Blog #10: Four Months to Wake Up

So after my initial burst of inspiration during the summer, I went right back to sleep again. Got busy with work and family, and the project got shelved. (in my defense, I did help the missus create an art school:  www.thecreativehub.ca  :) )

It apparently took another break (Christmas) to renew my strength again to pick it back up. Lets hope I can keep more momentum this time!

I realized a few of things:

1. I still had no idea what my characters look like, or exactly what the style of the illustrations will be.

To solve this, I figured I could either spend months pre-designing everything… or I could just get started on the basic compositions and hopefully the answers will come out as I go.

2. Dividing my pages into typical comic-book panels is an art form I am not experienced with.

Trying to find my own style for this I think would really slow things down. However, I do storyboards all the time, and did the entire Sonnen’s War comic with just horizontal panels. I am familiar with it, and am way faster. So this will be the format.

3. My drawing-studies of dogs over the summer was extremely valuable, but I am still miles away from being able to free-draw dogs comfortably. Also, my protagonist begins as a puppy, and I never practiced drawing puppies, lol.

This was another good reason to just start sketching;  I knew that if I really studied and practiced until I felt ‘ready’, I would never get started.

My goal now is to rough out all the pages in a loose, sketchy style where no details are really decided yet… Just get the pages down, make sure the story is told smoothly… then fill in the details later.  They may not be 100% legible to others at this stage, but with inks, color, lighting etc I think I am off to a good start.

Here are the first 11 pages, out of a total of 67. I did all these in less than 2 days. By that math I should be done in 2 weeks.

But we know that’s not gonna happen now, don’t we? :D

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Blog #8: Page 1 ROUGHED (only 67 to go)

Here is the first page roughed.

It took much longer than I expected…  about 4-5 hours. This is good to know, if I am to make any sort of realistic deadline for myself.

I am going to keep doing rough pages because I still have not completely figured out the style or character designs yet…  - I fully expect that as I go, the characters and style will start to become clearer, and then I can go back and fix up these roughs before inking. This is the first drawing of this character ever for example – its not there yet at all, I’m sure I will ‘discover’ how he looks more precisely with more drawings. I also obviously need more study in dog anatomy (legs), lol

I will continue putting in the text for people to start following the story.

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Blog #7: Real Life vs Art

This project kicked off right as I hit summer vacation;  plenty of time to dream, plenty of time to draw, to write, plan, visualize…  Plenty of energy to get psyched up, to find my strength, to air out my soul, and set lofty goals for myself.

Then, back to work.

Money, bills, and the SYSTEM slams back into reality. The missus and kids were likewise thrown back to reality of responsibility, so I was ready and willing to tackle it the best I could…  but before I knew it 2 weeks had flown by and I had not touched this project at all.

At first it was difficult; I really wanted to continue working on the comic. But as each day went by, that desire began to fade, and even began to become somewhat intimidating.

Through this, I think I discovered something, at least about myself;  CREATIVE MOMENTUM.

There was one point among the busy weeks where I had a slim opportunity to crack the comic again;  a night free, kids asleep.   I ALMOST copped out and went to bed…  man it was so tempting to just say ‘fuck it’.  - but I forced myself to draw for even just 10 minutes.

And in that brief 10 minutes, the creative momentum received a push.

I had to wait more time yet before I could continue again, but that little bit, that small victory vs laziness made all the difference to give that momentum another boost.

If you are creative, it is NORMAL I think to ‘not feel creative’.  But the longer you put it off, the more daunting it becomes to go back.  We are out of practise, and are scared to face our true levels.  But give yourself that push.  Even if you produce nothing worthwhile, I guarantee it will spark your creative energies again;  - wake them up!

Here is the crappy drawing I did in that 10-minute kick.  It is a brainstorm for the first page of the comic, which I am about to draft out right after I finish writing this.  You probably can’t make out anything, lol

Will post the results soon.

KEEP BEING CREATIVE. It is a struggle. It is worth it.
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Here is a Bansky quote to cap this (he basically says the whole blog in 1 phrase, lol):
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Blog #6: Story Green Lit – On to Character Design

Mission accomplished!

Despite the cottage environment making me unfathomably lazy and slow, I managed 3 good sessions of writing, and mapped out the whole comic, and have a plan to do it in 67 PAGES.

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That is not so insane, and was exactly the kind of mark I was hoping for.  I didn’t want this to be some dragged-out epic novel, I wanted it to be short and swift…  something POSSIBLE to do.

I also having an imposed timeline;  for story reasons yet to be blogged about, I want this comic published BEFORE the 2016 Olympics in Rio Brasil.  That gives me just under 2 years.

I’m giving myself 1.5 years to complete the artwork, so I have time to try to get it printed. – That’s 78 weeks. Basically a page a week.

FUCK.  lol

Next step is to start sketching the compositions of each page, and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. I have about 15 characters that need to be defined, both dog and human. The style is really growing clear in my mind’s eye, but it will be a different task to actually attempt to re-create it.

One big realization I’ve had is how much different street dogs in Brasil are than North American dogs. In NA, we see lots of obviously specific breeds. Many long-hair dogs, and distinct features.  In Brasil however, they are mostly all short-hair, and ‘mutts’ for lack of a better term. No clear breeds, just dogs as dogs should be imo.  This actually works to my favour, as I find the long-hair breeds much harder to draw.  Now I can draw them all skinny/muscular and it will actually be more authentic.

I have decided to use my own dog as the model for the main character.  Here are some photos I took while up at the cottage on the Bruce Penninsula, Lake Huron, near Tobermory:

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Blog #5: Clarifying the STORY

This week I plan to draw less, write more.

So far, all I concretely have in terms of the story structure/character arcs etc are these mad scribbles below that I made the night I had the idea (plus a bunch of scenes/images/themes in my mind).  It looks like a mess, but I’ve developed my own kind of shorthand and I am pretty happy with it, but it still definitely needs to be cleaned up.

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The goal is by the end of this week to turn this basic skeleton into a clear blueprint of the story;  a basic script/scene-by-scene breakdown to follow.

I have considered just winging it page by page and trusting the nature of it to open up (I have heard this is how Stephen King writes once he has a basic idea) – but in my limited writing experience I have found that when the time/work is invested properly in the planning, it is nearly always for the better. Also, I like this part of the project the best – the puzzle of making a single coherent tale that works, and most efficiently captures the heart of the idea.

I am really looking forward to this week, now I can fill in the details, the little connections and under-stories I’ve been mulling around in my mind.

Yet often just when I think I have a story planned… I realize after looking deeper at it how many holes there are, lol

I have been reading a lot of Joseph Campbell lately, who is legendary for explaining the structure and function of human mythology from all over the world, and it has inspired me to take some of this approach in the telling. This will not be silly like Sonnen’s War, it is my first real attempt at discovering the kind of work that I really want to finally make after all these years of cooking.

Blog #4: One week down

Hey all, So not a bad icebreaker. Didn’t do 20 a day, but almost, and it was good to learn that maybe 10 is more realistic/enjoyable for me. Learned a lot, mostly learned what I didn’t know…  and still don’t know. Copying pictures of dogs from magazine pictures is one thing, but to be able to draw these naturally from scratch and draw them well is another. Today I saw my dog wrestling with another dog in a field, and saw what complex and amazing creatures they are! (my dog got its ass kicked btw) I still don’t know exactly what causes the bulge in the upper rear legs or how it folds, or quite how the shoulder blades work/move, and haven’t even begun to learn about the walk cycle pattern… I animated a tiger walk cycle in animation school, but forgot it all now.

Day 1:

I started with the skeleton. for me this helps understand everything.  How can one make sense of all the odd bumps and curves of a dog without knowing WHY they are there?

These are made from photos of living dogs from the magazines, but instead of copying the outside, I was trying to find where the bones would be for each image:

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Day 2:

Had a rough idea now how the skeleton fits.  Had trouble remembering which bones protrude at the ankle, and which protrude at the knee (front or back), but good enough to move on. Now I experimented how the flesh/skin/ears are attached to the frame. Again, I am using dog magazine photos for all of these, its not really drawing yet. Put the magazine away and I guarantee you they will look way more wonky, lol

All of these drawings were done first in red (skeletons), then fleshed out with blue.

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Day 3:

Day 3 I fucked off.  No work

 

Day 4:

More skeleton under-drawings in red, and fleshed out on top with blue:

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Day 5:

Day 5 I decided to cut it down to 10.  I still don’t really enjoy drawing much, this is more self-discipline than any natural compulsion to draw. 20 was cramping my vacation style :)

Having a hard time finding a simple way to define the nose in ‘front-view’ shots. For the comic, the drawing style will have to be way more simplified than what I’m doing here… I don’t want to sketch every dog like this (or do I?)   - I saw the Polar-Bear dog in ‘The Legend of Korra’ somewhere this week and it looked good, I will take another look at how they do it. (if you don’t know about The Legend of Korra, you are missing out, man.)

11 dogs, just to make up for the 9 I skipped out on, lol:IMG_0035

 

 

Day 6:

Last day, am getting pretty comfortable. Next week my own dog will be with us, so I’ll put the magazines aside and draw from life (much harder but so much better)

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…now the question becomes one of style. I need a style that is efficient. How can I simplify, and be able to draw visually correct and appealing dogs with as few brush strokes as possible? SPEED, man…! That’s what I’m after, or this thing will take me 10 years.

I hope to do it in less than 2.

Blog #3: 20 Dogs a Day (+no weed)

So coincidentally, just as I’m finally ready and willing to start this gargantuan task, I’m off for 2 weeks vacation (everyone is actually waiting downstairs for me right now to finish this blog, lol – gotta hurry :) )

Gonna be renting a trailer and a cottage in some sweet spots in Ontario with the kids, and slow down. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do my homework and really make a proper artist’s study of dogs to get in shape before starting the comic. The SYCRA videos took me back to animation school and reminded my the proper ways to learn to draw things, the kind of mindset I need.

Also, for the first week we are at a ‘Family Camp’ kind of place where the focus is on making a great place for kids to play free and for the moms and dads to chill the fuck out.  The kids love it, but its kinda straight-edge, lotsa religious folk, big focus on family, no cigarettes no booze etc.

Regardless, for the past 2 years I had been smokin the herbs up there every time lol. I’d go down to the lake, or go for a bike ride, or hide behind woodpiles etc, wherever I could find.  But I had a few close calls last time, and I think I’d feel like a total schmuck if I got busted and asked to leave, lol.

Plus its a good opportunity for me to take a break. I need that sometimes :)

SO – I bought 6 dog-magazines littered with photos of all kinds of dogs (there are no real dogs at the camp to draw – week 2 is at the cottage, I will have my own dog with us and can smoke all the herb I want :) ) – and printed off these pages to use for study:

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My goal is to draw ’20 dogs a day’…  but I am notoriously lazy, so we will see how this goes, lol

Wish me luck!!  Will post maybe in a week.

Peace, Love, Be Creative, and Enjoy the fights.

 

 

 

Blog #2: ‘The Dogs of Ilha Bela’

Unlike some stories that require tricky explorations of structure and plot turns etc, the idea of this comic came to me full-blown and complete. I think when things like that happen it might be worth paying attention to, and I knew right away I would have to tell it before I’m dead.

Its not too lengthy, no epic tales with sequels and backstory (like I am prone to do, lol)…  but a quick little tale that hits a tone that I think I wanna try to hit.

It came to me during the last time I was in Brasil, on an island called ‘Ilha Bela’ (translated: beautiful island)

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The island was covered in STREET DOGS.  Yet it was not really a problem for anyone, they just roamed around. I became fascinated with these dogs, their personalities and lives seemed right out of a comic book.  Here are some pics I took while tripping on the idea:

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This dog was a fuckin BOSS:

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Look at this thing, lol:
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I SWEAR these dogs were doing Jiu-Jitsu…  One on the bottom was working a nice high guard:
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The story is filling itself itself in with ease, and I used the rest of my time on the island soaking up ideas for characters and locations. (I’ll get into the story in further blogs)

There was only 1 problem:

I can’t draw dogs worth a FUCK, lol