Folklore Thursday: Jack-in-The-Green

This strip appeared on our patreon first here. John Reppion has written an accompanying essay here.

Hello! Back! And we’re opening up with a big full colour piece!

Lots of fun drawing this, trying to get a bit of John in the the Jack here (more spirit than actual lookie-likie) 

Panel 1 was gonna be the green-man style face, turn on symmetry and just go to town. 

The Floral garland King, riding a shire horse is a very peculiar thing. Nabbed some photo reference for the King and then went off to google maps to find a good bit of street to use, I’d already inked the foreground man-on-horse. Was pottering around the google street view of Castleton, Derbyshire when I stumbled across “Ye Olde Nag’s Head Hotel” and by crickey it was perfect for what I wanted. So here it is.

Stay safe, hold your loved ones tight.

Folklore Thursday: Kodoma

Originally posted at Patreon.com/holdenreppion

I’m trying to transition my digital drawing over to the ipad and away from the big desktop. Partly this is about space, partly display quality (ipad pro vs cintiq lo res) partly about affordability – if my current big computer system goes (a 27” cintiq and a mac mini) I couldn’t afford to replace it, but I could afford to replace my ipad. (Maybe… probably not actually)

So, my I pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered this on the iPad Pro running Clip Studio Ex.

Now, on to the art. The colours here were inspired (of all things) by a screen saver running on my apple tv (YES, I AM ENTIRELY AN APPLE HOUSEHOLD, I’M SORRY) it was a great shot of Hollywood with a weird coloured sky. It may not even have been pink, but that fused in my head with the colours of cherry blossoms, and here we are.

I googled the Kodoma – and you’ll largely get these cute looking sprites that, I think, are from a Studio Ghibli film so I ruled those out. That said, I couldn’t help myself and added little eyes to the stars of twinkly light-sprites.

Next an animal, I thought fox would be fun, and because I’d drawn two stars it seemed right to draw two foxes. Ditto with the humans.

And the final panel was gonna be black and white but the rest is pretty monochrome anyway, so I thought I’d change the background colour to orange for the fire.

Anyway, that’s it. Just the facts this time. Hope you’re keeping well!

Five things I wish Clip Studio Would Add…

I love Clip Studio and have been using it for years, it IS full featured – to a remarkable degree, but there’s things it doesn’t have (and, unbelievably things it used to have too) and here’s my person wishlist:

  1. Auto Actions expanded to include settings for export / print options. I export for two reasons: one is to send preview png files to editors/writers and the other is to send tiff files. I do both from the export menu, but I need to remember the settings between the two – please let me save those settings so I don’t forget and have to redo exports. It’s driving me mad!
  2. Give me a toggle to automatically hide/show draft layers. Clip Studio is smart enough to allow you to ignore draft layers when you use the fill tool (so if you have four layers and a draft and fill on layer three, it will look at the four layers as a complete unit and ignore the draft, super handy for digital inking) – but sometimes i want to see the lineart with the clutter of the pencils, and I have to go to the layers option and turn off draft layers individually (though, if you’re smart you keep all your draft layers in a single folder)
  3. Smarter perspective rulers – let’s see the perspective line you’re about to draw before you draw it – there’s precedent here both Paint Tool Sai and Lazy nezumi Pro (both windows only) allow you to see the perspective line you’re about draw before you draw it (great for ensuring you’re following the same perspective of a building when you’ve drawn it with gaps)
  4. PDF Export on desktop. Come on! I can do PDF export on the ipad but not the desktop. That’s just bonkers.
  5. AI Flatting. Let me select a layer, ask for flats, and get a new layer with flatted fills in one smart go. Come on. Clip Studio in Japanese apparently has a plug in feature and this (or something like it) exists as a plug in. But I’d love it as a standard feature in clip studio. I realise there are people out there earning money as professional flatters, and I suspect they still will – because any automated flatting will never be as smart as a human flatting (esp if you’re working with a colourist for a long time) but for me who does the odd colour job, what I wouldn’t give for an AI flatter.

OKAY ONE MORE BONUS – please for the love of god, give this to me – feature request:

Let me save and share document presets. I use two document presets, 2000AD and US Comics, and every install of clip studio I have to recreate them (and it’s not easy since the numbers try and automatically correct themselves which means you key it in right, but then find the numbers have changed themselves and now you’ve to fix those) every time I recreate presets it’s a 20 minute job laden with mistakes. JUST GIVE ME SAVED/SHARED PRESETS – I can save and share brushes, why not this one thing?

Look there are probably loads of other features missing, and many people will probably think these features hardly matter – but honestly, I think these are things that could really improve workflow.

Now, someone at clip studio, go ahead and do these, thanks!

Folklore Thursday: Gandreið

Originally posted at patreon this Thursday. I’m running a bit late on the old blog updates.

Ok, I feel like this may make little sense, there’s a logic in here, I swear…

So my first step was to google “Gandreið” which took me to a google book reference, and I kind liked that, but I’m in hock to the words of the tweet, so had to cover both bases…

Google book result was “Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe” and (and I hope I’m not stepping on John’s toes for any blog posts) it covers a Gandreið – (not being as smart as John, I just lifted the paragraph I was interested in and didn’t do any outside reading)

Here’s the paragraph:

“A man in a ream before the burning took place heard a tremendous crash which shook earth and sky, and then saw a man black as pitch riding furiously on a grey horse and holding a blazing firebrand, while around him was a ring of fire. ‘It seemed to him that he hurled the brand eastwards towards the fells, and that a great fire blazed up with such a fury that the fells were blotted out. He though that the man road eastward to the fells and vanished. ‘ When he told this dream, the response was: “You have seen the Gandreið, and this always means that momentous things will happen’

So anyway, thunder lightning (it sounds like a meteor falling to earth, no?) and I wanted to get that in, and the idea of it all being a bit dreamy.

So, does it make sense now? Probably not, but then right now, does anything?

John has posted an article with more background over at patreon.

Dad-A-Zine

I decided to take today off.

My all-powerful white-board/schedule has it today listed as “Script Caduceus” – which is the three part creator owned thing I’ll tell you about (I will probably never do, but it’s good to keep your brain occupied, right?)

Anyway, spent the morning at Tescos – my wife and I went (I realise we should probably have gone either me or her, but she can’t drive, and she’s been desperate to get to the shops – next time I’m gonna drop her off).

The queue was snaking around the entrance at the car park, then there were queues to get in to each aisle, so that ate all morning. In the afternoon I sat and realised I don’t function well without a task to do, so spotted a thing on boing boing about making zines, I thought “oh sod it” I’d make one for Thomas to laugh at.

So here it is, Dad-A-Zine #1

I’ll pop the comic here for you to read, and you can download the larger image if you want to print it out to keep (why???) (To print it, just print, the follow the instructions for folding a zine and boom, you’ll have a hardcopy!)

Folklore Thursday: Shoe

Folklore Thursday: Shoe.

You can support John and I creating more of these comics at: patreon.com/holdenreppion

Phew, just under the wire.

Every piece of art now is an act of defiance. A defiance of the invisible enemy which is both unstoppable and imminently beatable. Patience and cleanliness. Seem to be key.

So as long as John is able to supply me with folkloric tweets, I will supply you with comics. Even if this weeks (and last weeks, I admit) are more just illustrations.

The shoe here is based a little loosely on Van Gough’s shoe (here https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436533) 

As I once said on twitter, I’m clearly better than Van Gough because he never sold any work and I can keep my glasses on. (This was, of course, entirely a joke)

How to represent malign forces though? well, I grew up on British Boys comics where a stinky old shoe would have pong lines coming from it, so I played with adding a little green odor to the shoe, but it cut across it look like a proper painting (though I admit, there’s still a tint of greeny pong on the shoe if you look). But I switched to using it to represent a malign force. Creating a layer with a claw shaped mask in clip studio, then spraying a colour on that layer give me plenty of scope to experiment and move it around. 

Hope it works, next week, I’m determined to draw a more meaty comic. But well, we’ll see – it’s been a weird month.

Folklore Thursday: Cephalophore

Previously published on patreon.com/holdenreppion and if you can support us there, that would be awesome!

Folklore Thursday: Cephalophore

This particular Saint is St Denis and from a statue in Notre Dame De Paris. (Based on a photo from wikipedia in the public domain)

Ok, today – as I write this – Monday the 16th – Boris Johnson has announced that people should work from home, bars and large entertainment complexes should close and people should minimise travel in disruptions none of us will have ever experienced before (but may be how it must have felt when WWII broke out).

So it’s been a struggle to do anything. Plus, as it happens, some of these folklore tale tweets lend themselves very nicely to a narrative and some … less so. (I think the more sentences the better for me, but it’s been a weird day so I can’t be sure).

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to do for this one, and googled around for some image reference and I found this.

I thought maybe just an isolated pic of this statue would be good, one drawn with some delicacy – a bolland-like rendering of the line I thought. (Whether I’m very far away from that or not is immaterial, it’s more about where I’m aiming).

Inked up digitally in Clip Studio, then on to colour using a mix of a flat fill, gouche brush (both the normal and dry brush) and then some rough water colour) I coloured it a stone colour and thought it needed a bit of colour (I’ll do that sometimes, mix in some green or blue or red) then I thought it would be interesting to add blood red pouring from the neck. The statues of these saints are curiously bloodless. So I liked the idea of adding something a bit more gory into this very sanitised vision of a headless saint.

I was 50 this year, born in 1969, the year the troubles really kicked off in Northern Ireland (I’m from Belfast) and I spent my formative years in the 80s worried about nuclear armgeddon while watching riots on tv. It’s easy to forget that art is important in that sort of environment. But it was for me. Comics where the thing that kept me sane. And while, my friend Rob and I often joke about how “well, we’d better get on and finish this comic because if we don’t… well… it doesn’t really matter”. Actually, sometimes making comics does matter. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need to keep you sane.

Anyway, take care.

Folklore Thursday: Sin-Eater

Originally posted to patreon.com/holdenreppion (where if you subscribe you’ll get to see the folklore thursday strips early!)

There’s a few things in the pot for this one. Firstly, I wanted to yank some influence in from Laika – I’d been looking at some of my older (’95) work and the stuff that is super cartoony still stands up. So I figured it’d be easy to revisit that style. But it’s not. It’s NOT.

So googling some Laika, and stealing ideas for how far to push things (my biggest sin is that I don’t push things any whee near far enough).

Panel one was tough, I knew I wanted something obviously sinful, but not too awful and I was teasing out the story that I wanted to tell. My original plan was to have the sin-eater present in panel one, either as a participant in a massive orgy (a plan soon curtailed when I remembered how time consuming crowd scenes are so) or as a background, but I just couldn’t figure out the best way to fit him in.

So shelving that problem, went on to the next panel. I don’t think I conceived of him as a vicar just yet, I figured there’d be someone covering up whatever the sin was, I thought wife then shelved that, then father, shelved that, then a vicar (could be a priest, but I knew this was scotland/wales so priest became vicar) then it occurred to me maybe they’re both vicars. 

The Vicar here is best on a memory of Ian Paisley – all brimstone and fury.

The third panel, sin-eater, was gonna be drawn with detail, but I mapped it out and figured this works as a silhouette and I’ll take any way to save time.

Final panel, hammering home the idea it’s a vicar, I googled scottish churches, got that, for the background. Initial plan was to have our sin-eater plugging his six-pence into a bag full of them (to suggest this is a fairly frequent business opportunity) then I thought if I grabbed the girls in panel 1 it sort of suggests this was part of a conspiracy. And I liked that idea – the Vicar conspiraring to keep the dead vicars crimes silent not just from the congretation but from God, by using a sin-eater, and the sin-eater masterminding a plan to kill the vicar and earn sixpence for his sins. I felt it was delightfully Inside No 9.

Anyway, It may or may not work. But I hope it does!

Folklore Thursday: Kālī

You’ll have to apologise for my brevity on this one. I wish I had more time to draw it again. Some individual bits I like but then I feel like it’s less than the sum of its parts. Oh well. 

Initially I thought “this will be amazing”. But I just didn’t have the time, and there was a deadline. That’s the reality of comics, sometimes the job is compromised by the need to get the thing out on time. AND I needed to get it out on time. So I think it’s ok, just not what I wanted to do (and I mean, it’s rarely exactly what I wanted, but sometimes you surprise yourself or it gets close enough that it doesn’t matter.)

(I do feel like I might attack this image again)

Original version of the art had “KALI” which, thanks to twitter user @halfacanuck who said:

You mean “Kālī” (long vowels). “Kali” (short vowels) is the name of the demon-lord of the Kali Yuga.

Folklore Thursday: Portals

I wanted to tell a story, and specifically a love story. Linking readers through time to each other. Initially, because I’m the definition of vanilla straight man, it was a man and a woman but that just felt very dull – too much like the basis of a mid 90s rom com.

So I thought I’d make it a lesbian couple. Two women separated by decades, linked by a single book, and that became more interesting – one living a life in secret, the other much more open.

The book, The Well of Loneliness was suggested by John, I wanted a book that would’ve been old enough to have been around in the 20s (why the 20s? I wanted to dress the reader in something recognisably from an older time frame, this felt right).

The large selection of books in panel 4 is based somewhat on the book shop in Belfast Keats and Chapman – which my kids call “The Maze”

Anyway, the idea is the book opens a portal from present to past. Or maybe past to future. And maybe those people meet and kiss or maybe it’s symbolic. I haven’t decided.

There it is. Hope you like it.