I played with the new version of ArtRage tonight. If you follow me on Twitter (@bobjinx) you may have caught me raving about it. They added a bunch of new features, including an inking pen, watercolor brush, and selection & transform tools. I only exported to Photoshop to resize and save it as a proper jpeg—the new ArtRage even has color adjustment options. The inking pen is a bit too smooth for my taste, though very impressive. So I inked the little brain dude in Flash.
I did prefer the inking pen over the paint brush for detail work—you'll see I added the drool marks and puddle after I inked in Flash. If you're curious about how I use Flash with ArtRage, I can do a tutorial at some point. Sherm Cohen has already covered the Illustrator/ArtRage combo like a pro. But essentially, all I do is export a hi-res transparent PNG from Flash and drop it on a layer in ArtRage to paint under.
Have a great holiday everyone! ...and Merry Christmas!
I just got back from the release party for a new anthology put out by the Boston Comics Roundtable called Inbound #4: A Comic Book History of Boston. You can read all sorts of information about the book here, including one-page previews of a few comics (mine included). I feel like I've been bombarding you with a lot of books lately, but this 144-page b&w anthology is unique in that it features over 35 comics by local comic artists and writers.
The comics chronicle true tales of Boston's history, "From Shay’s Rebellion and the great Molasses Flood, to Charles Ponzi’s original 'scheme' and Mark Twain’s disastrous encounter with Boston literary society, to the 1970s busing crisis, the Gardner Museum heist and many more." They all range in their style and approach to story-telling. One of my favorites details the origins of Moxie soda, found only here in New England.
I got my hands on a copy at the release party which doubled as an art show of original comics (forgot to snap pictures, though). The book design is fantastic, so I'd like to especially applaud Shelli Paroline for her vision and attention to detail (she illustrated the cover, too!). The print quality is outstanding as well.
My 2-pager is about New England's Dark Day (previously). I will post the comic in full after the holiday buying season winds down. If you're a fan of history, and like to support independent comics, I highly recommend snatching up a copy.
Bostonians can expect to find it at numerous locations, including Million Year Picnic, Harvard Book Store, New England Comics, Brookline Booksmith, Comicazi, Hub Comics, and Comicopia.
Whenever I try get folks to move to Boston, it often boils down to "but it's too cold" and "what do you mean winter can last 5 months?" First of all, there are much colder places than Boston: Maine. I a grew up there, so a Massachusetts winter is nothing. That said, it's a bit of a right of passage for newcomers to make it through their first winter.
The Improper Bostonian asked me to draw a cartoon to help folks prepare. On streets now, even though it was a balmy 55 today. Pfft! You call this December? 62 tomorrow? Good thing "Rudolph" is on right now, or I wouldn't know.
The long-awaited arrival of ARGH!#6 is finally here (phew!). I've been in touch with Félix and Jorge, and I will soon receive a shipment of comics to distribute locally. So be on the look-out in Boston. The 2-color spot process for this issue is green and magenta.
They just updated the website, too: arghcomic.com (with a brand new intro animation—go see it!)
If you enter the site and click on autores (authors), you can see previews from each artist, which includes the familiar list of contributors: (myself), Félix Díaz, Jorge Parras, Paola Gaviria, Jorge Perez Ruibal, Martin Lopez, Nestor Fernandez, Ferran Esteve, Brais Rodríguez, Mar Malota and Molgó H.
Be sure to check out previous issues and visit the ARGH! store. You can view my comics from previous issues here, and here for related posts.
(I will eventually post my 2-page comic for this issue as well.)
I'm heading up to Maine to visit the folks in a few days. But first, a sketchdump:
You can't have a turkey without stuffing and rambling, so here goes...
A couple posts ago, Mike Rauch asked if I would weigh the pros and cons of inking traditionally versus digitally. This is a topic that's coming up more often these days, and I sense a growing number of cartoonists have a foot in both camps.
Maybe it's because I've been chained to the computer for so long, but it KILLS me how intuitive it is to ink by hand. Simply put the brush or nib to the paper and you know exactly what you're getting. If you make a mistake, you know exactly why it happened—nothing mysterious is going on behind the scenes. It's more nuanced and requires a level of concentration, but it's so natural to draw this way.
Flash, on the other hand, will always be a bit of a mystery. It took me a year or two to wrap my head around it, and it still frustrates me from time to time (how it reprocesses the line, in particular). But we all put up with it for the precision it offers, and the perfectionist's dream: UNDO. Not to mention the edit and transform tools.You can tweak and re-tweak a drawing until you're completely happy.
This is how I'm currently breaking it down.
I ink digitally when I sense the need for edits and corrections, which currently equals the majority of my client work. Flash is able to give me a clean professional line; I haven't achieved a similar level of slickness with the brush (yet). I don't have to scan and clean up my inks, so coloring is a snap. Flash is quick. Flash is sharp. It's what you'd expect from the digital realm. But even with the Cintiq, the computer has a long way to go in recreating the tactile connection between drawing utensil and paper. It will always be a mimic.
I reserve working traditionally for more personal work: namely, my comics. It's way easier to plot out the drawings on paper. I enjoy the craft of inking more than anything else. It's also valuable to have the physical piece to hold in my hands when I'm done. I think about my artwork trapped in zeros and ones and it really bugs me. Ideas come easier when I work them out on paper, which is why inking in a sketchbook is a bit of a no-brainer now that I have the brush pen. I rarely find myself doodling in Flash these days.
While I'm having a lot of fun inking on paper, I cannot deny the power, speed, and edit-ability of the digital realm. So I'm still very much a proponent of inking in Flash. But if you're a digital person, do yourself a favor: open up a sketchbook and put a pen, pencil, or brush to paper. For balance, if nothing else.
I just got word from Chris McD, editor of Meathaus, that GO FOR THE GOLD 3! is available for pre-order—update:more direct to go to thestore. The book "collects together into one volume an unholy amalgamation of 35 artists’ deepest sketchbook secrets." I was invited to submit art over the summer, so it features various samples from my sketchbooks. But the bigger story here is truly the inky sketchy mass of drawings—this is a big book: 242 pages!
You can find out more at the preview page Chris put up this morning (Meathaus.com has also been newly redesigned for the occasion). If you pre-order now, you should receive your copy by the first week of December (a perfect holiday gift!). Also included for pre-order customers is a bonus mini doodle zine. Here is the list of artists featured in the anthology (I couldn't be more humbled to be in the ranks):
I checked in with the pumpkins today—late on a rainy November afternoon. It's been maybe 3 weeks since the carving. So far, so good. The cyclops' eye collapsed in the center—giving him a much more sinister 2-eyed expression. A chunk of rotting innards makes for a great pupil, too. He is much improved.
Loren's pumpkin has also grown better with age. Besides being black inside, and showing signs of wrinkling, it is still very much intact. I love how wet its nose looks.
Liz and Berney's "Bert" has seen better days. His face long since imploded, and he now has protruding nubs for ears. The difference in decay is astounding, but they were likely picked at different times (all store bought).
Especially when you see this poor fella. Well on his way to becoming a pancake.
As is plain to see from these wonderful specimens...wrinkles, bumps, and drips occur all the time in nature. I'm not making this stuff up when I draw it.
Fun news (and a comic!) to share with you. My pals Chris Houghton, David Degrand, and I just started a new blog called HEEBY JEEBY COMIX. The three of us have been tossing around the idea for a couple months. We all like bizarre, offbeat, and nonsensical comics, so we figured why not combine our efforts and make a bunch. As we create comics, we'll be posting them. There's also a special focus on tailoring the stories and gags to be appropriate for all ages, so that kids can read them too. With the name "heeby jeeby", we thought it appropriate to launch before Halloween. Here's my first comic as a contributor.
"Rest In Peace"
(note I uploaded this one a little bigger than usual)
I wrote a quick gag comic for this week's "What the Doodle?" The word that came out of the random word generator was ESPOUSE. A tricky one for sure. I decided to play the fear angle. Not sure how successful it is, though. Here's what the rest of the FableVision crew came up with on Creative Juices.
Thanks to everyone for your responses to the 100 Figures Assignment post, and a special shout-out to Chris Houghton for tackling the challenge head-on (see the results). I've heard from a couple more people who've said they're giving it a shot, so best of luck.
Digging through my college portfolio, I unearthed a lot of artwork and memories—some of which I thought I'd share here. When I arrived at college in 1998, I was a kid excited about drawing cartoons and comic strips. But art school had slowly beaten into my brain that cartooning was a lesser art form (I'm sure others can relate). Throughout school I kept up with my comic strip, Blake (see related post), but it rarely crossed over into my college work.
I sensed an opportunity to burst out when I enrolled in the Illustration major junior year, but it wasn't until the end of Spring semester that a plan began to form. This was mid 2001—SpongeBob was on my radar, so I was watching a lot of cartoons again. I checked an illustration annual out of the library and found the work of Gary Baseman. Here was a professional illustrator who was appropriating a vintage cartoon aesthetic. I was working in St. Louis that summer and decided it would be fun to paint a cartoony carnival lunchbox for my then girlfriend (now wife), Loren.
(one of the first posts on Drip! featured this lunchbox)
The Baseman influence is pretty thick (I know). But something had clicked. I enjoyed drawing the exaggerated/distorted forms—especially the large eyes. I recognized that Baseman was tapping into something different than your generic everyday cartoons. And I studied it. More than anything else, I was now armed with a new justification for cartoonyness—if Baseman could get away with it as an artist/illustrator, why couldn't I?
Here's one of my first assignments from senior year, though I can't remember what it was for. Fortunately my professors got a kick out of it. And it felt good to be doing something fresh, while at the same time familiar. I was drawing cartoons again!
Above is an assignment shortly thereafter. This was for an article about internet pornography ruining marriages. The images are part pencil on paper, part digital. I drew with a soft lead, scanned it, and added flat colors in Photoshop. I was going for something that looked acrylic—a very different approach from the gouache paintings I was doing the semester before.
Below is an example of pencil artwork I first scanned...
...and then treated in Photoshop.
I looked everywhere for people who were doing vintage cartoons, discovering that underground comics were a good source for the weird and distressed look as well. I had a few issues of BLAB! handy, a shared copy of a RAW comix anthology in the studio, and I printed out everything I could find on the internet. I went direct to the source, too— consuming cartoons from the 20s and 30s when I hit gold with the Fleischer studio.
At the same time, I was drawing editorial cartoons for the college paper, Student Life, which whipped me into shape. I was assigned about 2 a week, turning around each illustration in a 24-hour period. It quickly became a testing ground. They were all accompanied by text, so the context will be somewhat lost.
There was also the alphabet book assignment, where I had to figure out how to arrange a lot of characters in a scene. I decided on a bug theme:
Ladybugs at the Laundromat
Bugs at the Bus Stop
A Tick Directing Traffic
My "Jinx the Monkey" cartoon would be the culmination of everything. The best way to investigate old-fashioned cartoons would be to make one. I've embedded it below for viewing purposes (for the first time on this blog, actually!)
(apologies for not having playback controls, it's about 3 minutes)
It's hard to believe that bugger is almost 8 years old now. Working in Flash lead to drawing in Flash...blah blah blah...I'm still drawing cartoons today...pretty much for the same reason. They free me up; I don't have to make excuses for drawing weird expressive characters. And it's what comes naturally.
That should be enough rambling to last you the long weekend. I hope this was in some way interesting. The advice I give to every artist is do what you know and love—don't just copy or follow a trend because it strikes you at the moment or seems marketable. Your work (and mind) will be better for it.