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Currently In the midst of rewriting book three of the Conjurers. Bit different on this one, as I have my illustration process down. While writing the first two books, the style I wanted for the drawings was elusive. I had worked through my brushes, dip pens, inks, washes, and soft lead pencils. I had tried a dozen more styles and techniques in Photoshop. Ultimately the solution was simple, efficient and directly in front of me all along. I love doodling with ballpoint pens. I love the sketchy feel, the unfinished energy and the excuse to not have to be perfect. So, duh, why not do that? So I did and I have. I doodle everything in my notebook. Small doodles which make it easier to get the perspective and proportions semi-correct. Scan it in with the phone and tighten it up a bit in Photoshop and maybe a few rounds of details and hatching. Voila. It retains the frenetic energy of the doodle and still has a finished look. More importantly, it's fun. #book #books #bookstagram #bookworm #bookish #book #bookstagram #art #literature #poetry #booknerds #writer #writerlife #writerofinstagram #yareads #yabooks
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When the dogs want to eat but the cat wants to play tank. #cats #catsofinstagram #cat #catstagram #catsagram #instacat #catslife #catlover #catsofworld #catoftheday #catsofinsta #catlovers #kitty #lovecats #catsrule #meow #catsdaily #kitten #catslover #ilovemycat #catsofig #instacats #catlife #pets #ilovecats #kittens #pet
Never underestimate the power of doodling. Here’s a quick sample of my illustration process for the Conjurers. I want the art for these books to have that same frenetic, chaotic look as my ballpoint pen doodles. Usually I use the small, thumbnail doodles as a reference to pencil the final drawing. but, using that method, I tend to steer back to my comic book style which battles my cartoony style and I end up with a stiff, flat, boring picture. So on this go around, I decided to scan in those imperfect, scratchy doodles and ink on top. Seems to work so far. What I end up with are outlines of the final illustration. Once the book layout is done, I’ll give the drawings another few passes, adding a lot more details. I’m also hiding Easter Eggs for my magician friends and some clues for books two and three.
This year’s Halloween Comic was hard to read on Gocomics. I’m posting a larger size here. Here’s hoping Gocomics brings back the zoom feature. Ideally, I would love to do the strip as a full page Sunday comic every week. Obviously, that is not the state of newspapers comics at the moment.
Today, I little insight to my art process. Recently, I worked out new pieces in my sketchbook. Starting with small thumbnails, I end up with a decently composited sketch:
I scan these sketches in with my phone. Quick and easy. The sketch is only a loose guideline for the final piece so I don’t need a high quality scan. Once I place the sketch into my Photoshop document, I can further tweak the different elements till I get a pleasing layout.
Once I’m relatively happy with the
Above is a screenshot of the tree section. A lot of little detail here, so working in a separate, smaller file makes things a lot easier.
In the image above, I’ve pieced together the main character inks and that weird carriage. Some background characters are still in the pencil stages as I haven’t committed to the final layout or
I’ve got a long way to go before I finish the inks. Then onto colors. I’ll post that process down the road. The light at the end of the tunnel is that I will probably use this piece for both a convention banner and bookmarks.
A few days ago we took in a little pittie foster, Thelma, from temporary foster family. She had been rescued from a hoarding situation and had demodex. It’s a nasty condition and needs lots of care and also adorable SPF dresses to protect her from the sun.
After her foster mom dropped Thelma off, we knew this was going to be a long-term deal. No problem. Been there, done that. If we made eye contact, Thelma left the room. She spent the first few hours howling for her first foster mom and checking every window. Heartbreaking. It would take time and patience. Trouble was she needed regular baths and treatment for her condition. We couldn’t get close enough to pet her and you can’t rush fearful dogs.
The first night, Gunnar and I spent over an hour trying to get her upstairs for bed.
This morning, every astral body aligned, and I got a text from here former foster mom. She had adopted Thelma and was coming to get her! I’m sharing the video of their reunion. Unfortunately, I missed the first minute when Thelma was jumping into orbit but it’s still enough to choke me up.As always, if you are looking to adopt a dog, please visit Long Trails to Happy Tails or your nearest shelter or rescue.
I’ll be handing over the manuscript for book three at the end of May. I won’t start on the illustrations for some time. First have to get books one and two all illustrated up. However, as I work through the prose, I take a little time here and there to whip out a speed sketch from one of the scenes. It gives me a chance to at least have drafts of the final drawings lying around. It also allows me to work out the style for the final images. Trying to keep them light and sketchy and moving.
I won’t be posting a lot of illustrations from book three as they will contain a lot of spoilers for the first two books. Never the less, there will be plenty more to post when the actual drawing begins.
Warming up to illustrate book one. Like I mentioned yesterday, I’ll be editing book three and cranking out the drawings for book one over the next few months. Yesterday I drew my favorite supporting cast members, the Grubians. Those of you who have read the webcomic will be familiar with these rapscallions. And if you liked them there, wait till you get a load of them in the novels.
Fair to say, these guys are my Shakespearean clowns, although they play a pivotal role in the first three books. My inspiration for them goes well past Shakespeare. My magician friends will notice a similarity to another tall and short magic duo. Except my big guy is the non-talker. Yep, Penn & Teller. Two of my biggest influences in magic since the third grade. They were the starting point for these two.
Halfway through writing book one, I realized another influence for this pair were Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. If those names aren’t familiar, google them and then get the book that pops up in the results. I also recommend getting the comic adaptation and the BBC tele-play and of course the BBC radio drama version. Trust me on this.
Lastly, the names. Was it too obvious? My devious Grubians are named after Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, the two writers I can’t live without. Well, also Susan Hill, but I have another character based on her we’ll get to later.
That’s it for today. Back to editing book three and sketching up the art for book one. I’ll be sure to post my progress on both.
Time usually flies, however in the case of “The Conjurers”, the series seemed to have fallen into a temporal loop. Much of that was because, from the beginning, I was trying to do something different. Found a few potholes but also found a few things that worked. So where does it stand now?
My editor and I came up with a timeline with definitive dates and goals to get this done. A lot of what slowed us down was having portions of the stories told through sequential art. Prose blended into comics and vice versa. That’s great if you have the text finalized. We didn’t. So, change some prose and you had to change the drawings. Change a drawing and you had to add some prose. Round and round it went. We made a few compromises on the scope of the illustrations and also put all our focus on getting the prose done.
This weekend I sent out book two. Now I’m onto the final pass on book three and simultaneously illustrating book one. That means book one is actually, really, truly in production. Which also means I should have a publication date soon. The next few months will be more insane than the last few (in which I was only re-writing one book). along the fall through this rabbit hole I’ll post updates on the illustrations for book one and the manuscript for book three. Confused yet? Me too. That’s why I have it written down. Either way, I think the trip will end up in wonderland, which is not a bad place at all.
Forget, for a minute, all the hype. All the trash talking, all the money, the cars, the show. These days in MMA and boxing hype is what sells a fight. But it’s not what makes the fighter. Strip all that away and you’ll see what martial arts is all about.
Forget all the analysts. Well, almost all. Brendan Schaub is the only one who has looked at this fight through the prism of rationality since before the fight was real. For the most part, analysts have dug trenches around their prospective camps. Boxing on one side and MMA on the other.
This fight is about neither one. Any fight is, regardless of discipline or rule sets, only about the two combatants on that day, on that moment. That’s it. It’s not MMA versus Boxing. It’s Conor against Floyd.
Only by stripping away all the PR glitter will you then be able to see clearly the true lessons that fighting can teach you, regardless of the outcome. I’ve shared a great, short video that does just that. Yes, it’s a Conor video. Yes, I’m biased towards MMA and Irish fighters. But it illustrates a priceless lesson that can be applied to anything in life. Although fighting, especially MMA will tattoo it on your soul.
And my prediction for the fight of the century? Conor will knock him out in the second round. I won’t bore you with the details of that conclusion, instead check out the video and replace fighting with whatever it is you want to accomplish.
I’m still new to the t-shirt game and I’ve missed creating designs for a few holidays here and there but I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on Halloween. Here’s a few, some are Dog eat Doug inspired and some are for fun.
Same as the first shirt, but sans moon. I like them both. Maybe I should do one with Sophie carrying a bone? Not sure how I didn’t think of that before now.
Click here if you would like to see all the Dog eat Doug shirts available on Amazon. Hopefully soon they will add the ability to have a separate storefront. For now, I’m thrilled with the quality of the shirts and how easy it is for people to order them at Amazon. Only had on hiccup so far. If you do have any issues, or an idea you’d like to see on a t-shirt, drop me a line!
The trials and tribulations of writing a fantasy novel series.
So, ya, about that fantasy novel series. Where are they at and what’s happening? Are they ever going to come out? It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the novels, mainly because there wasn’t a terrible lot to post about. Thought I’d give a quick run down on their status. Good news and bad news. Bad news first? Good idea. Get it out of the way. Here we go.
The Bad News
I have no idea when “The Conjurers” book one will launch. From the get go, I had an ambitious idea of creating a hybrid fantasy novel that weaved prose in and out of the illustrations. Cool! Exciting! Never been done before! Yes, all very well and nifty, however, as is to be expected when doing things four miles away from the nearest box, you bumble your way along a foggy road that has never been mapped. The first tree in the road was attempting to write the prose and work out the illustrations at the same time. But when the prose changes, so do the illustrations and when the illustrations change the prose needs adjusting. Round and round it went for a bit. Finally a couple faint, swinging lights appeared in the fog.
The first was coming to terms with the fact that, on my inaugural outing writing a fantasy series, I wasn’t going to be able to pull off some the word C.G.I. where text blended into a sequential series of drawings and then seamlessly merged back into traditional prose. It was clunky and at times, too comic book-ish. Once I accepted that, there was another looming issue.
The original draft of book one was just over ninety-thousand words, and that was before adding in the pages and pages of illustrations. The book would’ve been more a piece of furniture than a fun read kids could tote around in their backpacks. Thankfully, a new creative director had just flown over on white, feathery wings to my publisher and she had the light bulb moment that pulled the whole project out of the muck. “Why not split book one into two books?”
And boom! Just like that, books one and two were written. Sort of. Now I could focus on polishing the text for book one and finalize the what and where of the illustrations. Right now, as I wait for notes on the final edits for book one, I am sharpening and molding book two (formerly the second half of book one) into it’s own complete story arc. The neat bit is that where book one was torn in half makes the series more of a cliff–hangar serial. That is to say, at the end of the new book one everyone dies. Just kidding.
The Good News
Onto the good news! Mainly, that book one is nearing completion and should have an official release date soon. The second breath of fresh air is that, because books two and three are more or less written, there won’t be any delays between releases. By the time book one thumps onto shelves, I should have book two wrapped and will be putting the finishing bits of spackle on book three.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting more often, given that I have a slightly sturdier grip on this eel like process. And that also means, as I promised myself, I’ll post a lot more sketches.
Officially out today! Notice anything different? I’ve gone back to what I call the “Garfield” sized books. Remember those collections? Apart from nostalgia, I went back to this format to help bring the costs a bit, which is a tall order when dealing with Amazon and Createspace.
On the plus side, the book already has fifteen reviews in the first day! A humongous thank you to my newsletter subscribers. I’m working on putting together another free book as a thank you. It may or may not be Dog eat Doug related.
I get a lot of questions about DeD volume 1 and when it might be re-released. Well, I can answer that now: soon. The lovely people at Andrews McMeel made it super easy for me to get the rights and the full color files so that I could publish it under my own banner. I’ll have more on that once I get the files and stitch together the ebook version. Might add in some extras. Who knows?
And lastly, a quick word on the Conjurers books. I have sent the final edits off to my publisher. Now we can start locking down the layout and the illustrations. That’s something I can grind through much faster. So expect to start seeing lots of bits and pieces as the book comes together.
It was a long, tough learning experience. Just to give you a rough idea, the first draft of book one was 90,000 words. Add to that the fact that I was doing something completely different with the illustrations, blending and weaving them in and out of the text. Well, myself and the genius team at Crown Books found a way through it. I think you’re going to enjoy the ride.
As I rummage through the archives for the next collection, I thought I’d pull a few oldies out and share them on the sight. These are strips that I forgot about completely. It’s like getting to read them for the first time. Sometimes they make me laugh. This one did, although the art is horrendous. Not sure if I was experimenting with new styles or hadn’t slept in three days.
So this obviously means I’m currently putting together volume 9, and I have made a few changes. First off, in order to reduce costs on the print versions, I’m going back to the smaller book size. Self-publishing image heavy books is a major hurdle. And printing them in color makes it similar to financing a Mars rover. Remember volume two? I picked that size because that was what Garfield collections looked like when I was a kid. I switched to the larger format just to deliver more comics in each book. The trade off, of course, was the price.
Once I have the title and cover done, I’ll post the new size here.