Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Blogging Haitus to Begin

Today I'm going to start a haitus from this blog for a while. 

The exciting work on my graphic memoir is taking up a great deal of my time.  I can't wait to share more of that work with you soon.

To do that, I'm going to switch to Instagram for a bit, to see how I like using it.  For now, for a while at least, I'm going to make that my primary social media tool.

To see comics and read thoughts about comics, use the "comics" label to find posts.
To see the watercolors from the Book of Common Prayer project, use the "BCP Project" labels.

Please find me there @elizabeth_trembley!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thinking About An iPad for Comics (and other art)?

Thinking about an iPad?

Photo by Henry Ascroft on Unsplash

If you are thinking about buying an iPad specifically for comics, and maybe for some other art too, you have a lot to sift through!  New, used, Apple Pencil 1, Apple Pencil 2, pro, air, "regular" ipad, screen size, screen quality...


There are many options for you to consider and I do urge you to read the many excellent reviews you can find online of whatever the current iPad models are.

What I'm going to do here is share the thinking process that helps me decide which ipad if any is the best match for me or for a friend.  Sometimes just getting help with a process for decision-making is as useful, or more useful, than a ton of information about the products themselves!

New Or Used

First:  new or used?  Refurbished by Apple is a solid deal, I know.  If you are going to go refurbished or "renewed" as I sometimes see it called, just check the warranty.  Know what you are getting into.

The Apple Pencil is a Must

Second:  the Apple Pencil.  Whether you get an iPad that uses the Pencil 1 or the Pencil 2 matters less than that you must get an iPad that works with a pencil.  Of course you could work with another stylus.  But I wouldn't.  Not for comics and other forms of art.  You want the precision and no lag flexibility of the Pencil.  For me, it's the reason to draw on an iPad.  Depending on which one goes with the ipad you choose, figure an additional $100-$150.  

Understand the New Options

Third:  look at the new options and what each has.  Currently (September 2019) these are what I would consider.  (Note:  I leave the mini off my list because it is too small for me for hours of daily work.  But check it out if it might work for you!)

1.  The new 9.7 inch iPad which starts at about $329 for 32G memory.  Apple Pencil 1.  Only this new version of the "iPad" takes the pencil so don't buy an older version of "iPad."  Thsi is the cheapest entry point for a new iPad.  The screen is not as good as the next option... does this matter to you for the money?  

2.  The new 10.5 inch iPad Air.  Apple Pencil 1.  Only this new version of the "iPad air" takes the pencil so don't buy an older version of "iPad air."  About $499... for that price difference you get a 64g memory and a considerably better screen.  If budget allows, I would encourage anyone to consider this over the 9.7 inch iPad.  You can read an excellent review of it on The Verge. 

3.  The new iPad Pro 10 inch.  Apple Pencil 2.  Starts around $799.  Big price jump.  You can read on Apple's site and other reviews for detailed comparison.  In my mind, it is about processing speed mostly.

4.  The new iPad pro 12.9 inch.  Apple Pencil 2.  Starts around $999.  This is what I have and I love it . Yes, I paid the money because to me, the screen size is worth it.  It is so much cheaper than a Wacom tablet, and portable.   Drawing on it for hours at a time allows me more free arm movement.  That size means it is heavier than the others.  I keep mine in a minimal protective cover, no keyboard as they add a ton of weight. 

I tell people that they do not need a pro unless for some reason they are sure they want one.  I chose mine because of that size. 

Compare Used to New

Fourth:  if you are looking at a refurbished or used iPad, I would ask these questions:

1.  How do the specs of the older model compare to the new iPad or iPad Air?  In many cases you can get a new one with specs that are nearly the same as the old one... so why would you buy used?   Neither choice is obviously better; just compare.

2.  Be sure what you are buying works with a version of the Pencil.

3.  What warranty exists and is that sort of security important to you?  

Additional Essentials

When you do get your iPad (hooray!), there are a very few accessories which I consider essential:

1.  The Apple Pencil (I already mentioned this, but I can't say it enough).

2.  If you have the Apple Pencil 1, it has a stupid design flaw that makes the cap very easy to lose.  And many people (myself included) find it too slippery and easy to drop.  So buy a skin for it, or at the very least a cap keeper so when you remove the cap to charge it, you can't lose it.

3.  Drawing on glass drives many people nuts.  Too smooth.  Clicking.  There is a product called Paperlike that you can put on the screen to make it feel more like paper.  Roughly $30, for two.  I have not used this.  I have found that a cheap matte glass protector works just fine for me.  Two for $10 on amazon.

4.  A lightweight case to protect that glass.  I find a simple portfolio case, sometimes even in leather, for about $20 or so on amazon.  Of course, you can go MUCH higher and fancier.  But as long as it protects the glass and the edges, I'm good.  I don't use the case for other things much (like an easel).  I put my ipad in a portable stand for that.  But think about what you want and get the most minimal (lightweight) protective case you can.

5.  Apps!  If you are interested in creating comics, these are the ones I recommend:  Procreate, Medibang Paint, and Comic Draw.  Check them out and see what looks good for your work flow.  (Tip:  if you were going to get only one, learn only one, for me it would be Procreate, no question).

I hope this gives you a start if you are considering buying an iPad for work in comics or art!  

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Capturing Color Palettes with Adobe Capture

Today, I thought I’d share a fun tool I use on my iphone and iPad to capture color palettes and put them into Procreate. It is the free app called Adobe Capture. It does a lot of different things (including turning images into vectors!), but I use it mostly to play with palettes.
From the app you just point the camera at something and it picks five prominent colors from the scene. You can adjust them, change one or all, and just mess around. It’s fun!
Through the app this gets saved in an Adobe Creative Cloud library, which is available then across your Adobe programs, if you use them.
But if you don't, no worries!  Just take a screenshot of the palette that Capture creates and save in Photos.  Then you have it as a .jpg to use wherever you like.
I import the photo into Procreate and easily use the color picker to nab those colors for a palette.
Yes, one can simply take the picture and pull colors from that. But for me, as I learn about color (because I am not a natural at it), the app helps me because it narrows the many many colors in a scene to just five. Thought I’d share, and heck, it’s free to play with.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Good Information About Making Brushes in Procreate

After years of just sticking with the included brushes, I have finally purchased some digital brushes for the Procreate app, the app I use to make most of my digital art on my iPad. 

I have purchased from a variety of sources, including Matthew Baldwin, Abbie Nurse, Sadie Lew, RetroSupply Company and others.  I encourage you to poke around online and see who is using what to get interesting effects!

I confess, I don't understand at all how to make these brushes!  So I was delighted when RetroSupply sent me a link to this online tutorial.

I haven't tried it yet, but I thought I'd share it in case others were curious!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Few Books on Graphic Novels and Women's Body Image

An image from Commute by Erin Williams. Photograph: Abrams Books

I'm very interested to check out the books mentioned in this article from The Guardian!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Some Memoir Prompts

Recently I finished a week-long workshop in memoir comics at the Center for Cartoon Studies, taught by Melanie Gillman.   They are an excellent teacher, and I had wonderful classmates, and so I learned a lot during the week.

One of the practices Melanie recommended was creating journal or diary comics every day or as often as possible and putting these on social media.  This keeps you practicing and gets you into self-publishing and hopefully building an audience for your work.

These comics are meant to be completed, start to finish, in 30-50 minutes or so (we had 50 minutes in class and it was amazing what people could do in that time).  For inspiration we looked at (among other things) a web comic called Deep Dark Fears and an anthology called Lies Grown-ups Told Me.

Here's an example of my comic (done in 50 minutes, remember!) for a prompt like "tell me about a lie a grown-up told you that you believed at the time."

For short comics like these, I don't want to spend time thinking up subjects, so it's a case where a writing prompt is really helpful to me.

But to really spark my imagination, I find I can't come up with the prompt myself.  It's best if it coms from outside of me, from something random, like pulling a paper out of a hat.

So where do I find such prompts?  Below are a few sources.  These are all prompts intended for prose, but I don't think it really matters that much in terms of prompting one's thinking.

 I think reshaping them to fit a daily journal comic, something you could do in 50 minutes, is probably most important.  For me, no matter how the prompt is written, I always try to rephrase it:  "Tell me about a time that..."  That helps me.

So a prompt like "How good are you at saying goodbye?" becomes "tell me about a time you said goodbye and felt really good about it (or really bad about it)."   Or "how comfortable are you with lying" becomes "Tell me about a time when it was the right thing to tell a lie."  That sort of thing.

Anyhow, my favorite book of prompts is Natalie Goldberg's Old Friend From Far Away.  I also love her classic book Writing Down the Bones, which has some prompts and also some thoughts about writing.

I also very much enjoy this huge list from the NYT.  It is intended as a list for teachers to use with students, but with a little revision as suggested above, I think it works well for one person.  And it's such a huge list you are bound to find something there to prompt you!

I find two other online collections valuable for inspiration as well: the essays collected at This I Believe and the work done at StoryCorps.  Both of these have huge online archives you can explore for ideas.

Also, if you haven't seen Lynda Barry's book SYLLABUS (also her book What It Is), check those out, as she has some excellent methods for helping you develop your own prompts.

On memoir as a genre, I love Mary Karr's book, The Art of Memoir, and Marion Roach Smith's book, The Memoir Project.  Notably, Marion Roach Smith is strongly against "prompts" and exercises as they distract you from writing your "real" memoir.

I think this is a terrific point.  Doing exercises without a clear intent can be a waste of time and energy.

This is why the idea of a daily comic which you SHARE in some way is so attractive (and perhaps terrifying).  You have a prompt, you have an hour, and you learn to focus and complete quickly and in a way meant for readers.  And then you pop it up on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or share with family and friends in some other way.   You can find me on Instagram:  @Elizabeth_Trembley .

The best writing book EVER is Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  No prompts, but just the best writing book ever.  :-)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Lynda Barry on Keeping a Visual Diary

As part of my summer project of using this blog to help get the word out about wonderful resources on the web, this post includes several of my most favorite things all wrapped up into one!

Lynda Barry
Brain Pickings
Combining the Verbal and the Visual

Check out this terrific article on Brain Pickings (and sign up to receive their posts and newsletter!!  ALWAYS so good).

Our hearts and minds and spirits are changed by looking and drawing.  Because of that, because of how I think it expands our hearts and minds and spirits, I see it as essential, especially in times of life fraught with evil, violence, targeting. 

Bringing peace and goodness into the world through our own lives is an important act of resistance, I think.