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Monday, January 25, 2016

Page 9 Done - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

To celebrate the entire completion of 9 out of 20 pages in Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I share this snapshot of one panel on the page. I am almost half-way finished with this very important part of the project.

Why is it so important? I need a finished work to present to agents and/or publishers to humbly ask for their financial support so that I can finish the entire graphic novel by Fall 2016. Like all artists that start out like this, I am having trouble paying the bills and buying groceries thanks to this wild and crazy Swedish adventure I have heaped upon myself. If I find such a person or entity, it would be such a relief. If I do not, I will still do it myself. This is a story that must be told.

As usual, the image you see was created using Manga Studio 5EX. I have been making screen movies of some of my work so you can see how I made some of the pages (I plan to release it after it is published).

I wanted to also tell you that I work very hard to improve my craft through "drawing drills" almost nightly. That is, I make 8 to 12 sketches of the same thing. Lately, my focus has been trees, mouths, noses and feet. I grab one of my many how-to-draw books, crack it open, find an object and draw it...and draw it...and draw it again and again.

I also recently published the Swedish versions of my children's books Knös Jätten and Motalas Svenska Flicka. Please check them out at Lulu. They are written to inspire children to overcome adversity and reach for greatness.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bit by Bit - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I am crawling steadily through the illustration phase of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. If I could afford it, I would work on nothing else. Therefore, I will pray for a miracle while I continue to do my best. Meanwhile, until those thousands of eager people will purchase my on-demand photo restoration tutorials or my stock illustrations, I will probably average 2 or 3 completed pages (inked, colored and lettered) per week. For an 80 page story, that seems like an eternity of 50 hour work weeks.

The snapshot at left is a small portion of the western stairwell of the Swedish Royal Palace in Stockholm. Finding interior source images of this magnificent edifice is very difficult. I've bought every book I could find—and afford—as well as scoured every website I could translate. For one of Europe's greatest palaces, I find the lack of coffee table hardcover photo books about the Royal Palace disturbing. Swedes have a code of modesty in their DNA. But if that is the reason, I have to say it sure frustrates me as an artist—even if I am half Swedish! If I lived in Sweden, I would've visited this place at least twice with a sketchbook to scout for scenes.

Nevertheless, as you can see, I'm getting inspiration from something. This is a small portion of a background image in Act 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I have modified it slightly for composition purposes. But it is almost identical to the real thing as seen here at Gamla Stan i Stockholm's website.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Queen Lovisa Ulrika - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

I'm entering another exciting part of Badin and the Secret of the Saami: Illustrating scenes from Queen Lovisa Ulrika's Audience Chamber at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholmsslott). Although I'm not revealing any other characters or finished art at this time, I wanted to show you a snapshot of my screen as I was working.

You will see a strange set of guides in the background. That is from the extremely useful book called Extreme Perspective for Artists by a very talented and intelligent David Chelsea.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Production improvement for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Abstract from a finished page
As I write this, I am at the final stage (coloring) for page 6 of Act 1. Creating these first pages has been an emotional roller coaster. I did not realize how much emotion plays a part in the story until I saw what I drew! For nine months all I have looked at were words on paper, model sheets and very rough pencil sketches. It is a very different kind of presentation. I would liken it to meeting the characters of Badin and the Secret of the Saami in person. It is both exciting and frightening.

I think I understand what seasoned comic artists and writers mean when they say that good art compliments good writing. However, that assumes I am doing something good for either component. I hope I am. I can only keep going, I suppose. Maybe after you read Badin and the Secret of the Saami in autumn 2016, you will comment or send me a message with your thoughts.

I made some notes of how my process has changed in the past week or two (using Manga Studio 5EX).

  1. Create panel guides, copy trim and live guides based on thumbnail layout sketches. 
  2. Create the frame folders with Frame Sub-Tool. 
  3. Run actions to create the following layers in each frame folder: Composition, draft, ink. 
  4. Create word balloons and enter dialog/narration with Text Curve Balloon Sub-Tool. Make sure custom text settings are activated. 
  5. Place appropriate composition rulers by Doug Hills into each frame folder. 
  6. Adjust draft layer elements and lettering according to composition ruler if necessary. I tend to use Rule of Thirds, Golden Slant and Golden Spiral the most. These help me construct very pleasing compositions in the frames.