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Creative Process

Thoughts on personal creative process and development
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Marooned

Creator of the Marooned long-form webcomic, Tom Dell'Aringa asked me to do an illustration for the collection/graphic novel, which has been successfully funded via Kickstarter. Here's the process on my piece.

Marooned_PaulF_process

I'd hemmed and hawed on the content, layout and style for a while, finally tossing out all my ideas and scribbles at the last minute for a different stylistic take on the Marooned characters. I modeled the alien terrain on The Garden of the Gods, in Colorado, where I spent a week with my my family on vacation in '76, taking some color cues from that area, as well. With a couple green creatures in the piece, I made my stars lean green, for balance. Then, for the last touch, I added four different textures, but I'm not sure you can really tell the diff. I gotta stock up on more textures!

Even if you missed the campaign, copies of the Marooned book may available once Tom has them printed up, and it's off to press as I type. In the meantime, visit pixelmech.com to see what else Tom is up to!

marooned_book

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Music Video Art: Creative Process

Here's one way I create my art and comics:

HRR_CLee_garage_process For this series, I did all the roughs and layouts in Photoshop. I move those into Manga Studio, where I tighten the pencils (if need be - this one didn't) and jump into the line art. Inking in Manga Studio allows me to work quickly and loosely - I just undo strokes I don't like, and try again. I export the line to Illustrator, Live Trace it and color away! Doing the final art as vector allows me to re-size as needed without any loss in resolution - if I want to do a large poster of any of these at a later date, it'll be no sweat.

Maybe that seems like a lot of bouncing around from program to program, but many times I'll pencil in Manga Studio, and color in Photoshop. Whatever the needs of the project, I'll do, and this process is still much faster than the time consumimg process I've used for traditional pencils and inks.

This one of about fifty pieces needed for a music video I'm working on. Some frames are less involved, some more. I'm more than half-way through, and I can't wait for you to watch the video!

In the meantime, check out song samples, or maybe pick up the Holy Rocka Rollaz CD pack - C'mon And Shine On!

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R.I.P. Dutch

Elmore Leonard

Mr. Leonard’s Writing Advice:

• Never open a book with weather • Avoid prologues • Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue • Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” • Keep your exclamation points ­under control • Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose” • Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly • Avoid detailed descriptions of characters • Don’t go into great detail describing places and things • Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip

In his name, go forth and write.

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New Tools

Trying out the Zebra brush pens Mitch Gerads gave me last night. Used in tandem with my trusty Pentel Pocket Brush, I may be honing in on the look for a crime comic project.

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Nepali Boy: Roughs to Inks

I haven't been sketching for its own sake the last couple weeks, obsessed instead with finishing the 15-page first chapter of my Méto the Abominable Snowboy comic. It's all drawn in Manga Studio. I skip the pencil step, drawing/inking from roughs. I love this process, as I can undo a stroke quickly and try again, leading to loose and expressive line work. No Wite-Out needed, either - I can just erase the ink on my Magic Drawing Glass!

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Creative Contemplation

A writer friend of mine has said that thinking is not writing - writing is rather sitting down at the paper, typewriter or keyboard and doing the work, the actual writing. There is something to this. Many folks talk about writing, think about writing, but until they set something down, build up the skills, it's just talk. I've done my share of avoiding the hard work of writing. But once you've got some under your belt, some of the best bits of plot, character development and structure can come at unlikely moments - while showering, making a sandwich, mowing the lawn, lying in bed. Creators must be ready to snatch those gifts when the muse visits, record them before they vanish. But creators must also nurture their craft - the more one writes, sketches, plays or sings, the more supple and sparkling their creative mind will be.

Gene Fowler said, "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."

I guess that's the trick - to know when to stop staring at the blank page, jump in and get busy, and when to take a step back and just think.

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Coast Guard Lobster


I recently had the pleasure working on a piece for the Coast Guard, a cartoon lobster illustration to be used on a coin and more. I did the art while the agency I worked with handled the rest of the border design and display font.

My first pass had the lobster simpler and happier:
I was provided more reference for the buoys. They also wanted to see his eyes on stalks and a bit more of his lower body, so...
And everyone liked it fine. But with more time to assess and with more eyes on it, they wanted to go a different direction, so I drew up this new rough:


I like how it turned out, but still have a soft spot for my first lobster.  =  )
Here's a look at my final illustration sans border:

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Art Students at Work

The latest class was a workshop day - no lectures, demos, guest speakers or in-depth critiques. That leaves less for the teacher to do. Luckily, I had my trusty Pentel Pocket Brush and some marker paper, so was able to sketch some artists at work.

Sure, a good amount of what artists do is drawing, but so much - especially in early stages of the creative process - is the hard brain work of writing and/or planning. Considered and refined are characters, design, composition, layout. Stories are tossed, creative lovelies are snuffed out, the work takes shape as decisions are made, new paths discovered and forged.

Every artist is not only in the process of honing their skills and craft, settling in on their style, but are in the act of creating themselves. Call it exploration, expression, self-actualization. These presentations and personae are experimented with, some discarded for a new look, sometimes they fit like a glove and stick...at least for a time.

Each artist gets comfy with how they like to work: tools, environment, trappings, habits and posture. Most have a tendency to get their noses right down there into the work. I know I do.

Students nowadays come equipped with their own laptop and headphones. They're plugged in to keep inspired and entertained, to research conceptually and visually. Alongside the traditional tools of brush & ink, pencils and a sketchbook is a tangle of cords, and a slick screen.

A relaxed posture can belie a confused creative mind. Those somewhat scruffy-lookin' can have the most ordered thoughts and/or work spaces. Some that appear more together can be most disorganized or work away amidst chaos. I've been all of these and more.

Drawing/writing/creating is part what we see, part what we know. We observe the people and world around us, filter it through our selves, our personality and sensibilities to capture truth, perhaps create new worlds. We explore, test an idea there, make a mark here, feeling things out tentatively, striking out boldly in an effort to convey and connect.

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Brute: In Stages


I sketched up and inked this brute in Manga Studio, then added a textured background and colored with the Chalk brush. On that rocky surface, he seems pretty solid.

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SpongeMonkey: Dad & Sis

Two more character sketches for my SpongeMonkey story. Sid's Dad and sister, Imogen.

As I continue to write the story, I notice it's changed it's focus a couple times as I honed in on what's it's really about, keeping that clear now in my sights. Knowing the themes, plot and story points informs the character sketches, and vice versa. Imogen had a different name earlier, and certain traits I wanted in the sketch were at odds slightly with how I was writing her. This sketch has altered her character and will change a scene or two, some lines that don't fit anymore.

In just the last week or two: the story has taken more solid shape; I've settled on the look, process and format; and the characters are becoming more whole and complex, both visually and in terms of personality.

What fun!