Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The pirate Balthasar - Chapter 5 B - RELEASE!

Chapter 5B and its 10 pages are ready on Smackjeeves for you.
Click on the post title to go directly to the comic page there.

Let me know what you think and if I made any grammar or spelling mistakes, as I often do XDD

The pdf will be up tomorrow night on issuu.
Domani sera il capitolo in italiano!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The pirate Balthasar - Chapter 5 B - Work in progress

Again... what is the difference between Castalia and a chameleon?

That's what you'll discover in one day. Or... can you guess a bit already? It's pretty clear! XDD

And what is the doctor doing?
You'll find out veeery soon (if Deda survives the Staff Induction meeting tomorrow è_é).

Monday, June 28, 2010

The pirate Balthasar - Chapter 6 - Cover

How's this for a cover to chapter 6?
Colors colors... we have reds for Kane and Castalia, purples for Wes and Kes, greens for Lio and Fox, oh Pea will definitely get blues... what colors should these guys get?
I'd say... yellows... yellows would be nice.
Let's see how it goes.

Small side contest: the Fox is naked! Dress the fox!

Hi guys, I am finally rendering and lettering the new release.
It's coming out pretty nice and thanks the to new wacom tablet it's faster too.

So I was also looking into our free stuff and realized I haven't done a paper/flash doll for our beloved Foxy... and you wanna know why?

I haven't gotten around to design another sets of clothes for him. That's where you, my friends, come in:

Please design a set of clothes for Foxy... so the poor guy doesn't get too smelly.

Things to take into consideration while drawing his clothes:
1) the colors won't change... unless you want to make a matching set with Lio.
2) his right shoulder has to be covered - because he is ashamed of his branding.
3) he likes to wear tight pants ^^"
4) he has to look a bit emo.

The clothes need to have a contemporary look to it and be "old style" at the same time.
This is one thing we can figure out together later though, if you don't mind my touching up your design for historical purposes.

Now to set the deadline for this contest... I'd say it depends on how fast you want to have the flash doll but we can leave it open until the end of July. Is it too close?
Let me know if it is and we'll push it after the Wilson Kane contest.
Thank you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tic tac 16!

I am done cleaning up... but only clean up so I obviously won't make it for the update, tonight.

This means only one thing... in order to have the calendar running I'll push the releases back a week, which means we go directly to the update of the 30th with these 10 pages.

I'll reschedule the whole agenda so stay tuned. Also... I am currenty storyboarding the last two chapters, which means I'll soon scan the whole thing, put it in order and do rought maquette of the comic to see if things work out the way they should. The first 3 volume should be all set... but the last 2 are the most difficult ones to handle.

After this one I am contemplating of having an extra volume with side stories.
We'll see.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Famous Illustrators - Lyle Justis

Today I'll talk briefly about Lyle Justis.
I took these two images from this blog (it's in Spanish but has many more beautiful drawings of his).
I could not find a Wikipedia page to refer to as a link for the post title... so if you click on it you'll find yourself on another blog that talks about another illustrator: Barbara Bradley.
The ones who know me... know this name already.
She was my teacher and mentor and was one of the most influential persons in my life (together with my grandmother and a few other inspirational people I actually never met: Walt Disney and Osamu Tezuka amongst them).

If you go to the link you'll hear from Barbara herself how important Lyle Justis was for her. I honestly didn't know him until she started showing his drawings in class. She made copies of a book she owned, Treasure Island, and compiled them in 4 pages.
Now that I am preparing for class I found these 4 pages and, at the same time, thought about him and her.

His drawings are very simple but very dynamic. He keeps them pretty sketchy but still loves to draw detailed costumes and crowded scenes packed with action. Unfortunately it's very hard to find the Treasure Island book illustrated by him (there's an awesome spread with a huge battle scene too, simply fantastic).
So I'll be for ever grateful to Barbara for making copies of her book and giving me the chance to know this great pirate illustrator. (and of course for many other things... and she'll be for ever missed ;_;)
Btw this is one of Barbara's drawings:

Wasn't she amazing? I know... I love her so much!
If I keep on working hard maybe, one day, I'll resemble her a little.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

tic tac 15!

The weather is changing again, here in Singapore.
So here we go... this is how slow things are going.
Sorry... I might have to clump the two updates together, we'll see how it goes. If I finish drawing the following 9 pages by tomorrow then there will be a super duper update
on the 30th... otherwise let's see what I can do in 3 days, considering I'll spend most of my afternoon, tomorrow, at the immigration office here.

But... let's look at things from the bright side, shall we?
I introduce you my new Wacky Wacky.... tablet! Isn't she a beauty with all the little lights one and so black and shiny?

Some things still don't work the way they should - I wonder I should install the software again or I just misunderstood what brushes and toggle layers meant in the instruction... surely if one of the buttons there could help me change the size of my brush without having to use a shortcut... I'd be happy!

I wonder how much of a difference this will make, eh?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The "crappy" post!

What makes an author happy is that something he/she writes sparks interesting conversations with great topics.

I am no author but I have to admit I was very happy to see people talk not just about recent development in the story - what just happened in chapter 5A finally throws some meat on the fire - but that some of the little things I added for fun were talked about with so much interest.
So... scurvy was an interesting topic and also a nice question about lemons and lime was brought up.
All of this happened on SmackJeeves so if any of you does not read Balthasar on that support lost some of the insight.

But I posted about scurvy and lemons... and yes, scurvy does affect gums and the dots show up mainly on legs and arms... but I am no doctor and Westley knows what he does... that is why in my answer I say: I'm assuming he thinks it's scurvy and that is why he gives her lemons. But he is the doctor, I am not.

Another important question was brought up and it was regarding... the poop joke.

So here's the crappy post for ya XD

How do sailors poop?

I had mentioned in an older post, the one that explained more or less how a ship works... that sailors/pirates would poop overboard. I guess reading it and actually seeing it happen is two different things.
Not all the ships have the ropes like the Alidivento but some of them did. You would tie yourself up or hold on to them because, especially in the Ocean, the ride is bumpy and sailing always has to do with strong winds (well, not always but mostly).
---one thing I don't do is... I don't put strong winds... it would be annoying to see the characters talk with their mouths full of hair... so as I decided to simplify the riggings... I have also decided to make sailing smoother and reduce the windy effect on deck).

It was rare to see ships with a designated spot for pooping and trust me the poop deck it's not called like that because they pooped there, it just comes from Latin puppis - in some ship though... poop would happen around poop deck.
So why is Wilson Kane is sending is men to the front and not to the back of the ship to do their thing? I mean, the front part of the ship is the windiest and if you pee against wind you pee on yourself, unless you turn your back and develop a special technique that implies... peeing in arcs!
That's pee engineering.

Kane sends his men in the front because 1) he does not have to deal with the smell 2) the front part cleans mostly by itself when bumping up and down on the waves 3) it's the narrower part of the keel and the poop falls directly in the water.
Trust me when I say these guys really lean out with their butts... and no, they don't wipe themselves off, why should they? They already bathe once a month and get rewarded for it profusely by the doctor, you'll see.
This is the poop solution.

For pee... let me tell you... guys climbing on the masts would not mind to just lean out a bit more and act like a cute little Cupid fountain from hiiiiigh above.
Does it reach the water? Nope. It's carried away in the wind and sometimes it drizzles where it shouldn't... but you know a deck is always wet (and what Pea does is not just cleaning it for fun!), this salty mist brought by the waves breaking against the keel and the wind always make everybody look... if not damp... well moist.
The dampness is another thing I don't draw and the noise also... just imagine them shouting all the time! XDDD They shout.

Doing stuff in a bucket is something that was granted to the girls... because they are girls, they need privacy, they might fall in the water and might end up being seen by the guys. They do it in the privacy of their room and then throw it overboard from the hatch.

Life at sea is tough. Girls on board complicate things more... when their period arrive the first time... ooooh the horror! Period is not contemplated in a guy world... it basically means a few things: the girl will bite your head off if she is on PMS, the girl is not available for sex... maybe... the girl is pregnant. This are the practical things to know in a guy's head and that's because they don't have this monthly unwanted clock that makes you feel grumpy, tired, in pain, dirty and smelly - not to mention bloated and very very tired. But girls do! It dominated their lives, cost them money and everything spins around it: can I swim? No, I got my period. Can I stand in the sun? Nope, I'll probably faint. Can I wear white? Yeah, right!

So what if we put the most feminine thing in the most unfeminine environment? Probably Hell breaks loose... luckily for the girls the doctor knew better and was nice about it (we'll know why, eventually, in chapter 6).

Btw the world spins around in two directions... Venus and Mars... right? So... guys have their problems too and just to be on equal grounds we'll pay respect to the problems they have with their little buddy, especially the morning salute.

The Pirate Balthasar - Chapter 5A

For your reading comfort.... here we have the issuu version of chapter 5!<

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Capitolo 5A - in Italiano! (release)

Eccoci, finalmente, con ste benedette 9 pagine in italiano!
Buona lettura... direttamente da Singapore e con tanto di fuso orario sfasato!

Famous Illustrators - Dean Cornwell

Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini, has had the luck of being released in a golden era of illustrators and has, therefore, had the honor of being illustrated by some of the most famous pirate illustrator (and not so pirateish illustrators after all) such as NC Wyeth - I already talked about him - and Dean Cornwell.

I found a list in this website here but websites come and go on the web and so I'll paste here some of its content, the ones that interest us more:
Book 1st Us Edition HM Publishing Year Illustrator
Dust Jacket

Captain Blood Yes 1922 N. C. Wyeth N. C. Wyeth
Also Captain Blood/Triangle Bks No 1946 N. C. Wyeth None
Also Captain Blood/Photoplay No N.D. N. C. Wyeth Photo Of J. Walter Kerrigan
Also Captain Blood/Riverside No 1950 Clyde O. Deland Clyde O. Deland
The Sea Hawk No 1923 Harold M. Brett Harold M. Brett
Captain Blood Returns Yes 1931 Dean Cornwell None / End Papers By Cornwell

In the book, The Dean of Illustrators, it is possible to see some of the preparatory drawings for the pirates appearing in Captain Blood. (I own the Cornwell book and it is now hard to find... but I am looking for the illustrated Captain Blood - both Wyeth and Corwell version).

This man was actually more of a mural artist but even though his qualities as an illustrator and painter are undeniable... his sketches and drawing are way beyond beautiful: they are alive.
He stands to pencil and charcoal as Rockwell stands to oil illustration.
In fact, if we go by pencil sketch and studies, Cornwell is my favorite artist of all times.

One thing I like about his artwork is the use of bright colors and the fact that he, sometimes, uses brilliant blue to outline things out and make the colors pop more. I think sunny California does this to you... Wayne Thiebaud is like that too, a colorist, a happy painter... the State calls for color and why should it not? Just look at Carmel-by-the-sea to see what I mean! Or Muir Woods! The light makes everything look bright.

But let's go back to our man, Dean darling!
I don't have many pirate illustrations of his, just the above ones and the Sabatini covers.... but I feel compelled to show you his others stuff, even though it's totally unrelated, so that you can figure out what I mean when I talk about a strong drawer and a pencil genius, not to mention his fantastic compositions.
Looking at his sketches there's a couple of things we need to take into considerations: how he divides everything into shapes and planes (very useful if you need to figure out structure); the continuity of the body under the clothing, absolutely perfect; his treatment of fabric and folds.

He likes to draw sharp features too and is very detailed.

These are some of my favorite drawings... the different materials are shown here with sensible lines. Definitely he does not stick hands to sleeves and shoes to pants. There's a body under these clothes, a body with volume and you can feel it. It has weight.

Look how he applies his fabric studies to the actual drawings. If you can draw fabric like this you are God! :D

Composition and dramatic light are some of his strongest traits.
Obviously he thought about it a lot and truly studied his thumbnails properly, then developed the ones that he felt more functional to the story he had meant to tell with one illustration.

I'll post you some examples... you judge by yourselves.

I am going to finish with my favorite little girl:
Every time we see something striking we think: I wish I could be like him, I'll strive to be like him.

When I saw this little girl's drawing what I thought was: I cannot quit drawing anymore! Till I reach him!

With time... you learn to struggle and accept limit and decide to suffer in order to improve.
I will be Dean Cornwell one day, maybe... and have a drawing that will make someone go: I cannot quit!
Drawing is what keep us happy and unhappy, this is what true love is all about.

do you know... Chamaeleo chamaeleon Linneus?

They live in Sicily and they are very tame but... Fickle!

What's the difference between a European Chameleon and Castalia?
You shall know pretty soon...

Le mie papadopulos preferite sono le zie! Voglio votare per loro

Ah mi ricordero' di aggiungere le zie al prossimo poll!:)

Ask me anything

Scurvy dogs!

In the last two chapters we saw two particular episodes show up: 1) a man overboard 2) possible scurvy symptoms.

The first case was explained in the chapter itself. Consider that the Alidivento is a small ship and the Mediterranean is not completely an opened sea so it may have strong winds but does not have huge waves. It is also saltier than an Ocean (and salt help people stay afloat longer) and it's warmer (so hypothermia would take on slowly).
On an Oceanic Vessel a man overboard was doomed. I might have mentioned this before but most sailors didn't know how to swim. You stay on a ship, what would you need swimming for?
Taking baths was also not considered to be a healthy habit so... water was not even contemplating for drinking, most of the times, let's say it's something you sail upon.

In our case, although Foxy's recovery is placed a few panels after his fall... you have imagine the Alidivento maneuver, come about and do a large circle to go back and fetch its pilot. So we can probably imagine, instead, that the guy either grabbed onto one of the ropes floating along the ship or maybe he managed to stay afloat long enough to be rescued.
In our story we cannot let Foxy die: he is the pilot, he is good at it and he is Lio's boyfriend! We need him!

But the episode helped us start the relationship between him and Lio plus I used it to go "History Channel" on you and tell you about "man overboard".

The second case is the insightful incident that sparks Westley's love interest for Kes.
I could have used anything... a cold... dermatitis... diarrhea... but we've been on this ship for a month already (well, almost a month, right?). When you move into a new place there are a few things you need to do to settle down: buy toilet paper, pots and pottery, towels... you get a bank account, a phone line, the internet... Once you settled a month is gone by and you finally get to explore.
Volume 2 will explore.
Of course there isn't really much to be seen on board of a ship... except the people who lives on it.
Because of that the first chapter is a captain's log. By the log we'll definitely learn to know that Kane is very observant and that Westley probably opens up to him a lot.

I am warning you, I won't tell you everything directly, a lot of things I'll hint to and you'll have to piece things together yourself. I believe that's how life works and I want to reproduce that.
It will feel weird, at first, but trust me... eventually all the pieces come together, they just do it when they need to do it, it's more gratifying that way.

Anyways let's go back to our exploring people. We saw in the first volume that Wes is a doctor, he has his sick-bay set up in his cabin and takes Lio as a nurse. We heard from Cat and Fox that he can be scary and can even give orders to Kane or override his orders and revert them.
It's his medical dictatorship.
We needed to see the doctor at work (you cannot just say "I'm a doctor" and just leave it at that, right? Otherwise why put a doctor in the crew?).
I always believed that the surgeon had a reason to be the second most paid mate on board. Westley was born to show that!

Now, when the girls arrive on board they are probably malnourished. Cat noticed that, Kane noticed that... Pea and Kes stated so. I had to keep the medical visit short - in the original lines Westley checks Kes's neck and teeth, it wasn't useful to the story, visually... so we only see... the pus.
At this point of the story Wes still hates Kes - oh, hate is so closed to love! - but because he looked stern and serious about his job and she decided to trust him... his attitude changes, becomes "professional" and he acts like a doctor should.
He understands it's not the case to say: you are scorbutic - in most Latin languages that also means: you are not kind!
No offense, she is not kind to him but just say it so, bluntly, in her face while she faces a serious illness... would be indelicate.
Plus it's possibly an early stage... no teeth fell off, no blisters show up on legs and arms... and probably it's just a dermatitis and nothing more.
Still it is better to prevent, rather than cure... aaah, and that's the cure: the magic lemon.

Using lemon or lemon juice on sailing boats has been known and forgotten and known for... centuries. Wes knows that lemon help prevent scurvy. Does he know it's because of the vitamin C? No, he doesn't... it's ancient wisdom. The history of the Jewish Physicians is very long, there's a nice book about it, you might find it interesting.... it's very amazing and, unfortunately, also very sad.

p.s. somebody mentioned limes on SmackJeeves, and that was actually a good question.
Limes were used mostly after the 1700 and in the Eastern/Caribbean and Asian Seas. As I said on SmackJeeves we probably had limettas coming from Persia but not limes in the late 1600. The lime was first mentioned by Sir Thomas Herbert in 1677 when he referenced a site near the coast of Mozambique. Our story takes place about 15 years before that. Also... we are in the Spanish Kingdom (Spain, Sicily and Naples all belonged to the King of Spain)... I'll post a map... here!

There are a lot of little islands on this side of the sea and we are island hopping right here! :D Between Sicily, Spain and Sardinia... (of course we went to Greece to fetch the girls but that was our man going out of his way to get the wife). We'll see an island with black rocks and shores... probably Stromboli! (I renamed the island though ;P) We'll try different Italian and Spanish foods and wines.

Now, Sicily has a valley known as "la conca d'oro" - the golden bowl - near Palermo. You'll find huge, delicious oranges, tangerines and lemons there!
That's why Wes uses lemons and not limes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chapter 5A - Release!

Hi guys,
I haven't had internet for two days... and actually I need to set the countdown to my gmt +8 too now that I live in Singapore... cuz to me it's monday night now... and to you it's probably not! ^^"
Sorry... anyways!

Smackjeeves is uploading the new release now. It's only 9 pages, sorry, but you'll find them to your liking hopefully. As usual it will take about an hour to show up completely!

Click on the post title to link back to smackjeeves! ^_^/

Friday, June 18, 2010

work in progress

Am I behind? A bit, but I am cleaning up already!
How many pages overall? 10 pages this time and 10 pages coming up soon (cannot bump too much the releases).
Hopefully I'll get to figure out how to use a scanner soon tomorrow. Sunday I am off the whole day.
And I am getting a new wacom tablet on monday which will make my work faster from now on. But update should be up on monday and this is what you'll see! :D

tic tac 14!

I need a scanner now! Mhhh. I think monday's update will be of about 9 pages - instead of 19 - then 10 more pages will come in a few days (really a few days, it's all a matter of figuring out how and when to scan). They're only 9 pages but they are juicy ones! Someone will find unexpected attraction for someone that wasn't taken into consideration before XDDD.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Color schemes

Elianthos was asking on Deviant Art about "color schemes".
I mentioned somewhere before, I can't remember where because I answer to questions in so many different places, that I decided to use certain color schemes for the characters and their covers.
It's not like I am applying gestalt color theory to these, that would make them too subtle and complicated, right?
Let's say, though, that many years of designs and color theories cannot be completely wiped off my mind after I took a color&design class with Alana Addison - who was some sort of a boot-camp teacher (thank God). So I am not ignoring Tornquist and Itten.

Mah, complicated stuff, but it's there in the back of my mind... if you want to pick at it a little more let me know.
In the meantime I'll explain what I meant when I said I am applying color schemes to the characters.

What you see here is a cholor wheel! Actually two of them.

I painted these myself long time ago. To paint one means to explore color and get to make its acquaintance and befriend it... you don't paint one... you are neighbors, maybe, but not completely friends.
The one to the left is a complete color wheel made with design gouache, the one to the right is a 12 steps - simplified version - of the previous one. Colors across the way from each other on a color wheel are called complementary colors. If they meet in the middle you get a grayish tone but richer hue. Let's take the yellow/green on the top and the rose tyrien/magenta on its opposite.
That's what you get when these complementary colors meet.

Skin tone! :D As you can see when complementary colors meet and marry they have nice kids, that's why they are called complementary: they make good weddings and lots of gorgeous babies.

But what happens if daddy works far away from home and mommy lives across the color wheel with the her kids?
Let's say mommy is blue and all her kids look like her so they have a little bit of blue in them and live in a big family called: the blue family.
So does the yellow family and so does the red family. These are the 3 biggest families currently living on the color wheel, btw.
Let's go back to mommy blue. She lives with all her kids from yellow/green to red/violet who all have blue in them, because their mama is blue. So mommy is alone and daddy is gone... the complementary/husband to mommy blue should be daddy orange. But daddy orange is too busy and sends his brothers to help. Brother Yellow/orange and brother Red/orange... they look like daddy because they are brothers with Orange and so have a little bit of Orange in them but they are not quite orange.
These types of families are called Analogous (the families) with split (the brothers).
Why using a split instead of a direct complement? It so happens that when you put mommy and daddy together, they love each other so much that they vibrate. Of course you can call this love or after image effect! A color has some sort of radiation, they actually travel in light at different waves length and are perceived in different ways by people.

Ever wondered why, if you are shortsighted you see red better than green? Well it's because of their wave length. Red has longer ones and reach you better. Anyways... every color casts a vibration around it which is the color of its opposite - they look for a mate right? So yellow would cast a purple shadow around himself: Hello, I am looking for a purple wife!
Wanna try? Well do stare at a yellow square for about 30 seconds, then move your eyes away and look at a white wall. What do you see? Don't you see a purple square? You do, right? Fantastic... that's the after image effect... the luuuuv the color expresses for its complement! LOL

So imagine direct complement standing next to each other, glowing with love... you have these two little shadows fighting: I love you more, no I love you more... and that's why you get a vibration and daddy sends his brothers instead. Daddy doesn't want to fight with mom and his beloved kids. Uncles are just uncles and they don't vibrate quite as much.

These are the types of scheme Disney Studios used for their movies in the past 20 years. My favorite color scheme was applied to The Huntchback of Notre Dame... it's the jewels scheme... family of blue with gem like colors and then the oranges working as golds (blue analogous with splits)... it's rich and it's very bright and attracts a lot of attention. It looks stunning and elegant.
It just makes you drool and makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

It's the scheme applied for Kes and Wes. Of course, who else could get these colors?
Now Kes and Wes are also dressed in complementary colors: she is yellow and he is purple.
She is the moon and he is the night sky.
They live across the color wheel and when they are close together they vibrate quite a lot! XDDD
That's the concept behind the fact that they are wearing what they are wearing and their clothes never change colors! Shapes they change... colors they cannot.

Now... if we were to apply this concept to the other couples/characters... what would you say the message is?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

quick blabber

I'm in Singapore. Everything went well and I settled down nicely.
I'll see if I can check out a light table from school tomorrow so I can do clean up from home!

I saw a giant snail tonight. My friend says: yah, you need to be careful when it rains lots of snails come out and you know that you squish them only after you hear the SCROTCH sound.
And I go: SCROTCH?
And she goes: yah... 'cuz they're big.
She points one out to me... and it's as long as my mobile phone! O_o
I'll show you pictures soon!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Hi guys,
I am traveling.
I hope to get back online real soon.
If all goes well my next post will be on tuesday from Singapore.
See you soon,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

a little blabber for the day!

Very uninteresting post for the day.
I am packing so my life is a bit messy... and I haven't drawn a single page of the next chapter but I will have plenty of time on the plane to do so (and I intend on doing that). Plus at my arrival in Singapore I'll have until next monday off and I should be able to work full time on this.

in the meantime:

You can download the full volume 1 in pdf format here, to the left.

You can vote in our current poll to decide who should be on the covers of volume 2.

Don't forget the Wilson Kane contest is still on.

I will be updating the above agenda since I just finished sketching chapter 15.

End of the very uninteresting post for the day. I will be talking about the Alidivento and how things are located on the ship, very soon! :D

Friday, June 11, 2010


I feel bad posting after a beautiful fan art, especially considering I have a flat art style (one of this day I'll make a nice, rendered one, disney style! eh? :D).

Anyways you might have noticed, if you follow me on deviant art as well, that I finally have picked the dark green colors (they go nice with Foxy's hair) for the cover to chapter 5!

So I made a wallpaper, as I usually do (you will find it in the wallpaper page as well).
I currently have this one on my desktop (replacing Wes&Kes) and the more I look at it and the more I think... is there something wrong with Lio's teeth?

Well, I'll have time to figure this out after wednesday.

Fan art 4 and Wilson Kane Contest!

Check this out! While I am still thinking about my free-talk, packing, saying my goodbyes trying to decide the shade of greens to give Lio and Fox and compiling my pdf's for volume 1... I do get presents too!
Muahrahrahrahr! I'm a lucky pirate... and I get a present and a contest entrance with one stone!

Wanna seee?

Get ready..... Now look!

Ooooh how I wish it were Midnight to get a nice rendezvous with this pirate heeeeere! Shalalallllàààààààà!

I am foooo going to jump him! - says Pifo!
You know, Pifo, you make me sound like a perv... the guy up there is like... my son!
Youv, fon, not mine.. it if my adoved accuvfed boov! I fhall dvool fvom heve to etevnity!
Pat pat...

Then drool on this one it's the unmasked version!
What a good looking son I have ahr ahr ahr!

Isn't this amazing? I would totally make a t-shirt with this image and write on it: yes, I unmasked Wilson Kane! *_*

(if you are on DA remember to fave the drawings, they deserve it! *_* and leave a nice comment to the artists who always leaves me at loss with words!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

polls and covers!

Hi guys,
there's a new poll for you... maybe 36 days is not enough to decide - considering volume 2 will be done November 16th - but still... maybe you have plenty of time to choose and decide who would you like to see on the cover of volume 2.

In the meantime I am trying to make this Foxy&Lio cover and I had picked for them the color green... but I am not convinced:

Your honest opinion - to me something's wrong, like there's not enough contrast - lime green, wood green or... Deda change the colors?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Il Pirata Baldassarre - Capitolo 4 (volume 1 - Fine)

Ecco qui il capitolo completo!!! E' finito così il primo volume, wow, che velocità (oddio mica tanto, sono un bradipo muahahahaha)!

Quanto prima farò un pdf con tutto il primo volume impaginato come si deve - copertine incluse!
A presto!

The Pirate Balthasar - Chapter 4 END

Issuu release of chapter 4! For your comfort, if you prefer to read here!

I will be making a pdf of the whole volume shortly! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

How to make a page...

timbermoonkiss, on Smackjeeves, was mentioning the fact that it would be interesting to see how it all comes together.
Since my working process is very odd for comics, I realized that some of the pictures I post as work-in-progress are not very explicative and could make one go: Huh? O_o
Here's the truth: I am no comic artist, I worked in animation as a storyboard, layout and concept artist and to me The Pirate Balthasar is a storyboard with balloons! (in fact my friends, who still work in the industry, always tease me about some odd choices I make and at times tell me: I didn't get why you did that until I got to that point and it all came together, but that's a movie trick!).

I am sorry about that too ^^" I am putting all my movie knowledge and scriptwriting experience in this and that's why, I confess, you'd see me freak out about direction of actions, POV, over the shoulders and never breaking the line. I think that using this kind of language can help a comic being clear and if the drawings aren't outstanding at least the story and all the motions are clear! ^^"

But here is: how I make a page...
(buckle up, it's a long post XD and I start from the very beginning)

My approach to making a page is the same I would use to create a film or an animation.

I start from a story which I write from beginning to the end.
The Pirate Balthasar was a novel I wrote when I was about 17 years old and that had some potential but it wasn't blooming in the hands of a 17 years old girl. After 20 years, all the experiences and my studies, made me think: I could fix this.
I highlighted in yellow the things that I liked and thought had potential and did a story spine, like I would do for a movie: set up, plot point one, act 2, plot point 2, climax and denuement.

Here's the silly thing... I created a presentation as if I had to pitch the story to someone.

In fact I did pitch it but National Television's answer was that pirates are not educational and they didn't accept the project. LOL
So I said: I'll do ad 2d in 2d... turn the whole thing into a comic and so be it.

And that's when I started writing free-flows for the character to see what personality comes out.
I work a lot on character development and have to create an arc for all of them: I give them moments of absolute shine and moments of weakness and humiliation... then I create a presentation for them. The ones you see me post at the end of each individual chapter are a short summary of what came out of about 40 pages of free-flows. ^^"
Using the story spine I start writing scenes. I start from the most important ones, the plot points and the ones that reveal huge stuff about the characters.

I focus on dialogues and write many versions of the same scene, until I find the one I like the best. Of course I know, then and there, that this is bound to change because what you write and what you actually end up seeing don't work the same way. Visual always implies something more needs to be added and if the scene does not flow you will only see it once you draw it and read it again.
On the other hand one always writes more than it needs to be seen and stuff gets cut out.

I did a complete script for the pilot but... eventually since I am writing and drawing, the script part did not help. I scrapped that step and went directly from the script with dialogues to the storyboards with dialogues.

Storyboarding, to me, is fundamental. (it was my job)

That's when you visualize everything, decide the camera movements, the shots, the angles, the directions, the locations, the light... I actually draw the backgrounds on a separate piece of paper and then compile BG and characters afterwards in photoshop. (not all the time but most of the times). When you see a lighter Background and if you see me repeat a Bakground... that's the separate scanned one. This is also animation thinking, I guess - plus makes the production process faster.

Storyboards are in thumbnails format.

As you can see they are very sketchy (I don't understand my own writing but I understand my own doodles). In the top left storyboard you can see... I added Cassipea's reaction - it was missing, I didn't realize it when I wrote down the scene but when I drew the storyboard... I asked myself: where's Pea? Why isn't she saying anything?
So I went and called her: Pea, say something! XD
These are the storyboards to chapter 4, in my old sketchbook.

This is my second sketchbook... almost gone... with the next chapters.
As you can see [Capitolo 14 ] means I've reached chapter 14 (that's halfway to volume 4).
Because of this progression I could go back and fix problems in the previous chapters but, because I am only human, something might still have slipped - I don't doubt it.

Next... what I draw in the storyboard tells me what I need to draw in a larger scale.
I use a blue pencil on yellow paper because it's a habit but also because... non-photo blue pencils could be scanned and disappear but most of all... oooh, they are the right color when you want to do clean up on a light table. There, you have it... I clean it up as if I were cleaning up an animation, on a bristol paper 220mg in weight with a 2B koh-i-noor pencil (a regular B for details). The cleaned up drawings are scanned and then brought in photoshop.
I leave it in pencil because I like the look of it. Even if they are cleaned up drawing (cleaned up already loose some of the freshness in the gesture) they are still more alive and soft than the ones done in ink. The more you refine a drawing the stiffer it gets ^^".

I cut and paste on a separate layer all the single images.
Move them around, resize them, then merge them in one layer.

The images, at this point, are still in black/gray pencil color.
So I need to throw in an overlay because I am using purplish outlines and I like the way the purples look with browns... it make the sepia colors look richer, right?

The overlay is actually in stripes so the purple change! *ç*
It's applied only to the line drawing layer which is then set to multiply.

Once the lines are all purple it's time to set the panels.

I use the elliptic tool, set on rectangles, and draw squares or rectangle for the panels, I add a drop shadow (not black, it's purple too) and set them to multiply so you see the original background color.

Then it's time to render... I select the panels and go to path then load the marquee so I can stay inside a specific area.
On a separate layer, set to multiply, I use the same color as the background paper to do the shadows.
I use a soft brush set to opacity 67% and even the flow is at around 70%... so every time I pass on the same spot it layers and it produces stripes.
The paper tone gives me the mid-tone.

Then I add the light... on a layer set at 83% of opacity so that the white is not completely white.
The fact that the white is transparent allows me to go on the same area where I already shaded too and mix the two tones - which kinda gives me a fourth tone to work with.

Color is flat and goes at the bottom layer. Its opacity is 43% so you have a watercolor/pastel look and they blend with the Bg and the light and shadows.

When all of this is done I flatten the file and save it as: lettering.

Adding the text is the next step. I do the Italian version first (and that's why, usually, is so full of mistakes LOL). The bubbles come in second. I draw them with the elliptic too and add the drop shadow, then add the SFX.
As you can see, while I letter, the script is open under the photoshop file.
This allows me to copy and paste the dialogues directly from the script, onto the page.

I have two final steps. I save the page as jpegs in a web format, so that it can fit the canvas provided by Smackjeeves.
I make pdf's with these files and send them for proof (Italian to Enju and English to Elianthos)... that's because I have been staring at these lines for months and at the pages for weeks... and I am human and mistakes do happen.

I then make a final pdf of both English and Italian version to be posted on Issuu, while I load the individual pages on smackjeeves using the menu.

The best part comes after that. Somebody still finds mistakes and points them out and that helps me a lot - especially if you consider that English is not my first language (nor is Elianthos'). So I open the files again, fix the mistakes and reload them on Smackjeeves... but for Issuu... I have to wait for the volume to be done so that I can remove the old versions and upload the full volume with all the problems fixed! ^^"

This is it. Sometimes you may think: if you see this as storyboard with balloons... how come you have vertical and horizontal long panels?
To tell you the truth those are pans or tilts! XD I imagine the camera going up or down as the eye would. I also use establishing shots and cut-aways.
I don't know if this is limiting or not, it's the only way I know!