Just a quick and easy update today, as gray and dreary out, and I just don’t have anything fun in mind to video blog about. Despite a drastic loss in willpower last week when my oldest daughter made brownies, I still managed to lose .4 pounds this week, bringing my total lost since I started blogging about it to 4.4 pounds. Now that we seem to have finally escaped the snow and cold, I’m going to work on getting more exercise outside, be it biking or walking. I’m also going to dig out the old exercise DVDs and see if I can begin incorporating any of those into my weekly routine.
Not much else to talk about today, so I wish all of you a happy Monday! For those in the United States observing Memorial Day, let us remember all of those brave men and women who have served our country. They deserve to be memorialized.
No, this is not about spaghetti westerns, even though I admit to their being a guilty pleasure of mine. This is just a quick review of some things that happened this week, because I’ve been wrapped up in my ‘Grand Endeavor’ and haven’t done much else during the day. Consider it this blogs equivalent of a quick Twitter or Facebook Wall post, just slightly longer!
Kauju – Pencil Roughs
The Good: I produced another webcomic last weekend, and almost have the one completed for this weekend. Even if it’s not getting seen much, I’m having a lot of fun making it, and someone even bought a print of one through Zazzle. You can see the pencil rough for last week’s comic above. Additionally, I learned that I would be able to stay in my apartment for another year, so that gives me time to finish getting the Grand Endeavor up and running, as well as being here and stable for my daughters as they transition to new schools.
The Bad: I’ve hit a code snag with my project, and am having trouble figuring out how to resolve it, so it’s cost me some time and added some stress. I know it’ll get resolved, but any delay is bad, even with the good news above. Also, while they were very good, my oldest daughter made brownies this week and my willpower just wasn’t up to the task and I’ve gotten in less cycling. I need to kick up the exercise this weekend!
The Ugly: After staying at bay for most of the time since I received my scan results, yesterday the depression hit back hard and with it came the self-defeating questions I strive to keep at bay, such as “was it a mistake to renew my lease?” “Will I actually be able to compete with my Grand Endeavor” “Will I ever lose the weight?” “Why should I get out of bed this morning?” You get the idea. I believe that completing this weekend’s webcomic will help me push those thoughts back, as will completing the digital painting I’ve been working on, but I wish the depression had stayed away longer.
That’s it! For those who follow the webcomic, a new update will go up sometime tomorrow night, otherwise I’ll have a new VBlog update on Monday. Have a great weekend!
Let’s start off with the bad news: I gained 1.4 pounds since last Monday. That’s not the reason why I’m not videoblogging today. I’m not videoblogging because I had a mild reaction to a new shaving cream I tried. I’m certain it’ll clear up and I can do the VBlog tomorrow. Anyway, in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s news about being cancer-free, I rather overindulged in sweets in celebration. Cookies at home and multiple times of going out for pie with my family (not celebratory pie – just pie). I’m actually quite amazed that I didn’t go up more, but I guess that’s the benefit of having gone cycling around the neighborhood most days!
Doctor Cthulwho – Pencil Sketch
In other news, I launched ‘Mindless Pursuits – The Comic‘ over the weekend. It’s a baby step towards my ultimate goal of publishing a graphic novel and will help me further develop my drawing and digital inking/coloring skills. It’s also a chance to let loose with some of my more absurd thoughts and whimsy! Above is the pencil sketch of the first comic. To see the completed version, go to the comic site!
That’s it for today, as I am back to working on my ‘Grand Endeavor’ full time. Have a great week!
This picture has nothing to do with this post, other than I’m as determined to succeed as she was to hit the ball (and she did)!
Wednesday I receive my most recent PET scan results, which resulted in my being declared ‘Cancer Free’ (provisionally speaking, but we won’t get into that). As you can guess, there was, and still is, a flood of emotions that swelled up around the news. This post isn’t to discuss that. Instead, beating the big ‘C’ a second time beggars other questions. First and foremost among them: what comes next?
Well, first and foremost, I devote all of my daytime attention to my ‘Grand Endeavor.’ It’s not something I’m talking about in specifics right now as I need to keep it under wraps to avoid competitive scrutiny, and because I don’t want to create any preconceived notions about it. The final rounds of chemo and radiation really disrupted my work though, and starting Monday, I plan to devote a solid 8-10 hours a day to it and get it back on track. I also plan to spend time each evening and weekend on my art. My drawing skills have been developing nicely, my desire to paint with traditional mediums is back, and I’m quite enjoying my digital space and science fiction art projects. Maintaining a healthy balance between the Grand Endeavor, my art, and my time with my daughters is very important to me.
Additionally, I plan on furthering my exercise schedule. I have brought my 12-speed mountain bike back from storage, and have already ridden around town twice. I’m going to slowly introduce some weights into my daily routine. Of course, I’ve already started working on eating healthier, though I’m not going to follow any specific weight loss plan. I’ve even done well in ensuring I am not sitting still all day, despite being at the PC. Every half an hour I ensure I get up and walk around and enjoy a moment on the balcony.
Finally, I have a project that will be very much a sideline project for a while, but will be another step forward in my dreams of enabling creative souls to gain exposure and show their craft. In this case, it’s a project named ‘We All Dream,’ and the earliest incarnation will be a hub for webcomics creators, online graphic novelists, musicians and writers to share their works. Eventually I plan to expand it to be much, MUCH more, but every dream needs a starting point! I’ll provide more information on it here as I develop it further.
Yesterday I created my first full digital painting, a piece of space art I’m calling ‘Remote Space.’ It’s based upon a tutorial in Geoff Taylor’s How to Draw and Paint Science Fiction Art, though I added some elements that weren’t in the tutorial, such as a nebula and better color variation for the planet.
‘Remote Space’ – Digital Painting
For this painting, I used my Wacom tablet, the default pen, and Photoshop. It took me about 3 hours of total time to complete the painting. The biggest issue I had was tired eyes. After about an hour, my eyes were tired enough that I wasn’t seeing where I was missing detail. I was also foolish and worked entirely with the painting at 1/3 of full size because I wanted to keep it all on screen. I should have gone to 100% or larger to ensure my detail worked well. As a result of these issues, I had to perform some cleanup after I was done. Extra credit for noticing the differences between the video and the image above, as I did the cleanup after making the video.
I’m really looking forward to doing both more digital painting and more space art. I have ideas aplenty, and making them come to life is going to be a lot of fun!
Hey — I made it to a second week of Video Blogging! I really wasn’t certain that I would. Hopefully today’s VBlog is a bit tighter and less full of ‘ummmm’s. I filmed a quick take at the local park, but unless you like the vomit-inducing effect of ultra-shaky-cam, I realized I’d better re-record it! Today I thought I’d talk about a few things that are central to my daily life: art, weight loss, books and entertainment.
At the park by my home.
When I restarted this blog last week, my weight was 418.4 pounds. Today I am at 415. Woo! It actually wasn’t too difficult for a few reasons. First, I pretty much stuck with eating pre-made, frozen Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers meals when it was just a meal for myself. Second, when it was a meal with the entire family, I stuck with good portion control. Finally, I forced myself to get some exercise by going for extended walks a couple of times during the week and taking the girls to the park yesterday for some baseball, kickball and more walking. I even made my personal kryptonite: cookies. Despite the temptation of fresh cookies, I was able to keep the willpower to eat just one. I also made a ‘tracking sheet’ to keep myself accountable. All of that added up to a respectable 3.4 pounds of weight loss. I look forward to continuing the momentum this week.
For the rest, see the video, but here are links to some of the things I discussed:
Crunchyroll - A streaming anime service where you can watch some anime for free on your PC or subscribe and stream it to media devices like the Playstation 3 in order to watch it on a TV.
Funimation – An importer and dubber of anime for many years, Funimation is also responsible for the HORRIBLE dubbing of Ultraman Tiga that was shown on TV many years ago. While I like to watch some of the free streaming anime, I’m not a fan of their dubs at all.
A Certain Scientific Railgun S – Along with ‘A Certain Magical Index,’ Railgun involves the super-science ‘Academy City’ where conflicts between magic and Esper-users occur. This series revolves around the ‘Sisters’ story arc from the light novels / manga. It and ‘Index’ are currently our favorite anime series.
Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos – A very random and energetic ‘harem’ anime involving human-looking personifications of elder deities from the Cthulhu mythos and the Earth teen they live with!
The Fletch Series of Books – Written by Gregory McDonald, the Fletch series of books are not comedy like the movie was. They are played straight, and are my favorite series of books. I highly recommend them for some light reading!
Shoujo Manga Techniques: Writing Stories – I bought this used for Alex, but read it myself as well. It’s a manga that talks about how to write manga! I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s actually quite useful and makes for an enjoyable read.
Comics Crash Course – I picked this up for all of six cents plus $3.99 shipping through a used seller on Amazon. Whiule it has the same ‘basic drawing skills’ that all these types of books seem to have, this one is nice because it speaks more to breaking down a sequence into panels, how to create dynamic layouts, how to use a scripts, and other non-drawing elements of creating a comic.
That’s it for this week’s VBlog post. Now I’m going to go try to relax on the deck and enjoy this beautiful day. See you later!
Awesome Star Wars Cosplay abounds at Free Comic Book Day
Today is Free Comic Book Day (FCBD), and the girls and I went to our favorite comic store to celebrate: The Source Comics & Games! This has been an annual tradition for us, interrupted only last year by me being very ill from my cancer. For those unfamiliar with FCBD, it’s an annual event wherein many comic book shops around the country give away free comics, have games, cosplayers and other events as a celebration of the medium and as a promotional tool. It’s a lot of fun!
Iron Fist and Elisabeth!
Today we got there a little over an hour before the store was scheduled to open. It was unseasonably cold and rainy this morning, so there weren’t but a couple of cosplayers outside before the store opened, as there has been in the past. Santa Claus was there, which amused me.
Luffy from One Piece
They opened the store early and the line moved briskly inside as it could, and we received our free bags of comics. The girls received free mini-figurines of Iron Man in addition to their free comics. I was thrilled when I looked in my bag later and saw that I had gotten a free full copy of the Hellboy sourcebook and role-playing game, as I love Hellboy!
Hellboy and Me in 2011
There were plenty of cosplayers and guest artists in the store. By the time we left, there were also a number of additional cosplayers plus the 501st Legion, a large Star Wars cosplaying contingent that is a staple of FCBD at the Source. While we didn’t get pictures with all that we wanted to, we saw the Alan Scott Green Lantern, Iron Patriot, Darth Maul, Emperor Palpatine, Luffy, Poison Ivy and more. It was a very fun morning, as always!
I started a new drawing at the beginning of last week called ‘Battle of the Giants.’ It’s the largest drawing I’ve started to date, and it’s mostly a learning exercise in perspective. I spent about three hours drawing the linework for the framework of the street and city. After that, I wasn’t entirely certain what I wanted, other than for a giant robot to be fighting some sort of ‘monster.’ I eventually decided that the ‘monster’ would be a dragon, as my daughter and I are also learning to draw those at the moment. It was then that I needed to take the next step, and start trying to draw the figures, but first I needed to determine a pose….
Using tracing paper to work on pose structure (I apologize for how dark this is, but it’s the only way I could get the lines to show as they are so light)
Because I knew it would take me multiple tries to get the basic structure of the pose correct and interesting to me, and I didn’t want to draw and erase numerous times on my nice perspective framework. I don’t know how other artists handle this, but in my case, I opted to work on my forms by putting a piece of drawing paper over the perspective drawing so I could see the lines underneath, then sketched out various forms. By using the tracing paper, I didn’t have to touch my line drawing until I was satisfied. Surprisingly, the tracing paper held up better than I expected to constant erasing, so I only needed to use one sheet.
Adding Figure Roughs
Once I had the structure of a pose that I liked, I then started putting it into the actual drawing. My feeling right now is that I should have done the figure roughs on the tracing paper as well, then used my lightbox to transfer the roughs to the main drawing once they were more developed. I didn’t, but as this is a learning experience, I’m not sweating it. What I found once I started doing more work on the figures was that I was having problems visualizing how the legs would work in the pose. I could look in a mirror and use my cheap wooden pose mannequin to figure out the torso and arms, but that wasn’t working for the lower half of the robot. What I’ve decided to do is to set up some pillows against a wall to be the dragon’s lower half, and then have one of my daughters recreate the pose for me so that I can see how the legs and lower body would work.
I’m hoping to have this done next week. So far I’m happy with the progress, even with the flaws I need to work on, but it’s a long way from finished. I’m thinking after I get the figures done, I’ll actually scan it all into the PC and try to do the inking and coloring digitally. I’ll also try to do it using traditional media, just to improve my knowledge in both areas. I’ll do additional posts as things progress. Learning is fun!
Isn’t she cutely deformed? This is my first experiment in attempting to drawing using the style referred to by some as anime-/manga-fusion. I admit that I didn’t put a lot of effort into it, as I did it just before going to bed Monday night, and I was already tired, but in keeping with my intent to draw something new every day, I wanted to get something done. My guide for this attempt was an example in Christopher Hart’s Drawing Cutting Edge Fusion: American Comics with a Manga Influence. I’m not actually a big Hart fan as I find his books to be bland and repetitive, but I found this book used and most of the examples aren’t drawn by Hart so I found it more compelling.
Another book I have that I like but haven’t followed any examples out of yet is Andy Smith’s Drawing American Manga Superheroes (Used bookstores can be your friend!). I find it to be a much better book for overall completeness, but started with the Hart book because it was still on my nightstand, having just gotten it.
My ultimate goal, like so many comic fans, is to eventually make my own comic. I already know the characters, the plots, have bits of dialogue written and even a universe guide as I’ve been developing these characters since high school. I just can’t decide what art style I want to focus on for them so am eagerly trying out multiple styles now that my drawing is improving. Sometime this week I’ll sit down and work on another manga-fusion example but spend more time on it. I look forward to seeing the difference between them!