Starting is the hardest part of writing

writing_is_hard

A webcomic.

That’s my current goal. To take one of these story concepts that are littering my computer and my brain, and turn it into something. Simple as that. I want to tell a story. But boy howdy: when I sit down to try and create some semblance of a script, it just kinda falls apart and turns into mush.

I know I can string together words to form a coherent sentence. Heck: I’m doing it right now! Lookitmeeee…..

It’s weird. I’ve taken scripts and turned them into art before. In fact: I’m actually at my best from a work ethic standpoint when someone is actively feeding me things to draw. For example:

“Hey, Tim: I need a page showing a group of warriors fighting a race of dog people. They should have swords and stuff. Leave room for words.”

BOOM! Here’s an 11×17 page depicting that. I can do THAT! I can do that ALL DAY! Now I just need to make my own race of dog people to draw… or something…

Writing webcomics. That’s a thing. I’ve got my format figured out, well, until I change my mind again. The story I want to tell with this first one is quite sustainable. I’ve got all these little sequences in my head. Now I just need to put them into words, and apply some glue and twine between them so they make sense to someone in the real world.

I’ve got super-awesome writer friends that have offered to help me out and take on scripting duties. Buuuuut… I’m kind of at a point where I really feel like I need to learn to do this on my own. Prove to myself that I can and all that. Which is weird, because I’m old now and hate doing new things. *shakes cane at clouds*

Plus: when the inevitable fame and riches come my way from my obscure webcomic that like tens of people will read, I don’t have to share my giant pile of money and treasure.

So there’s that.

 

Atrophy in the Arts (plus rants)

traditional-art vs digital-art by chukadrawer
traditional-art vs digital-art by chukadrawer

My wife and I had an artist friend over for dinner last night. In between horror movie discussions, we talked a bit of shop. He mentioned that another artist he knows recently did a guest lesson at a school. The students were amazed that he was using paper to draw.

“What? Come on…” I said.

“No, really! A lot of them honestly had never drawn on paper before. They’ve used drawing tablets their entire education.” he replied.

I was floored. Not for the reasons you think, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

First: I have a few points/rants I’d like to make…

1. I’ve met a few non-artists, and some “purely traditional” snobs who say idiotic things like “Oh, you use a computer for your art? So it just does all the work for you.”

Um, no. That’s like thinking that a car with power steering drives itself. Digital allows you to be faster and increases convenience. That is all. It brings NOTHING else to the table. Using the most expensive drawing tablet in existence will not make you a better artist. Only practice can do that.

2. On that point, I’ve been asked on multiple occasions: “My son/daughter wants to learn to draw. What software do you recommend?”

Paper and pencil. Seriously. The benefits of drawing digitally are lost on someone who doesn’t even understand the fundamentals. I use digital because I have deadlines. If you’re just starting out, use whatever medium you want to scratch marks on paper. What’s the advice I give when someone tells me they want to learn how to draw? Simple:

Draw.

Every.

Day.

Learn how to draw even when you don’t want to. Force yourself to draw. Draw things you want to. Draw things you’d rather not. THAT is how you learn. It is a muscle, and it needs to be used to stay strong. What you use to create your art is secondary.

3. So even though I hate people that think using digital tools are some kind of ‘easy way’ (ugh), I will say this: using only digital tools will at some point make your skills regress.

Digital, for all of its benefits, also robs you of one of the most important things an artist needs to learn:

Discipline.

Make your marks count. Put intent behind every line. Every movement. Commit to your mistakes, and learn to overcome them. Living above the safety net of ‘Undo’ robs you of this. Knowing the sweet sting of completely ruining a piece in the final stages of completion is a right of passage. Holding yourself accountable during the entire process is important. Learning how to use ‘happy mistakes’ is equally important.

So back to those students from earlier…

I wasn’t floored because ‘they should be using pencils’ or anything like that. Rather, it was because they’ve been convinced that to be a professional, you NEED to use digital tools.

Thankfully, that isn’t actually the case (yet). But I fear that these students aren’t being given the opportunity to explore the amazing variety of workflows that can exist these days. I’m not bemoaning the ‘death of traditional media’, but I am fearful that an entire generation of artists are being taught that professional art can only be created in the confines of their computers. Art is fundamentally about expression. And so often, fulfillment is found in the process used to give that expression form. The final outcome is quite often secondary to the path taken. Exposing students to the various mediums at their disposal, and letting them find the paths that work best for them fosters this. It saddens me to think that future artists aren’t being given the chance to explore.

I hope, for their sake, that I am mistaken.

Sea Lions – The Belligerent Drunks of the Ocean

Being that this is our first spring living in Oregon, my wife and I decided to go for a drive this past Sunday. Since I’m a Goonies fan, and it happens to be a very nice place to visit, we decided to make the hour or so drive out to Astoria.

We grabbed lunch at one of the towns many brew pubs, and decided to walk around town a bit. Astoria really is a lovely place. It’s definitely a tourist destination, but that doesn’t have to always be a bad thing. Plus: being able to see all the locations used in Goonies is kind of a trip. As we were walking down the pier (where the Fratelli’s had their daring car chase at the beginning of the film), we heard the distinctive ‘Arf! Arf!’ sound of sea lions ahead of us.

Excitedly, we quickened our pace to go see them. Keep in mind that Carolyn and I are new to this whole ‘being anywhere near an ocean’ thing, so seeing thing like sea lions in the wild is still a huge novelty. Plus, it’s sea lions! Obviously we’d seen them in zoos swimming around in their little water tanks. And if you’ve been on Pinterest at least once, you’re bound to come across at least one adorable baby sea lion photo. They’re like big otters, right? Giant, stupidly cute, otters. Continue reading “Sea Lions – The Belligerent Drunks of the Ocean”

Gear Review: Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 – Drawing bliss or miss?

I’m a fairly recent pen display convert. Like most people, my first attempts at going digital with my art came in the form of a Wacom drawing tablet. In my case, it was a Wacom Graphire 2 that I purchased in 2002. While it made coloring my scanned artwork easier, I found it too difficult to draw with. It didn’t take long before it was relegated to the Drawer of Misfit Gadgets.

Continue reading “Gear Review: Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 – Drawing bliss or miss?”