It’s been a while since I’ve done a guest strip. In this case, the fine folks over at Ardra have found Real-Life™ interfering with their output, and they’ve had to scramble to rearrange their artistic protocols. As such they put out the call for some filler strips. I originally was working on a very high-concept, overly-complicated strip which I had to abandon. Then I noticed something Ardra said on Facebook, inspiration struck, and a new strip was born. Have a look.
Ardra has always been one of my favorite strips, so I was very happy to help out. You know the Ardra team will be coming to Penguicon again this year. Don’t you think, you should stop by and say ‘Hello’?

In any case, the work I put in to the Ardra strip started me on some musings about the artistic process… and why shouldn’t it? It took two weeks to complete (13 days to work on and utterly fail at strip number one, and about 6 hours to crank out strip number two). When it comes to guest strips, the usual process is to take a whack at the other person’s characters as they would appear in one’s own style. I’ve noticed that I very much tend not to do this. When I do a guest strip, I tend to do my best to ape the other artist’s own style. This isn’t so much about wanting the strip to fit seamlessly into their archive as much as it is about lacking a style of my own.

Now to be fair, since Brittany is no longer penciling the strip (darn you, time for causing my daughter to grow up and need to spend her time getting ready for other things), I’ve had to learn to draw… rapidly. Now, I think I’m doing okay, but I’ve got a long way to go and I don’t think I’ve developed a "style" yet. I am at the point where I can ape another’s style well enough to produce a decent guest strip, but I’m not really in this game to copy someone else’s style. Therefore, I have to take stock of where I am and what I need to work on. To whit:

  1. Proportions – I understand the proportions of anatomy, and my wire sketches are pretty good, but once I start actually drawing the features, proportion tends to go way, way out the door (discounting the always over-sized eyes which is, more or less, intentional). Practice.
  2. Perspective – What I know of perspective is this – People at different points in the landscape should have their eyes along roughly the same line on the horizon. Definitely need to work on that. I have a book (two actually)
  3. Line work – I have yet to find/build a brush that really satisfies me. The line work is to soft at the edges and this annoys.
  4. Bubbles and Boxes – I’ve been relying on comic life for this, but should really just start building them myself so that I have more control.
  5. Color Theory – ’nuff said.

So these are the major areas that I’ll be working on in the year to come. On the plus side, I did have a bit of an epiphany the other day. I was sitting in a Penguicon meeting, and my mind was a bit adrift (the topic at hand did not concern me). I was staring blankly through the people across the table when the oddest thing happened. I started to break down the faces in to lines. I was noticing features and shadows in a much greater detail than I usually would, and I could suddenly see how the face was constructed of various lines and curves and I saw how to draw them. Execution proved a bit weak, but the weird thing is that once you start doing it, you can’t really stop. The world has suddenly changed just a little bit, and there’s no going back. I take that as a good sign. Soon, I’ll be right up there with a middle school art student and after that?!? The sky’s the limit, baby!!!

Now, what was it I was trying to say? Oh yes, guest strip up over at Ardra!