So I Went Adventuring…

So I Went Adventuring…

Digital artwork of a chipper, perhaps even smarmy, kingfisher on a branch. The kingfisher is decked out in fantasy royal knight regalia. This includes a blue cape with ermine fur on the inside, a small buckler strapped to her shoulder, a sword strapped to her back, and a dagger attached to a belt wrapped under her distinctive red 'belt' of feathers which marks her as a Belted Kingfisher. The sky is big, bold, and blue behind her, ripe for adventure!

Lady Sigrid von Eisvogel
“Lady Sigrid von Eisvogel of Gürtelfischer Manor (she/her) is an adventuress who has gained some notoriety as a skilled and fearless swordfighter in recent years. Her origins are somewhat mysterious. While she is more than happy to talk about her home and family, neither she nor various other interested parties have been able to turn up a single other person who has seen or even heard of the realm she claims to come from. Those of a more sceptical disposition might say that it is rather convenient for her that nobody can verify her claims of being a warrior-princess. However, while she may or may not be a princess, the “warrior” part is evidently accurate, so it is wise not say such things within earshot of her.”

-R. Kraft, Avians & Aviaries

About This Piece
Lady Sigrid here would not exist without the chance sighting of a kingfisher by my photographer friend, GettoKnowNature. Kingfishers are notoriously elusive photography subjects and here was one just chilling on a branch one winter morning! The bird had so much character, I was equally smitten when Nature’s luck.

Digital photograph of a belted kingfisher perched on a branch full of lichens. The sky is super blue behind her. The kingfisher is female because it has a rusty brown 'belt' around her waist.Photograph byGettoKnowNature. Displayed with permission.

So, I did what I do best when I see a cheeky beak: I drew it! I also found out tangentially that kingfishers are related to kookaburras. This was related to noticing the beak and crest being kookaburra-like.

Where Have I Been?
I have been right here, busy as ever. Perhaps busier. I had to put the blog on the backburner when contracting picked up a little too much to maintain everything I wanted to accomplish. I return with thoughts on how to continue making the two-week schedule I’d originally envisioned here managable.

Simpler Posts
Step one, from here on out each post will simply be that. I won’t add tutorials to the end. These tutorials were taking a lot of my time. I couldn’t trust that they were accurately conveying the concepts I wanted to teach. Finally, each one kind of contained enough information to be its own blog post, which often felt at odds with the subjects I was actively blogging about. Therefore, whenever I make a tutorial post in the future, it will be its own fullblown post! I think this would be very fun and make the amount of work involved feel like it’s worth it.

Status/Update Journaling
Step two, there will be times when I don’t precisely have a finished product to show. I’m opening myself to status updates and observations that come with that. I’m already experimenting with it via my Amphiox project and it feels great.

Blog Redesign
I would also like my blog to feel less detached and all-over-the-place. I’m going to revisit the layout and make it easier to navigate through posts and find posts with similar tags and categories. I think it should feel like it’s part of my main website rather than a different area.

Up Next
I’m tabling at GeekGirlCon! This is one of my favorite, favorite conventions. I’ll be at table 915 so if you’re in the Seattle area on Saturday 5th November, I’d love to meet you. I will have a new zine and tons of new prints, plus some returning goodies from years past. It has been a long time since I tabled anywhere due to COVID but I’m looking forward to getting back into these. I love meeting people so much.

Care to read more?

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

Where to Stick This Knife?One fine morning a little over a year ago, I set up a silly poll on Twitter. I asked everyone, since we were all thieves in a treasure room, which item to steal. About thirty-seven thieves weighed in and decided upon, among other things,...

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A Fossil Returns to Life

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Amphiox, Continued

Amphiox, Continued

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Want to chat about this?

Goblin Week 2022 Retrospective

Goblin Week 2022 Retrospective

Digital artwork of seven gangly goblins.

Throwing Down on Social Media
I don’t often participate in big group challenges in public, but this one caught my interest: Goblin Week! It was started by Evan Dahm in 2012 and every year, the goblins just get more goblin-y. I created seven different goblins with different goblin careers. One aspect of the challenge that I was proud of was testing out how fast I could conceptualize a goblin, draw it, and color it. I could make a couple per hour with my new lining and flatting style. The goblins didn’t make as big of a splash as I’d hoped on social media but I am happy with them and hope they live lovely little goblin lives.

Comics Tip

Developing a Following for a Comic via Community Events
Big community challenges aren’t necessarily great for exposure. Many times, artists who already have a following are the ones who are going to get big numbers within a large group event. I’ve done many community challenges in the past and have a few thoughts to share about them, besides simply honing your skills.

Digital art of dragons chasing a tiny Margo.One of my old Inktober entries. Margo has attracted quite the following.

What is the trick to gaining followers from community challenges? I would say, picking smaller challenges that occur frequently is a great place to start. Why is this? Well, if you think about advertising, it’s something that has to happen consistently to ‘take’. A person often won’t click on an ad the very first time they see it. If the ad is persistent, they are more likely to click it. The same goes for following an artist. A person who sees that artist’s work multiple times is more likely to recognize and follow them.

If the only community event an artist does occurs once per year, and is already oversaturated with the works of other, bigger artists, then that is not going to result in many new followers. Sure there are oddball lucky submissions that do numbers, but for stuff like Inktober and Goblin Week I could tell that artists who already had followings were being seen and shared the most. My own submissions for just the one year reached a couple of new people, but this was only with the help of those who already followed my accounts (about 2-3 thousand people across my various accounts, as far as I can tell). So, this makes me think that the really big community challenges aren’t necessarily the best ones for comic artists hoping to attract new eyes to their work.

Try Small, Repeating Art Contests
My suggestion for those looking to build their following would be to start small, with small challenges, that repeat frequently, so that your work gets presented to the same audience on a relatively frequent basis. People love to watch growth so even if your work isn’t up to par at the beginning, it could get there eventually. Persistence is going to win the day if your goal is to build a following. Pick one or two monthly challenges with consistent deadlines, such as on Facebook or Twitter, and add to the community there. Then, once momentum builds from the smaller communities, it’s easier to make a statement in larger community events.

My final note, of course, is that social media is inherently meaningless on its own, so some thought ought to be put into what a following may be used to leverage. Don’t build your following for a comic at the expense of making the comic, is all I’m saying.

Care to read more?

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

Where to Stick This Knife?One fine morning a little over a year ago, I set up a silly poll on Twitter. I asked everyone, since we were all thieves in a treasure room, which item to steal. About thirty-seven thieves weighed in and decided upon, among other things,...

A Fossil Returns to Life

A Fossil Returns to Life

What Do We Do with Old Art that People Really Liked?I've been doing conventions for awhile now and find them very personally fulfilling. I have so much fun setting up my display, rehearsing my sales strategies, and figuring out which things sell and why. Of course, my...

Amphiox, Continued

Amphiox, Continued

Defining Steps in a Personal Production PipelineMy Amphiox short comic is an exercise in art production. Up until I attempted it, I'd never really done much longform comic storytelling. Most of my practice was in one- or two-page micro-stories. I chose 48 pages as a...

Want to chat about this?

SAW Graphic Novel Development Month 2/6

SAW Graphic Novel Development Month 2/6

Digital art of a character design based off of the medieval cynocephalus, or dog-headed man. (No relation to Dav Pilkey). The men are both dressed in fine furs with felt hats and wear snarls on their muzzled faces. The only difference between the two is that one man is entirely wolflike, fur and all, while the other man has no fur on their face, leading to a very bald complexion.

A Tale of Cynocephali
In the six-month Sequential Arts Workshop (SAW) graphic novel intensive, I’ve been getting meaningful work done on my thumbnails and script. Soon, I will have a complete thumbnailed version of the graphic novel.

As for the cynocephali (or medieval dog-headed men) above, that represents a character redesign challenge I had while revisiting the fourth or fifth draft of my script. The first iteration of this character, named Canicula, is represented by the gray wolfish man. Early feedback indicated that sure, wolf heads are cool, but Canicula looked like he was a werewolf form of Pierre, one of the comic’s deuteragonists!

Hated to admit it but I can sort of see how Canicula initially looked like a wolfy Pierre.

So, I dug deep into Wikipedia for more visual reference. 12th century images of cynocephali are quite rare online, or I simply haven’t found them yet. I landed on this example of a 17th century depiction of Saint Christopher as a cynocephalus from Russia and couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Kermira, Cappadocia St Christopher depicted with the head of a dog. From the 5th century on, it was widely believed in Byzantium that the saint was one of the mythic dog-heads, a barbarian race without the gift of human speech. Nevertheless his depiction as a dog-head had not been the dominant in the Byzantine art, since the Byzantine Church frowned upon the linking of one of its saints with the cynocephali. In the post-Byzantine art, though, especially from the 17th c. onwards, the Orthodox artists several times paint the Saint as a dog-head. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons)

There’s something quite arresting about the skin tone, the ears, and the haircut on this artwork. I couldn’t put my finger on it….

Screenshot of Mok Swagger, a character from an ill-fated animated movie called Rock n' Rule. He has excessive eyebrows, lips, and teeth, and he's holding some kind of vaporwave stick. He looks an awful lot like a cynocephalus, with the pointy ears, big curved nose, and ridiculous lips.I don't know. Ask Nelvana.“My name is…Moknicula Swaggercephalus.”

Ah. Okay. Well. This will be my homage to Nelvana’s ill-fated attempt at adult animation, then! Exactly the right level of uncanny valley.

Character redesign: Complete! For now, anyway.

In terms of technical studies I’ve also been working my way through the facial expressions section in Anatomy for Sculptors.

Comics Tip

Managing a Team of One
As I’m independently producing a graphic novel, I’ve come to realize I am doing 4-5 separate jobs, all at once. Just being one person, it might seem easy to keep myself organized, but no, of course not. My brain goes in 4-5 different directions at once. I have to reign myself in and focus on one part of the graphic novel at a time. Above all, writing comes first. Many graphic novelists (and, er, non-graphic novelists…so… novelists) turn to notecards and sticky notes to keep their plots under control. While I adore tactile crafting and drawing whenever possible, I turned to a digital solution.

Trello.com is a free notecard-like sorting system for keeping track of tasks. It accomplishes the one simple thing that I want it to do: Make digital cards that are editable, legible, and can be swapped around. I can access my cards from anywhere. They are also share-able for feedback and if I really wanted, I could invite collaborators.

Screen Shot of a Trello board. It has several columns, including to-do lists, lettering, thumbnailing, and the like. The background is a snowy mountain lake.

I set up my columns to reflect each ‘job’ I have to do in order to complete my graphic novel: Conceptualized, Scripted, Thumbnailed, Lettered, Roughed, Inked, Colored, Polished. Right now I’m very focused on bringing everything into the ‘Thumbnailed’ stage. At the time of writing this I have Act 1 thumbnailed, most of Act 2 thumbnailed, and bits of Act 3 thumbnailed. Trello lets me hop around like a time traveler so I can resolve the scenes I am most interested in first.

If you’re interested in giving Trello a try, and haven’t been traumatized by it yet in a tech workplace, it’s free to use here.

Care to read more?

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

You Don’t Meet in a Tavern Promo

Where to Stick This Knife?One fine morning a little over a year ago, I set up a silly poll on Twitter. I asked everyone, since we were all thieves in a treasure room, which item to steal. About thirty-seven thieves weighed in and decided upon, among other things,...

A Fossil Returns to Life

A Fossil Returns to Life

What Do We Do with Old Art that People Really Liked?I've been doing conventions for awhile now and find them very personally fulfilling. I have so much fun setting up my display, rehearsing my sales strategies, and figuring out which things sell and why. Of course, my...

Amphiox, Continued

Amphiox, Continued

Defining Steps in a Personal Production PipelineMy Amphiox short comic is an exercise in art production. Up until I attempted it, I'd never really done much longform comic storytelling. Most of my practice was in one- or two-page micro-stories. I chose 48 pages as a...

Want to chat about this?