Added 1 new A* page:Well the "blocking out" of the pages in a light ink wash before going in with black ink, which I started and talked about yesterday, is leading to some interesting benefits I hadn't anticipated.|
I used the usual warmup sketch to try to work out the lighting for today's page; I did block in the big shapes in a light wash beforehand, but then I did a lot of feathering and washing to try to get some kind of lighting going, which ended up like this:
Pretty icky, in other words. Like, in a way that heavy shading could be dramatic, but even cleaned up and done carefully I think it would be hard to "read." So I thought I'd better try something different; I flipped the warmup page over and tried again:
(I had also checked out a few tricky facial features in the mirror in between to get the anatomy a little straightened out. :P And yes, I drew the faces mostly rotated upside-down from what you see here.) This simpler approach seemed to communicate the idea a lot more easily, while still giving a sense of relative lighting. Looked like a winner!
Part of what had inspired me to try that, I think, was looking up some Rip Kirby strips by Alex Raymond earlier in the evening. For instance, in this page of strips, although there's a lot of different, fairly complex locations, and a lot of characters, it's all pretty easy to take in quickly, even without any gray tones. He uses bold black masses very effectively to make sense of what might otherwise be a confusion of graceful lines. It also helps, of course, that his anatomy--minus, perhaps, the last face in the last panel--is exquisite; just look how effortlessly he appears to have done the above and behind perspectives on the men in the middle strip, for instance.
But it's also interesting to see how his Rip style progressed over the years. That strip is dated 1948; taking a look at a strip from 1954, six years later, we can see that he's gotten into even larger, bolder black masses, and reduced the backgrounds to very thin, almost sketchy lines, with a light brush of gray tone here and there. The camera seems pulled back a little more, allowing for more body language from the characters, who in their big black shapes, with intricate modeling on the side where the light is striking, really seem to pop forward.
The clarity of that '54 strip struck me, and I think some of that was behind today's second warmup drawing. But it wouldn't have been possible, really, without the "blocking out" approach I started trying yesterday--you can see where the light gray fills the face there, and that was all down on the page before I went in and delineated the edges and details of the face with black lines; just having that mass there to start with almost made the lines feel like they were drawing themselves for me. It isn't penciling, which I used to do (up through page 28 of the last episode) but dropped because, besides being messy and tedious, it was really killing the energy of my inking; I never seem to have much inspiration when I'm just going over lines I've already drawn. So with the light wash I'm just very loosely separating the page into light and dark areas, and, besides giving my inking a general frame of reference, this seems to be helping me to boil my thinking of the page down to the essentials, and to avoid, perhaps, overworking the page with too much feathering or washing, or, worse, whiteouts and revisions of badly misguided lines and shapes.
Or something. Maybe I've just been lucky on the last couple pages. ;)
When I was unplugging my digital camera to photograph today's page, I noticed I was at a vantage to just about fit my tiny working space into a single frame, so I took a photo:
Yes, ink washes of different shades *do* come from curry. >_> The little stand on the far side of my drawing table, which is supporting my brushes and little ink palette thingy, is a wooden CD stand that I've repurposed in these days of not needing physical CDs anymore. :P The gray thingy to the left (there actually *are* a few colorful things elsewhere in my room, I swear!) is a little folding table I was fortunate to find at a good discount recently (they appear to have been discontinuing it for the same table in slightly fancier packaging, which cost twice as much :PP), and which has proven handy for all sorts of things you'd need a table for, like putting your original art on for photographing.
I've been slavishly photographing every traditionally created page I've done, in fact, because I want to include the photo of the full, actual, uncropped page for when I get a mechanism for selling my original artwork, which it's looking like I may be able to get started on this weekend. Currently there's about a half inch of space around the edges that gets cropped off for the final online page--this gives me a little leeway in deciding how to frame the image for the final version, while leaving plenty of space to avoid getting in those ragged border areas where you don't want to paint right to the edge because then you'll get ink all over your drawing table. And I've been photographing them against the backdrop of my wooden drawing board, because I think it looks kind of nice. :) Here's the one of the latest page, for instance:
So that gives an idea of the page as an actual physical object that you can't quite get from the digitally scanned, cropped, and tidied-up version--and you can see that, without the edges digitally cropped off, there's a fair deal more to each drawing than you see in the online strip. You can pull up the photo of any page by substituting "/o/" for "/d/" in the page's regular-size image URL; once I get the original-selling thing going, of course, clicking a "buy original art" link or whatever will bring the photo right up for you along with assorted information about it.
The Pink Pearl eraser is always there to illustrate scale (I would certainly never use the scratchy thing for erasing!), although it often comes in handy for holding down a rebellious page corner, too. Oh, and everything in my studio (apartment :p) is at a slightly funny angle to go with the flow of the floor, which is sloping down slightly toward one end as this old house slowly sinks into the ground. ;)