News post on Droblar.com

Panel six is up over at Droblar.com and we have our first good look at Dani running from the wolf. I hope everyone is enjoying the story so far.

I’m both surprised and intimidated by the traffic that Droblar is getting. I’m definitely motivated to hold fast to the schedule and to keep the quality of the artwork and writing the best I can make it. Each week feels like a scramble, especially with my commitments to novel and short story projects. That said, I’m still very much enjoying making Droblar.

I wrote a news post to accompany this week’s update. I’m reposting here so that readers of the blog will know that I’m writing text updates to go along with each new panel now. This first post is a little longer than what I think will be the norm. It covers the following:

  1. News updates
  2. Publication times
  3. Image resolution

News updates

As I mentioned, I’m including a short post (shorter than this one) to accompany each new panel. I think it will be a good way for me to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on with the project. It should also save some time answering everyone’s questions. Maybe someday we’ll get some Droblar forums set up. Until that works out, please keep the comments and emails coming. I am surprised and flattered by each and every one. My hope is that a little news-snippet with each update will help people follow along and allow new readers to get caught up. I’m certainly still learning as I go, so let me know what you think.

Publication times

So… my publication schedule is “every Tuesday”. To date, this has meant midnight on Monday. I’ve been excited to get each post up as quickly as possible. The pages take a ton of work to make and it’s pretty rewarding to see them go live.

However, I’m not convinced that midnight Alaska-time is the best time of day to publish. I’m going to play around with the timing on the updates and the announcements over the next couple months to see what gets the best response. I really don’t like to self-promote. I know that I need to, but it’s work to make myself do it. I’m also allergic to spamming Twitter and Facebook with update notifications. I need to wring the most coverage out of each notification.

If you notice the update time changing, that is why. I’ll still update each Tuesday, the exact time of day will vary a bit for the next dozen or so updates.

Just FYI.

Image resolution

Huge shout out to Dave Hamp ( @thedavidhamp ) for suggesting that I up the resolution of my original artwork.

The Surface is great. I love it. But I’ve missed the fine detail that I get when drawing by hand. I’ve been drawing the panels at 600×800 and 300dpi and then saving down to 150dpi JPEG.  It’ve been somewhat frustrated that everything has been coming out looking thick and blocky.

Dave suggested some changes and I’m super enamored with the results. This week’s panel was drawn at 300 dpi again, but I upped the image size to 1800×2400. It takes much more time to illustrate at this resolution and I think the result is totally worth it. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

Check out Droblar.com and let me know what you think in the comments! =)

Three More Sleeps…

Three more sleeps and then I launch the Droblar web comic. (-_-;)

    That’s me sweating bullets, by the way. ^

Thanks Google for the emoticon.

I have to admit that I’m nervous. I’m not sure how to pace the script. I’m not sure how to pace the artwork. I don’t want to draw every movement – functionally animating the darn thing. I don’t want to be too sparing with the artwork and run the risk of leaning too heavily on narration.

… but wait, there is yet more rending and gnashing.

I’m still learning how to draw. I’m still learning how to illustrate on my Surface Pro 2. I know how I want all the characters to look but there are still several that I’ve yet to draw. Like… even once. I also most certainly do NOT have anything close to 360° references for, well… any of them. Nor do I have a handle on conveying emotional states in the artwork.

Let’s face it. I’m completely winging this.

You know what, though? I’m launching on Tuesday regardless.

I like the story. I want to share it.

I had a chance to talk to Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary and Writing Excuses fame at WorldCon this past September. I attended a small group meet ‘n’ greet called a coffeeklatch. In fact, it was the morning after the Writing Excuses cast won their Hugo. The coffee was attended almost exclusively by fans. That’s cool and all, but I was hoping to talk nuts ‘n’ bolts about graphic novels and web comics.

My disappointment was short lived, however. Howard took an extra 15-20 minutes after the scheduled meeting to talk one-on-one with me. Thank you Howard for being cool like that. Anyway, I think the conversation was instrumental in pushing me from sketching scenes from the story to actually telling the story.

Much of the conversation can be summed up as, “Get over yourself, Andy. Stop inventing artificial hurdles and excuses to not share the story.”

So… I’m not.

I’m diving in with plans for success. If things go pear-shaped, I’ll regroup and adjust accordingly. But for now I am going to give it my best and be content (if not happy) with the results.

Another thing that Howard mentioned really stuck with me. Interestingly, it was nothing more than a passing aside during an unrelated conversation with a fan during the coffee. The comment was that you’re never going to be happy with the artwork. I think that’s true. I’ve spent enough of my life engaged in various artistic endeavors to know that the more you know, the more you realize there is to know – and to learn.

Artwork is like that. I’m absolutely certain that when I post the 200th panel for the Droblar story, I’ll look back and wish like hell that I could take a mulligan on panels 1-199. But I won’t. I’m going to do my best and I’m going to tell this story. I need to get it out of my head and onto the page. By the time I finish it, there’ll be a dozen more clamoring to get out. I’ll take what the Droblar teach me and those future stories will be the beneficiaries of the lumps, bruises, and learning experiences that I’m sure to encounter over the next several years.

This is a big commitment, but I’m excited to see where it goes. My goal is still to publish only once a week. We’ll see how things go. As I get better with the characters and with my tools, perhaps I’ll be able to up that to twice per week. If I do, fans of the Droblar and regular visitors to the site will be the first to know.

Dani Miller and the Droblar are coming. Drop by droblar.com on Tuesday to say hi, and please accept my thanks for all the support!

The Droblar Are Coming

Unless you’re very, very new to the site, you probably know that I’m working on a graphic novel for my kids. I’ve decided to publish it as a free webcomic online at Droblar.com. The plan is to launch Droblar on Tuesday, November 5th. From that point on, I’ll update weekly on Tuesdays.

Where I’m at right now

The Droblar are coming!I’m still playing with the process of digitizing the artwork. Currently, I draw the comic in pencil on paper and then ink it by hand. From there, I scan the inked artwork into a cheap Photoshop knockoff for coloring and type setting.

Needless to say, it’s not the best system and I’m certainly not taking advantage of the best tools.

So!

Later this month I will receive a shiny, new MS Surface Pro 2. I will name her Igor and she will assist me in bringing my abby-normal creations to life. She’ll have a swanky, touch-sensitive stylus, a fresh install of Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro, and a steep learning curve.

My goal?

Master the derned thing as quickly as possible so I can settle on a coloring/typesetting process. If I can avoid shelling out the $50/mo for Adobe’s CS suite, then… uh. Good!

I can see now why artists need kickstarters for their projects. If you want to do something well and on a schedule, it takes planning and a budget. Go figure… o.O

So that’s where we’re at. Igor should show up toward the end of the month. Until then, I’m drawing deeper into the story. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to get faster. And I’m trying to tell a better and better story.

Cheers and stay tuned!

-Andy

Sunday Sketch: Danica

I haven’t done a Sunday Sketch in a while. Sorry about that and please accept my apologies if you enjoy them. Illustrating is definitely a sideline to my writing and it’s suffered due to my travel schedule this past month.

Speaking of travel…

One of the things that happened at Worldcon was that I was able to talk one-on-one with Howard Tayler from the Writing Excus… wait, excuse me. Howard Tayler from the Hugo award-winning Writing Excuses podcast.

I was hoping to track down some nuts ‘n bolts-type info on illustrating graphic novels. Specifically, I was having trouble finding online, educational resources and mentorship for authoring and illustrating them.

It’s tough enough to sift through novel-writing resources. For novels, there’s a lot out there and finding the stuff that works for you can take some time. When you get to graphic novels, things simply get weird. Everything focuses on superhero fan art and doe-eyed anime preteens. Plus half the stuff out there is in Japanese. I took one semester of Japanese in college and holy-hard languages, Batman.

ANYWAY…

I was talking to Howard about that stuff, but the most valuable take-aways I left with were:

  1. Something that I should have admitted to myself all along, and
  2. Something that was very good for me to hear.

Something I should have known all along:

START THE DARNED PROJECT!

I mean, it’s not going to draw itself and the more you learn, the more you know you have left to learn. If you wait until you are absolutely perfect at a particular thing (doesn’t really happen, btw), then you’re pretty much guaranteed to never actually DO anything with the thing. If you think that you get better, and then get better, and then suddenly you barf complete projects and sneeze finished manuscripts, you’re wrong.

And I was, too.

Again.

Just like writing a book… start.

… and then keep at it.

Something that was very good for me to hear:

“You’re never happy with the artwork.”

Now why is it a good thing to hear that the project you’re committing hundreds of hours of investment into will never make you happy?

Easy.

It lets you move on. You’re never going to be happy with the art. Deal with it. Or… don’t do it. Don’t start. Quit. Go do something else. Something that you find rewarding.

But if you can’t quit? If there’s simply no way you can’t not do this project? Start. Do the thing. If you can’t be happy with the art, be content with it. Keep moving.

Hearing a pro like Howard make that statement was just the push I needed to get over myself. To appreciate what I could do. And to accept that I’ll be able to do more – and do it better – later.

Even if that means I will never be happy with the artwork.

Droblar: Dani Miller

Too excited not to share

Ok. Ok, ok, ok.

I probably shouldn’t be posting this, but I just gotta. I’m way too excited about the project not to share.

This is only a test panel for stylistic choices, pallette selection, and whatnot. For instance, I know this isn’t the font that I want to use. I’m not sure yet about the dimensions. Etc, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

BUT STILL! They live! My little droblar guys are live, inked and in color!

As soon as I figure out how I want to publish the story, I’ll start posting them to a dedicated website. I already have one reserved (droblar.com), but for the near future these little fellas will live only on the blog. Also, new panels won’t come out very quickly as I only draw on Sundays.

I’m rambling.

Aaaaanyway, the story is finished. All that’s left is to draw it. And I’m awfully excited to say that it will look…

something…

like…

THIS!

Droblar - Page One

 

Sunday Sketch: The Miller’s Mill

As per normal, I’m late posting this week’s Sunday Sketch. You’d think that snapping a pic with my phone and emailing it to myself would be quick and simple, but NOOOOO…

At any rate, this is the concept sketch for the mill in the Droblar story. I like the general sense of the setting. However, there are a few things that I’m not happy with. Specifically, the thatched roofs and the water.

I need to spend some time practicing water, in particular. The mill doesn’t show up too much in the story, but the underground settings almost all have water dripping on or running through them. Also, the Droblar spray water to drill new tunnels, so I’ll have to figure out how to draw that, too.

I hope you like this week’s Sunday Sketch and please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

The Miller's Mill by Andy Rogers

Sunday Sketch: Flight From The Bystrica

This week’s *cough* belated *cough* Sunday Sketch is from a scene towards the end of the Droblar graphic novel.

I’m obviously still playing with the visuals for some of the characters. For example, the Droblar in this sketch is supposed to be Bing. This looks more like Steve’s head/neck shape with Bing’s face. Also, the girl in this shot is far too mature looking for what I have in mind. I’m having trouble drawing kids and I haven’t played around with costume ideas for her yet, either. =\

I was also trying to play with motion in this sketch. I like the way it turned out for Bing and the girl. The monster chasing them is supposed to look like it’s vaulting from rock to rock on long claws. I’m going to have to play with that some more to really capture the movement as I’m envisioning it.

I hope you all enjoy the sketch of this scene and please let me know what you think in the comments.

Droblar: Flight from the Bystrica by Andy Rogers

Sunday Sketch: The Death of Ma Miller

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Tabatha Miller’s nightmares started the evening after her mother died. However, it wasn’t until she laid Ma in the ground with Papa and Little Pearl that they started finding Tab asleep in odd places. Curled up inside the pantry. Down in the apple cellar. Up in the gear loft of the paddlewheel house.

At times like that, they would wake Tab up and light lamps to chase away her nightmares. Other times, Papa would find her walking and guide her back to bed, still asleep.

#####

Ma Miller's Funeral

This is a rough sketch of one of the opening panels for the Droblar story. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions.