Posts tagged ‘drawing’


The shock of realising you’ve grown.

As most people who follow my bits ‘n’ bobs know by now, I have a webcomic. What many may not know is that I’ve had to teach myself to draw, essentially from scratch. It’s been three solid years of going through multiple sketch pads a month, as I try to create a link between my mind and body; all so that what I see in my mind is, more or less, what appears on the page.

It really hasn’t been easy. Add together the facts that my eyesight is very…unbalanced, with some nerve damage in my hands, and a general lack of graphical artistic talent; well you can see the problem.

But last week, and again today, I’ve found it all much, much easier. Something had just clicked, and I suppose after 3 years of struggle is should have by now. And with that click came the realisation that I needed to change a few of the ways I do each webcomic page.

So today has been a first day for a few things…Acidgirlish.

I’ve switched from roughing out on A4 to A3. This was so I could mark out the proportions of the box the comic sits in on the site. I got rather sick of doing shitloads of drawing only to end up with it cut out at the end.

I’ve also switched from using a 2b pencil for everything to a 3h for rough out, and 2b for lining…that’s proving very, very awkward after 3 years of doing everything with 2b’s; but it’s actually lending a pretty cool finished product. (or as finished as the rough outs ever are.)

I’ve started working in a well-defined “hard” box. Meaning that everything I draw on paper ends up in the comic on the webpage. This is a little odd feeling in a good way. It gives me a very defined space to work inside, which makes laying out so much easier.

And finally this is my first time very harshly limiting my rough out time. 1 hour per panel to do the four stages of rough out I use. I just managed it with the 1st panel of the next page, I actually had 30 seconds to spare. And guess what? My rough out work was so much better than usual. The time limit means I don’t have time to mess about trying to get this line, or that line perfect. The rough lines end up more…real because I’m just letting my mind and body to get on with it; much less conscious thinking involved, and far less worrying about whether it’s “right”.

In short in the past two weeks I’ve progressed so much as a developing artist that for once even I can see it. Me, the super self-critical creative person can see genuine progress in the development of my own artistic style…hell one of these days I might even feel comfortable describing myself as an artist!

So all that said, the new page will be up on Thursday the 3rd. And for the second time ever (last week being the first) I’m finding myself feeling confident in my own creation. It still feels, surprising to actually feel nearly as confident in my artwork as I usually am in my writing, alien even. I’m so used to not being sure whether something is right or not, that feeling instinctively that even if it’s not how someone else would do it, it is right, my version of right, it’s shocking. And hugely enjoyable. I highly recommend it.


Webcomic update.

After a forever of waiting I’ve relaunched my webcomic, Acidgirl. The time seemed right. This is a complete, and total restart. And it starts…well, now. Enjoy.


Acidgirl, making reference images for the purely imaginary.

As you all know I own a webcomic, Acidgirl. But for the past few months I’ve been letting it sit idle simply because I have been permanently emotionally, and physically exhausted. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working on it.

Some of that work has been based around tightening up the storyline, improving the characters, and above everything else improving my artwork. And yup, you guessed it, the latter is what we will be discussing today.

One of the hardest parts of improving my artwork has been getting reference images which will not only stretch my abilities to their limits, and beyond, but also make me want to draw. This is made doubly difficult by the fact that most of the characters in, and planned, for Acidgirl are, sort of, based on my close friends.

What do I mean by sort of?

Obviously ignore the clothing, but very much how I see him in my head.

Knower how he really looks, ignore the clothing, but very much how I see him in my head.

Well unless you’re sitting right in front of me, I don’t really remember what you look like. I’ll have a very vague sense of how you should look, but the image in my head is virtually always a world away from the reality. In a way, my mental images of the people I love, are very much idealised and more reflect how they make me feel, rather than how they actually look.

Now just try finding a Goddess damned reference image for that!

Well I did. Sort of.

There’s a game called Perfect World. It’s a pretty standard, though very fun, Korean grinding based MMORPG. But it’s character modeling system is quite simply ridiculously flexible. You can, with pretty limited skills and just a touch of patience, take a photo of anyone and recreate how they look before taking them out to hunt giant spiders. Or you could just take the way you see someone you love in your own mind, and make that a visible reality. And that’s what I decided to do. Better yet, because you have limited character slots inside the game, you can save a characters look as a template, that way minor characters can be easily stored, while leaving space for more detailed work on major characters.

The end result, as you can see above, is a somewhat cartoonish image, which can be rotated, and even posed in-game if you wish. Way above of course is Carl “Knower” Orten, based of course on my favorite boylesquer. His character model was created in under 20 minutes, and can be viewed from basically any direction.

And below is a potential image of a future character. (Yes is has catgirls, which is kind of just as well.) And while it is only a potential character model, it does show how much flexibility there is in the Perfect World system.

This one is really only potential.

This one is really only potential.

So with many of these, and a lot more practice my artwork should some day reach where I want it to be.

And yes, this does mean that my comic will be returning sooner, rather than later. I’m currently working on a few new pages, which will be uploaded as they are finished, for now I’m not going to put more pressure on myself than I can cope with. But I do fully intend to continue the story, taking webcomics to new heights of insanity.


ArtRage 3 – Finally a graphics program even the ham handed can use!

In my quest to become a better artist I have experimented with many different graphics programs. I’ve tried everything from MS_Paint to Paintshop Pro. But I’ve come away from every single attempt, not just disappointed but frustrated as hell. You see I have one near universal complaint to aim at most of them.

They’re too damned incomprehensible.

Seriously, with the exceptions of MS_Paint, and Paint.Net, I found myself again, and again wasting weeks trying to come to grips with programs that made virtually no sense to me. The two Paint’s are exceptions mostly because of their simplicity, being at heart a bitmap editor and a very simple striped down Raster graphics package.

Now I am quite sure that for some with the right training Paintshop Pro, or Photoshop, or any of the other high-end programs are superior products. Awesome in their abilities, and efficiencies. But to a poor uninitiated girl from Ireland they were as clear as muddy water. So I resigned myself to using Paint.Net for the ability to use layers, a more flexible palette than MS_Paint,  and the fact that it is all in all more powerful.

I resigned myself, and despite my first serious webcomic being 100% drawn in Paint.Net I wasn’t happy about it. A good program within its limitations, but for all that it’s simple to use, it doesn’t feel like drawing, it feels more like “creative” technical graphics, if that makes sense to you.

Then in a Skype conversation with a friend they suggested that I take a good look at ArtRage 3. Not being one to turn down free advice I did, and I am so glad that I listened.

ArtRage makes sense. The screen is taken up with a quarter circle color palette in the bottom right of the screen, a similar display of drawing tools on the bottom left, and a few other discreet interfaces around the edge. The vast bulk of the screen is taken up with your drawing surface.

To take those in order. The color palette unlike many others I’ve used is clear-cut, and simple to use. Click on the main palette and a band of different shades of that colour pops up. Much the same as any other system. But unlike many others you can see where the system is generating those colours from. There’s no moment of “Where the F**K did it pull that shade from?”.

The array of tools is astonishing. Flat brushes, pointed brushes, painting knives, pencils, markers, crayons, even a goo gun. The best part though is that when you use them the results look, and to a large degree act like the real thing. Pick “marker” and then adjust it to the setting “with top left off” and that’s precisely what you get. A few centimetres of dark solid colour before it starts to wash out. Overlap two oil colours, and you not only get a “mixed” third colour, but you get a slight randomizing of the pigments which give the result a very real feel.

Want to paint on canvas? There’s a setting for that, you can even apparently set how coarse, or fine the weave of the canvas is.

Want to paint with metallic paints? You can do that, and what’s more it looks genuinely metallic. (A setting I hope to make great use of in the near future.)

Want to use a layer for your roughing out, one for outlines, one for colouring? Yeah they’ve got you covered on that too.

Have a shape you’re going to use constantly? Why not make a stencil?

Want to use your graphics tablet? Work away darlin’ it even detects the lightness, or heaviness of your stylus strokes. And better yet the lines really do change in thickness, accurately and in a way that is truly repeatable.

After the endless frustrations of using “art” programs which are based more on autocad concepts than anything you might recognise as drawing ArtRage is an absolute breath of fresh air. It truly is the closest thing to drawing/painting the way you do in reality, on your PC.

After weeks, even months trying to get to grips with other programs, and never feeling I had gotten anywhere. It was such a relief to find myself comfortable with ArtRage after a mere 20 minutes. I think I’ve found my new favourite toy.

The following video is obviously not mine, but it shows wonderfully why I love this program so much. And even though it’s being demonstrated here on a Tablet PC, I’ve found it just as simple to use on a regular PC with a graphics tablet, and nearly as simple with a trackball.


No Post Today.

I had planned to do a basic write up of the fun I had steampunking my foam dart gun for today. However yesterday I ended up vomiting, and feeling like my head was trying to detach itself from my body. So nothing got done. Today isn’t a whole lot better I’m afraid. So please be patient, and I’ll have something nice for Saturday.

Hey you can’t complain, you got a badly drawn cartoon. What more do you want?
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