Another “Alternate Versions” Art Preview :)

Well, like with a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the article that I’d prepared for today.

So, instead of leaving today’s post empty, here is another preview of alternate versions (eg: Line art, versions with fewer digital effects etc…) of some of the art that will appear here early next year (and, yes, I tend to make art quite far in advance).

Sorry about this (and the slightly smaller number of pictures), but normal daily articles will resume tomorrow. Plus, of course, there will be the usual art post tonight.

Anyway, enjoy πŸ™‚

“All Kinds Of Awesome (II) [Line Art]” By C. A. Brown

“Party Hard, Daybreak Approaches” (Without digital lighting effects) By C. A. Brown

“Entertainment” (Line Art) By C. A. Brown

“The Skull Stall” (Without digital lighting effects) By C. A. Brown

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Art Preview: Line Art, Alternate Versions etc..

Although I had a full article prepared for today, I wasn’t quite satisfied with it (it was supposed to be an article about computer games, inspiration and storytelling – but it mostly just ended up being a description of playing a computer game.).

So, instead of posting nothing, I thought that I’d show off some of the “work in progress” line art for some of my upcoming paintings (for late this year/early next year) in addition to some alternate versions (eg: with fewer visual effects etc..) of paintings that will appear here late this year/early next year.

So, enjoy πŸ™‚ Normal articles should resume tomorrow (plus, there will be the usual daily art post here tonight too).

“Fan Art – Memories Of Books (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Cyberpunk Ruins (Without rain, digital lighting etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Aberystwyth – The Green Leaves Of Summer (Line Art)”

“Metal Returns (Without rain, digital lighting etc..)” By C. A. Brown

“Aberystwyth – Bus Station (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Rural Gothic (Without rain)” By C. A. Brown

PREVIEWS: What To Expect Here In 2018

First of all, happy New Year everyone πŸ™‚ Since I prepare the articles, art, comics, reviews etc.. for this blog ridiculously far in advance, I thought that I’d give you a summary (with previews) of what you can expect to see here this year.

Comics! Although you probably know this already if you’ve read the comics index page, there will still be groups of comics appearing here every month or so.

The highlights will include a series of highly-detailed “Wordless Comics” during the spring, a vampire-themed Halloween comic, a slightly more ‘intellectual’ series of “Damania” comics later this month and a series of remakes of “classic” comics from 2012/13 in late November.

In fact, it’s probably easier if I show you. So, here are a few previews from this year’s upcoming comics:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] (And, yes, I know that the first two are already on DeviantArt).

I’ll also be moving back to the “traditional” square format for my comics from April onwards. So, if you don’t like the current A4-size format, then it won’t be around for too much longer. However, this year’s Halloween comic will have A4-size pages because, well, it’s a Halloween comic.

Art! When I’m not making comics, I make daily art and the main improvements that you can expect to see later in 2018 are slightly more realistic shadows/shading.

Although this has occasionally turned up in the title graphics of unplanned articles from 2017 (and in this article), it will become a regular feature of my art later this year. I learnt this technique from making a study of this 19th century Gustave Courbet painting. Here’s a preview of my study:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 6th May.

Some artistic highlights that you can look forward to include a series of gothic paintings, set in Aberystwyth, that will appear here in June. In addition to this, there will be a series of about seven paintings, set in abandoned 1990s-style American shopping centres, that will appear here in early-mid August. In fact, it’s probably easier if I show you what kind of art to expect here this year:

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.

In addition to this, I also went through a brief phase of experimenting with some new digital effects too (eg: pattern fill effects, digital lighting effects etc..) but although this will appear in a couple of paintings/drawings in early June, it won’t be a major feature. This is mostly because I was worried that I’d get out of practice with certain drawing, painting etc… techniques if I relied on these effects too heavily.

Articles! As usual, there will be lots of articles too πŸ™‚ In addition to the usual art/writing advice and reviews, there will also be a few more “critic”-like articles, where I’ll be examining various things in order to see what they can teach us about creativity.

Some highlights will include an article in May (?) that will compare two 1990s TV shows called “Sliders” and “Lois & Clark” in order to discover what they can teach us about 1990s-style storytelling. And, yes, 1990s nostalgia will be a little bit more of a theme this year.

In addition to this, there will be an article in late April (?) looking at how the film “Blade Runner” presents fictional violence in a somewhat different way, and what this can teach us about writing/comics. I’ll also be looking at things like music, animated sitcoms etc.. in other articles too.

Film Reviews! Although there were a few film reviews posted here in 2017, there will be a lot more of them here later this year.

In particular, there will be a “1990s films” review series which will appear every 2-4 days during parts of June and early July. This will include reviews of films like “Practical Magic”, “Mallrats”, the 1999 remake of “House On Haunted Hill”, “Gremlins 2” etc…

In addition to this, I’ll also be reviewing a few other random films (such as the 2017 remake of “Ghost In The Shell”) and – later in the year – the first four “Resident Evil” films too.

Game Reviews! But, this doesn’t mean that I’ve neglected computer games though. In addition to my usual reviews of fan-made levels for classic games (eg: At least one “Doom II” WAD review each month, a “Heretic” WAD review in October and a review of a set of “Quake” levels in July), I’ll also be reviewing a fair number of classic games and a couple of more modern indie games too.

Although there were at least a few games I’d planned to review, but didn’t for one reason or another – there will still be a few full and/or partial (eg: “first impressions”) reviews of games, such as: “SiN” (and the expansion for it), both official expansions for “Quake”, “Killing Time”, “Silent Hill 3”, “XCOM: Enforcer”, “Legend Of Kyrandia – Hand Of Fate”, “Hotline Miami”, “Enclave”, “Kathy Rain”, “Clive Barker’s Undying”, “Deux Ex: Invisible War” etc…

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Anyway, I hope that you have as much fun reading this stuff as I have writing it πŸ™‚

It’s Another Line Art Preview :)

Well, although I’d prepared an article for today, I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. So, as a last-minute replacement, I thought that I’d show off some of the “work in progress” line art for several paintings that will be appearing here quite a long time in the future.

Enjoy πŸ™‚

You can click on each piece of line art to see a larger version of it:

“Kitchen Window (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“The Backup System (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“The Solitary Zombie (Line Art)” By C. A.Brown

“The Forgotten Food Court (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“At Midnight (II) (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Aberystwyth – Taxi Ride (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

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

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Sorry about this last-minute replacement. Normal articles will resume tomorrow πŸ™‚

Adding “Rest Pages” To Your Comic

2017-artwork-rest-pages-article-sketch

Well, since I’m still busy preparing this year’s Halloween comic at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk briefly about something that can make longer comics projects slightly easier.

As regular readers probably know, I tend to have something of a short creative attention span. It is, for example, why I release my occasional webcomics in mini series of 6-17 daily comic updates (well, more like 6-12 updates these days).

So, making a full-colour A4-size Halloween comic that will be 12 pages in length (including the cover) is something of a stretch for me. But, as I’m learning, it’s certainly possible. So, I thought that I’d talk about one of the techniques that I’m using to reduce the amount of effort that this project requires, in case it’s useful to you.

This technique is simply to include the occasional low-effort page within my comic. If this is done well, then it can be barely noticeable to the audience, whilst still giving you a chance to rest slightly at the same time.

For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of page three of my Halloween comic (which I made the day before writing this article):

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 23rd October.

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 23rd October.

This is an example of a low-effort comic page. One of the first things that you might notice is that it only contains six panels (page one contains seven panels and page two contains eight).

Likewise, as I discussed in yesterday’s article, many of the backgrounds are simple interior locations that contain a minimum of detail. There’s just enough detail to make the backgrounds look like convincing locations but, the overall detail level is still fairly low.

In addition to this, the dramatic-looking lighting in the third panel helps to distract from the low levels of detail in most of the artwork. This is further disguised by the fact that the comic features multiple background locations, which adds some visual variety to the page without using too much effort in the process.

Finally, there’s also the fact that it is – for the most part – a “talking head” comic. This is a comic update where the characters just stand around and talk to each other. If this isn’t done right, then it can look lazy or boring. But, I’ve disguised it somewhat by adding a couple of simple action-based panels to the comic (eg: the two panels showing the television screen) and by showing a close-up of a video player in the third panel.

So, although it might not look like it at first glance, this page was a lazy “rest page” that I created in order to conserve effort for other parts of the comic. If you’re making a longer comic and you tend to have a fairly short creative attention span, then learning how to do this kind of thing can be extremely useful.

There are lots of other ways to do something like this, and I don’t currently have time to list them all here, but hopefully this article will have at least pointed you in the right direction.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope it was useful πŸ™‚

Two Sneaky Tips For Making Longer Comics Look More Detailed

2017-artwork-sneaky-background-tricks

As regular readers of this site probably know, I’m busy preparing this year’s Halloween comic at the time of writing. So, I thought that I’d talk briefly about detail levels in webcomics today.

This was mostly because, when I tried to make the failed mini series that was posted here recently , I went for more of a ‘back to basics’ approach with the art. In other words, I tried to reduce the level of visual detail to the minimum that I could get away with. This was an interesting experiment, but it sucked some of the “life” out of my comics.

On the other hand, in the mini series that will appear here in early October, I did the exact opposite. I made larger comics that contained slightly more visual detail than many of the ‘detailed’ comics I’d posted earlier this year. This was a lot of fun, but it also meant that the comic-making process was a lot slower. Of course, whilst this was perfect for a short six-comic mini series, it wouldn’t be practical for the longer narrative comic I’d planned for Halloween. So, what did I do?

1) Mix high and low detail backgrounds: This is one of the oldest tricks in the book (I’ve mentioned it before, but recently learnt how to use it in a slightly better way) and it can be barely noticeable if done well.

For example, the pages of my upcoming Halloween comic contain a few detailed interior and exterior locations. But, these often appear for only one or two panels. Most of the time, the backgrounds are slightly less detailed – but this is disguised in a few clever ways.

For example, here’s a preview of one of the less detailed backgrounds in page one of my Halloween comic:

The full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

The full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

If this had been a scene from my failed “back to basics” comic project, then I’d have just used a plain purple background. However, although most of the background is solid purple, I’ve also added the corner of an old computer monitor and an undetailed poster to it.

Although both of these small details were fairly quick to draw, they give the impression that the scene is taking place within an actual room. So, a couple of tiny and quick details can make an undetailed background look like a detailed one.

Another good trick to use is to draw a few detailed “establishing shots” of a new location and then to add less precision and less detail to most of the other drawings of this location. Since your audience will have seen the more detailed drawings first, they’re probably just going to “fill in the gaps” when they see the less detailed drawings of the same location a little while later.

2) Clever recycling: First of all, I’m not talking about directly re-using backgrounds. Although, if you’re making your comic entirely digitally (and are skilled with using layers), then you can obviously do this. But, I’ll be talking about something far more subtle and much less noticeable than that.

This technique works best if you also do regular art practice, have a good visual memory and/or have made lots of comics before. But, all you have to do is to use something that you are familiar with drawing for your background. Not only does this save you thinking/planning time, but it means that you’ll be able to add a lot of detail more quickly for the simple reason that you already know what to do.

For example, the first page of my upcoming Halloween comic features a detailed outdoor location. Since the comic’s location is loosely-based on Aberystwyth, I already had plenty of pre-made ideas for outdoor locations. On top of this, I’d previously made a sci-fi painting (which will be posted here on the 10th October) which was based on this old photo of Aberystwyth high street that I took in 2009.

One interesting feature of the photo was that the bank in the background had been undergoing renovations at the time and was covered in scaffolding. Likewise, the top of the building next to it looked a little bit like something from “Blade Runner“.

Needless to say, both things were a part of my sci-fi painting. But, since I’d already worked out how to draw them when making that painting, they were surprisingly quick to re-draw when I wanted to add a detailed outdoor location to my Halloween comic:

 Again, the full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

Again, the full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

This outdoor location isn’t exactly the same as either the photo or my sci-fi painting but, since I was drawing buildings that I’d practiced drawing recently, I was able to add a lot more detail to that panel a lot more quickly.

So, if you find some way to draw what you know, then it’ll be easier to add detailed backgrounds far more quickly.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Four Basic Ways To Preview Your Art (or Webcomics)

2017-artwork-art-previews-article-sketch

Well, since I couldn’t think of another topic for today’s article, I thought that I’d talk about art previews. If you post art (or webcomics) online regularly, then there’s a good chance that you probably also prepare your art well in advance of actually posting it online.

Of course, if you’ve got something really cool that you want to show off, then the wait can be kind of annoying – so, posting a preview can be a good idea for both you and your audience. But, how do you do this? Here are a few simple tips:

1) Line art: If your next piece of art involves line drawing (in addition to other things like paint, digital effects etc..), then one easy way to come up with an intriguing preview is to just scan or digitally photograph your art after you’ve finished the line drawing, but before you do anything else to it.

If you really want to make the line art stand out, then just open the picture using an image editing program (here’s a freeware one, if you don’t have one) and mess around with the “brightness/contrast” options. Generally speaking, if you lower the brightness slightly and increase the contrast heavily, then you’ll end up with crisp-looking line art like this:

"Architecture (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Architecture (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

The advantages of using a line art preview are that your audience gets to see the whole picture, but they are also left guessing what it will look like after you’ve added colour to it. Likewise, since more detailed parts of your line art can end up getting painted over etc… when you get round to finishing the picture – so, it’s a good way to show the audience all of the shading and fine details that they might have otherwise missed.

2) Reduced-size previews: I use this one a lot, mostly because this site tends to be the last place my art ends up getting posted online and because I like to discuss techniques that I’ve used in my upcoming paintings. As such, the audience either may have seen the full painting already, or they might need to see the full painting.

So, a good compromise is to make another copy of your artwork, open it in an image editing program and then use the “resize” option to shrink the copy to something like 30% of it’s original size. Like this:

This is, of course, another preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 5th August.

This is, of course, another preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 5th August.

Although this shows your audience a (mildly less detailed) version of the full-size picture, one slight disadvantage of this approach is that many websites automatically shrink images in order to speed up loading times. So, the picture will, at first glance, appear to be the same size as the full size one (even though it’s smaller if you actually click on it).

3) Details:
This is the classic way to preview a piece of artwork and it’s the easiest way to make your audience intrigued too. All you have to do is to make another copy of your painting or drawing and then open it in your image editing program.

Once you’ve done this, use the “crop” tool (the icon for it looks like two overlapping corners in most programs) and select a small, but interesting-looking area of the copy. When you’ve done this, just click on it and everything outside of that area will disappear. This allows you to show off an intriguing piece of your painting, whilst making the audience curious about the full-size painting. Like this:

This is a detail from a painting that will be posted here on the 4th August.

This is a detail from a painting that will be posted here on the 4th August.



4) Greyscale preview:
This technique is fairly similar to the “line art preview” technique. It’s a way of showing off the whole painting, whilst still making the audience curious about the final piece.

All you have to do is to make another digital copy of your artwork, open it in your image editing program and look for the option called “hue/saturation” or “hue/saturation/lightness”. Most image editing programs have this option, and it’s usually somewhere in the “colours”/”colors” menu at the top of the screen.

Once you’ve found this option, open it and reduce the saturation level to zero. You’ll be left with a greyscale copy of your picture that will leave your audience wondering what it will look like when you show off the full-colour version. Here’s an example:

This is a greyscale preview of a painting that will be posted here on the 17th July.

This is a greyscale preview of a painting that will be posted here on the 17th July.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚