Early last week I reached the long-awaited point in Dumping a Dragon where, after initially riding the high of creating Sivarthis’s dragon self, I always anticipated hitting a creative wall. And indeed, whether I damned myself to that by expecting it or not, I hit a wall.
I ended my first meet cute/flashback and had NO IDEA how to ease into the next segment. I tried four or five or twelve things. I wrote out a script. I sketched thumbnails. And every time I tried a page, it felt flat and lame.
Finally while watching the latest season of the Great British Baking Show, I started inking a page without much confidence…until I added the background.
This. Damn. Mountain.
Honestly, not only am I SUPER proud of that in terms of being a scenery image I’m usually pretty weak at, I’m super proud that it became the first page to get everything moving again. Even though I rewrote dialogue and tweaked panels until my eyes bled, and I asked for advice before immediately rejecting it, I am proud of how it turned out. The colors, the composition, most importantly the fact that I shamelessly magicked Sivarthis into looking a bit different, a bit more manageable, and having him allude to the fact that he could just change his size at will so that he can fit into frames with Noelia, haha.
Plus, this way ends up keeping the story following the novella more closely than the alternate way I had contemplated doing this scene.
Oh yeah, of course when I had hit my wall I was also preparing Sun-Walking for a witchy friend of mine to read. Which meant, though I didn’t need to, that I reread the ENTIRE 145k thing on my weekend off. I literally accomplished nothing new. Just reread Sun-Walking. More. God I love that project so much. After my witchy friend finishes it and we make adjustments to it, I think I’m going to have my dad find some publishers to pitch it to again. I’m finally ready.
I guess three times this week I’ve gotten seriously sidetracked drawing Noelia and Sivarthis fluff. I think I’m missing him since I’m spending so much time trying to build his dragon personality now. :/
Um so I was looking at My Mental Breakdown this morning and…I went through Micah/Myoku’s timeline and noticed my original Yu-Gi-Oh-esque Myoku drawing was from 2001 and my brain was like “Mary that’s 17 years” and I was like “hahahahaa no it’s not” and my brain was like “but” and I was like “no it’s not” and my brain was like “but it’s math” and so then I screeched to a halt on Dumping a Dragon and did a speedpainting of Myoku that ended up stupidly perfect and I have a lot of fucking feels now. SEVENTEEN YEARS with the same motherfucking persona of mine, looking dumb and ethnically ambiguous.
And now I have to go to work/school. This feeling will carry me through the day though, I can tell you that much.
I took a bit of a break today from coloring the pages preceding Sivarthis’s long-awaited transformation to do a little fluff kiss painting I suddenly thought of when considering season-based artwork. I did it almost exclusively listening to “Turn” by The Wombats. My husband pointed out the other day how I listen to a single song spastically on repeat and then I very abruptly move on and never listen to it again. Anyway this makes me really happy. And that’s about all I have to say about it. Except that I guess I’ve gotten the hang of doing my own plaid. owo So that makes one pattern I can do confidently at least!
After spending the last month now working almost exclusively on my tablet, I finally got around to doing a traditional painting of my heroes, Noelia and Sivarthis. One night I sketched out about 5 consecutive pages of “Dumping a Dragon” listening solely to “The Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy, because for some reason it resonated so deeply as a song about Sivarthis’s love for a small human girl who accidentally became his whole world.
I can’t quite believe how well or how easily this painting turned out. Last night when I got home from Chicago (see following paragraph) I was too worn out to try to navigate digital art, so I finally grabbed my amazing buttery smooth bristol board and started a sketch of Noelia and Sivarthis in bed. Honestly I hated how the lineart had started to turn out and I was positive I would discard it this morning. I’ve just been getting used to bold and polished lineart from my computer and I was a bit thrown by the sketchiness of traditional art. But if not for that I probably wouldn’t have approached the painting the way I did…which I’m OBSESSED with. I decided to lay tape over the last part of the lineart, which didn’t even run to the edge of the page, and then decided to try my seldom used method of creating white space with painter’s tape, since I’d never tried it on this paper before.
Not only that, but I dragged out my typewriter and managed to eke a bit more life out of it. I kind of blame my patience, but it’s becoming almost impossible to use. Granted, it definitely pays off, and I love how snugly the text fits into the center of the drawing. You should have seen me trying to glue it though haha.
And in this case, the power of their poses is definitely intentional. At the early part of their relationship, Noelia is definitely more withdrawn than Siv is when it comes to love. He sees her in a typical dragon fashion as a jewel, a treasure, something to adore. She enjoys him, but doesn’t necessarily have that depth of passion, and has a lot of doubts about them.
I decided to finally do this painting – though the image has been in my head for a few weeks – because over the weekend my nerd man and I drove to Chicago together to see Fall Out Boy perform in their hometown at Wrigley Field. We also got the chance to attend a free popup immersive art experience for their latest album. It was SUPER Walker Art Center, post modern art but like, I can accept that under the circumstances.
Also, this blog entry gets to be a testament to the fact that I am STILL working on “Dumping a Dragon!” I missed it more than my cats when I was in Chicago, and today I’ve colored 2 whole pages.
Granted, my overview of how many pages I’d worked on during my last entry was a gross exaggeration, and I’ve just now finished up coloring page 11. But 11 pages in a month is a pretty good output and more than I ever thought I could manage.
Apparently, according to my timehop the other day, I was working on my last graphic novel …Whispered the River a FUCKING DECADE AGO, when the hell did my life get so far in?
So here’s an old romantic drawing of Cirrus and Syracrus to follow Siv and Noelia. This drawing will always remind me of when this guy at church looked at what I was working on and awkwardly remarked on the amount of tongue in their makeout.
I mean…he wasn’t wrong.
I actually have every single page of the original draft of …Whispered the River scanned on my computer, so it’s kinda fun to flip through them.
Meanwhile here’s my favorite panel from the Sivarthis/Noelia breakup scene.
Clean and tidy and sad and emotive. I love both of them here but I’m definitely a bit mad at Noelia because she exemplifies all the insecurities I had about my own relationship when we were just starting out.
I’m starting my second week of school, so we’ll see how much time and energy I have to keep plugging out pages when I get home from classes.
It’s almost time to start a new scene in “Dumping a Dragon” and it’s only gonna get more exciting from this point on…so I hope I can handle it haha.
Oh also the next thing on my creative agenda is to do a drawing of my favorite couples. Siv and Noelia; Lucy and Levi; and Danny and Ingrid (whom I haven’t drawn FOREVER.)
I’ve spent the last 2.5 weeks working tirelessly – truly, tirelessly – on the graphic novelization of To Trust a Dragon – which, as a graphic novel, is probably more suitably titled Dumping a Dragon. Or something. I suck at titles.
Anyway, it’s been a LOT of fun to work on, and the pages look great, and super professional. Everything Cadence struggled to be what with my conflict between digital and traditional. In this project’s case, my Cintiq is doing literally everything it should be. Its drivers have been cooperating, so rather than like it had been over the summer where I would start my computer up, try to start my tablet, and then various things were broken that required 2-3 computer restarts, it’s been a lot more plug and play.
And I don’t know if I’m just really stupid happy with the character design for my kids (Siv and Noelia…finally added the A to her name; I tried so long to go with Noeli, and I tried to rename her, but nothing fit. So I added an A and voila…she feels real) or what, but I literally love drawing their faces over and over. The biggest tell will be when I switch Siv from adorable expressive tooth-scar man with the foof of colored hair to being his true dragony self. I will fully admit I’m scared that’s gonna put a damper on my retelling. Like I’ve got all this momentum and I’ll get like 20 pages in and get to the bulk of the story and then be like fuh I don’t wanna color 70 more pages of dragons smoking and shit. But like, at the same time, I’ve been going so nice and easy on myself that if I need to change Siv’s dragon design from one page to the next for any reason, hell, I will. But I also haven’t been stressing about saving my pages as JPEGs, because that’s so final and makes it harder to reliably go back and change things if/when I want to, so the idea of changing a character design so I can draw it more fluently isn’t super terrible.
Nothing is technically stopping me from setting up a blog for this either, but I feel like that would tie me down to this project in a way that’ll potentially scare me off from it. So, for the time being, I will make my husband help me with it, and make myself happy, and that’s about it.
Anyway, I’ve gotten 10 pages done in 2 weeks. I don’t think 5 or so pages a week is a bad rate by any means.
And without further ado, I’m testing WordPress’s new gallery block and hoping it won’t fuck everything up!
Snaps from “Dumping a Dragon”
And last but not least, my personal favorite, my avatar for whenever I am driving/dealing with annoying people/dealing with my computer being difficult/having to convince myself not to have Dairy Queen after dinner every day…
Well I would say in the last few weeks I have officially begun getting the hang of my new alcohol markers…but the problem I have discovered today is that my poor old flatbed scanner is not. a. fan.
I never knew that losing saturation would be a problem for me in my unsaturated, blues and reds world. But it was super sad and I still don’t think the scan does my latest drawing justice.
I had always wanted to do a real, thorough Snowbelle personified drawing and so I fixed in on what she would look like NOW as a person…which would be stumpy, and chubby, still mildly terrified of everyone, but always eating mom’s favorite foods.
So I gave her some cute love handles and gray track pants and some FUCKING DELICIOUS looking ramen, and voila. It looks like I know what I’m doing with color sometimes.
So this one immediately went up on my ever-changing art wall over my desk and even now looking at it it’s confusing because the bottom corners color of pink is actually called “Light Violet,” which is alarming as it turned out on the computer more like a light violet than it did on the paper, haha. What? Okay. Whatever.
Other marker practices include this random fire girl, and a cute drawing of me and my nerd.
Andnndndnndnd two other pieces of news.
One, I’m very slowly working on a new Emotia painting. I’ve been trying to synthesize myself a bit and figure out where I’m at, and where I’m about to be going, what with starting grad school (again) in a few weeks, and settling into my new less direct care role at work. In some ways I haven’t really changed all that much since my last Emotia, so I think that’s why I did this fabulous paint sketch of my new one and then kinda screeched to a halt, because I’m not positive yet if it’s time for a new one, even though I could just do it anyway. There’s something about this series in particular that has profundity that I really don’t ever want to damage, and part of keeping it sacred may be knowing when not to make one, if when I want to it feels too trivial.
Very very very tentative new project news
Very very very tentative because as per usual, my whims are capricious and difficult to pin down, so I may put two hours of work into this over the next few days before pretending like I never said anything about it – anyway, I was trying to force myself to finish the book I’m reading, a less compelling sequel to Seraphina, and reading about other people’s dragons made me pick up To Trust a Dragon again and then I thought about how all these scenes are like, SUPER VISUAL, and then I was like…*steeples fingers* DO I WANT TO DO THIS? Well, I always do have good timing for shit like this, so yeah MAYBE! We’ll see; I did some preliminary sketches of Noeli and Siv in dragon form since I realized he would spend most of the story as a dragon, and I think they would be really, really neat characters to work on. Noeli would literally be the only human I’d be drawing until she gets to Adriana, so I have to make sure her model is compelling, which I kind of already knew it was.
So, now that I’m done blogging and settling into my art space I was gonna go see what I can do on this. Wish me and my cranky technology luck.
And by old, of course, I mean my old-ass Nikkei characters. Last night as I was sketching out ideas for full digital drawings, I suddenly decided to draw Myoku and Nikkei together. Then, I went on Amazon and bought a huge set of alcohol-based Copic marker knockoffs for $40. So I purposely held out on blogging until tonight so I could color my Nikkei and Myo drawing with my new markers!
I llooooooveee how it turned out. These colors are so vivid it’s actually the first time I didn’t have to adjust the color levels after I scanned it. Obviously figuring out if or how I can shade will be a bit of a trial period but other than that I was able to achieve all the wacky colors these guys have always been using only markers. I think these markers would be great too with a larger-scale surface that would benefit from getting the chisel tip into larger but more detailed spaces. The possibilities are endless!
I’m working hard to try to push my way through some creative roadblocks for the last project I started writing a while ago. I may not be producing much but I’ll never give up on trying.
OH yeah the only other noteworthy art I’ve done is on my flight home from California, actually.
The week I was in California with my friends was the longest I’d been away from me and Ryan’s cats since before I ever met him. I desperately, painfully missed my Snowball cuddles – it was kind of pathetic. By the time we were flying home, I’d spent all week drawing whatever I could think of; I’d listened to all my music too many times; and I’d read too much of my books to want to do any of those things for the 3.5 hours on the plane. So I decided I had to draw something that would be as time-consuming as it possibly could. That ended up being a full shaded sketch followed by a full shaded BALLPOINT PEN drawing. And sadly it still only took me maybe just over 30 minutes. The amount of attention I got for this was, as usual, ranging from hilarious to annoying. At one point I accidentally flipped my pen out of my hand and the mini-Ryan sitting next to him had to pick it up for me because Ryan had had no idea what’d happened. Then the flight attendant was all omg I can only draw stick figures and I’m like -____- stop with that line everybody, holy crap, sorry you haven’t tried.
And, the best part about this is that this is in fact exactly what happened approximately 5 minutes after I climbed into bed when we got home from the airport. ^_^ I love my crazy cat lady life.
In this last month my husband has found himself unemployed, and I have been getting ready to transition into a less patient focused role at my hospital. I have come home from work eager to shut off my brain in every way. I put probably 50 hours into God of War, and recently finished the very compelling storyline missions. I’ve been very glacially chipping away at a complicated new story idea that probably will take off, in due time.
So today on a day off before my last 5 shifts at work (god I just wish they were all in a row) I forced myself to sit down and draw some pastel princess fluff.
Yesterday after reading about Kamala Khan’s first kiss in the latest issue of Ms. Marvel (announced today IT WILL BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU), I was feeling kinda sappy.
And after being too lazy to come upstairs and get on my laptop to peruse my own illustrated kisses of the past, I decided to draw me and my dude. I ended up using and just cleaning up the lineart digitally rather than redoing it, which ultimately is hilarious in that I had talked myself into doing this digitally with the battle cry of, “fuck the rules! I’m gonna make bold messy lineart if I wanna make bold messy lineart!” and then I proceeded to keep the delicate af lineart from the original. Ah, irony.
This pose is a frequent occurrence in my household whether it’s a paintbrush or a Wacom pen. My husband always makes sure to walk by and kiss me no matter how immersed I am in my work.
And to think how important it is that I’ve gotten to the point over 5 years where I *can* get immersed in my work around him.
All this is is, again, so surprising considering I am home after work and expected to be a fat lump on the couch for most of the night.