Monthly Art Giveaway, July 2019

I am so thankful for my Patron! Every month I show my appreciation by randomly selecting a Patron to receive a one of a kind, original piece of artwork, hand-drawn by yours truly!

Andrew, this little beauty is on it’s way to you! Thank you for your support!

As a Patron, you can see how I am writing, illustrating, and designing my first Comic-Novel! It is a realtime diary and knowledge share from me, a thirty-year design veteran as I pursue this personal goal and stretch beyond my creative comfort zone and grow.

So, please enjoy this process post for free! It is an excellent example of the type of content I am sharing!

Digital artwork has so many advantages over analog (traditional) artwork. I could list them all, and it would echo hundreds of pro and con lists you can readily find online. So, I am not going to go there. What value I think I can add is like any tool, where can it be used to make all the artwork you create better and save you time.

For this piece, I had multiple goals,

-Create a prize-worthy piece of artwork to give to one of my Patrons

-Explore some designs for Kickstarter rewards

-Try something new

-Continue to explore the final outlook for one of my characters

So, this character is from my book that is in development. He doesn’t have a name yet. However, I already know his beginning and end. The view is another angle from a scene in my book (which you can see and read the prototype online for free). This artwork shows considerably more of him than his first appearance in the book. I used this opportunity to explore what some of his armor might be. What is interesting about his character is that he doesn’t fight with some monstrous sword or axe as the genre might demand. He engages in combat with a long knife (as pictured) and a sword-breaker on the other hand.

I drew the scene for this card in ClipStudio Paint, so I had maximum editability, and the base artwork would serve for a digital piece as part of my backer rewards. I am always trying to maximize my efforts.

The artwork is 6x9in and a 600dpi resolution file making it future proof. Mainly I will be able to do almost anything with it after.

When I had the roughs the way I liked them, I printed it on my Brother $99 B/W laser printer.

I took a piece of 12x18in Cougar, 100# cover stock and cut it down with some straight edges and an X-Acto knife to multiple 6x9in cards.

I used post-it notes to fasten the blank cardstock to the laser-printed rough. I use post-it notes for a couple of reasons, the glue doesn’t harm the sheet (unless you leave it on for an un-Godly length of time) and I fold the corners up so I have “handles” that I can use to reposition the card as I am drawing.

On my LED light tablet, I completed the final drawing using the rough as my guide. I was not happy with it for some reason, so fighting the urge to erase it all, I put it away for a day, and when I came back to it, I could see more clearly what was wrong. The door was too short. So, I freehanded the more extended door in place and proceeded to ink and color the final piece.

I inked the final piece with a 01 Prismacolor fine tip ink pen. I line mostly everything first with thin lines and then go back with a brush pen to selectively fatten up lines and add an irregular stroke to things.

For color, I used a Tombow brush marker, N89, and N79 for the gray tones, using multiple passes to build the values. I then used these “no-brand” watercolor brushes I purchased at a local Micheals.

I hope that I shared something that will help you achieve your creative goals. I know you have them, so what’s the hold-up? Get after it!

Kickstarter video shoot, the set-up

Collaboration is wonderful and essential for most creative endeavors. Having someone to offer a fresh perspective or a contrary view…Collaboration is excellent and essential for most creative endeavors. Having someone to offer a fresh perspective or a contrary view can often focus your vision, reminding you of the reason you are doing things the way you are. They can also get you off track.

I have gotten to the place where I will thoughtfully consider most suggestions.

Everything I am going to share was the way I approached this challenge, and all of the steps and suggestions are scalable.

Fortunately, I have a photographer friend who is very interested in shooting and editing video. So, when he contacted me, wondering if I had a video project in mind, I responded, I do!

As a photographer and video hobbyist he had all of the equipment, here is the list.

Digital SLR camera

Digital point and shoot camera

(2) tripods for both cameras

(1) directional microphone (with a boom-type rig to suspend it above my face, off camera)

A device that attached to the flash mount on the SLR which wirelessly connected with the mic, recording the audio to the SLR video.

A headset to listen to the audio while recording to make sure my sound was clear, and nothing was going on in the background.

Things that I provided,

-Computer and teleprompt software during recording.

-Infrared presentation clicker, to remotely control the teleprompt software.

-The studio space.

I know what you are thinking, “Wow. That is impressive, and I have none of that equipment.” That is okay! My original plan was to shoot and record all of this on my mobile phone. And still could, but more important than the equipment are some of the ideas my photographer friend brought to the project. These ideas could help elevate your next video project.

Multi-cameras.

The objective is to record your talent from two angles. The benefit is you can cut back and forth in post-production and keep things visually appealing to your audience.

-Use an alternate viewpoint of your talent to emphasize something they are saying.

-Use one view of your talent leading into a still or video of your project that would have a voiceover, and come back to the alternate talent view.

– Use the alternative view at pauses in your dialogue to make long stretches of your talent speaking feel shorter.

You can achieve this technique on the cheap with portable tripods for mobile devices. I purchased one for under $15 (US) on Amazon.

You can also use multiple mobile phones shooting the same video and audio at different viewing angles. I would probably try and make sure that they were similar phones, but the color balancing of the video footage will happen in post-production, so it might not be a problem.

Audio.

My photographer friend had some expensive audio equipment; however, I had a hack in mind for recording audio with a mobile device. I was going to purchase an inexpensive microphone and use an audio recording app on my daughter’s mobile phone.

Script preparation

Break your script into manageable chunks, so you are shooting smaller takes that when assembled in post-production, will make the final, longer composite video.

-Shortening the takes will make editing the video footage much more manageable, especially jumping between the two viewpoints.

-When shooting each take in smaller batches, if your talent messes up, there is less opportunity for them to get tongue tied on retakes.

In my experience, it is best that you break your script up in logical places, with the shorter takes in mind.

When we shot each video take, my friend wanted me to clap with my hands audibly before I began speaking. He said that he would use those “claps” in post-production when synching 

the audio with the video.

I used my Surface Studio as a teleprompter with software that I downloaded from the Windows Store. This software was terrific and offered a free trial version with full functionality. I bought it a week later for $8.99.

Be sure to check out the attachments!

More to come on this subject! We still have to shoot the secondary footage and post-production leading to the final video.

I hope this blesses you!

Kickstarter script, revealed

The main focus of this Patreon page is to share the process, including the ups and downs of creating my first comic-novel. Why? Well, as a dreamer, I have spent years going to comic conventions to attend panels from professional artists and writers with the hopes of gathering enough information to pursue my dreams of writing and illustrating my books. I also scoured blogs, podcasts, and artbooks sifting for gold in the sand. But, it has taken me three decades to get to this point. That is thrilling and sobering for me at the same time. Thrilling because I am closer than I have ever been. Sobering, because three decades is a long time to keep a dream alive. But, as God is my witness, I have never let go.

So, what if there was a place where for the entire year you could see the progress and more importantly, the process and strategies for bringing a large project like this to life? Well, search no further.

I have been planning this Kickstarter campaign for a couple of years. The most significant positive impact has been the connection I made with Tyler James at Comixlaunch. He and his large community have given me the last few nuggets of information I was missing, and all for free. He regularly shares a podcast and through his email subscriber list invites subscribers to attend free online streaming events where he shares his strategies as a successful comic book publisher using Kickstarter. His link is below.

A large part of a successful campaign is an informative video. Cringe. I up until recently was not a fan of myself in photos or video. So, to combat that unreasonable fear I found a course on Udemy.com, and even though I am only part of the way through it, it has also provided enough confidence to reach this milestone and film my first video! Alexa Fischer teaches it. Her course link is below. Very inexpensive.  Udemy is another great site to subscribe to for emails. They are always running specials, and it is a great way to keep learning new skills affordably.

My steps for the script creation were nothing out of the ordinary. All of the support images are attached.

I am visual, so I started with rough storyboard sketches of how I wanted the video to flow. These should be rough, flexible visual notes for you only. You are merely trying to visualize and capture those thoughts so you can organize them into something final. They should not be pretty or even recognizable to anyone but you.

These served as the basis for a first draft script. This step again is mostly for you, so the formatting is “scripty” not professional. I use Grammarly.com for early drafts of most things I write. I love to write, but I am not a grammar nerd, and it educates me as it offers corrections which have, in turn, made me a more confident writer. There is a free version, and if you sign up for it, you will receive promotional offers. I always base paid subscriptions on a realistic look at how much do I use this service versus how much do I want to use this service. They offer half off subscription promotions, and I took advantage of one of their offers, knowing that I will be writing my tail off this year.

So, after I wrote the first draft, there was a space of perhaps a week before I could get back to it. Time away is significant to writing I have found. When you take a break, even just a few hours, you can see what you wrote clearly and make the necessary changes to keep this moving forward.

When I went back to the script, I noticed that I had done a poor job of communicating, influences, and what was my story.

Influences are essential on Kickstarter, watch any video for a creative campaign, and the authors will say something, like “if you like Jason Bourne movies and Pokemon, this story is for you!” That is not the tone I wanted for my video, because frankly, I don’t know what this story is most like within the sprawling landscape of pop-culture. But, sharing those influences will help a backer determine if this project is for them. So, I added that entire section.

I never explained what the story was partly because I have been neck deep in this story for four years, so I wrongly assume that everyone I speak to is at least ankle deep. So, untrue. I added a very brief synopsis of the story arc. Why brief? The shorter I keep the video, the more likely the viewer is to make it to the end. That is important. I want to hook the viewer with enough to investigate the page and hopefully read the preview.

Here is the second draft,

Title text: Once upon a time…

Title text: Dragons ruled over humanity.

Title text: It had always been this way.

Title text: Until a teenager was born, that could slay them.

(logo comes into focus) Dochas: Birth of the Dragon Girl

Alternate take for opening:

Brian: Yes, that was me on the VO. I’m going all Tom Hanks Polar express, and every voice is me! Hi everyone! I am Brian Delaney, the author, and illustrator of Dochas: Birth of the Dragon Girl. I am so psyched you are interested in my project!

Brian: (sitting in the studio chair, books and computer visible, medium shot) Hi, everyone! I am Brian Delaney, the author, and illustrator of Dochas: Birth of the Dragon Girl. I am so psyched you are interested in my project!

Dochas is a fantasy story taking place during the middle ages in a world similar to ours, but where dragons rule over humankind. The protagonist is a young woman named, Dochas and events beyond her control have transpired that give her a thirst for spilling dragon’s blood. If that were not enough to deal with, she has two families, two names and a bloody destiny that no one would want to fulfill. Oh, and she just turned thirteen. I have crafted a tale that will be easy to identify with, but with extraordinary elements, namely dragons and some other exciting bits, sprinkled throughout the narrative. It is a story about addiction, adoption, growing up, and a quest to discover is she who others say she is, or can she be something else?

VO: (book spines and covers from these and more) I have been an avid reader since I was a wee lad, and this story is the culmination of those influences. Everything from C.S.Lewis’s Narnia books, Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series have impacted me from adolescence till now. Visually my storytelling style is a mix of  European, Japanese, and Western comics. Naoki Urasawa of Monster and 21st Century Boys fame, Katsuhiro Otomo who created Akira with the French legend Moebius and even some Frank Miller and Chuck Dixon round out the short list.

Brian: But, I am getting ahead of myself, yes, I am creating my first ever print comic book, but it is not even a comic book. It is a comic novel.

VO: (graphic screen. comic book and novel combining) A comic-novel takes the visual impact and cinematic storytelling of comic books and the imagination based narrative of a novel and combines them to tell one seamless tale.

VO: (final paragraph from page one narrative, leading to panel 1 and 2 of page 2) The narrative power of prose flowing into the cinematic impact of comic books.

Brian: (close-up, holding a printed prototype) I have been prototyping this book and the format for a couple of years, gathering feedback from a group of beta testers, leading to the preview that I am holding. I further tested the concept by having this prototype on the shelves at my local comic shop, released on a Wednesday with all of the major publishers and it sold out that first week.

VO: (computer, tablet with online version) You can read this prototype online at the link below, for free.

Brian: But, these are prototypes, glimmers of the final work to come. As a professional designer for 30 years, I understand the importance of establishing a solid foundation before layering on the other elements.

VO: (Brian Froud, Faeries book spreads) In my youth, a significant influence was the books of Brian Froud published in the late seventies. I loved the immersive quality of them. The illustrations and text intertwined and drew you in.

Brian: (close-up) With that in mind, here is a first look at what the final pages in my book will resemble.

VO: (digital pages and details) Even in the prototype phase, every illustrated detail tells more of the story, sometimes illuminating the past or a foretelling of some future event. From the lead-in caps to the notes scribbled in the page gutters, everything enhances the tale I am telling.

Brian: (close up) As a bonus to every backer of this book, you are invited to be part of a yearlong journey to create and publish my first comic-novel, documented and shared with you as it is happening. I will share it all, with the hopes that it will entertain and encourage you to go for it and create your own, whatever it is that you have to create!

VO: (video of my describing design as I create, holding a fan of note cards and tossing them in the air, text written and then striked through, wipe from storyboards to pencils, wipe from pencils to inks, wipe from inks to color, 3way screen showing video all at once creating captions, page design, logo creation)

This process will not be like the extras on a Blu-Ray disc. I will share all aspects of this project and my process, including my approach to world building. How I am plotting the story and keeping all of the details captured. My writing process, I will share first, second, and final drafts with commentary. How I storyboard and create rough layouts and how those become final digital pencils. Digital inking and how I select colors and add them. What software do I use for each task and how I go about it.

Brian: Also, the ugly parts of the process. The half-drawn concepts that are good enough for me because I am on a deadline. Where and how am I researching what things look like and how they work. Did I set up my files wrong, what now? Have I written myself into a corner, and might have to chew my left leg off to get out? How much of my process is just winging it? All shared through the backer pages, with links to videos and live stream Q&A’s from apps like Discord.

So, please check out the rewards and thank you again for your interest! This project is going to be awesome! Remember if we are going to move forward, Dragons must die!

END

Now that I had a second draft that I was happy with I sent it to a writer friend to read “cold” with the hopes he could offer any writing wisdom and make sure everything made sense and that nothing was unclear. Getting someone to read this thing “cold” means that they have no idea what you are trying to accomplish. They have not been a part of this aspect of the project and can view it as an outsider. Does it have to be a writer? No. But, in my opinion, it should be someone that will shoot straight with you and is not entirely ignorant of what you are trying to accomplish. When I use the word “ignorant,” I am using it in this context as defined,

“lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.

“they were ignorant of astronomy.”

My writing friend shot back a version that “smoothed some of the transitions and made things clearer.” I read over the changes and agreed with most of them, and that became my final draft.

Here are my friend’s edit and the final draft we shot.

Dochas is a fantasy story taking place during the middle ages in a world similar to ours, but where dragons rule over humankind. The protagonist is a young woman named, Dochas and events beyond her control have transpired that give her an unquenchable thirst for spilling dragon’s blood. If that were not enough to deal with, she has two families, two names and a bloody destiny that no one would want to fulfill. Oh, and she just turned thirteen. I have crafted a tale that will be easy to identify with, but features extraordinary elements, like dragons and other exciting bits, sprinkled throughout the narrative. It is a story about addiction, adoption, growing up, and a quest to discover if Dochas will follow the path others have set before her, or if she will forge her own destiny.

VO: (book spines and covers from these and more) I have been an avid reader since I was a wee lad, and this story is the culmination of those influences. Everything from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales, and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series have impacted me from adolescence till now. Visually my storytelling style is a mix of  European, Japanese, and Western comics. Naoki Urasawa of Monster and 21st Century Boys fame, Katsuhiro Otomo who created Akira with the French legend Moebius and even some Frank Miller and Chuck Dixon round out the short list.

Brian: But, I am getting ahead of myself, yes, I am creating my first ever print comic book, but it is not even a comic book. It is a comic novel.

VO: (graphic screen. comic book and novel combining) A comic-novel takes the visual impact and cinematic storytelling of comic books and the imagination based narrative of a novel and combines them to tell one seamless tale.

VO: (final paragraph from page one narrative, leading to panel 1 and 2 of page 2) The narrative power of prose flowing into the cinematic impact of comic books.

Brian: (close-up, holding a printed prototype) I have been prototyping this book and the format for a couple of years, gathering feedback from a group of fellow artists, leading to the preview that I am holding. I further tested this preview by holding a trial run on the shelves of my local comic shop.  The preview was released on a Wednesday, and even when competing against all of the other major publishers, it sold out within the first week.

VO: (computer, tablet with online version) You can read this prototype online for free using the link below.

Brian: Keep in mind that this is just the prototype.  Only a glimmer of the final work to come. As a professional designer for 30 years, I understand the importance of establishing a solid foundation before layering on the other elements.

VO: (Brian Froud, Faeries book spreads) In my youth, a significant influence was the books of Brian Froud published in the late seventies. I loved the immersive quality of them. The illustrations and text intertwined and drew you in to the world he created.

Brian: (close-up) With that in mind, here is a first look at what the final pages in my book will resemble.

VO: (digital pages and details) Even in the prototype phase, every illustrated detail tells more of the story, sometimes illuminating the past, sometimes foretelling a future event. From the lead-in caps to the notes scribbled in the page gutters, every element enhances the tale I am telling.

Brian: (close up) As a bonus to every backer of this book, you are invited to be part of a yearlong journey to create and publish my first comic-novel, documented and shared with you as it is happening. I will share it all, with the hopes that it will entertain and encourage you to go for it and create whatever it is that you have to create!

VO: (video of my describing design as I create, holding a fan of note cards and tossing them in the air, text written and then striked through, wipe from storyboards to pencils, wipe from pencils to inks, wipe from inks to color, 3way screen showing video all at once creating captions, page design, logo creation)

This process will not be like the extras on a Blu-Ray disc. I will share all aspects of this project and my process, including my approach to world building. How I am plotting the story and keeping all of the details captured. My writing process, I will share first, second, and final drafts with commentary. How I storyboard and create rough layouts and how those become final digital pencils. Digital inking and how I select colors and add them. I’ll even share what software I use for each task and how I go about it.

Brian: Keep in mind, this is real life.  Things don’t always go as planned.  I will also be sharing the ugly parts of the process. The half-drawn concepts that are good enough for me because I am on a deadline. The process I use to research what things look like and how they work. If I set up my files wrong, what now? Have I written myself into a corner?  Will I have to chew my left leg off to get out? How much of my process is just winging it? All of these details are shared through the backer pages, with links to videos and live stream Q&A’s from apps like Discord.

So, please check out the rewards and thank you again for your interest! This project is going to be awesome! Remember if we are going to move forward, Dragons must die!

END

While shooting the video I also, made some edits in the teleprompt app, here are the edited sections. As I was reading it aloud, trying my best to sound at ease, some of the word choices were awkward, so after a couple takes of fumbling the words, I rewrote it on the prompter.

<> 

I have been prototyping this book and the format for a couple of years, gathering feedback from a group of fellow artists, leading to this preview. I further tested this preview by holding a trial run on the shelves of my local comic shop.  The preview was released on a Wednesday, and even when competing against all of the other major publishers, it sold out within the first week.

<> 

More on the storyboard, shooting the video and editing to come!

If this was a blessing to you, please let me know!

Later!

Links,

https://pro.comixlaunch.com/

https://www.udemy.com/share/100F3uB0IacVtWRng=/?xref=E0UacF5XQX8FSWUuAAcqP1kSWSRM

Give it away?

One of the things most professional artists have is confidence. In my experience that comes from creating something for a purpose or for someone (client, professor or patron) regularly. What I also find interesting is that a creative can be amazingly confident in one area and horribly insecure in another. There are numerous reasons and they will undoubtedly vary from creative to creative, so I will not even attempt to summarize them here. I couldn’t.

However, the common reason most creatives have confidence in at least one aspect of their talent is they have the repeated experience of sharing that extension of their talent(s). This was my experience as a professional designer. I was very confident about sharing various concepts, layouts, logos, products or packaging. But, when it came to my personal drawings, I was terrified of negative feedback. Which as a professional designer for thirty years I can tell you I have received my share, some of it constructive the majority not so much. I could get in the weeds regarding my personal story, but this post intends to build you the reader up, so instead, I will say it came down to sharing. I was not sharing my personal artwork even close to the level I shared my professional artwork.

So, I published a website with weekly comics for several years, and that helped. I went to conventions and sketched in front of people and probably committed the most egregious of commercial art crimes, I gave those sketches away. A couple of things about human nature that will not be news to anyone reading this, people like free stuff. Even if they don’t need it or want it. I didn’t realize that this act of my low self-esteem at cons was going to help with anything. Truthfully, I was hoping that because a fellow person created the sketch by hand, the recipient would be less likely to toss the card in the trash. Which I thought, in turn, would translate into them every now and then checking my website out to see what was new. I have no empirical data to support whether or not that happened or how much it might have. But, it did give me a ton of confidence.

I began to draw cards for my wife and daughter. I started to sketch cards for my co-workers of their favorite characters from pop culture for birthdays. I gave them away. Now I like to give. So, giving these cards was a very personal way for me to show I cared. It is one of the ways I show love for a person. I draw them a card. It also was great practice. Paper, pencil, inks, and markers. No do-overs. My confidence grew.

I encourage you to consider the same act of sharing whatever it is you do. Just put it out there in whatever way it makes sense. If you think about it, you’ll know what to do.

This look familiar?

I love artbooks. I love books in general. If this looks like your bookshelf, then you like me have probably been looking for the same information. How did they do that?

But, the one story most of these books are missing is the act of creating. The frustrations, the misses and how do all these loose ends all tie together?

I hope that this blog will be able to bring some clarity to how a big project, like publishing my first 80-plus page comic-novel, works. From plotting, research, naming of things, concepts and drafts to final InDesign, Illustrator and ClipStudio Paint documents.

I will also share the triumphs and travails of putting it out there on Kickstarter.

So. if that image looks familiar this might be the place you have been seeking. What do you have to lose?

Best,

Brian