Friday, 16 October 2009

Layers of difficulty

So far, I've been colouring BLIP using Photoshop layers. And there have been no problems . Drop each colour on a new layer, combine, and voila. I know there are quicker methods. I just like working this way. But when you up the ante, it can't half cause problems. Take a look at page 25:


I've got a number of pages like this. Dropping all of those colours on to different layers has proved tricky for this beginner, and once or twice, as I've shifted between layers I've found myself adding touches of the wrong colour to the wrong layer, and - the biggest sin - dropping colour on to my top layer, which floods the black line copy. I'm working at 400%, a lot of the time, and it's very easy to miss this kind of thing and realise too late that you've just saved your file in this flooded state. I did that twice on this page. I'm guessing it just takes practice, and it's all part of that big creative Learning Curve!...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

New readers start here

Now that I've shown my hand at Toonhound, it seems a few new readers have hopped over to this blog to read up about my cartoon endeavours. So it probably makes sense to go back, right back, to the beginning and explain a bit more about what I'm up to with this BLIP project, and the thinking behind it.


I've set myself a task to create a 48-page Small Press comic, by the end of the year. Now, in the past, I've had the most dreadful habit of abandoning projects halfway through. Seriously, I've got umpteen unfinished creations scattered around my attic workplace. So BLIP is one final attempt to get me focused upon my prize. And to that end, I've set myself some stringant guidelines. I'm sticking to single-panel pages, with intermittant three-panelers. There's no dialogue, and currently, no fx sounds. And it's all being drawn in clean black and white, without shading, and scanned and coloured on Photoshop. That's because I find it all too easy to lose myself in a crosshatching haze. I can spend way-y-y-y too long on a page, if I'm not careful, scratching in background detail, and forever altering dialogue. So no shading, no dialogue or superfluous rubbish. I just want to be able to move page to page, quick as I can. That way, I can pick it up on a whim, inbetween the demands of Toonhound, the house, the dogs, and my always-forgiving wife. And there can be no excuses for not reaching my goal. Except that I've not used Photoshop like this before. Not for colour comics work. So that's another box I'm ticking as I go.

It helps that BLIP is a ridiculously simple concept, that fits the bill so precisely. Seriously, I'm jazzed about this one. It's all come together so neatly: What if there was an endless signal passing through the depths of space? And what if a little alien in a little bubble ship latched on to this signal? Where has the signal come from? What does it mean? And why has our little alien buddy latched on to it with such determination...?

I think you'll agree the possibilities here are endless. I know the answers, but I'm not telling, at least for a while. In the mean time, you'll just have to dig out the clues buried in the various cosmic encounters. And yes, I said "various" because I already have four 48-page adventures planned out, with far too many more swirling around in the creative ether. But I'm not jumping the gun. I've got to get this first Tall Tale out of the way. It's already October and I've only just reached the 30th page....

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Pages & Buses

So here I am, struggling to work around conflicts of THE ZONE (see my previous post) and fighting a growing desire to just sweep my pad and pens and everything else associated with my current creation on the floor and give the thing up altogether, because I just can't clear my head of that all-pervading daily clutter, when all of a sudden, a page rush is upon me. Productivity comes at me like a blurr and before I know it, I've done three whole pages in one day. That's three pages drawn and inked and scanned, ready for colouring.

Wow.

It's like buses, isn't it? A trio of the darned things have trundled up to my attic bus stop, all in a row, after a barren week in which I've scoured the timetable fruitlessly. And today I'm already riding two more pages, all the way to Adobeville - Ding! Ding! - Goodness, the sense of release is almost tangible. And it's come just at the right time, when I was beginning to think my Magnum Opus was perhaps in danger of becoming a Magnum Hopeless. There's still a way to go, of course, but I'm approaching Page 30, and that's a pyschological barrier I've been eager to hurdle. This first BLIP book is a 48-page encounter, so - do the maths, folks - I'm beyond the half-way point now, and beginning to ease towards my second act conclusion and finale.

Of course, I really shouldn't get too excited. I've some big plans for said finale and they'll be mighty tricky to pull off (unlike that ridiculously simple page below). I'm sure there'll be a queue of pages stalling or breaking down completely on the roadside, as I progress. But this weekend has been a good weekend. The Conductor has ruffled my hair and waived my ticket!...