And now that I look at my old sketchbook, the lighter, toothier paper in that (Bienfang Raritan Drawing paper) handled the ink a lot better--darker, smoother blacks, better dry brush effect, and less buckling from washes. My local store doesn't carry it, guess it's time to go online and get me some. ... Ooh, looks like they make it acid free now, huzzah!
Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:53 am
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:25 am Posts: 2
Well 152 is a much better rendering of our leading lady. In 151 most notably her mouth was off. I've always liked Noir films and stories.
Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:43 am
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm Posts: 2856
Thanks, you're very kind. :) Hopefully the next one will be less goofed-up!
I think I got out of that painting funk I was in for the previous several days, and if I did, I might owe a good deal of that to the inspiration I got earlier today when I found the work of Gabriel Hardman, a professional comic book artist. Hardman-- Well, just look at what he does in ink and ink wash. What I like about his inking is the brushy quality he can bring to it, which makes it capable of communicating so much more than the hard smooth lines with which most professional inkers seem to content themselves. And that ink wash--jeepers! Stunning, evocative, effortless, and I wish I knew how he's able to go from pitch black so smoothly into dark gray, seemingly in one stroke. Man.
So that made a big impression, and I think brought me back to a more productive way of thinking about this ink wash business I was foundering in for the past few days. Thank you, Mr. Hardman!
And before that, last night, I was trying to think of ways I could get myself back on track, and one easy train of thought led to the materials I've been using--particularly, the paper. It's been this stuff, Strathmore's "vellum" Bristol board (Bristol board is a heavy, relatively stiff multi-layered type of paper with a fairly smooth finish):
If you look closely at the packaging there you'll notice that the "vellum" type says it's for dry media, whereas the "smooth" is also for wet stuff like ink. I tried the smooth first--in this test painting--but it didn't seem to allow the brush to spread the ink quite as densely and evenly as the slightly rougher "vellum" surface.
So I've been using the vellum for these painted A* pages (hm and according to Wikipedia, Bristol is what comic book artists traditionally use), but comparing the results last night with the old drawing pad I did most of my test paintings in--this one, for instance--I noticed that the ink had come out blacker, glossier, and smoother on that toothier old drawing pad paper than it has been doing on these fancy Bristol boards. And the rougher yet slicker surface of the drawing pad paper is an altogether friskier environment for the brush and ink, as I recall; the Bristol, by comparison, really sucks the ink in, making for slower going and a duller dried appearance. Oh, and the drawing pad paper warped less when wet with wash.
That drawing paper is from an at least fifteen-year-old (I used it as an undergraduate art student in college :P) pad of Bienfang Raritan Drawing Paper; it's old enough that it's from back before the current "acid-free" and "archival" craze, and I think it's yellowed slightly (by which I mean, it's slightly yellow, and I think more so than it was originally, although I can't say I remember its original color with all that much clarity). So I was a little worried that it might not be made anymore, but it is:
Acid-free now, too. I don't think I saw it at my local Daniel Smith art supply superstore, so I ordered some off the internet, and am looking forward to it arriving possibly some time next week. It doesn't come in 11x17" sheets (the size my scanner can handle) like Strathmore's Bristol did; the closest it comes in is 18x24", which is way bigger than I can fit in the scanner--but so big that I can cut one sheet in half and make two pages out of it, with a little trimming. :D I suspect it *isn't* quite as white as the Bristol, which means that the white ink I've sometimes used on the Bristol to cover over a mistake in black ink will stand out rather than blending in with the paper--you can see I sort of used it as a corrective *and* highlighter in that test painting.
So that could be interesting. Anyway, I think the zestier surface will help me keep a little more pizzazz in the pages, which *some* of the Bristol pages have been lacking a little.
Incidentally, the ink wash pages I've been happiest with so far are...hm well probably today's, and 140, 142, 143, and 146. How about you?
I tweaked my macro for making the giant subscriber preview versions of these recent hand-painted A* pages to get them a bit sharper. Did you notice? :D I mean, they were already pretty sharp, but now they're even a sharper--appropriate given the content of today's page, I suppose!
And I had to rescan it because a big ol' hair managed to get in the scanner bed on the first attempt. And then it was still there after I had cleared the scanning bed, dusted it off, and put the painting back in for a second scan! Dar! So I finally wiped the whole thing down with cleaning solution--which I guess I need to do more often; check out the difference between uncleaned and cleaned
--and the third time was the hairless charm. Phew. Hm I guess I'd also better clean my monitor so I can tell the difference between dust on the screen and dust in the scan. 8o
I already let one page go by with a hair in it--did you spot that one? Well okay fine, it was this one. See if you can spot the hair! I kept that one because I wasn't all that fond of the painting anyway I suppose and besides, the hair was pretty small. Today's was bigger and naughtier, though! Perhaps I should vacuum one of these days. =p
I noticed a nifty arrangement of Moon and clouds in a little midnight jaunt around the neighborhood to get my circulation going, and raced inside to get my new little digital camera (which I use for taking photos of the actual A* paintings, like today's) to try to photograph it! I don't have a tripod (not even a Martian one) or special lens or anything, and just left the settings on automatic, to see if it could get anything. Well, it did okay I suppose:
And another one, after the clouds had almost passed underneath:
Here was the uncropped view of that second one:
And if you raise the levels a bit on that in Photoshop:
The Moon is smoking! Oooh.
I saw an interesting website address among recent referrers to A*, namely "wwwstumbleupon.com." I've seen that one in the past, too. Now, if there was a dot between the "www" and the "stumbleupon.com," that would be the popular social networking site, which would mean that some hardy readers had recently "stumbled" A*, which gets other Stumblers to stumble this way as well, which is neat. But without that dot, it's just a weird URL, and *not* the social networking site. So why would it be sending me traffic? What does it MEEEEEEEEEAN?
Well I finally decided to see if I could Google up an answer, and behold and lo, it appears that the mystery site is the result of a typo in StumbleUpon's Android app. Huh! Well that's good to know. And I guess it means that people are enjoying A* on their phones, which is also good to know--that the comic is still legible and interesting in that format, I mean.
So, cool! And thanks to whoever stumbled A*. :D
Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:40 am
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:12 pm Posts: 3
I think the members of my astronomy club who do photography use regular digital cameras, too. I just think that they somehow hook 'em up to the scopes. Then again, I've never paid that much attention to that part of the meeting, honestly. xD
Su-par bonus! Initial sketch on the back of today's page, which wasn't quite right so I turned the page over and tried again:
Apparently, an aircraft-carrier-sized ("1,300-foot-wide") asteroid, 2005 YU55, will pass about 85% of the distance to the Moon from Earth on Tuesday. "The last time an asteroid flew this close to Earth was in 1976" and "the next time won't be until 2028." Various telescopes will be taking lots of pictures, since usually you need a space ship to see an asteroid this close up.
What we really need though is for some hotshot rocket jockey to fly out and land on it while blasting Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone. What hero will take up this quest??
There's this nifty-sounding new Lytro camera that captures a light field of its viewing area by means of plenoptic camera micro lenses, which is to say that it actually consists of tons of tiny little cameras, and when a computer compares their viewpoints, it can triangulate the distances to the objects photographed and reconstruct the scene in 3D, which allows for nifty tricks like photos that can be refocused after they've been taken, kinda; you can play with some of those in the gallery there.
There's a new interview with me about A* at Webcomic Asylum, a webcomic review blog. The interviewer is a webcomic author himself, so he knows how to get right down to it and ask the right questions! It's a good quick read, yet we manage to talk about storytelling, working in black and white, and oh so many wonderful things.
Last week China launched Shenzou-8 toward their budding Tiangong-1 space station; the Shenzou capsules sort of follow the classic Soviet Soyuz design, but a bit larger; the name means "Divine Craft" or something like that. This article about the launch has the video feed of the launch, from cameras attached to the craft. Hm well I guess I'll just embed it here, even if YouTube videos do sorta slow the page display down a bit:
What I like about the video is the bright green flame of the Long March 2F rocket carrying it (that model is according to this article; I suppose the green tint might (I don't know!) be due to the fuel it's burning, unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine ("UDMH"), a derivative of the more commonly used hydrazine. UDMH is more stable than hydrazine, especially at high temperatures, and "is used in many European, Russian, Indian, and Chinese rocket designs." Anyway, whatever it's due to, the green flame is keen.
Here's a sharper version of part of my original rejected version of page 141 of this episode:
It was a pretty good rendering of the character, by my standards, but the pose was just too weirdly robotic; also, the perspective in the right side of the page was way too awful to show you (and in retrospect, revealing the knife rack there might have been too much foreshadowing anyhoo). For future reference, you'll find this picture in the episode 13 gallery, which is accessible from the site's "episodes" page in the top menu.