#NoLookingBack #011 – The ever continuing #SketchbookAdventures roll on!

So, with that fun three week dive into my mecha designs now behind me, it’s time to move on in the #SketchbookAdventures and get a little more caught up. We’re still not “current”, and hopefully by the time we are, you’ll see just how much I have improved over even this stuff, which was the best stuff of its time for me. A lot of my efforts lately have been in working out the characters and ideas for an off-the-wall comic I can do without worrying about it being perfect from the first page, a comic to improve my art while doing it. I don’t know if I should be sharing those before the comic starts or if I should keep them well hidden until it launches…

Either way, that’s not what you’re going to see this week. You’re going to see stuff I designed for a comic I wanted to do but I let the idea and plot explode beyond a manageable point and, well, it needs some time on the backburner to work out its kinks. In the long-term, I would love to work on this comic idea… it the short term, it is just too unwiedly and grand in scope. Gotta start smaller.

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Olufemi Ndikumana is Team 16’s translator.

At the time I was doing these designs I was really trying to push my understanding and application of foreshortening and anatomy to new heights, while simultaneously trying to develop expressive faces for my characters (when their faces would be visible) as well as pushing the boundaries of my design and conceptualization skills. So, essentially, I was trying to get better across the board, in all categories I could think to work on, at once. Too bad the cast of characters hinged around a protagonist I could never figure out how to really care about or make interesting from a writing perspective…

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Chins are not the easiest thing to draw…

Hilariously enough, the story was going to be centered around Team 16 of the G.O.O.N. mercenary company, but Olufemi here is the only member of that team who ever got beyond written conceptualization. He was fun to draw, and I had a very clear idea of who he was and how he would look. whereas most of the other members of Team 16 were just sort of amorphous and without enough visual definition in my mind.

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Damn, look at that foreshortening… please ignore the barrel.

As you can see, compared to what you have seen before in my #SketchbookAdventures, the foreshortening and body posture here is all aggressive and, more or less, in the right place.

In the end, hilariously, I spent far more time designing and drawing the members of Team 1, who were supposed to be the All-Stars to Team 16’s burnouts. The story was supposed to focus on the burnouts somehow ricing to the occasion and getting better and better even when given shit, suicide mission contracts, but the story spun out of control with two many power players in the shadows and not enough understanding of how it was going to pan out and actually have a narrative . Too bad… cuz Team 1 are the shit!

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Ippon0Datara, Japanese Cyborg Mercenary Extraordinaire

Ippon-Datara here is, well, my favourite. I’ve continued to draw him, time and time again, since I came up with the initial design and will inevitably have to work him into something, even if G.O.O.N. doesn’t get to take flight one of these days. I think this piece was the one that really told me that I was getting better. I looked at it when all the lines were down and liked it so much I had to sign it. I see all the flaws, i know in the long-term I will, and must, do better. Nevertheless, this was part of a turning point that told me that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.

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First appearances can but cuter than their final versions.

While I failed at doing a good Chibi/SD aesthetic when I was initially concocting Ippon-Datara, based on a really old idea where his name was spelled wrong, I have managed to nail several great drawings of the character afterwards, as well as several great drawings of the rest of the cast that show me trying to do better as an artist.

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American Boom-Boom looking good!

Duke F. Jetter here may not be doing anything crazy with his pose, but shows a solid construction to his body. I was aiming to make him look solid and stout and I feel I succeeded in that regard. Just being able to build a body that looks like it has mass and structure to it instead of being lines on a 2D plane that are supposed to be representative of that idea was once, to me, a foreign idea. I know, I know, it is all about practice. But truly, for the longest time, it didn’t make sense to me. I have piles of books that told me how to do it and showed me what it looked like, but everytime I would try it… well, it just wouldn’t work. 2016 was a turning point for me artistically. I have been drawing for my whole life, maybe never dedicating enough time to it, and always getting frustrated and demoralized by my lack of advancement. 2016 changed that and now, in 2017, every time I draw is an opportunity for me to grow and develop and maybe, finally, achieve my dreams. Too bad I only clued in in my thirties.

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Kuroryu Fuuma, something akin to G.I.Joe’s Snake-Eyes.

I’ll be honest, I still have no idea how I managed to make one of his legs look so broken and yet, nonetheless, this picture holds up just enough for me.The angle of his foot may be off, on one leg, but the way I drew the feet themselves looks pretty good. Surprisingly, I draw feet rather well. Some professional artists in the 90s didnt draw feet, they just drew thick clouds of fog everywhere their characters stood. At least I’ve got feet to stand on.

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I don’t have a name for her yet, but she’s basically Lady Cable…

Considering I have a rough time drawing the female body, I’m not too sad about how this came out. It was easier as this character is meant to be a big gal, demolitions and ordinance expert with cybernetics. The near hand, pointing the pistol towards the viewer, was the first tim I have ever succeeded at trying out that particular visual. She’s a milestone for me in putting together a body at varying depths of perspective and not having it all fall apart on me. The nostalgia of characters I have designed makes me want to jump back in with these guys and figure out how to make the story work… I am simply working on too many ideas at once…

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Mr. Mister, who do you think you are?

Here we have Mr. Mister, an adversary of the G.O.O.N. folks, but most certainly not a villain. The story had so many layers of clandestine organizations working against each other in multiple different layers. Everything was part of a grand mysetery to unravel about who was manipulating events and to what end. Mr. Horsefeet here was just a player in that game. His feet were never supposed to look so weird. He’s supposed to be on his toes, but it just takes all the weight of his body and makes it look off putting and like he has hooves. Still, since his power does involve smoke, I guess any time I draw his feet poorly I can just pull a Liefeld and cover them up.

I hope you can see how I have improved over the last year and a bit as I take you though these sketchbooks. A lot of the foreshortening and anatomy work here which may appear to the reader of comic books as standard, low-class fare… well, for me they are revolutionary skills I am developing. It is a challenge that I enjoy and, well, hopefully by the time I am forty I’ll have a comic I am proud to have people read. It is pretty much all I have ever wanted to do with my life, but my skills haven’t always developed as fast as I’d like. But, hey, here they are now so let’s try and make good use of them!

Do you have any feedback or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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