Earlier today, my friend John Reppion posted a little musing on twitter about a local Church being knocked down.
John is a great writer, and the tweet had a lyrical quality that I really responded to. So I thought, as I’m winding down to relax for a holiday (hahah) I’d do a quick drawing of it as I saw it.
Here’s the tweet:
And I quickly scribbled out a layout and chopped the words up as lettering (drawn in Clip Studio at the digest art size, so I couldn’t get too precious and fiddly)
Took a minute or two. Sent it to John for his approval (I mean he was surprised to see it I’m sure, given it was just me faffing around).
Then I went off and did some paid work and came back to it.
Speed drawing is funny, the trick is to cheat as often and as much as you can.
Cheat one: don’t pencil. Just go straight from the roughs to inks.
Cheat two: photo reference. Just google the hell out of everything and trace it. Google a church. Google a wrecking ball. Google a digger. Using maps to get an overhead shot of some buildings so you can quickly use that to build out a panel. Copy a panel and draw over it. And finally google some birds.
Cheat three: TRACE EVERYTHING. Don’t grab photoreference so you can internalise what a digger looks like, grab photoreference so you can trace the digger. If you’ve any sort of eye at all you’ll introduce enough variety in what you’re doing that it won’t be a problem to describe it as a reinterpretation
Not gonna lie. There’s a lot of tracing in this.
Here’s the black and white:
Now for colour, I skipped the flatting/rendering stage and just stuck with simple colours – but I grabbed a page I liked by an colourist I liked which covered similar colours to what I knew I needed and sampled it for all the colours. That to is big fat cheat.
I’ve been keen to thing of Channel Hex as digest sized, it makes sense, drawing roughly A4 art that’s half my regular art sized, should be much faster.
But then you start looking at what digest sized MEANS – and it turns out … there’s a few different digest sizes.
Here’s a small selection…
And that’s not the end of it, there’s lots more options. But looking at these books, it feels like the most flexible in terms of what storytelling I can do vs small size, it’s the Italian digest size that works best. So I had to do some numbers.
Now, ordinarily, I want to draw at least 40% larger than final art (and I may still do that) but measuring the italian fumetti sized comic, and multipling it by 40% puts it slightly larger than A4 – which will not do, I’m afraid.
So I enlarged the page size to 30% instead, which JUST keeps it in to A4 (strictly speaking I added a 5mm bleed around the printed art, that’s probably too large, so it’s fine) and I get this:
A4 W In
A4 H In
Width = printed width, Height = Printed Height 30% W = Width * 130%, 30% H = Height * 130% A4 W In = A4 Width In, A4 H In = A4 Height In.
Sizes here are MM, the A4 W(idth) IN and A4 H(eight) IN are my way of not needing printed blue lines, If I measure 20.5mm in from the left and then 20.5mm in from the right side of an A4 paper block then the distance between those two measurements is 130mm (ie the safe width)
It all looks a bit like this:
Anyway, that’s how I’ve been spending this evening. There’s a surprising amount of maths in comics. (Though, to be fair, only because I’m too stingy to blueline paper)
Course, now I’ve worked out all the sums involved, I can just create my own blueline in Clip Studio and use that from now on.
And, as a bonus, here’s the sizes for 2000AD Art Size Paper:
Page Size: 30.2cm x 39.43cm (this is bigger than A3 so you’ll either need to use bigger paper trimmed, or, do as I do, draw to the edge, scan it in and then draw a little extra on the page in photoshop)
Panel Size (or the Safe Area, in other words – that area of the page that lettering will go into) 26.44cm x 35.79 cm
TRIM Size – if you want to full bleed the art the art needs to be drawn to the page size, but, between the page size and the trim size the art may get chopped for trim. 29.37cm x 38.59cm (Just ignore this, if you want to have art bleed off the page then draw ALL the way to the Page Size)
Reminder: this isn’t the final work, the final work will be an entirely different story. This is just me trying to figure out some stuff about logos/layouts/page sizes/etc.
Anyway, last time on Channel Hex, I’d planned on a commando digest size and now I’m skewing more towards a slightly larger italian digets sized – art would still be A4, but those books tend more towards 4-5 panels per page rather than 2 (ultimately it may be between 3-4) so I drew a page of the imaginary story (aren’t they all) of Planet of the Blind, and dumped some logos on there. Thanks to my pal, Jim Lavery – who put up with me doggedly asking him to help me design a logo even though I’d clearly had exactly what I wanted in mind already – who suggested a font choice that works great. So I mocked up a single page of the comic, and here it is:
There’s a little too many logos on that page, I don’t think the smaller hex-tentacle logo works at all, and maybe, on that first page i don’t need the logos at all (though the temptation to use the hexagram as a 2000ad style credits in the strip is almost overpowering.)
I’ve a colourist friend has promised to colour up the cover, so once that’s done I’ll repost it with logos/etc.
I’m keeping the actual story under wraps – it’s a corker, and exactly the sort of thing I’d enjoy, fingers crossed when the kickstarter happens (and I’m working at timing now, a tricker thing that you’d think) then you’ll hear all about it on my mailing list at Channel Hex.
Got some work done, decided to start playing with logos and layouts for the kickstarter digest idea.
(To recap: a 64 digest comic, it’s actually 68 pages – once you include the covers, drawn while I do other work. Scifi/horror like the old UK Starblazer imprint)
So, in order to start working out layouts for a cover I needed a cover. And I didn’t have one. So I figured, it was time to test my working hypothesis that I could draw an A5 sized comic at A5 sized (which is about a quarter of the size of a traditional comic).
Man, my eyes are not what they once where, it was a little too tiny. So I might scale up – maybe not all the way to A5, but a decent 40% larger, maybe… (So a single page will fit on an A4 page, but it’ll still be smaller than A4)
This cover was a lot of fun to conceptualise and draw. I knew I wanted a sci-fi old school concept, spaceman, fighting monster on new planet. Then I covered his eye with an eyepatch and decided to make the monster blind (and he’s hunting it with some rotten meat).
And then a title just came – Kingdom of the Blind – wasn’t quite on-the-nose enough – good old pulpy sci required it be called Planet of the Blind (he also requires his surname to be King, if I ever wrote it)
Anyway, here’s the cover…
The logo in the bottom right is the Channel Hex logo. Spent some time figuring that out today, tried dozens of variations and ended up … going back to the original logo I designed when I first wanted to do some short channel hex stories a few years ago.
I’m gonna stew over some of these design choices, but it’s been fun doing this. I’ve a promise of a script from a colleague I’ve done loads with in the past, and he’s one of my favourite writers too – so I’m really looking forward to it starting. Gonna be trying “marvel style” (it’s alright for me to go – I’M DOING THIS FOR FREE! but it’s a bit out of order to say “YOU MUST WRITE A FULL SCRIPT FOR ME”)
If you’re interested in where this is all going, definitely sign up for my mailing list – I’ve not sent any posts out in a while, but it’s a sure fire way to know when the kickstart is kicking off. Still lots of research to do on that front, I wanna make sure I’m going in to it with my eyes opened as wide as possible -I’ve had a couple of great chats with people and one of the big things, especially as first kickstarter is KEEP IT SIMPLE – one digital book, one paperback and one hardback and that’s it. Try and keep the posting options tight, so you don’t accidentally push yourself over the edge promising stuff.
It’s pretty straight forward for a comic artist, primarily because comics is mostly one second never ending task of drawing (for me). Page after endless page.
Here’s how it works:
You set a timer (a pomodoro timer, a simple kitchen clock will do, but there are apps), for 25 minutes – and you just sit and do a single task in that 25 minute chunk.
At the end of that, you take a five minute break – go have some tea, check twitter, doodle something else, whatever.
Then 25 minutes of a drawing, 5 minute break and you repeat that until you’ve done 4 chunks of a task, and then you can have a 25 minute break.
And then repeat.
I’ve drawn a neat little diagram on a white board to motivate doing the damn things and it looks like this:
Now it’s rare I get to fill that whole thing in, but I find if I do it, I can get a page inked in about 4/5 of those pomodoro slots, and I know I get work down in as little as 25 minutes – if I can ensure I have a 30 minute uninterrupted period I can make progress and it all adds up quickly.
Where it fails for me is when I goof off, or start taking breaks and then it’s a failing in me rather than it.
Anyway, highly recommend you give it a go -at the moment, owing to various family commitments I’ve been unable to really find the time to work, but breaking it job in to 25 minute chunks has brought some semblance of order back to what I do.
So, couple of days ago I put Tom’s comic Why Not!? online. I figured I’d put it up as a free pdf download, and if anyone wanted to donate something, that’d be awesome – Tom could have a little extra friday treat money (which is what we call pay day round here…)
(he’d prefer it if you called him Thomas, he lets me call him Tom…)
I told Tom about it and, when I picked him up from school, we had a whole £6 in paypal. This was great, as he’d already blown his friday treat money on Thursday as it was the European elections and Tom’s school was closed so we had to entertain ourselves.
He was pretty excited about how he’d spend his money.
By the time we got to the toy shop (a 2 minute drive) it was up to £8, and Tom was giddy with delight. He started looking around for what he could buy. I offered him a couple of quid to bring him up to something around a tenner if he needed it.
My phone dinged a few times and suddenly we had £16, so he decided he’d buy an xbox game (he doesn’t have an xbox, but he is getting one for his birthday on the 6th of June when he’ll be 11).
He picked up a game (for £15) and we went to pay for it – turned out it needed the microsoft gaming network thing which we didn’t think he’d be getting, so he put it away and got a different game for a fiver. Never mind, Tommy, you’ve got an extra £10 so you can spend that later. No, wait, it’s £24. Hang on, it’s £30, it’s £50, It’s £70, it’s £80, oh blimey, it’s £100.
Right now, he’s sitting on £220 and I don’t think he’s been able to process it! At one point I was getting enough little notifications Tom was just “why!? why are people giving me money, surely they have better things to do with it??” It was a really fun day for both of us.
Tom’s never been great with money (well, he’s 10, so every penny suddenly gets spent) but this big chunk of cash he’s decided to save – at least until his birthday – when he can blow it all on some cool xbox games (though we’re off to disney land paris soon so I’ve suggested he can save it for that).
We’re both super appreciative of everyone who’s donated, especially those who donated a silly amount (we’d worked out £2.40 was a reasonable amount since it’s the same price as the beano) and lots of people paid way more than that!
But one thing Tom has really really enjoyed is all of the comments, and he’s made me read them all out to him, multiple times. So thank you for those.
Tom’s surprisingly shy. He really doesn’t want to show his comic off to people he knows (I think his older brother, who has a habit of browbeating you is to blame for this a little) but this I think has really helped him.
He was already working on issue 2 before we’d put issue 1 online (and he’d written a very sweet intro where he talks about hoping people liked issue 1 -they did, Tom, they did) and we’re a few pages in to it.
I’ve told him to readjust his expectations of issue 2s sales, no way can we match issue 1 for income.
But I’ve also told him let’s try and make it better, let’s add more backgrounds, let’s make some stories a little longer, let’s see what we can do.
I’d like to say all the money has really encouraged him, but like most poor doomed artists he’d be doing this even if he’d only made £5 on it and if you don’t believe me, here’s a Tumbler blog I made when he was three years old and was writing stories literally before he could write – he’d dictate the text to me and I’d write it down (the blog only talks about a few of them, in the end he made maybe twenty or thirty of these crazy little books).
Anyway thank you for everyone who downloaded it, paid for it and left a comment. It means a great deal.
The last computer I bought was purchased from an online store where I got to pick and choose every single component. Now, I used to work in IT (though I preferred software to hardware) so I was fairly comfortable with this, but it was a windows computer and a bit of a brute.
I went for something with a decent graphics card – because I wanted to do 3d stuff, but also something that could handle, down the road, VR.
It was noisy as all get out though, and bloody massive. And after a years and years on a Mac going back to windows felt … not good.
BUT I mostly use Clip Studio Paint which looks identical on windows or Mac (and now iPad Pro) so I didn’t think there’d be much problem, just a decent email client, a simple word processor (not MS Word, no thanks) and I’d be set.
But man oh man, I’d forgotten about windows and how easy it was to find crappy software and how hard it was to find decent software.
I would’ve gotten a Mac – I have a Cintiq 27, and didn’t need a monitor, but the Mac mini model at the time hadn’t been updated in 5-6 years and I’d be damned if I was gonna drop a grand on a machine that was out of date by that much. So windows it was.
Since then, stuff happened. Mac minis finally updated, I smashed my Cintiq 27 screen and bought a 16 Cintiq pro, a 4k screen that, amazingly, was almost impossible to get 4k out of – needing, as it did, a USB-C output. And the super neat all singing all dancing windows pc with the super up graphics card … no usb-c video output. So pretty damn frustrating.
Eventually I fixed the 27″ screen and I’ve been sitting with the 16 Pro in a box.
Anyway, got some stuff on and I thought – you know what… it’s time to go back to the Mac.
So I did. Mac mini, not the top end one, but a decent one.
Instantly, the 16 Cintiq pro works and I’m getting 4k and gosh that screen is gorgeous.
Mind you, I couldn’t recommend the 16 Cintiq – it has a weird visual distortion when you put the pen near the screen (like an analogue interference) and even though the Mac is pretty silent, the fan noise on the 16 pro is pretty damn annoying.
BUT those 4k graphics. Gah, hard to go back to a normal display.
Another pleasant surprise, Mac mini has built in speakers. Wasn’t expecting that. I’m not an audiophile, something that can play some music while I work is about all I need. But I never bought speakers, so relied on a bluetooth connection between my old PC and an amazon echo (which required me buying a bluetooth adaptor for the PC)
Here’s the thing: with apple your options are so much more limited, BUT when they offer a thing the thing works.
Anyway, the Mac mini is lovely. The Cintiq pro 16 is also gorgeous. It can’t do anything in 3d worst a damn though, so I reserve the use of the old PC for when I inevitably need to do some 3d modelling.