Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tech Talk

This project is self serving in a number of ways. Besides the obvious, I wanted to try some new techniques and technologies the "yunguns" were using. I'm still getting the hang of the stuff, so you've probably noticed a lot of ups and downs in the artwork. I'm not looking for an excuse, but just offering an explanation. If you have some cures, I'd appreciate hearing them.

I do a pencil thumbnail when I write the book, and tighten the pencils as I get ready to do pages. The pencils are scanned into Photoshop and I blow them up to 10x15, then lay in borders and text. Next, I save a non-photo blue version of the page as a JPEG and print this out on Strathmore 200 series smooth finish. I ink in the line art using PITT artist pens from Faber-Castell, and scan the finished pieces back into Photoshop, where I lay the line art behind the text, borders and word balloons. Duplicating this layer, I add color, and the finished piece (10x15 at 300ppi) is saved and a second version at 72 ppi is created for the web.

My first big stumble came today when my printer ran out of cyan without warning. I have another cartridge around her somewhere, but managed to get by without it, although this added time to the inking.

My regular problems involve distortion; I have to scan the line art in two pieces and piece them together and this is not always perfect. Additionally, the scanner seems to distort the art, and the printer distorts it the other way. As a result, I have to do a lot of eyeballing when I ink, and I still get some funky facial features because I'm usually right up against the deadline. All in all, it can be a headache, but it's a lot faster that traditional pencils, and while the art is far from perfect, I'm slowly getting better at correction for the technical flaws.

And I'm still having fun doing it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What is Bravery?

Jeffrey was scared of a lot of things. He worried all the time about disasters, natural or man-made, and what he should do to avoid or survive them. Sometimes he would panic and we'd spend time on the phone, while I assured him that things would be okay.

That he would worry too much is unquestionable. What was significant to me, as the recipient of most of his panic calls, was that he wanted to know what to DO. He was always looking for a solution, a way to fight back against whatever it was coming. I'm not saying that all of his ideas were practical or unselfish, but they were never cowardly.

If the ship was going down, or the house was on fire, Jeffrey would be the guy pounding on doors telling everyone to get out. He wouldn't try to carry anybody down the stairs of a burning building, but he'd call the fire department. If there was a fight, he'd be terrified, but he wouldn't back away if it meant leaving someone behind.

To me, brave is a matter of degrees. As James Arness said in Gunsmoke "the man who is never afraid is surely a fool." Jeffrey was afraid a lot, but usually all he needed was someone to assure him that things would be all right. In the end, isn't that what we all need?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Whew, I'm Back!

The holiday break can be brutal, especially when you have multiple holidays to keep track of. Since I'm Christian and my wife and daughter are Jewish, we run through a whole list of to-dos each season, and when you add in the stuff we had to take care of these past few weeks, I needed a week to get the comic back in order. Thanks for your patience.

Jeffrey always called at Christmas, as he always wanted to stay in touch. I think he enjoyed the holiday as much as anyone, especially as he did not go in for the traditional Jewish ritual of Chinese food. He and his friends would take in a movie, but his Christmas dinner was usually fast food if he could find it, or something he'd heat up for himself.

This is the first year since his passing, and I was pleased to find that whatever else went on, Jeffrey was never too far from my thoughts, and those thoughts were pleasant ones. The web comic is serving its primary function in this respect; Jeffrey is alive and having adventures in my mind, and that makes me happy. Somehow, somewhere, I dare hope it makes him happy too.