I decided to try to commit (cautiously) to Inktober this year because I had so much success doing my 100 Days project last year. 21 days in and I haven’t missed a one and I’ve produced some pretty painterly pieces around a theme. In fact I’m writing this at my (new) job but I have some more to add to the inktober dump when I get home.
Well, the time has come! I just completed the 50th page of Dumping a Dragon.
To celebrate, I thought I’d pull out my shelf of self-written manga and go on a walk through the 50th page of my other stories! :3 Nostalgia, here we come!
Ah, but first, a spontaneous group photo of me and my 50 pagers!
Oh my gosh I almost forgot! All those ancient scans are only possible because my husband insisted on upgrading my flatbed scanner. Purely by chance, he ended up getting the latest version of the same scanner as I’ve had since my art inception. Thanks best husband ever!
In additional tech information, after fearing my laptop harddrive was failing due to the fact that any time I so much as put my hands too abruptly on the keyboard it would LITERALLY BLUESCREEN, we opened it up to see if it was something we could replace and…that seemed to settle it back into place, and no more bluescreening! I will be very sad the day this ancient laptop finally sleeps for good.
I really didn’t mean to go into blog hiding! It’s just weird when I’m in a graphic novel phase because all my artistic efforts go into pages which obviously get posted at http://cadence.melizabethart.com instead of here, and then I look silent and distant but I’m not.
Here are the illustrations I’ve been working on in the last few months!
Okay so I love this lady possibly just because I finished her hours ago. But she covers everything I wanted to artistically do. I wanted to add a drawing to my old-ass drawing portfolio. I wanted to make her clothing semi-transparent. I didn’t want to choose a race for her. And 100% because it was raining when I was coloring it, she’s dew-drizzled and blue. Also her hoodie was inspired by my recent jaunt by a waterfall in pouring rain in a clingy plastic poncho that I kept grabbing like this, hah.
Here’s a birthday drawing I kind of did more for Ryan than me. I just realized proper shoujo legs should be twice this long. BUT ALAS
Ryan came up with this comic idea like a month ago, and I finally delivered on it – naturally while watching Van Helsing with him. God I love that movie, Hugh Jackman is such a goof in it. Anyway, ISN’T THIS COMIC THE BESTEST
I did this painting because of a student and I sent the original home with her on the last day of school. She got me into an amazing pop punk band called Neck Deep because I asked her to give me some lyrics to fill the book space on the right, and when she found these I got intrigued and had to listen to the song. And naturally loved everything about it. The punk pop bands Ryan and I love are from the early 2000s, and we didn’t know new bands like this but of course they’re what we love. So yay for students expanding my interests!To give myself a break from pages, I did the chapter image for the next chapter of Cadence that would start up after the scene I had finished inking. As you’ll see in my next illustration, I’m kind of into the ornate frames around portraits lately. It easily classes up what would otherwise be a basic portrait.
When I knew I needed an emotional break from people when I had my friend/bridesmaid staying in my living room last week, I shut myself in the bedroom and blasted Neck Deep as loud as I possibly could in headphones just like I was a teenager again, and I chose green in contrast to my folder full of pink-background digital sketches, and I used my sketch brush and drew the punkiest pop girl I could muster, who is somewhere suspended between exhaustion and rapture. Also yes I did listen to LA Devotee approximately 10 times in immediate succession. Isn’t this little vignette just lovely? I do love a good hood to create its own frame for the portrait.
Anyway, in other news, I’m afraid I’ve lost steam for Cadence once again. This time it’s more because I’m looking at all the huge forks in the story that are supposed to happen and going HOW COULD I EVER FINISH THIS PROJECT. Like, so much happens in it that I have barely concluded the introduction. And I’m looking at all these plots and arcs thinking how I’m not really excited to do them. I was ashamed to write about it and make it public but this blog has always been a safe place to discuss my whims and woes. There is a strong possibility I’ll return to Cadence, but for now I am going to see if I can develop an idea I had for probably a novella starring Lucienne, Levi, and the rollercoaster of a relationship I had with a student this last year (god that sounds sexual, but of course I mean it in a mentor/mentee sort of way).
Also, I am focusing a lot of energy lately on wedding things. I made my silhouettes for the vases I’ve been planning for some time and I’m hoping I’ll be able to churn out 5 more Saint Pauls and Minneapolises in the next month or so.
I know it’s been forever since my last blog post! But it’s because I haven’t been doing illustrations since I’ve been busy WORKING ON CADENCE!!! AAAAAHHHH!!!
It feels so fabulous to say I’m back at graphic novels. I’m making full use of all the extra time I have right now; the only thing I have going on is work. I come home, I bike, and then I STORYTELL. It’s been going really well – a bit clumsy, understandably so, but I’ve definitely got myself locked in with a growth mindset. I think it’ll be a bit yet till I catch up to where I’d gotten to when I was doing this all in stride, but pushing myself feels fantastic.
Also, I really thank myself for being thoughtful with my character designs. I’m always excited to draw Solimin or Cirrus and definitely Rowan now.
At work on Friday I slam dunked my first character portrait in who knows how long.
One of my students freaked out over his dreads, so there you go.
I also just finally finished a commission my mom got for me from a coworker of hers. I totally procrastinated the shit out of this, but when I came back to the lineart for it today, I just kind of cranked out the colors in an hour and I’m like mmmmmmmmmmhm. I could totally offer commissions more regularly because I am fully capable, but god did I drag my feet on this.
Finally, I recently terrified my fiance by throwing an actual squeal fest in Barnes and Noble. We were casually, if not slightly ironically browsing manga when I happened to glimpse THIS COVER and then all hope was lost for my brain. A STANDALONE BY OZAKI-SAMA?!?!??! THANK THE GODS
I’d lost sight of her in the last few years after having relatively poor luck with translating her blog during college. This blog of all places knows my deep-seated love for Immortal Rain. After checking, it seems it’s been a full 5 years since I finished Immortal Rain via the fanlations of the last three volumes (and its prequel.) And it was a full 5+ years since I’d read the last printed original, according to my last Immortal Rain-related post.
So, I understandably lost my ever-loving shit when I happened to see this at the store. It was kind of even better that it was a standalone novel, because then Ozaki-sama remains completely beyond reproach: her original series was a mere 10 volumes, and what should she do after finishing such a series? Write a standalone, as all irreprehensible authors should.
As far as the story itself goes, I’m not sure I was entirely thrilled by it…it was quite gloomy and not at all in stride with Ozaki-sama’s white-knuckle pacing from Immortal Rain, and this one was much more Japanese and hyper-realistic. The lines are so beautiful though, and the main boy basically looked like preteen Yuca, so I’ll take what I can get. Still, I was happy to see something she’s done recently in print. Immortal Rain being discontinued was a travesty. She needed this.
On an unrelated note, I hate the trackpad on this laptop with a fiery burning passion, and even moreso after the last Windows update destroyed the driver, and my two-finger scroll. -_-
After my recent (No) Trouble piece I started thinking about how awesome all of the super “girl power” songs have been lately. The next day the guy on the radio was all like “There have been some females on the radio lately who are just ON FIRE” and I was like HELL YEAH so then I came home and watched the music video for “Bang Bang!” (Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, and Jessie J). I just started doodling and as soon as I did Cirrus’s pointer finger I ran with the idea and made my most powerful women into a drawing. I kept sketchy black lines and colored sketchy style, including shading. Weirdly I’m super into how the black lines ended up looking over the super pastel color scheme. I also love Cirrus’s star shirt. The writing on the bottom ended up being subtle enough to kind of create a nice solid background and I loved the little hearts I spontaneously added.
Started doodling waiting for my boyfriend to get home because we’re both so hipster and easy to draw and this was something he said to me last week and then I added terrible hashtags and giggle.
I took this picture of my boyfriend cuddling with his giant cat a long time ago and had lofty aspirations to turn it into a super fancy drawing and then I spent 5 minutes on this.
Speaking of him, I made some promotional art for the podcast that he does with his brothers/dude friend and they’re all super funny while they dick around with video games so go watch them be derps.
So not gonna lie, when I first set up my little art studio in my (boyfriend’s) apartment, I got so excited about the space that I kind of just sat down and stopped thinking and painted shit. I’m a little sorry her eyes turned out so dark, but aside from that this piece was an awesome exercise in starting to be able to do what I want with watercolor. It’s funny that I just over the weekend threw away my fancy-ass pigment tube watercolors and only took the palette set with me that my sister-in-law gave me to use with my four-year-old nephew. Proof that it shouldn’t matter what material you use to make good art? Okay no it’s just proof I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with watercolor. Also the more I go visit art galleries (last in Chicago) the more I know I really need to get some acrylics and try them again. Not, like, terrible cheap ones because I guess in the case of plastic-cased pigment it does matter the quality of the plastic casing. … I’m rambling.
Anyway IT’S CIRRUS! I don’t know why…I think it honestly just happened, or I was trying to choose a hair color and I wanted to go with yellow. I think my original balloon girl was going to be all “coyly looking over her shoulder” but then I wanted to make something with more attitude, and Cirrus is by far my most attitude-infested girl. I honestly think that triangle of her cleavage is my favorite painted part, and maybe the two blue balloons on her left.
Up until I wrote Sophie in “Farewell, Fairytale,” during my first year of college, I really struggled with female characters. I came up with hotshots like Micah and smart guys like Andrew and tough guys like Danyil without any problems, but Shani was annoying and Kyasai was a bitch and Cirrus in …WtR drove me nuts. Creating characters that did things I would do, as Sophie did, was kind of a breakthrough for my approach to character design. One of the worst women I wrote prior to this was Cadence. In the original graphic novel, she was definitely a catalyst but, essentially, I hated her. Which is probably why I killed her in the end. Anyway re-writing the story this time around has given me a cool opportunity to hang onto the strengths of her character — she’s fiercely determined and always speaks her mind — while rounding out the parts of her that were a little unbelievable. Indeed, I could almost credit this one scene I decided to put in towards the beginning of the story. In the original draft you don’t even actually see her and Solaris until the second volume, which was roughly two hundred pages into the story (…159 pages, actually). I talked to Ana (one of the story’s best readers) who agreed it was weird that the namesake of the story took so long to show her face. Anyway, I wrote about that in my last entry. I just wanted to kind of squeal about her a little bit because suddenly I’m really excited about her character. I’ve also changed her fate. As for her image, it’s remained largely the same and has of course simply benefited from a few more years (oh my God…four years) of practice on my part.
Writing Cadence this time around, it’s weird, ’cause I see how she fits in with the rest of the story now. Why Solaris, such a powerful man, would have fallen in love with her. Why she’d have gotten children from epic cosmic forces. Why she didn’t want Cirrus to be with Syracrus. And it’s weird to only now be getting in touch with the main roots of the story, but as far as most people are concerned, the product I’m turning out now is the first of its kind.
Seriously, getting into this graphic novel business again is bringing me a level of pleasure and satisfaction I couldn’t have anticipated. I was expecting to get frustrated…or lose interest…or to not feel like it was doing what it was supposed to. I kept telling people I was done with drawing graphic novels till I felt like I could bring to them something that I couldn’t before. I guess that day felt much more distant than a place I’m at now. But it works. People would always ask me if I would color my penciled pages, but when they’d ask me that I simply couldn’t color. So for years now I’ve been trying to get comfortable with it, and part of it has been a surrender to digital media. But I will accept digital art if it is the key to doing what I want to do with my art. In this case, it means being able to illustrate the characters in TCoaRH the way I mean to. They need colors, and that’s what stopped me from even finishing my novelization. I want to add more images to this than I currently can because frankly I want to go keep working on pages. But I’m 33 pages into this story and I can’t believe it. Yesterday though I thought of how much I have left to write and I started to laugh because I’ve gotten virtually nowhere…but I’m committed. There is a long haul ahead, and I’ll make allowances when I have to put it down to focus on, for instance, graduating. But I believe in this story, and in Cadence.
As an example that I had to come back and add, of how this story needs images…I have been waiting to do a page like this of Solaris since I came up with him in high school. Maybe it seems a little simple, his character design…you know, you’re trying to make the Sun King, so you slap him with a warm-toned palette and give him crazy hair and a godlike body. But when I tried to do him in high school I hadn’t committed to the idea of the Element Kings looking like their elements. Plus unfortunately TCoaRH was done while I was on my way out of my phase where all my characters looked like women. So this is the best I could come up with in 2008 or 2009 when I was angry at people during my last drawing class before English class with Miss Kope. It’s cropped weird ’cause it’s on some of Vifquain’s bigger paper that’s too big for my flatbed.
Also, STATIC. Dynamic images are one thing I’ve kind of aimed for, I’m not sure for how long, but whenever I’m making a character like Solaris these days it’s movement I want. Maybe a part of me has come to believe that a plain old portrait like the one above can’t qualify as art.
So, I figured out sometime before I started working with TCoaRH that I wanted Syracrus to be black and Solaris to have batshit crazy hair. Well the hair comes out later like Shepherd Book in Firefly (God I’m sad) but for now I let him tame it. In the aforementioned scene I introduce Cadence and Solaris. While watching Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke on Monday, I decided to really introduce them, and I gave them actual full-page spreads. Solaris’s page was what I’ve kept saying: Exactly the image of him I’ve wanted to do for 4 years.
I won’t even bother pointing out anything that might annoy me about this image because mostly it’s precisely what I wanted to produce.
Okay I’m sorry I’ve got to rant in a way that I might remove later, but what the hell, I’ve been annoyed for the past 3 days and I want to own to it.
See I’m entering what has always been a tricky phase of “The Cadence of a Restless Heart” — the phase where the kids are supposed to learn their history. About like Cadence and Solaris and dying and stuff. Well the rather cumbersome original approach was more and more disgruntling and I went from a steady jog with the pages down to slogging through muck when I got to this part, both with thumbnails and linework, not to mention coloring. So I decided if I had to force it that hard there had to be another way. The whole story’s riddled with full flashbacks so I thought I’d introduce it earlier with a scene between Cadence and Solaris where Solaris proposes the idea of resurrecting them. I talked to Ana about how it was weird they weren’t in the story at all till the second volume even though Cay is the namesake for the story and Solaris is the most powerful figure in it.
Anyway this isn’t really even about that, it’s just about how I shifted approaches like I’d been contemplating doing for weeks. I’ve been comfortable with my hybrid approach of traditional lines and digital color except sometimes I mess up the linework so badly that half the page is redrawn digitally anyway. But still I love getting ink down on paper — nothing can beat that, ever. But with the uncertainty surrounding this scene with Cay and Solaris I ended up sketching pages including dialogue (hitherto the dialogue has been entirely added after, because I didn’t need it apart from the thumbnail ideas of what’s discussed on each page), because I was faced with communicating a very important part of the story first-hand instead of the original narration from Solimin, which meant tinkering with each “it,” “and,” or “but.” As a result, I was less inclined to just ink over the pages because they got sloppier than when I exclude dialogue. So I scanned in sketches and decided, “Well, why don’t I try digitally inking these ones?”
AND I HATE IT.
It’s still slower than doing it by hand. And there’s something about the result that’s more…juvenile than my traditional lines. Also any headway I’ve made with backgrounds has been OBLITERATED. Plus, by the time I get to coloring I’ve been working with my damn cramped stylus for so long that I hardly pay attention to what I’m doing anymore. Inking lines by hand is a pleasure; inking them on a computer makes me crazy.
I mean, what this comes down to is obviously I’m not going to continue doing the lines digitally for a while, but it’s disappointing because these 2-1/2 pages I’ve done are beautiful except for that aspect about them that’s faintly…off. And part of me really wants to back up and ink the pages, even if it means making almost the same works. At least doing them digitally I’ll have gotten the layout strong, which was a concern about doing the dialogue-heavy pages digitally (because when the dialogue is heavier I feel inclined to keep the visual interest tighter than the more action-packed pages like the first 20 were). I’m not sure how I feel about back-tracking, because it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine — working slowly — but I’m kind of interested to see how the pages would compare.
Then again, I’ve always known my attitude towards a drawing affects how it turns out (damn my emotional landscape), and so the pages I do traditionally will probably turn out better largely in part because I expect them to…but it’s worth a little experimentation, I suppose. I mean, also, they’ll probably turn out better because I’ll have practiced them. And Cay and Solaris, while I’ve drawn their kids for 18 pages, are still new faces to my hands. OKAY I GET IT I’M JUST GONNA DO IT AND POST A COMPARISON LATER
 as soon as I posted this entry and went off to try to sketch new pages, I felt dumb. ‘Cause yeah there’s something weird about them but hand-sketching them definitely didn’t go better…guess I’ll just move on. xD