As you know, I've been messing with waterproof black pigment ink markers a lot lately, and although I'd mostly settled on Copic Multiliners, the soft-ish tips of the larger felt "brush" Multiliners don't always cut the mustard: they lay down a nice, dark, even line, but they can can run a bit dry on fast strokes, and their tips wear down pretty easily--and heck, they can't really make a sharp line from their first stroke. I like them for a lot of things but they can't do it all--oh yeah, and they only come in rather middling sizes. So if I want something that can lay down a long, hard line, or a lot of such lines for that matter, the Multiliners can't cut that mustard.
I got to wondering if a chisel tip marker might be a solution. Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of really black, waterproof, acid-free, pigment ink chisel-tipped markers out there; in fact, the only one I know of currently is a single 2 mm "PITT artist pen" chisel tip or "calligraphy" marker made by Faber-Castell.
But that didn't stop me from running off to the neighborhood everything-store to see what they had in their grab bag of an art supplies aisle (or half an aisle, including the school supplies part) that could momentarily slake my curiosity. They didn't have the Faber-Castell, and two other mysterious "calligraphy" products were sold out, but rather to my surprise they did have these:
Those (the long ones in the three-pack in the middle, I mean) are Yasutomo "Y&C Calligraphy Chisel Tip Markers" markers, at 2.0, 3.5, and 5.0 mm sizes. Acid-free, but no mention of waterproof, and the ol' spit-finger test (upper right) showed that they rub off rather blueishly when wet--and they're really more of a dark purple than a black to begin with: they made the wide purpley lines just to the right of the marker pack. I like their long, Japanese-style bodies (these always manage to make me think I'm getting more ink than a shorter marker :P), and the nibs were indeed chiselly, and quite tough--although a friend noticed one had a nick or indentation in one edge, which would leave a streak in brush stokes made at a certain angle. They also give out a decent amount of ink. Shame it isn't all that dark, though; and the blueish color makes me wonder if it's got dyes in it, which supposedly aren't the thing for artwork you want to last--don't ask me why; I'm no chemist, darn it!
Aaand anyway they didn't seem much like being waterproof, so that was it for those. The shorter, fatter marker you see to their left there is a Faber-Castell "PITT artist pen big brush" marker; those *are* waterproof, pigment-based, and actually black. Their big conical felt tips are pretty hard, which initially put me off of using them; I've had one or two sitting around in the cupboard since I first started thinking about switching from digital to traditional art for A*--if you recall, I used a couple (a big and a smaller one), along with some alcohol-based gray Copic "Sketch" markers (blah), to do the first real on-paper A* drawing back in September.
(((Hold the phone. Holy Cow. And they come in white, too! Has Sharpie actually come through? Kind of interesting actually since the "what I think is an American company" or something I mentioned once as being the ones who now own the German company Rotring, makers of the revered Rapidograph technical pens, is actually Sanford, who makes Sharpie products--AND Prismacolor, which is another large art marker line, although on my hasty research not quite as well thought of as Faber-Castell's PITT line, maybe--and are themselves owned by Newell Rubbermaid. Whew! Anyway yeah I wonder if these water-based paint markers of theirs are really the amazing things they sound like they might be. And why didn't I see any of these when scrutinizing the Sharpie section of the local everything store today?? Dar. Anyway this is way exciting, I am totally ordering black and white sets of these to try out.)))
((((Man, I have like five or something packages of European, American, and Japanese inks and pens coming to me from various places currently. ... I spent way too much time looking around at art supplies this week. Some of them are pretty crazy, too--just you wait and see! And will any actually be helpful for A*?? :o))))
Whew, sorry, lost it again for a moment there. Where was I? Ah, yeah, so anyway those PITT markers. The big and bigger black lines elsewhere on that paper above are Copic Multiliner and PITT felt brush tip markers, respectively: about the same opacity, although the PITTs sometimes gush a bit at the start, giving a somewhat patchy distribution--but it usually evens itself out, and they can make longer lines without streaking dry.
So especially after watching Bill Sienkiewicz knocking out an awesome sketch with a big black marker and brush in the second half of that video I posted the other day, I'm kind of wanting to get into finding ways to use big markers in A*; microscopic little markers are fine and all for obsessive detail, but what if you want a line that just up and punches your head off? BAM! Yeah, so I'm gonna work on that. And today's page was the first, hesitating beginning, as I snuck in a big PITT to ink that BUY/SELL/TRADE sign in the window:
The next couple weeks may be a little crazy from the art supply point of view as packages begin bombarding my apartment. >_> Hopefully I'll somehow get myself some time to start practicing with some loose and energetic big fat marker sketches, too--'cause that sounds fun.
Oh! And I think the name (of the spaceship dealership) I came up with for today's page is about the best name for anything I've ever come up with--but I have a bit of a soft spot for the name "Stella," so maybe I'm biased. ... Nahhh! I'm thinking this woman has *star* power; could she ever starrrr in her own A* episode based on her thrilling spaceship-dealing enterprises?? I was actually kind of surprised the name wasn't taken; the closest I could find in Google was the character "Stella" from "Starcrash," an apparently ludicrously awful Italian-made Star Wars wannabe (with a young David Hasselhoff!) that I talked about back in November and still haven't seen.
And if this Stella's nose looks a wee bit different than it did when you looked at this page earlier in the day, it's because I've tweaked it like twice now. :P
I did the first A* Sketch for a paying customer over the weekend! It came out surprisingly well. :o I'll post a photo once I'm sure they've received the real deal in the mail.
But despite that success, and apparently because this comic's art style isn't inconsistent enough :P, I've gone and changed my art-making tools yet again--in fact I've managed to greatly simplify my marker situation, which is somewhat satisfying. Here's a very quick test sketch I did over the weekend:
^ That was all done (hastily :P) with a Faber-Castell black Pitt "artist pen - big brush" marker; it's on a piece of Strathmore 300 series "smooth" Bristol (kind of old leftovers :P), about 8"x11". I am getting to like these big Pitts! I used one in today's A* page, although you can't really see much of it since it's all in the heavily shadowed side areas. The lines in the inner portion were all done with a single, new marker! Can you guess which, or what kind? (Hint: it wasn't the "big brush.") (Hint #2: I talked about it quite recently!) (Hint #3: here it is with just markers, no brush:
So anyway this two-marker setup, plus brush and wash for shading and effects, is my new scheme; simpler, bolder, and more expressive, I think. Anyway I'll get better at it, probably. ;) (Today's page made me realize why I should have picked up a T-square while I was at the art supply store today, for instance :P. Oh well, I'm hitting two tomorrow. :PP) But as you may be thinking, there's every chance that something new will come along soon and make me flip flop to some new scheme yet again--in fact, this week is quite dangerous in that respect, since the fruits of last week's internet research and ransacking of online art supply stores are now starting to arrive at my door:
And I still have three more packages on the way...and a new art store I spotted today to hit. Yes, I'm a little obsessive, BUT I do think progress is being made, as hopefully is already hinted at with the new marker setup of today's page. I *think* this marker arrangement may stick around for a while, as I've more or less exhausted the markers I wanted to try; I do have some "paint" markers coming, but I don't hold out much hope for them, as that Elmers "Painters" white paint marker you can see in the photo above (snapped up on one of these silly whims in the University of Washington bookstore's art supply area today) illustrated that "paint markers" are maybe not that great for what I want; this Painters thing, anyway, makes you have to press down pretty hard on the very tough, almost spiky fiber tip to get it to push back up into the pen body, which allows space for this thickish paint stuff to ooze out; it's pretty thick, and it smells nasty; one really nice thing about all these India ink markers I've been trying is that they're completely odorless (EDIT: actually that isn't quite true; Yasutomo's India ink I use for A* smells vaguely of old roots), and pretty much not toxic-*seeming* in any particular way--whereas these paint markers, which all claim non-toxicity and being acid-free...well, if they're anything like the "Painters," you would sure be pretty uncomfortable if you got them them on, in or around you in any significant way. Bluh. I belatedly looked it up, and poster paint is a "water-based" pigment solution, like India ink, only put together with a glue or gum of some kind--and that's the gross part--and I do think it makes their claims of "water-based paint" a rather large stretch. (Apparently they're sometimes also called "tempera" paint markers, but that isn't accurate, since tempera is actually egg-based (it was the main type of art paint in Europe before oil paints came along in the 1500s or something, if I'm remembering what I read off Wikipedia today correctly).)
Ohh well live and learn. I probably won't end up using most of these other things I'm getting in the next week or so either (that "waterbrush" was another not-too-well-thought-out impulse grab =p), but it will be good to test them myself so I'm sure of what they can do. The main thing left, I think, is going to be a big black ink battle, to see if anything can supplant the pretty decent and incredibly inexpensive Yasutomo black "sumi" waterproof India ink I've been using thus far.
Ah, so that other marker I'm using for inking, aside from the big Pitt "artist pen - big brush," is the Pitt calligraphy pen ($1.88 each in bulk! I can eat these up like candy :d) that I'd been looking for over the weekend--I went back to both stores I'd missed it at, and there it was in each of them: the UW bookstore had them squirreled away in their calligraphy section, separate from the main Pitt marker display, and the other store had restocked them into one of the empty racks that had mystified me on the previous trip. So I finally got one and man it was love at first draw; their fiber nib is *really* tough, can do multiple line widths, and puts out plenty of nice dark waterproof India ink; I haven't had this much fun with a marker in, like...ever?
The second stage in this step-by-step for today's page is all the PCP (:p):
There's more I can say about it but I'll have that in the big pen battle royale I've been working on putting together, featuring some pretty wacky pens I've been messing with. Hm mmaybe I'll get that posted in two days; there's another post I've been putting off too long that I need to do first.
And I was going to do it today but it's late so just check out this cool ink spatter method with a used credit card that the inker of Batman demonstrates quite ably here:
May have to try using that for stars the next time we have a space scene in A*. And check out the cute anti-smear inking glove he's wearing while inking Batman. Could it be the SmudgeGuard 2? (And I think in an earlier video he was wearing the SmudgeGuard (1).) Pretty nifty, although the main trouble I have is oil from the thumb, index finger, and middle finger of my right (non-drawing) hand leaving invisible but ink-resistant fingerprints where I hold the paper, and those are the fingers the SG2 doesn't cover; I suppose I should do something clever like what Miwa Shirow was doing in that video I posted a week or so ago where he had his hand coasting on a separate piece of paper while inking; I've been using a beat up old paper towel--sometimes--which probably needs an upgrade. :PP Then again my style--if you can call it that--isn't anywhere as neat and tidy as theirs, so... Say maybe I should get into using those invisible/visible fingerprints on purpose, I could do some cool effect with that! A fingerprint frisket! :D Like the inky fingerprints Sean Murphy uses for texture (Batman's abs, there), only in the negative!
The first brave A* reader to pony up $30 for an original sketch of A*'s femme très fatale now has the drawing in their hands (yay Priority Mail!), so I can show you a small photo of it, taken just before I signed it and mailed it off on Monday:
It actually came out pretty well! :o I was almost tempted to keep it for myself, but then I would have had to draw another one to mail out, and...that was too much work. ;) So bon voyage, it has found a happy home with its new owner. Thank you very much, #1 sketch-owning reader! :D
Hey you could get one yourself! It wouldn't be quite the same as that one, since each one will be an original piece of art, but it will be something along those lines--by which I mean, it will have Selenis in it. :D Anyway you can get more info and even put in an order if you want over on the Sketches page, which is also always available from the "store" page linked from the site's top menu.
On the last day of last year, I told you guys about a poll for which webcomics should appear in an upcoming exhibition at the University of Washington's Henry Art Gallery here in Seattle. Well the votes were tallied and the exhibit has been up since the beginning of the month; I'd kind of forgotten about it (I am quite scatterbrained that way), but actually the exhibit's curator emailed me out of the blue on the opening day and invited me to come check it out. =o She was very nice about it AND mentioned that my readers put in a good many votes for A* (:o Thanks everyone! :D), so I figured I should be a good sport and go check out the exhibit, even if my little comic was outvoted by the likes of the xkcd and Penny Arcade juggernauts of the world.
So on the next available Thursday, when they're open late ('til 9 pm), I found my way up a spiral staircase and into the fancy Henry lobby, where the exhibit has its own room off to the side--and if you're a cheapskate you don't even have to sweat about whether or not to pay the Henry's *suggested* entry fee, since the exhibit is before the ticket desk--but of course if you have time and maybe a little spare change available, you might as well check out the museum's other stuff while you're there.
Anyway, Morning Serial--for that is the name of the exhibit--beckons. Actually it hits you as soon as you enter the Henry, with a looping video of Penny Arcade being drawn in Photoshop showing on a big TV screen right inside the museum's main entrance. Sort of weird but hey, it gets your attention.
But the meat of the exhibit is in that spacious room across the lobby from the entrance, for there you'll find webcomics displayed on big fancy monitors: most of them are highlighted in videos and slideshows running on very large, vertically oriented widescreen televisions mounted on the walls, accompanied by well-informed and surprisingly interesting commentary painted in bold lettering on the wall itself; comics receiving this deluxe museum-grade treatment include selections and custom animations from the likes Rice Boy,Dreden Codak, and Templar, AZ, to name a few. And there are even a few interactive terminals set up where you can play around with several Flashy webcomics with highly engaging, unusual interfaces.
And off to the side there's a reading area where you can peruse the printed collections of some of these webcomics.
It *does* sound silly to leave your house to go look at limited versions of comics you can read in their entirety on the web from the comfort of your own computer, but I was really surprised by how well done and thought-provoking the exhibit is when you see it in person. And, you know, I think getting webcomics in museums should definitely be encouraged. :D
You can find a full list of included artists and comics at the exhibit's web site, morningserial.org. If you poke around the funky layout there you'll also find info on related activities taking place around the city throughout the spring and summer--the exhibit itself runs through June 30th--including a panel discussion with the artists behind the aforementioned comics coming right up here on the 29th of March, the eve of Seattle's Emerald City Comic Con. Clever!
Well I'm not in any of that fancy stuff--thanks for the votes, though! :D--but I have plenty of fun curating my own shows right here on this site! Here's another view of the ever-changing inking process--marker work:
I noticed in re-examining yesterday's page that the areas I went over several times with the PITT "big brush" marker came out this almost magical really, really dark velvety black. So I did some more of that on this page--lots of layered "big brush" work. Good thing it's a nice big wet marker! :D I think it might be doing something funny to my watercolor brush, though--after doing some washes over marker areas, the brush bristles were sort of...sticking together more than usual. Maybe they picked up some kind of sealant from the waterproof marker ink? It wasn't too bad--actually helping hold the brush point together, but also making the brush resist springing back upright after being bent to one side from use. Hm. Well... I'm sure it'll be fine. >_>
Oh yeah also I picked up a pair of tweezers to use for plucking loose fibers off the tip of the PITT calligraphy marker, 'cause I noticed a few poking out from it yesterday after the first day's energetic use, and they were fuzzing the edges of its lines slightly. It took a little practice, but the tweezers ended up working great for cleaning up the marker tip, and it was back to being nice and clean and sharp again. And it seems to be shedding less now, so maybe it's mostly just a first-use thing, when you're drawing with the brand new tip for the first time and the very sharp corners are getting their first taste of friction. It's actually nice that it *does* loosen up in this stray fiber way, because the other "brush" markers I've used recently, with softer tips, just sort of turn all spongy, and there isn't much way to restore them.
Today we have a handy inking tip, learned and demonstrated the hard way! And that is: take a photo of your early pencil/ink stage(s); that way, if you really botch things up later on, like say the main character's face just goes all to heck when you try adding too much shading to it, then, once you obliterate the botched area, you at least have the photo record to give you an idea of what you were going for there. Thank goodness for digital cameras!
Sooo yeah I had a reasonably decent face outlined in marker to begin with
but I had the silly idea that with this page I'd do everything with marker--no brush at all--and so I tried filling in the hair with marker. Which did not work, and sort of carried collateral damage into the face when I tried to salvage the hairline there by adjusting the shadow, and... Doom. So I had to blot it out in white ink; then I tried doing another face over that with the marker while I could still almost see traces of the original, but that wasn't going well and then ground to a halt when I found that the white ink, which is not waterproof and reacts with whatever you try to paint over it, was choking the life out of my precious chisel-tip Pitt marker; resuscitation was only partially successful, and that marker is now relegated to rough touch-up duties (fortunately I bought a good number of spares!). Although actually, having a beat-up marker for touching up difficult areas, such as over white ink, is rather handy.
Anyhoo so in the end I had to blot that out AGAIN with white ink, and do a new head entirely from scratch with the brush, which may account for its slightly unusual appearance. Heigh-ho, spice of life, live and learn, etc etc, argh.
NASA recently released some nifty photos of large craters on the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta, taken by the Dawn probe, which has been orbiting it since last summer--Dawn snapped the photos in December and October of last year. Here is NASA's article with crater analysis. The crater in this first photo is about 9 km across, and the sharp edge around it means it's fairly young:
image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA (source)
And another large crater:
image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/UMD (source)
Dawn is due to leave Vesta this coming summer and proceed on to another giant asteroid, Ceres, which it should reach in early 2015.
In case you wanted to see the gruesome details of the tortured genesis of an A* page, here's a breakdown of some key stages from today's hackery:
It was looking pretty hairy for a while there. :P Notice that I'd forgotten her earring up to the end! I used the medium brush Multiliner for final touch-ups over the white ink (instead of keeping it in the cupboard, where all the other Multiliners have been relegated by the PITT pens for now) because its big soft tip is pretty darn good at brushing over the non-waterproof white ink without disturbing it, and without getting clogged up; tougher, more durable markers like the PITTs tend to dig into the white ink, AND get clogged up by it, and even an actual brush will carve into it a bit.
I did try some waterproof white Sharpie "water-based" "poster paint" pens today in the hopes that they'd provide a superior solution than the white ink, but their Sharpie applicators are pretty aggravating, with big hard tips that gush the paint out and then dig into the paper beneath it; also the paint, while supposedly archival and non-toxic, is bound to have more noxious chemicals in it than the white ink. Oh and it doesn't dry as fast as the ink. So I guess I'll stick with the ink for now--I *do* have fun smudging it around with my fingers.
^ My subconscious and I, apparently, have not yet agreed on how we want to ink our pages. We had these perfectly decent--by our standards--pencils to work with
and I was all for just outlining the main bits with a thin marker line, filling in some bits here and there in black, maybe a bit of brush on the hair, a gray wash over the face, a few white highlights, and boom, done.
My subconscious, apparently, had other ideas, and, somehow getting the upper hand, soon had me applying the brush all over the hair, jacket, eyes, and background, throwing thick marker lines hither and yon with wild abandon, and switching the right background area from white to black, all of which forced numerous cover-ups and repaintings, until the page you see before you eventually resulted after many hours of unexpected struggle.
And then I look back at the pencils and think why, why didn't I just do it the easy way? But I think my subconscious gets bored with the easy way, I dunno. Ugh. (EDIT: Actually, come to think of it, it probably objected to a) the gleeful expression and b) another up-shot of nostrils, which is pretty hard to make flattering even if you can draw it right--and my attempts on recent pages have by no means been so fortunate. >_<) I was so unhappy with the comparison that I finally thought okay well it's like four hours past my bedtime but whatever, I'll just do a new one from scratch in marker, just like I penciled the first one. No problem. Of course the rush job wasn't really coming out any better, I don't think
and if anything it actually made me appreciate the previous attempt a little. Soo anyway that's what we've ended up with. I hope my subconscious and I are in better agreement tomorrow! =P In the meantime, have a robojelly:
The "Robojelly" mimic the movement of jellyfish, using a combination of oxygen and hydrogen gases to contract its "muscles," or "nano-platinum catalyst-coated multi-wall carbon nanotube sheets, wrapped on the surface of nickel—titanium shape memory alloy."
In the midst of an email conversation, A* reader Latrans mentioned that he likes to play around with some of the A* pages by switching the colors. Since it's black and white, all you have to do is "invert" the colors to swap black for white and vice versa--even MS Paint that comes with Windows can do that. I tried one and it turned out horribly; I think you have to kind of develop an eye for it, as, when I asked Latrans if he would send me some of the ones he's done, he sent me four pretty darn nifty ones:
I may be a little biased, but I think those are downright spiffy. Thanks, Latrans!
Those remind me of something I saw recently that pointed out a practical use for inverting black and white images in the art world. Looking through some Bill Sienkiewicz art (you may recall that I recently posted a video of him drawing; that and my further research into his art online helped inspired this expressive marker jag I'm on currently), I came across this drawing he did of Warlock from Marvel's "New Mutants" comic, in which he draw the character, a strange techno-organic alien having a black body with white circuitry, in the negative: white body and black circuitry. And then whoever handled the art getting into digital form for the final print would invert the colors to get it to the character's regular color scheme. It's actually a very practical approach, since black ink is far easier to work with than white ink (more fluid, waterproof, etc)--this way he could draw the details in black ink instead of white. Pretty smart!
Well as you can probably guess, the inking for today's A* page went much more smoothly than yesterday's. TOO SMOOTHLY? I dunno but it was a nice change of pace, at least. ;) Here's what the first pass of marker lines over the pencils (pencils having just been erased) looked like:
EDIT: Oh look, I forgot to draw her eyebrow piercing. Dang. And I'd remembered to draw it for the first two penciled versions... Hrmrmrm **stealth edit**
Have you ever wondered how well a 45'-long paper airplane would fly? Well recently one made of "falcon board" ("described as a type of corrugated cardboard, similar to a pizza box") was towed up to about 2700 feet over Arizona by helicopter (wind conditions prevented them from taking it to the intended release height, which was nearly double that):
And yeah it kind of bit it. The producers, I guess from Arizona's Pima Air and Space Museum, are trying to make it look like an epic journey, but the thing went into something close to a nose dive after about ten seconds, when "stress on the tail caused it to hurdle to the ground."
Oh well. It was part of a campaign to get kids interested in aviation and engineering, so who knows, maybe that part worked!
As it happens, I constructed a paper spaceship to make today's A* page! Yep, see as I mentioned last week I wanted to try out the "credit card spatter method" demonstrated by Batman inker Jonathan Glapion in this video for doing stars, but when you're doing ink spatter and don't want it going all over parts of the image it shouldn't be in, you have to block them off somehow.
I had been inking in a spaceship and planet; the PITT "big brush" marker I've been using for about a week and a half now is finally getting a little fuzzy, but that was actually just about perfect for getting a sort of brushy metal look--although I think generally I'll have to replace my markers about every week or so (I've got 20 of each of the two types I'm using on their way in the mail :D); the older ones can still be used for effects, or for covering over white ink, which tends to clog up marker tips:
I thickened up the marker lines a bit since I didn't want to have to worry about going over any lines when I would fill in the big space/planet bits with a brush:
So anyway once space was filled in, I wanted to spatter some stars in with the nifty method from that video--but I couldn't have them getting on the black parts of the ship or planet. Which meant I'd have to make masks to protect them from the spatter. So I took a piece of the lighter (70 lb) paper I had left over from when I tried it out for A* (it was used in the taxi scene at the end of episode 13), put it over the ship, and made a rough trace of the ship's outline:
Then I cut along the trace lines and voila, a paper rocket ship!
I taped it over the marker version of the ship with masking tape (half fearing this would end up pulling off some ink, but it didn't really), fastened a similar mask over the planet, broke out a new jar of white ink (the one I've been using still has a bit left in the bottom, but it's thickened up and probably wouldn't spatter well), found one of the larger, stiffer dip pen nibs I experimented with a month ago (a Hunt/Speedball #22B, although (Flash or something warning) in their catalogue (go to page 55) you can clearly see that they only have "22" engraved on them, and there's no other 22 of any kind, so I dunno why they bother with the "B" part when they talk about it), and dug up a $5 Starbucks gift card someone gave me in 2003. Thanks, whoever that was!
This card is actually quite handy--aside from the ability to go get coffee with it if I get tired mid-spatter, I suppose--because one end is transparent, giving a clear view of where the spatters are going. So I gleefully flicked the dip pen nib down across the edge of the card, spattering away with white ink, making stars, and it actually worked great! Up until I got a little too gleeful and broke the nib, at least:
The tine tinged off and flew about five feet away. :o I guess I'll have to wear safety goggles the next time I do this! I tested out a #56 nib, which is even bigger and stiffer than the 22, but it kind of just vaporized the ink, and blew a fine mist of it back on my hand and shirt--fortunately I wear a particular shirt for ink work for just such occurrences. :) So I guess the 22 was actually pretty much the perfect nib to use for the kind of spatter I wanted to make stars--the one I broke was the only one I had, so I've ordered a few dozen more, which should last me for a while (I hope :o). I also broke a dinner plate today, hum.
Anyhoo fortunately I'd already got just about enough stars; and I'd used my finger to sort of blend/haze them along the edge of the starry cloud in the lower right corner:
Although that didn't really do what I had been going for. But I'd placed my trusty sea sponge on stand-by for just such an occassion, and with that was able to make a nice fuzzy transition border on the cloud, with my crusty old ink:
And that was about it! Masks off, few small touch-ups with marker and brush here and there, and voila, page done:
I think the spatter stars worked out pretty darn well! Definitely the best stars I've managed so far, yay. :)
This page probably looks shockingly crude but it's actually a style--or the beginning of a style, anyway--well, not so much the rounded, simplified features, but more the overall loosey-gooseyness and emphasis on following light and texture rather than form--that I've been meaning to start cultivating at least since I posted that very loose "big brush" marker sketch a little over a week ago. That one had started out as a quick pencil sketch, and since then I'd been wanting to be able to get back to working with that kind of freedom for the daily comics, but always ended up making a very detailed pencil drawing, and I think that didn't leave much room for the inks to be free and interpretive, as it were. I've been telling myself to go easier on the pencil detail or something and let it come out in the inks, but that hasn't really been kicking in (it mostly did yesterday, but I think that was probably only because there were no people to draw).
Today started out with what was sort of another detailed pencil drawing, although... Well I was up most of last night fighting a rather nutty computer virus (which seemed to hop onto my computer straight from opening a Google art supplies search result--no other user input needed! =o), and I'm using that as my excuse for what were clearly some ragged pencils, even though they sort of thought they were detailed. At the inking stage a fight ensued, and things ended up going rather down hill (I'm showing you these at only quarter size to try to minimize the horror a bit :/):
So by about 7 AM it was clear that had devolved into a muddled mess beyond my bleary salvaging ability. But there also wasn't really time to do another detailed pencil drawing, so I just went straight to ink. Throwin' stuff down. And...it kinda worked. Some of the earlier stages:
That's a lot of big ol' fuzzy used marker and finger-painted white ink. And it ended up of course like this:
I sort of doubt that I'll be able to get away with not doing any pencil work on too many pages--it definitely helped that this was a fairly static close-up. But I hope I can get back to this style again, and eh not too infrequently because obviously I need a fair amount of practice with it. Still I think it's promising!
Speaking of crazy inking styles:
(^ From Leigh Reyes' blog.) Man! I came across those Pilot Parallel Pens while looking through an art supply site two or three weeks ago, but it hadn't occurred to me that you could edge-draw with their funky two-parallel-blade nibs. Or that they'd work with anything other than the type of runny, water-soluble ink they come with, but rumor has it they'll work with just about anything, including the black waterproof Sumi and white Ph. Martins ink I'm already using--and as eyedroppers, ie where you can fill the entire pen body with ink. HUH. The metal tines will probably cut into the paper a bit if it's already saturated, but...well, we'll see. Maybe it'll be worth it. :o
After a month or so of discomfort, I finally figured out why a muscle or two at the base of my forearm near the elbow was getting sore after drawing for a while: my drawing table was too high. :P (I'd thought it was too low, if anything!) And then I figured out what happens if it's too low: my shoulder gets sore. So now I have the clear set of signals down and will know which way to move it in the future, if necessary. Phew. Thanks, nervous system!