Pencil scribble on that old fashioned paper stuff.
Sorry US folks, she's an elf. Yeah, that's right. An elf.
And no, I'm not talking about me.
I can remember being all excited when a new Ultimate game would come out on the Speccy. The cool black boxes, the cryptic instructions and Tim Stamper's great illos on the front all made for a great experience even before you actually got to the game. Later, as I was doing some box design roughs for Rare's Grabbed by the Ghoulies I suddenly realised just how much Tim loved having that mystery in there. "Why don't you put a tiny skull right in the centre of the eye, there" he'd say. No real reason to but he just wanted someone to really look hard at that pic, find that skull and wonder... "just why was that skull there?".
Now I need to go over all those old Ultimate covers again.
Even though I've never actually played a proper game of Dungeons & Dragons I love the books and artwork of those early RPG years. You know, the 1970s Monster Manual with it's scratchy, slightly amateurish artwork. At that time I felt that, with a lot of practice, I could do pics like that, too. If I was that young now I don't think it'd even cross my mind that I could do the amazing paintings that adorn role playing books today.
There seems to be quite a resurgence in old-school RPGing with fanzines like Fight On!, new rules that pay service to the original D&D boxset and even metal miniatures based on those original designs.
The above was for a project a few years back that never went anywhere. It's just one of a gazillion sketches that got done trying to flesh out some NPCs but I quite enjoyed it and this sort of thing is, probably, the nearest I've got to role-playing work. There's always just one sort of Troll in video games - big, mean and with some armour on so I thought it'd be fun to try and do a whole family.
Ok, my last sneak peek of Smart Bomb 2 (don't want to give it all away). Very daft but I always wanted to do a UK-style funny.
It was great fun to do all the newsprint, faded colours stuff. I'd love to do a whole 60s/70s US-style comic like that, complete with bogus ads for Grit, hundreds of toy soldiers in a footlocker and a ghost that really floats!
Whilst having fun re-designing the dinkybox site. I have named him Fub-Fub the Unwary. He's chaotic-neutral.
I went back to the Smart Bomb 2 cover this weekend and started to add some cover lines. It's been sitting there, unfinished, for quite a while now but coming back to it with fresh eyes always gives me a renewed vigour and I soon found myself fiddling and re jiggling stuff. If nothing else I wanted the cover to seem packed, as if loads of stuff was going on inside. I had old copies of 2000AD, Star Lord, TV21 and UK Marvel weeklies from the '70s around me as I was doing it, trying to channel some of that excitement they generated in me, as a kid, back in the day.
Then I got to thinking (always dangerous), even though I've set Smart Bomb up as a 'kids' comic, the likelihood is that it'll probably get bought (if anyone does buy it, that is) through a website or at a convention and it probably won't be read by many actual, y'know, kids. It'll be read by grown ups who still like kids' things (or who just feel sorry for me). It's a weird thing. Do I make a comic that is relevant to actual kids today, or something just for big kids? Would modern kids even get jokes about old games? Do they even know what a pixel is?
So I've reconciled myself. Smart Bomb is a comic for grown ups who can still channel the kid inside them. Real kids can read it if they like (and I hope they do) because 1) it doesn't have swearing, nasty violence or teh boobies in it and 2) because I think they might enjoy the stories and art but I don't actually expect them to 'get' it.
In the end I've made it for me because, in reality, I'm still the same age I was in '72 when I first picked up The Mighty World of Marvel and it's the sort of thing I would have loved.
Doing stuff digitally. It's all the rage now I hear. You don't need to go near a real piece of paper and that ink stuff, it's terribly messy. The kids say it's the future but what do they know? They like watching Skins.
Well, the thing is that until recently, although I'd been more than happy to colour 'till the cows come home on the screen, drawing and inking just hasn't come quite as easily. I've tried inking in Photoshop, Painter and even Illustrator and, although that was better it still didn't come anywhere near the feel and flexibility I got with using a brush. That was until I found Manga Studio.
Hot dang! The pressure and quality of the line really does feel (well, to me at least) and look right. So I'm convinced. It's speeded me up and I'm getting the results I want. Well, apart from it not making me actually draw better. Only cups of tea and biscuits can do that.
Here's a page from my Pulsar Crash strip from the new Smart Bomb. Multiple layers also let me do colour holds really easily so if you see some lines overlapping, that's what's happening there.
So, Manga Studio. I never thought I'd love a program, that wasn't by Adobe, so much. I'm not going to sully its name by moaning about how complicated it all got once I tried to go past just sketching and inking because that would make me weep and not like it so much so I'll just leave things here.