Friday, April 29, 2011

Nostalgia Redux

So yes, I finally bowed to peer pressure and got my own artblog.  The thing is, I already have a deviantART account for all of my art stuff—so what's the point of getting a separate account on a separate site to post all the same work that I already post over there?

But then it hit me—I post ALL MY ART STUFF on deviantART.  I put everything on there, rough sketches, finished pieces, fanart, character sheets, comic pages.  So why not use a blog just for my comic stuff?  (That is the field I'm planning to enter professionally, after all.)

And, because I'm a total nerd, I wanted to make my first post really special.  And eventually I hit upon it—why not recreate the cover of the first original comic book I ever worked on?


When I was in fourth grade, my best friends and I teamed up to create a comics company called The C.O.L.L. Squad, after the first initials in everyone's last names.  Our first group venture was "The Pokémon World", a five-page comic that ran about two-and-a-half issues and starred ourselves as Pokémon trainers with new original Pokémon (and funnily enough, a number of the new critters in Pokémon Black And White vaguely resemble our old designs...).  When we entered fifth grade, almost nine years ago, Tokyopop was sponsoring the Rising Stars Of Manga competition, asking for submissions of amateur manga to compete for publication deals.  Assuming that by "amateur" they meant "kids" (imagine my surprise and disappointment when the winners were announced and they were all over twenty!), the C.O.L.L. Squad teamed up to produce the longest comic we'd ever done, and the first original work, entitled "Alternate Earth".  The story followed a young inventor named Yoshi, who'd created a machine that could travel between dimensions, and of course wound up accidentally traveling to another world and subsequently losing the machine.  In his quest to find it and return home, he winds up befriending the Princess Tami, the witch Hana, and the generic anime fighter-character Akiko, a group prophesied to save the world from an evil emperor.

(Also, the other day at Target, I saw the exact same set of markers that we used to color this and other covers back in the day.  I was shocked—I had no idea they even still made those.)

I'd recreated this cover once before, maybe two or three years later, but I'd used the same basic layout, so for this project I thought I'd try to design something more visually interesting, to show off some of the skills I've been gaining during my brief time at SCAD.


These are the thumbnail studies I did, trying to come up with an interesting composition.  The main problem was trying to figure out what kind of mood to evoke—did I want to portray Yoshi's terror and bewilderment at suddenly finding himself on a strange world, as in the top left and bottom right setups?  Did I want to emphasize the fantastic qualities of the story, as in the upper right setup?  Eventually I wound up going with the middle-left idea, with the editing shown directly below it, to portray the manic energy of the story, since despite all its fantasy hero trappings, "Alternate Earth" was also a largely comedic story.

However, I happen to be extremely bad at drawing figures in perspective, though in my defense that kind of thing hasn't come up in any of my classes yet.  So it took several hours of tweaking and polishing and erasing and redoing, and eventually two separate drawings, to get what I was looking for in the pencil stage.


So, being more or less satisfied with the image on the right, I got to work on inking.  I used Pitt marker pens on the girls and the background, and had intended to try out my new Pentel Pocket Brush on Yoshi, but really didn't like the coarseness of the strokes and the way it handled, so I wound up switching to an enormous Pitt brush pen, though you can still see the choppiness of the Pocket Brush on Yoshi's hair and shirt.


Since I still rely far too much on Photoshop for correcting rudimentary errors in the execution of my drawings, such as drawing Yoshi too small and too far to the right, I did a fair bit of editing to the image on my computer before coloring.  As well, I did a substantial bit of cleanup on Yoshi's lineart to make the Pocket Brush strokes less jarringly coarse.


And so I wound up with this.  Of course the Burn Tool is usually a no-no for comics coloring, but I really wanted something visually dynamic to add to the drama of Yoshi's peril—he is falling out of the sky, after all, to a strange earth where he is awaited by a few pretty bizarre ladies.  As well, I expect my use of gradients will be beaten out of me in later classes on computer coloring, but for now, I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out.

So there you have it.  2002 to 2011.  Nine years and look at the difference.

I can't wait to see where I'll be in 2020.