Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

I’m Scared

I have to say, I am a little bit scared, and I will explain why.

When I started to develop my webcomic, I decided to post my comic five days a week. This would be one black and white strip a day, Monday through Thursday, and a double sized color strip on Friday. This way people could get into a habit of checking the comic weekdaily, and the Friday color strip could be the end-of-week bonus like the color Sunday newspaper comics.  Some webcomics post less often, like Monday-Wednesday-Friday, but I really wanted to get more content than that out there. More comics a week equals more content for people to enjoy, and that means more visits to my website, and hopefully more of an audience. Also, having a schedule really keeps me motivated. I have motivation problems (I’m lazy). So I set the goal to five strips a week. 

I decided to make two months worth of strips before I posted anything. This would give me a good decent buffer of strips in case I fell behind in the future. Because I was just beginning, I would give myself as much time as I needed to come up with the first month of strips. Then for the second month’s worth of strips I would set a deadline and do a weeks worth of strips every week for four weeks, to get me into the groove. Then I would start posting the strips five times a week.

There was so much to do. For the first month’s worth of strips I had to come up with templates for the strips and  then developed a work pipeline going from thumbnail sketches to full sized roughs to final art. I worked on designs and personalities for the characters. I made decisions about what media to use, what fonts to use, and what color schemes to use. Writing was easy at first, but I found when I turned the script into a cartoon it took a LOT of rewriting to make it work. That first month of strips took me about three months.

Last night I finished the twentieth strip. The last of the first month’s worth. Now comes the second month’s worth. Now comes keeping on a schedule and doing a week’s worth of work in a week. This is why I am afraid. This is still going to be a LOT of work. I don’t want to back down and post less often. I really want to post a weekdaily strip.  I feel it is important to set up a comic that posts often and posts regularly. But doing this much work in a week might be too much to handle, especially since there are still things to fugure out artistically and technically. And I still need to learn how to POST the comic…

This just might kill me. I’m scared.

28
Apr
09

Characters

lineup2

How to Make Webcomics suggests I draw a lineup of all my characters so that I can see the size relationships between them. What a great tool this has been for me. I keep this picture posted near my drawing table and it helps me keep the characters the same from panel to panel.

Another bit of advice from the same chapter advises me to look at my characters in silhouette. This lets me check the character’s design. A strong silhouette can be an important part in good character design. I filled in my lineup and it looks like this:

silhouettes1I’m pretty happy with the silhouette test. The first two characters are pretty similar, but I think the differences are enough to make them work. 

I will eventually make model sheets for each character. In case you don’t know, a model sheet is a collection of sample drawings of a character that shows how it should look from different angles and in different positions. It may also include “how to draw” instructions. Model sheets are commonly used in animation where multiple artists must all draw the same character in a consistent manner. I am going to wait until I have drawn these characters a while and explored different expressions and personalities for them, then I will make model sheets to keep myself consistent. 

In a future post I will write more about my character design process and how in just twenty strips the characters have already started to evolve.

18
Apr
09

My Webcomic

In the first chapter of How To Make Webcomics, the authors remind me to get my priorities straight and at first just concentrate on making my comic. Get a bunch of comics made. Don’t worry, they say, about fancy websites or making t-shirts with your characters on them. “Focus on your Webcomic first.” Right, guys, I hear ya. There are already too many distractions in my life that keep me from getting the comic written and drawn (I hope this blog doesn’t end up being one). 

It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I have daydreams of making little books with my strips printed so many on a page, mailing them out to my friends and selling them at conventions. Hey, come back to earth, Dave! You don’t even have a month’s worth of strips done yet! So get to the drawing table and draw, Dave. Do it now.

I have gone back and totally redrawn four strips already, one of them a double sized color strip. I spent a lot of time trying to redo things to get them just right. The book tells me to just post the strip the way it is and move on to the next strip, that here is another chance to get things better in the next cartoon. Advice I promise to follow more closely from now on. So get to the drawing table, Dave. Do it now.

And the book tells me not forget that cartoons are fun. Even though I intend on doing a lot of hard work, I am gonna have a blast doing it. So get to the drawing table, Dave. Do it now!

17
Apr
09

here’s a preview

Here’s a preview of my comic. I have completed fifteen strips, and I intend on finishing forty before I start posting them weekdaily. My plan is to bust out five a week. Monday through Thursday get black and white strips, with Friday’s strip double sized in color. I think it may kill me to keep on that schedule, but I want to try, at least for a while. This is Space Base 8 strip number seven.

sb8-71

16
Apr
09

How To Make Webcomics

There is a book that I am usung as my bible when it comes to getting my comic on the internet. It is How To Make Webcomics, by the guys at Halfpixel and Webcomics.com, Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub. Go buy the book. It is chock full o’ advice from guys who are actually successful at making webcomics. They also do a fantabulous podcast called Webcomics Weekly, which is all about webcomics, and is not really very weekly. But that’s okay. Jump on over to the Halfpixel guys’ comics here

htmw

Here in this blog I’ll refer often to the book and podcast, as well as the advice I take from the authors. This blog you are reading now took its inspiration from the book and podcast. This blog is how I learn to make webcomics, using the instruction book How To Make Webcomics.

Cool, man.

15
Apr
09

Space Base 8

The idea for my webcomic has evolved a whooooole lot.

I like monkeys. Everyone likes monkeys (except my friend Shmellissa, but she doesn’t count). I like science fiction and space stories. I like retro design. So my comic would be about a space monkey who lives in the retro future (well, you know what I mean).

jetpackjack_concepts1I came up with the name Jet-Pack Jack, but the name was already taken.

 

 

 

Too bad, I kinda liked this idea.

 

 

 

Zooooooom! 

 

These are sketches I made of the monkey before I Googled his name and ditched the Jetpack Jack idea. I still intend to make jetpacks part of my comic. Just you wait and see.

 

 

 

My next idea was to have the comic take place on a space station. A space station of all monkeys? Space Base Ape? Naah, not all monkeys, too limiting. But I liked the sound of it. So I came up with the name Space Base 8, and started to develop ideas for it.

     But then I found a very funny webcomic called Station V3. Oh oh. Another     space station comic already out there. I didn’t want to look like I was ripping someone else off. I like Station V3. So I changed my idea from a space station to a secret space lab, and called it Secret Lab 6, and started developing ideas for that.

secretlab6-ideaz

But I missed the space station idea. It is a perfect place to bring so many different characters and ideas together. And I loved the sound of the title. Space Base 8. Space Base 8. Sounds so rhymey. Sooooo…I decided that there is room enough out there for another space station. There is already Moon Base Alpha, Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, and plenty more are out there, I betcha. And now there will be Space Base 8.

And a monkey not named Jet Pack Jack.

15
Apr
09

I’m a Dummy

I’m browsing through the book WordPress for Dummies a bit today, since both this blog and my webcomic will use WordPress as a platform, but in different flavors. WordPress.com gives you free blogging and web hosting with certain limitations, and WordPress.org sets you up with free software you can use to set up a site elsewhere. This blog is hosted on WordPress.com, and my webcomic will use the WordPress.org variety with the addition of the Comicpress plugin. I’ll post more about learning to blog and learning to use Comicpress in a later post.

Making a webcomic requires me to learn how to blog. Go figure.