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self-rejected steps strip

here’s a look at the first version of yesterday’s steps strip

reject

i hated it when i got done with it

the son character was too difficult to distinguish from the background

i tried a lot of different things to get the background to ‘fade back’

first i tried erasing it (you can see where the paper tore and i had to repair it with tape)

then i painted over it with white watercolor

the strip really looked like a mess to me, and i couldnt stand the sight of it, so i decided to redo it

i’m glad i did, because the second ‘published’ version fits in to the look of the other steps strips better

but now i love the look of the first version (how did that happen?)

i love the messiness – it could be a good look for a future project

here’s a look at the strip earlier in the process

looking at it now, i realize that this would have worked too

all i really needed to do was darken the kid to separate him from the tv and tv stand

i think  i panicked while working and fumbling with the watercolors

one of the things i need to do better is remember to slow down while i’m working

digging in to the brushes and paints again

urinalwatercolor1

urinalwatercolor2

urinalwatercolor3

what i like about working digitally is not having to see my mistakes for very long

i can get through more bad drawings faster

but posting old work on screentone is giving me a chance to get back in to the brushes and inks and paints

here’s a few stages from a piece last night

felt so clumsy and missed that undo button

but stuck with it long enough to push through some of those feelings and doubts and wanting to quits

on the next one i need to SLOW DOWN – be more patient – have a lighter touch

(and if you can’t tell what’s going on in this sketch, and who could blame you, the dad is installing a little urinal for potty training)

(also: look at that terrible drawing of a toilet. just look at it. it is so squat and fat. sheesh.)

check out previous watercolor attempts here

 

timelapse of the airplane drawing

Forgot to turn on the screen capture of me going from the sketchbook sketch to the digital sketch, from yesterday’s on the airplane strip, so here’s the sketchbook sketch:

ontheairplane

 

And then the timelapse begins after i get the digital sketch overlaid.

As you can tell, I really had some trouble figuring out the color for this one. I ended up back at the watercolor look, but without the ‘ink’ lines on top…

 

 

new strip up: on the airplane

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 2.40.00 PM

 

a new strip is up

(this is a close-up of the sketch)

take a look

this one gave me a lot of trouble, especially the color

i took a more…painterly? approach so the process was pretty…winding

a couple of false starts

the timelapse video should be pretty crazy:)

dialogue dilemmas and color quandries

I’ve struggled with the idea of using dialogue in ‘steps’ for awhile. I’ve used it a couple of times in one panel strips like this one and this one, but it has never felt right for the four panel strip.

So using it the other day was a personal milestone. I hope that it opens up more storytelling opportunities, and it still may, but the strip feels more powerful to me without the dialogue.

 

And with the added element of the dialogue, it became more difficult to juggle all of the other elements of the strip, especially color.

I published and replaced three versions of the airport strip before finally settling on the final.

Here’s a little of my thoughts behind each version.

 

20june2018

The first problem was version one of the strip just felt too crowded. The dad, especially, is too tall, giving the strip a rigidity that feels wrong.

So I went through and reduced the size of all the figures and backgrounds in the panels, giving a little more white space around everything.

It also felt like the big blob of blue on the plane in the final panel diminished the impact of little guy’s ‘I DON’T WANT TO GET ON AN AIRPLANE!’ by being too visually distracting.

 

20june2018-2

Now there’s a little more white space around all the figures, which makes me feel better.

I also decided to remove the color from the chair that the Woman Reading sits on in Panel 3 to better emphasize her.

But even after removing the blue of  the airplane in the final panel it still feels too crowded. Now what?

20june2018-3

I removed the lines in the background suggesting the doorway to the jetway out to the plane.

I also removed the color from the podium that the ticket handler stands behind, giving more emphasis to her, the dad, and the son.

The final change I made was to panel 1.

Though I really liked the blue and green on the backpack and shoes of Random Traveler #1, I decided to eliminate those colors when I couldn’t find another use for them in any of the remaining panels.

The last minor change was to the Reading Woman’s sweater to brown since that purple wasn’t being used elsewhere either.

(I remember my high school art teacher telling us that if you use a color, always use it twice so that it looks like we did it on purpose.)

See the final result here.

scarecrow timelapse

 

here’s a timelapse of the making of yesterday’s scarecrow strip

i’ve also added the webcomics plugin so that you can easily read all of the past ‘steps’ strips. (i don’t know why i call the strips featuring little guy ‘steps’ but i think it works.

this plug in lets me keep the latest strip at the top of the blog and gives you an easy way to navigate them. the double arrow takes you back to the first ‘steps’ strip, the single arrow lets you increment back to the previous strip, and the little infinity symbol takes you to a random strip.

take it for a spin and let me know what you think.

the couch cushion timelapse

 

 

here’s the timelapse of the couch cushion strip from a few days ago

the process usually goes like this:

i see a moment in real life that i think will work for the strip: in this case it was watching little guy move the cushion so he could sit down on the couch

(and right now i’m focusing on those moments that dont require any dialogue, right now i’m more interested in telling these little stories without dialogue, so i’ve passed on some great moments that have dialogue. maybe that will change in the future)

then i’ll need to puzzle out how this moment will break down in to 4 frames – i have to select my 4 moments which usually takes some trial and error with some really bad drawings, just diagrams really, in the sketchbook that help me quickly find those 4 moments

then i take a photo of the sketches and cut and paste those moments into the frames of the page

since i had already done a couch strip, i decided to recycle the background from that previous strip not only for continuity, but also because i am very lazy

from there i need to do the actual drawings (which in this case were pretty dismal, though they hopefully worked)

select my colors

go back in and fix little guy’s smile on the last panel (it looked a little creepy the first go-round)

and that was about it

when i write it all out like this it makes the process feel a little mechanical, but for me the magic lies in recognizing the moment when it occurs, and enjoying the finished strip when i’m done

timelapse of the easter strip

color was really important in this strip (i mean, color is always important for me, and i kind of sweat it when coloring the strip, but color was especially important to the storytelling of this particular strip)

i don’t think this strip could have worked in black and white (and some of my past strips absolutely could have, but i like color…and now i’m not even sure of what my original point was.

anyway, hope you enjoy seeing the strip come together at high speeds, it always seems a minor miracle to me when a strip is finished

search timelapse

here’s the screen capture of me working on the ‘search’ strip from a few days ago

i also reorganized the ‘comics’ menu item so it is just finished strips now. no process videos or sketches making it easier to scroll through past strips without all that junk in the way

so if the sketches, videos, and various other asides that appear between strips aren’t in your wheelhouse, you can just bookmark the comics page and see the most recent strips

 

 

 

 

zipper comic timelapse

it is hard to wear a zipper sweater and carry him because he likes to zip up the zipper and catch my neck skin in it

i don’t know if that came across  in the strip or not

not only were the drawings difficult for me on this one, but so was the ‘timing’ of the strip – trying to figure out which moments to show so that the reader understands whats going on and the punchline  is effective

 

 

 

putting together the pepper strip timelapse

 

 

what’s great about this timelapse is it shows how nothing came easy on this one

and when i saw little guy trying to grind pepper with the pepper shaker at the restaurant i thought i had it made

but then i realized i needed to show all of the other times he saw me using a pepper grinder

and none of the drawings came easy

the staging of that last panel was especially difficult. and the drawing was pretty bad. I’m not even sure it is clear what is going on.

even the colors of the strip were dificult. i worried that there would be too many colors in the last panel so i decided to go monotone throughout.

i decided on yellow just because i thought it would be funny to color in the yolks in panel 3.

my first attempt at yellow looked like pee. so i made it bolder.

i’m not sure i agree with that decision.

ultimately i still think the idea was good, but the execution lacked on almost every level.

i think ive mentioned before i have no idea what im doing

snowball time lapse

here’s the timelapse of me drawing the snowball comic strip

this is an interesting one to look at because the strip went through so many changes after i stopped recording

i decided to run it vertically

having no expression on the little guy in the last panel felt most right for the ‘punchline’

but even more interesting (to me i guess) was the decision to change the first panel

the close up of little guy packing a snowball seemed to ruin the ‘rhythm’ of the piece

that panel seemed too ‘big’ – too ‘loud’ for the next three panels

for some reason, it seems like the strip works better the smaller the changes between the panels

smaller the changes between panel the more power the final panel seems to have for me

i wonder why that is…