Tuesday, August 14, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part One

In May of 2018, I traveled to South Africa as a faculty member doing some teaching and chaperoning with the Hope College Chapel Choir, under the direction of Brad Richmond.

I had chosen to attend Hope College in 1981 because I wanted to sing in that choir, which I did for three years.

Traveling with them to South Africa at the conclusion of my 30th year of college teaching was such a perfect marker in my life.

I thought I'd share some of the sketches I made along the way.

First, a scan of the cover of the book.  I purchased a hardcover Strathmore 500 mixed media book, but I recovered it before we left to something which I thought would go with the landscape and colors we might see.

It seemed important to draw a map, marking the places we would visit.

I always make a list of the art supplies I take with me.  This helps me plan for future trips.

The final packing before our trip included help from my puppy.

I also took the time to do some sketching from a South Africa rand note.  So lovely!


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Inspired by Lemire's Roughneck

Lately I've been looking at how other comics artists draw people moving through the woods, especially from the perspective of the sky.  My brain can't generate that on its own, and it's an image I want to be able to convey in my memoir.

Inspired by how Jeff Lemire does it in his recent (and wonderful) graphic novel Roughneck, I drew this quick sketch.  Obviously I imported myself and my dogs into the tree perspectives.

This is helping me understand how the perspective guide in Procreate can help me too.

Perspective is a mystery to me, still....

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sketching a Birthday Outing!

Last month my sister (and my mom and my nephew) took me for a day-long surprise outing... to many of my favorite places!!

Of course, I sketched it as we went.

I ate breakfast with one of her lovely dogs, Marvel.

Then I opened my first card of the day, which contained these fabulous celebration sunglasses!

We ate breakfast at my most favorite restaurant in the world (seriously), The Original Pancake House (not to be confused with other pancake houses or houses of pancakes).  There I ate my favorite meal in the world: 49er Flapjacks, in-house sausage patties, one egg, and coffee.  Fueled for the day!

We spent the next three (plus!) hours in a huge used bookstore in downtown Detroit!  I found a bunch of books with older comics in them.  Then, with our last bits of energy, we went to the nearby Blick's.

Later we enjoyed homemade Oreo cookie blizzard ice cream cake and then we collapsed. 

Happy birthday to me!!  What a fun family!

Sketching several pages to track on special day was a lot of fun.  I used pen, watercolors, and some collage in a square Global Arts Handbook.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sometimes Stuff Doesn't Make Sense, but Go With It

When I'm deep into working on a project, I find that all kinds of images pop into my head that just don't seem to have anything to do with it.

And sometimes they don't.

But sometimes, later, it turns out they do.

Anyhow, this is one of those.  I was working on a memoir, saw some underwater photography I'd done pop up as the screensaver on my laptop, and this image (which is purely made up) popped into my head.

So I captured it.  Not sure what's going on, if anything, in my subconscious here...

Of course, any excuse to play with my watercolors...

It's all part of the creative process and I just have to pay attention to it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Playing with Text in My Comic

Playing with some text inside the idea of my memoir comic in progress.

Don't know if I'd actually use this sketch, but it was fun to do  And helped me think in new ways about how the situation seemed to fill the woods around me that day...

I did this on my iPad Pro in Procreate.

Thanks to Tom Hart at the Sequential Artists Workshop for the cool assignment.  If you haven't checked out all his resources (some free, some sliding scale), do!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

More on Visual Scripting, And Scrivener Too!

Years ago I discovered the writing software Scrivener, and it changed my life.

from the Scrivener website, link below


Changed it so much that I require my novel writing students to buy it and use it.  And while at first they balk a bit (it does have a learning curve) within in week or two they are asking why the college doesn't require it of all students because "it would have changed my writing in all of my classes for the last four years!"

So imagine my joy when I discovered Jessica Abel's post about using Scrivener in combination with Visual Scripting (which I wrote about in my two previous posts).

Check out her post here.

You can learn more about Scrivener from many You Tube videos and from the developer's website here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Visual Scripting, My First Attempts

In my last post, I talked about Jessica Abel's wonderful technique of visual scripting and how my experiments with it changed my comics for the better.

Below are a few shots showing the development of one page of my memoir.

I didn't have Adobe InDesign at the time I did this, so my work looks a little different than Abel's does, but I used all the same principles.  I am working on my iPad Pro, using Adobe Comp CC (free) and Procreate.

I did the visual scripting in Adobe Comp CC.  For this chapter, my foundational grid was a 3x3, nine-panel grid.  So I drew that in first, knowing I might adjust as I went.

You can see the start here:  boxes of different shapes indicate different kinds of words which will appear on the page.  I am typing them in to help determine the amount of space the words will take in each panel, even though I intend to handwrite the words later.

The red words describe what I think I will draw in each panel.

Remember, this is drafting.  Anything can change.  And most of it does.

Below, the script is evolving.  Do I need 9 panels or the 8 I had originally thought of?  If each panel is a distinct action... hmmm.... what, if anything, can I eliminate?  What needs the best focus?

Of course, significant revisions occurred...

Once I had it the way I wanted it (knowing, of course, that revisions can and will alway occur), I sent a .jpg of the visual script to Procreate.  There I imported it as a layer, and drew over it.  Below is my working draft.

Once I felt sure it was working, I began to color.

And that's how I have begun to use visual scripting in my work. 

I still do less formal drafting, of course, capturing ideas or quick sequences.  Testing out alternative versions of things.  I'm still a creator who simply has to draw or write a thing before I know it's going to work.  But once I have a fairly clear idea of how a scene is going to go, this visual scripting is the next best step for me!

Give it a try!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Visual Scripting by Jessica Abel

Have you heard of "Visual Scripting?"-- a method of drafting comics first developed by Alison Bechdel and then refined and written about my Jessica Abel?

I hadn't either until just a few months ago when a colleague in comics, Jesse Lambert, mentioned it to me.

It has changed my process of drafting comics completely.

You can read about Bechdel's process in Abel's book, Mastering Comics (one of two great books she co-authored about creating in this medium).

Or you can check out her several posts online about it as well.

Start here.   This website is the source for the images below.

Though Abel is telling us how to use InDesign (an Adobe page layout software) to do this), don't get hung up on the technology (it's expensive).  You can use this method to great effect on regular paper, or with a free app on an ipad called Adobe Comp CC. 

There's grids and color coding and nerdy stuff like that.  It was a little overwhelming at first. 

But especially for me, a writer, who struggles to turn on my visual brain, this has been amazing and worth the effort!

Then, you use words to script the words of the comics as well as to describe what you will draw, roughly planning out the visuals, but recording them quickly only with words, but in the actual space of the page.

I find this much much much more inspirational to my writer's brain than writing a normal script and then trying to translate it to a visual page.

This post also includes links to her template and a video.

I'll share more soon on my process with this method.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Aviator Sunglasses, Drafting Comics

I'm working on a book-length graphic memoir, so lately a lot of the sketching I'm doing is practicing images and drafting text for that project.  Little scenes or reflections.

Anyhow, this is a three-page riff I did asking why police officers always wear mirrored aviator sunglasses...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Kitties

Hattie and Tim are nearly eleven years old.  We adopted them when they were barely six weeks old.  They had arrived at the shelter in a box with several other siblings.

Since then, they have been separated for only about three days, many years ago, when Tim had an infection.  They sleep in a yin yang position every single day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sketching Holland Pride 2018 Part Three

On Saturday June 23, 2018, I spent the day sketching from life at the Holland, Michigan PRIDE festival.

I hope to use these live sketches as the basis for a comic book of images from the day.

I sketched off and on for about five and a half hours!  I filled sixteen spreads (which I'll share over the next few blog posts).

This is a fun way to commemorate an event and keep a journal.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sketching Holland Pride 2018 Part Two

On Saturday June 23, 2018, I spent the day sketching from life at the Holland, Michigan PRIDE festival.

I hope to use these live sketches as the basis for a comic book of images from the day.

I sketched off and on for about five and a half hours!  I filled sixteen spreads (which I'll share over the next few blog posts).

This is a fun way to commemorate an event and keep a journal.

I had particular fun sketching the caricature artist while he drew me!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sketching Holland Pride 2018 Part One

On Saturday June 23, 2018, I spent the day sketching from life at the Holland, Michigan PRIDE festival.

I hope to use these live sketches as the basis for a comic book of images from the day.

I sketched off and on for about five and a half hours!  I filled sixteen spreads (which I'll share over the next few blog posts).

This is a fun way to commemorate and event and keep a journal.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Comics Belong in the Classroom

Comics Belong in the Classroom
A TEDx talk by Gene Luen Yang

Worth a watch.  Because, yes, comic books do belong in the classroom.  For SO many reasons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Scotland Sketchbook Part 15

I bought a new pen while in St. Andrews... a juicy water soluble thing that I've never seen anywhere else.

Of course I had to try it out, so I played with it while people watching in an outdoor cafe.

I really LOVE this pen and the way it dissolves into such a lovely gray, yet keeps its line (at least on Strathmore 400 watercolor paper).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Scotland Sketchbook Part 14

Some architecture sketches from St. Andrews, Scotland. 

I really need a lot of practice with things as precise and "hard edged" as architecture.... or I need to embrace the wonkiness...