Wednesday, March 31, 2010


If you click on the title above you will follow a link to my photobucket and get to see some icons I made of our pirate friends.
I just realized some of them look blurred... is it my impression or they really ahrrrr blurred?
Forget this one-eyed pirate, if you can, I will fix that problem soon!
Of course the release comes first!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Clean up is done and I am rendering already.
Just so you know: in a few days 8 more pages will be up!

I was traveling today and my train suffered from a 60 minute delay 'cuz the tracks broke in Florence.
Thank the Lord these trains are called "arrows" and not bullet-trains, for it would misleading to call something so medieval a bullet!
Still they are supposed to be the fasted trains in Europe but what is the use of having a Ferrari if you drive it on pebbles?

Anyway I had one more hour to work on Balthasar and came up with 2 news ideas and storyboards for the next chapters. Good can come from evil after all!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cute or Cuter?

This is almost a poll... next installment of Balthasar will be cute like her or cute like him?

What can I say... with a doctor like this I'd be sick everyday!
So, hey, yeah... clean up is done and I am rendering already!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chapter 3A - curiosities

We have seen a bunch of weird things happen in this chapter.
1) there's a cow on a ship.
2) there are no toilets on a ship.
3) they have warm food on a ship.
4) they are eating sharks.
5) they have wine and play cards.
6) skinny girls are not considered beautiful.

Let's talk about it.

A cow on a ship.

See nowadays they would use these types of ships to transport cuttle from one Country to another... let me tell you these are considered by many environmentalist like a living Hell - for animals die.
Back in the days was even worse.

This is a section of The golden hind sir Francis Drake's ship (you can visit it if you go to London for 6 pounds - I did). Alidivento is halfway between this ship and the Sovereign of the Sea, actually, because it is a razee ship after all. As you can see there are many "floors". On the first floor, on the main deck, I put the kitchen, the storage room on the forecastle and the cabins on the the aftcastle: mess hall, Foxy's cabin and Cat's cabin. Kane's Cabin and sick bay (that's where Westley lodges) are on top, on the poop castle. (that is not where our pirates poop, they go close to the bowsprit as Foxy said.)

Under the main deck there's another floor, it's used for storage, the cannons are there, the crew sleeps there (usually prow, right below the forecastle in the "wedge") and it has many practical uses. There's another store, sometimes below waterline. That depends on how loaded the ship is.
Here we have the brigs and more storage... slaves were kept there in the days of the trade and so was the cuttle - as traders didn't see the difference between the two ;_; sigh. Of course every ship would have its regulations... sometimes sailors and cuttle and brigs were on the same deck. Imagine the stench... well the cuttle would get used to it after a while, trust me! Hahahahah!

There are no toilets on a ship.

So the girls will have to use a bucket and toss the "stuff" overboard once they are done.
That's because they are girls and are being treated nicely.
The crew would just lean overboard and do it, straight into the sea. Don't ask about wiping and washing hands! You don't wanna go there.

They have warm food on a ship.
Usually they don't!
But Quoque-tu... well, you'll learn more about him and find out why there's warm food on Alidivento.

They are eating sharks
That's also related to Quoque-tu being peculiar... Actually the one thing you might want to know is who "invented/imported" the word shark. John Hawkins did! (He recently inspired a character in the One Piece manga too).
I keep wondering why we always remember Henry Morgan, amongst famous pirates (who was mostly more a thief than a pirate) and nobody ever remembers the cool ones! The wikipedia page is not so bad, in this case, and so you can see that Shark is probably a Mayan word - in Europe sharks are also called dogfishes and each of them has its specific name. You can notice that, amongst other things this guy imported tobacco and one thing Castalia really doesn't like: potatoes!
Still, John Hawkins rocks!

They have wine and play cards.

It would be weird if they didn't.
As Caravaggio shows us here, clearly, playing cards and cheating was already very popular back in the days.
You have to know one thing though: amongst commoners it was not very popular to use the French deck.
In fact our pirates are using something like this: with sticks, swords, cups and golds (and maybe a Sicilian version of the deck).
I wonder if they have the one with the werecat attached to the 3 of sticks: il Gatto Mammone.

Skinny girls are not considered beautiful.

Let's face it. Beauty had different standards back in the days... so as boys were liked girly and with long hair... well girls had to be nice and chubby and have "a lot" to fondle!

Now, Cat is not a big sturdy boy but he is used to carry weights and is pretty strong. Considering how lightly he lifts up Feetsie and how his comments go to the fact these girls look too skinny... they must be considerably too light for their height and age.

I guess dear uncle Aristotle Papadopulos was stingy with the girls but not with his soldiers... let's hope the pirate would feed them better food! :D

Friday, March 26, 2010

Capitolo 3A - in Italiano

Capitolo 3 A in Italiano!

Eccoci qua, ragazzi, anche per i lettori italiani, la versione del capitolo 3A caricata su issuu, fresca fresca di giornata. Buona lettura a tutti, spero che il fumetto continui a divertirvi.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chapter 3 - A!

The Italian version will be up soon too!
If you don't like to read on Issuu, give it a couple of hours as SmackJeeves is loading the pages one by one this very moment - all you have to do is click on the title of the post and it will link you to the website.

Once again, thank you Eli-green-darling-luv for helping me proofread this!

Enjoy! - I hope! ^___x/

Today's the day!

Good morning sailors, today is the day!
I have proof readers now, thank God, and with smaller chunks of pages it should be almost impossible for me to make mistakes: typos, sfx, grammar and such.

You know, when you read something too many times to see if everything is okay... you tend not to see anything anymore. That's why I asked Elianthos and Enju to look at, respectively, the English and Italian version of the chapters. Thank you, gals!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why the long hair?

...and the girly look?

I hate to break it to you but people were just as slave of fashion back in the days as we are right now. If you are good at hinting, by these pictures, I am telling exactly in what time period I've set this thing... although I don't think History will ever show up in a dominant way, I doubt we'll see any in the background either (I usually do hint at History but Piracy was a world of its own and unless History came to Pirates - in the form of a fleet or a battle, like in the Andrea Doria case... - it's very difficult that pirate would care for History!)

The age I have chosen is an age of big economical and political crisis, just like right now!

Piracy was a solution! But now, let's talk about looks:

I have chosen a basic Spanish fashion because the South of Italy and the State of Presidi back then, belonged to the King of Spain and Rome to the Pope.

I have chosen this particular look with the hair split in the middle because it was more popular in Spain and I also chose the one with fringes to the sides (although Cat does have a straight fringe/bangs under his band) like the one these boys have... for this is more of the look you'd see up North.

Well considering that Foxy is emo his bangs cover his eye! That's partially to make him funny and give him character... I also exaggerated his girly features cuz they go well with his hypochondriac syndrome.

You might not believe me, and that's why you'll get to see him... but Westley has this kind of hairdo too, he just keeps his hair braided because he needs to work and hair would go in his way.
His hair is wavy and long kinda like the boy to the right.

As you can see "manly" is not in fashion!
And you may say: what do pirates care about fashion?
They don't but an historical trend is an historical trend and barber and seamstresses and tailors would work according to fashion no matter what.
If you consider these guys wear stuff they steal and do like to go around towns when they have a chance... they like to look normal every once in a while too.

Now Cat and Foxy look like sailors and it's okay but Westley, for example, has to go and shop for medicines and books to the apothecarium store. That is PART of the reason why he dresses normally, almost like this guy to the side (but in a more practical way) even when he is on board and keeps normal clothing.

So now you know why the guys have long hair and, I can tell you, it's not my whim since it's such a pain in the butt having to draw long hair... always swinging and waving around with motion!

Now, for the girls... maybe this cute little girls can tell you where Cassiopea hairdo come from!

She is the only fashionable one! The others don't care very much and soon they would care even less... as something very drastic is going to happen to them!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3 more days!

Hi guys!
As you can see the countdown is up there already for chapter 3!
I am almost done with part A of chapter 3 and it will be up in 3 days - I actually only have 2 more pages to do and they are quite easy but I have to work these days! ^^"

So keep an eye on the blog for the next release, it will come sooner that you expected. There's a gun on the wall here!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to make a cover...

I have been asked: do you draw your covers with Illustrator?
Yes, partially.... meaning... I use Illustrator and Photoshop interchangeably since I have a Cs4 and can work on vectorial object from photoshop to illustrator... how comfy!

But how do I draw a cover? And how long does it take me?
It takes me about an hour and I start from a pencil drawing... always!!!


First of all I open Illustrator and I start my itunes and select some good music I like... Yes, yes, Pirates of Penzance while I draw about pirates seems like the right choice.

Setting up the file.
I import the drawings I mean to use. As you can see the drawing can be rough or very detailed it depends on my whims... mhhh, usually I do detailed backgrounds but I can just rough characters up and still have a clear idea of what I need to do.
I also import the Illustrator file on which I set up colors - meaning... these guys will not change their color, I have set a styleguide and this drawing is MY styleguide for Kane and Castalia.

Pencil background, characters and styleguide are on 3 different layers.
I am set to go.


If I need to draw a background I usually stat from there.
I test to see the character's placement and have an idea of how much of this drawing I actually need to draw, then I start from the first element.
The background always goes on its own layer. I use the pen tool, I use objects and merge them with pathfinder... I use stroke and offset paths a lot.
I learned this technique form Hasbro's and Strawberry Shortcakes' vector files... they layer up a lot.

Once I finish one element I duplicate it and offset it to create a regular interval between objects and creating instances is usually the best solution for this. Then I start adding details.

I turn on and off the layer with the drawing to see if the vector drawing works... then add a layer to have the background recede a bit. On a separate layer, using transparency.

The background is done, I turn off the layer and move onto the next step.

Drawing the characters

Again I check the characters for placement, since creating instances always give you a precise measurement and that, of course, would differ from a pencil sketch. Once the placement and sizing is decided I turn off the background layer and create a new one for my characters.
I use mainly the pen tool to draw the shapes, starting, usually from the basic ones, the ones that go behind details: the bottom layers.

Since I am working bottom to top it does not matter if the shapes aren't following the drawing precisely... they will be covered by the next shape.

as you can see they overlap nicely. Then when I have to draw details I often switch the drawing's layer off and focus on the shape.

The shapes get smaller and smaller as you start drawing details.... and even eyelashes are made with pen, not brush, and are designed to follow the shape I want.

The final touch ups.... the blush is a circular gradient, the earrings are strokes objects.
Double check on features and colors.... mhhh, check!

Time to add the brushstrokes. I use a calligraphic brush that I personalize to my liking and God's will - God being my tablet, she has a life of her own... luckily I know how to deal with my moody wacom. So I start drawing the lines.

Finish up all the details... and turn on the background again. Tack, tack!

There! They are exactly placed according to my composition. Now it's time to take all this basic drawing and export it to Photoshop.
I do it one layer at the time. Locking everything else, I select all, copy and paste (yes, copy and paste) from Illustrator to Photoshop. The selection automatically becomes a vectorial object in photoshop... means that if I click on the layer, in Photoshop, it will automatically open Illustrator to let me modify the original vector based drawing. *ç*


I open in Photoshop the template file I created so that the cover will always be the same size, same color, same everything. I turn on the parchment layer and throw in the first object from Illustrator, the background and the pink overlay. I play with multiply and transparency to get a nice basic color.

Next I create my torn page effect with a mask and I create a layer that I fill with a pattern and set to multiply - I mask that too - and throw in an overlay with this purplish colors in stripes.

Again I play around a bit with multiply and transparencies and add a purple glow! Then add the burnt edges along the torn part.

After thaaat.... It's time to throw in our dudes... mask the layer... mhhh it looks dark....
let's throw in a layer with levels. There! Much better.

Then I can drop in the logo and the scroll with the title.
They are ready-made-object that live in a GROUP in separate files. I just drop them in the file I work on or turn them on and off. I type the text on the scroll... it has a drop shadow effect.
I use layer effects on some objects, mostly drop shadow though especially on scrolls and fonts.

The cover is done!!!! No it's not XDDD... That's not what goes online... what goes online has a
square format and a brown edge. So I need to open my template page for the actual comic pages.... there!

On that file I drop a flat layer with the cover. Then I save the file for the web with the correct size and make a jpeg of it.
Now it's done and ready to go on smackjeeves or be put in indesign or acrobat to do my pdf files for issuu.

Was this helpful? I think it's boring XD Anyways one thing I can say: by the time I am done so is the Pirates of Penzance and that's how I know how long it takes me... also, this cannot be done with a mouse, you risk a carpal tunnel, you need a wacom - an intuous - that works, unlike mine - and some serious software. I have a Cs4 and find it amazing! Being able to keep a vector object in a psd file is the best thing that ever happen to mankind since sex!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I am a pirate a pirate I am!

Rendered and lettered 8 pages of the 13 that should be up this week!

As you can see I already started on the drawings for the following pages of the chapter... lots of Westley-luv in that chunk!
No, your eyes are not seeing things... I do draw on yellow paper with blue pencil--- my eyes are too tired recently, I found this to be the best way to draw and keep my eye relaxed.

Yes, eye ^_X / ahr, as I am almost blind from my left eye... quite the pirate, aren't I? And I do walk around with a bandana most of the times... as a matter of facts I have been a pirate since I was 7 or 8 years old.

It all started for a Mardì Gras party in school. I think I had a Fairy dress that year, fairy as in Pinocchio's Blue Fairy, with a pointy hat and a wand. I didn't do well with wands, I had the tendency of striking others with sticks so ahahahaha... and since my classmates were dressing up as: musketeers, zorro and knight... they needed a pirate, don't you think?

I asked my mom permission to cut a pair of old pants and she didn't ask what it was for, she took me to school dressed as Fairy and when she came to pick me up I was dressed as a pirate! I had made own costume, in secret: the cut pants, with fringes, a red and a green sock, a bandana, a shirt with stripes, a vest and a sword (that one I own already, since I've always had mostly boys toys - all my friends were boys).

I think my mom understood then and there that I was a real pirate at heart - I could not be subdued, could not submit to any law that stated that girls should have to be dressed like fairies if they wanted to be pirates, and... I loved the freedom to express myself most of all!

I dressed up as a pirate when I was 17 years old, again, for a party and when I was 26 for Halloween in San Francisco... 2 years before The Pirate of the Caribbean came out to the movies ^_^/

Yohoho, I am a pirate a pirate am I!