Art Be?
– “A Slow Pace Only Works If You Have An Excellent Story To Tell
– “It’s Ok Not To Be Avant-Garde
– “The ‘Uncharted Territory’ Of Your Art Style
– “Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year -Part Two
– “Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year -Part One
– “Four Very Basic Tips For Painting Landscapes From Photos (With An Example)
– “Follow Your Strangeness And You’ll Find Originality
– “Four Tips For Clothing Designs In Comics (With Examples)
– “Your Own Artistic Traditions (And Some Ideas If You Don’t Have Any)
– “Finding And Upgrading Your Own Artistic ‘Templates’
– “Five Things That Sci-Fi Writers Can Learn From ‘Star Trek’
– “Creative ‘Triage’ For Multiple Projects
– “One Surprising Reason Why You Should Look At Other Types Of Art
– “The Illusion Of Detail
– “A Futuristic Way To Kepp Your Fans Interested In Your Stories And Comics
– “Four Sizzling Tips For Writing Spontaneous Stories
– “Writing Something Retro? Don’t Forget The Zeitgeist
– “Should You Learn How To Draw Realistic Art?
– “How To Write A Genuinely Scary Monster Story
– “Another Way To Know Why You’ve Found Your Own Art Style
– “Four Secret Reasons Why It’s A Good Idea To Learn How To Copy Old Paintings
– “Your Unique Genre
– “How To Tell The Same Story Over And Over Again (And Still Keep People Interested)
“Nude Painting – Four Basic Tips [April Fools’ Day Article]

(Animated) How To Draw A Shotgun Cartridge

(Note: This will probably be the last “How To Draw” guide for at least a while, since this series will be going on extended hiatus. The rest of my blog won’t be affected [and there will still be daily art posts and articles], but I’ll probably post a slightly more detailed explanation tomorrow. Sorry about this)
——

Well, I’m experimenting with producing animated “How To Draw” guides at the moment. And for this animation, I thought that I’d show you how to draw a shotgun cartridge (again).

I’m not quite sure what happened with the colours in this animation, but this was about the best I could get it to be.

This animation is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

This animation is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.