this rough is pretty rough
but its the building blocks of a new steps strip
this rough is pretty rough
but its the building blocks of a new steps strip
the nice thing about printing these up myself is that i can make changes late in the game
when i printed up a few copies of steps volume 2, for instance, i was unsatisfied with the size of the images in the book (in a way that i wasn’t with volume 1)
the comics felt too small. they had no oomph. no impact at that size
so i decided to go with a 2 x 2 frame instead of fully vertical
with this change in the layout the images are quite a bit bigger. i didnt realize how important having those panels be as large as possible is – especially since the panel don’t change much
my plan is to start printing these no later than april 16
last night, after little guy went to bed, i started laying out steps volume 2 while watching avengers: infinity war on netflix. (it was good. but brutal. spidey’s death was heartbreaking.)
i was going to reveal the cover here, but right before i pressed ‘publish’ i decided to keep it hidden…
volume 2 collects all of the february 2018 comics
volume 1 is still available in the shop. ( i’m biased of course, since it’s me assembling these by hand, but it’s still amazing to me how good these little zines feel. the colors look great too.)
and i’ve started filling my sketchbook with the bones of new strips i can’t wait to get to work on
here’s the wave of zines i printed last week on display at the zinefest this past weekend
there’s ‘balloon head man,’ collecting the book i serialized on screentone last year
also, ‘steps volume 1,’ a collection of the first 15 steps strips
and, ‘sh*tty sketches,’ featuring my favorite doodles from 2017 – 2018
(the books feel so good in hand… i didn’t expect that)
and maybe this is burying the lede, but i created a store to sell the copies that i didn’t sell
so if you want one you can get one! i’ll mail it to you! u.s. orders only currently:( since i don’t know what i’m doing
printed up some zines for a local zine fest this past weekend
just using my desktop printer
for some reason it doesnt like scooping up cardstock in to the feeder on its own so i have to feed the cardstock in sheet by sheet
each book took about a half hour to print
then i fold them staple them and lay bricks down on the books to flatten them out
here’s a timelapse of the making of the straw strip i posted a few days ago
havent had a timelapse in awhile since i havent been working digitally
here’s a look at the first version of yesterday’s steps strip
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
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.)
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:
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…
a new strip is up
(this is a close-up of the sketch)
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:)
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.
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.
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?
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.
finally a new strip up, the scrape
and here’s the sped up screengrab if you’d like to see how it all came together. or didn’t come together? i’m never sure if these comics work or not.
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.
i just realized how wonky the perspective was in the drawing of the doorway
and of course you can see how lazy i am when i just copy and paste the doorway from panel to panel
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
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
here’s about 45 minutes of drawing compressed into about 45 seconds
if you watch closely you can see how lazy i am
once i get a good drawing i recycle it in all the panels and just adjust what i need to
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
No time or energy for a finished strip
So you get this sketchbook sketch which isn’t a strip yet
Which is definitely the opposite of how it usually works but I’m tired
I hope doing it this way doesn’t take away the punch from the eventual strip when I get to it
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
some days you just dont feel like you can draw
i think the outstretched arm of grandpa gets lost amongst the squiggles here
you’re seeing about an hour and a half go by in about a minute
lot of struggle in this one
figuring out the timing
figuring out the color
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
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…