#NoLookingBack #021 – Upgrades!!!

Right now I’m sitting at my newly rearranged and upgraded work space. I’ve upgraded to a dual monitor set up with a new wireless keyboard and it is so much more comfortable than I have ever been before while working at home. I have a mitochondrial condition that causes me optic nerve death earlier than I should be experiencing it, and it is slowly degenerating. One of the hardest things for me to do lately has been working on my personal art projects after working a full day. My job requires me to use a computer screen all day and my eyes get tired. All of my passion work – writing, drawing, lettering, video editing, et al. – are visual tasks. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes my eyes just hurt too much to do much other than close them and just lay there. It’s really limited my ability to advance projects because straining my eyes on my fifteen point six inch laptop screen has been gruelling. With this new monitor, at nearly double the size and with a variety of really amazing eye strain reducing technology, damn! I feel like I can just work and work and work. I can size it large enough that I don’t even have to strain in the slightest. I feel that, at this moment, with this simple expenditure of money, I have set myself ahead of where I was projected to be without it.

Hopefully you’ll see a whole lot more content from me moving forward.

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#NoLookingBack #020 – No Witty Title

This week I go visit a lawyer at a free legal clinic for artists for the second time in one calendar year. I’ve had a strategic change of mind about a long ongoing situation and want to make certain that I go about it in the most secure way possible. I’ve found a new path towards resolution that sets me ahead instead of behind. Since it’s a legal matter, I won’t say any more about it specifically.

I don’t like feeling like I’m coming out on the losing side of a situation. It festers like a wound and sometimes this leads me to self-detrimental behaviours and feelings about my worth. Then again, sometimes I find a way forward in the ashes and rubble. The solution I came up with this time, if I can pull it off, provides me with a full and robust project to move forward with. It’s thrilling to have this prospect. If I cannot resolve my legal issue the way I want to, this failure has still provided me with a structure and concept that can be moved forward either way.

The steps I have taken towards creating these comic book projects has been fraught with failures and learning lessons. Too often I have come out feeling like I failed myself, and there are still ways in which I need to improve on the efficiency, efficacy, and other words that end in y, of my burgeoning skillset and projects under my purview. Nevertheless, I see ahead of me big successes and many, many more lessons to learn. I’m certain I will fail to live up to my own expectations time and time again, but I won’t be derailed. Moving forward is the only way to pursue this dream.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Leave a comment here!

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#NoLookingBack #019 – On Planning and Follow Through

I’m an idea guy. Naturally I have a lot of ideas for stories, designs, concepts, projects et al. Often I paint in broad strokes, but when I get serious about something I have become increasingly good at the nitty-gritty detail work. I presently have lists and lists of tasks to accomplish for establishing my online presence, and for bringing my own comics to life. I’m good at planning. What I stumble with is scheduling and follow through…

The problem I have encountered is that my greater goals are broad in scope and all require a strong devotion of time and effort. I have a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished, but doing it in an organized and timely fashion makes me hit a strong brick wall of feeling lost and… well, as I’ve said before, overwhelmed. I want to run ahead and work on these big, flashy ideas. I want to get to the easier, or more fun, part. But I’m at the part where I have to plan time to organize ideas and make more complex plans.

Often I set myself goals to do work and I’ll sit down to do it and completely blank because, and I can recognize this, I feel like I cannot accomplish my goals. This is mostly psychological and me being self destructive. Oftentimes it is exacerbated by how tired my eyes get. I work with computers all day for money, and all the time for my projects too. I have a mitochondrial condition that causes me to have optic nerve death earlier than there should be. These stack up on me and really tire me out. I think my only real solution is to get additional monitors so that its less of a strain on my eyes to work. Then it’ll only leave my crushing self doubt to waylay me.

My friend keeps telling me that my dedication to, and pursuit of, my dream and passion projects has inspired him. He tells me that I have accomplished a lot. I can’t take the praise because I never feel good enough. I never feel like I work hard enough, which then engenders me to not work hard because “what’s the point?”…

I know artists struggle with this a lot. I know I’m not the only one. I know I sound whiny. But hey, this is my blog and this is my series about my journey towards being a better creator. I own my flaws, and I know they are holding me back. Writing about it has helped me to understand it better.

Do you have any feedback or questions? Leave a comment here!

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#NoLookingBack #018 – On being Overwhelmed

I have a lot I want to accomplish in life, as a writer and creator. I have always wanted to achieve so much and I struggle daily with feeling like I am never doing enough. Even when I am meeting my self-assigned deadlines, producing routine content, and growing my presence on social media – all integral elements of my strategy towards success – I feel I am letting myself down on a cosmic level. It is the ever present hound, nipping at my heels, driving me forward in frustration and confusion.

The funny thing is, that that sensation, of never having accomplished enough… sometimes it freezes me and I get flustered. I wonder if my ideas are worth it, if the effort is worth it. Clearly, the darkness inside me speaks aloud, if what I was doing was any good I’d have become successful by now, after all, I am 32. It comes at me and I see how far I have to go, and feel so overburdened that I consider giving up entirely. My confidence executed by the dark side of my own drive to succeed. Am I worth it? Can I do this? Questions assail me, I lose track of my progress and my organization goes even more to shit than it already is.

I already find it remarkably difficult to balance my day job, my wrestling articles, drawing, working on scripts, and building a social media presence. New projects fall into my lap, stack up daily. I have skills I need to practice, software I pay for that I hardly use and feel discouraged when I practice and get bad results in. The last thing I need to do is beat myself up about the fact that I have too much going on for my mind to handle. But I do it anyways. Somehow I always come out the other side and get back on track.

I’m writing this because sometimes I say things in a way, online or otherwise, that might make me seem like I have so much figured out. But i don’t. I have determination and drive and a willingness to push through down times. I’m stubborn. I have failed a lot and so far none of it has been hard enough to keep me down. Memes and anecdotes tell me that this is the path towards success. One hundred failures before you get it right. Ten thousand hours. I feel like my time is limited, so I better clock them fast. Just gotta keep getting up, it is the only thing that has worked for me so far. I hope one day I can look back at this post, with a wall full of my works and properties behind me, and be proud of the path I took.

#NoLookingBack #017 – Plentiful Planning

I’ve been spending a good deal of time lately crafting a rigid structure for my current comic book project. This structure applies not only to the story I am telling, but also the logistics of how many pages it would be, and deadlines for when different pieces of the story have to be done to produce it the way I wanted, by when I want it.

I’ve written the overall plot at least 3 different times, moving from bullet point ideas to concept elaboration paragraphs to one draft design specifically to calculate page count estimates. Each time through I have enhanced, refined, and better applied the teachings I learned from Ty Templeton’s writing courses. It behooves me to understand and internalize the lessons I have available to me from the wonderful resources I have had made available to me. This project, while significantly lengthier, is built upon my understanding of his lessons which I have already put into practice by creating a spec script for his class. That experience taught me to trust his structures for telling engaging and exciting stories. It excites me to move through the five act structure and plot out the exact story beats and then build out, expanding to fill in the minutiae, the things that get you lost in the excitement so that the story doesn’t feel too obvious. It’s like a game, a puzzle I am solving, where my only goal is to one up myself and do a better job at hitting the targets I have in sight.

It’s not the easiest thing to do, and it almost works better when you are telling small stories with compact page counts. But that’s most likely my inexperience talking. I’ve many lessons to teach myself by practicing these skills, but I have recognized the benefit. I recognized the potential back when I first took part in my first class with Ty, but it wasn’t until I had completed my first script under his tutelage and gotten his feed back at the end of my third set of classes with him that I recognized how much his lessons had benefited me.

It’s late and I’ve had little sleep, but I am excited by the future I see for this project, and I am looking forward to hitting each milestone as I plan it out and execute it with clear understanding of my direction. It’s an evolving organism, a story at the phase before you have panels described and dialogue delicately drafted. I know that by the end of June I want every broad stroke planned and the prologue and first act penned to the very last word of dialogue. I have the tools to chase this down, organize it, and successfully execute it in a marketable fashion because of Ty.

If you’ve ever been interested in writing for a living, and you are in the Greater Toronto Area, I would highly recommend you take classes with Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Boot Camp. He helped me to reach over the threshold and really understand how to write a well-structured, exciting story.

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

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#NoLookingBack #016 – Confidence is a hell of a Drug!

In the recent past I’ve developed confidence in myself in a way I have never before experienced as a visual artist. I now know that with dedication, patience, research, and tools I can draw pretty much anything. How well I do it, technically and aesthetically speaking, is just a matter of time.

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Looks like we have an old friend visiting again.

These pictures aren’t new to this article, but they are the most recent completed art that I have. Well, that isn’t associated with my secret project at least. I don’t have all that much to say about them other than that they are a whole set of leaps and bounds from where i used to be.

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I told you that El Aguila Ardiente would be back!

I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me as i try to incorporate more of the elements and techniques I will need to draw comics into my art. I suffer from a lack of practice with perspective and drawing non-organic shapes in depth. I know that this doesn’t really say much. But it is a statement of my confidence in myself that grows, day by day, as i experiment and reignite my love of drawing. I know that, with time, I will succeed. Here’s hoping that it’s in time for me to make a career out of it.

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So, I know you don’t know me very well, but I fucking LOVE Sabaton!

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

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#NoLookingBack #015 – More #SketchbookAdventures than you can shake a stick at!

I’m having fun with the names of these articles. I gotta admit, I’ve been feeling pretty worn out. I’ve added so many new things to my day-to-day life that after being derailed by the faulty DVD I was in the midst of reviewing for last week’s aborted #DiscoveringWrestling I found it hard to get back on track. My momentum taken out of me by no fault of my own. But I let it get to me like it was my fault. But I’m not gonna stay down for too long. It isn’t productive. So I shifted focus. I knew I had to get something done that I could put here. This is fresh off the presses!

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It needs a bit more work! Always notice the errors, but recognize the distance you have travelled. This may not be great, but it’s leaps and bounds from where I was two years ago.

Other than this I have been working quite steadily on trying to get through the art for the first page of my comic. I had to choose a heavily detailed scene to start with. It is, however, proving to be a learning experience. the plot is almost fully structured. Starting with the art for the first page before the script is written is usually the direct opposite of how this goes, but it just sort of happened. It’ll be the only page drawn before the script is written. Hell, it may take as long for me to finish my script as it takes for me to finish this page.

I’m thinking of doing daily warm up sketches to try and get myself into drawing more often to speed my process along. I’m pretty excited about this project, and I know it will be fascinating and educational as an experience to complete it. I hope that it will be well received. It’s been a strange process getting to this point, with many ideas that have had to be aborted, stopped, relinquished or set-aside in the interim. I hope some day to find some redemption for these lost, miscreant ideas. It wasn’t their fault. But this project, this project is designed from the ground up to teach me, challenge me, and be completable.

I’m nervous. Wish me luck.

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

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#NoLookingBack #014 – #SketchbookAdventures Sneak Peek!

So, I’ve been slowing down on the sketching and adventuring with my art because I have been preparing a full page as a test for my ability to do a comic that I will host here. All my effort lately has been in slowly bringing this together. Adding details and elaborating on it.  I’m a ways off from being done, and I am still working on the pencils and building this bizarre world. So, I’m gonna give you a sneak peek at what is to come.

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You get absolutely no context. This is it. You may have some ideas what’s going on if you follow me on FaceBook.

This comic is a project designed to get me to be a better artist, to let me practice telling a story and challenging myself to draw new things. I don’t care if it looks great, as long as it gets better as i go on and draw more pages. Along with every page I will also talk about the challenges and successes I have while working on them.  Truly embracing my #NoLookingBack concept. Slowly but surely.

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

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#NoLookingBack #013 – Wrestling Rumble in the #SketchbookAdventures Daddy-O!

Okay, okay, I’m cheating here a bit. These are also from an old sketchbook, the same one my mecha drawings are from. It’s all years old content, but I needed to have an article ready for today and figured that I haven’t shown off much in the way of my fictional Pro-Wrestling universe. So, here’s a smattering of some interesting stuff I did. Most of them sort of have an overarching visual theme, so we’re gonna start with the odd one out.

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That beard though…

Around this time I was trying to figure out how to convey more personality in my art for the first successful time. Power Lord here could easily have looked better if drawn with more style, but the idea behind this pose was the big guy gesturing with one finger pose. It should have been more in front of him and more pointed towards the “camera” to really get the job done. I really love how wacky his makeup looks.

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He’s  stylin’ motherfucker.

Believe it or not, this was a tremendous leap forward for me. Just trying to draw the head tilted and a body that was taking a distinctly non rigid position, trying to give him that suave and cool attitude of a P.I., seemed impossible at one time. Looking back at this I of course recognize that I failed in many ways to build proper anatomy and true foreshortening, but this was a step in the right direction. A step that would take many years to mature. I should probably draw more often.

Jorge here, unlike the Power Lord above, and most of the characters you’ll see below, is a big player in the mythology I am building.

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She’s dynamite with a laser beam.

GoldenGrrrl is me having fun with adapting Pro-Wrestling characters and archetypes from the real world through a different lens in my reality. She’s inspired by Golddust and is supposed to ooze with sexual danger and make people feel uncomfortable. I crafted her at the beginning of my desire to increase the number of female wrestlers in my story, and it has only grown to a level where I want to include even more, so I am certain that with the growing importance of that storyline I can find room for her to have a major role at some point. I chose her pose to try and make her seem weird and like Voldo from Soul Calibur.

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Somebody listens to too much King Diamond.

Cemetery is a major player in at least one storyline that dominates the cards of Jersey-State Pro Wrestling’s shows. While the time the major cast spend in JSPW is limited, the turmoil this Undertaker-meets-Raven-meets-Vampiro character and his Perverse Church faction create sends ripples through the fiction. I drew this around the time the E came up with their new belt design, and I liked it enough to model the JSPW belt after it. Heavy shading could have made this image seem more in character.

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Doing his best Bas Rotten impersonation.

The Yin-Yang Kid here is sorta my world’s version of the 1-2-3 Kid if he were a bit more modern. Not much to say here with him except that the soles of boots look very bad if the boot doesn’t really resemble a foot shaped object. Also he looks like he broke his ankles somehow, that is not a natural bend.

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Damn, I love this mask design.

ZomBiosis here is, by far, my favourite drawing in the group and one of the cooler designs I’ve done for this world over the years. one of the 2nd Generation cast of characters, that will come into play as the story progresses a la JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. His pose is probably the closest I came to understanding foreshortening for a long while. Like a brief glimpse of something I could get better at but still couldn’t grasp. that might be part of why I have such a fondness for the character. That and I wanna wear his mask,

Okay, so, there’s a glimpse into a large and complex cast of characters that I can never fully get away from and that keeps getting larger and more intricate as I plan it out. After all, I want it to be the best Pro-Wrestling comic ever. These characters should all, even if for just one panel or crowd scene, show up again. And I have some interesting plans for the TEW booking simulators.

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

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#NoLookingBack #012 – Once more into the #SketchbookAdventures my dear friends!

This week is gonna be short but sweet. As I’ve mentioned in my sporadic #CrowdPleasers columns, my favourite kind of reward, while not always in my price range, are the ones that let you add something creatively to the product you are helping to support. As I love drawing and doing character design, this is most fun for me when I get to submit not just a written bit, but a piece of art, for the project’s team to do with as they will.

The first campaign i funded at a level that allowed me to design a character was the International Incident expansion for the World Wide Wrestling RPG. For this campaign I submitted a Pro-Wrestler named “Boss Oni” Ryotaro Mitsuhide.

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Originally Koga Mitsuhide.

The character design I submitted was one of the first times i tried to define shapes and shadows using heavy crosshatching in a long, long, long time. I’m not very confident with my inking and cross-hatching, it looks too unnatural on average.That being said, I feel that this image marked a certain landmark in my art, where my confidence jumped up another notch and I again pushed myself to try new poses and foreshortening ideas. All a work in progress.

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I really like this design, it’s pretty rad and I wanna draw him some more.

In the final result, my written description of the character appears next to the game’s roster artist’s interpretation of my design. The cool thing here is that i asked the creators of the game if I retain ownership of the character, so he may just appear in other places in the future.

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This is how he appears in the book! Quite fun.

Now, this next design never got to make it into a game. It was one of the options from different members of the Indivisible Strike Force on Facebook, a group I created to help coordinate the fan effort to help get Lab Zero Games’ Indivisible campaign successfully funded (and, with the game funded and many brilliant updates provided to backers, i would be remiss if I didn’t say that they are still raising money to hit the last stretch goal). Different people submitted designs for the group to vote on, as one member kindly donated an NPC creation tier to be the group’s mascot in the game.

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I particularly like the feathers in his cap.

The pose isn’t much, but this was a fun design where I looked up a variety of different reference images to help inform my design. I feel like this design has some great potential for cool action sequences. Since it lost out to another design, I guess I’ll make a home for this fine feathered freaky fella in something else, where steampunkyness will fit.

I know this isn’t a bunch of art, and the #SketchbookAdventures may need to dig deep into the reserves for next week’s article. Keeping up with weekly blog writing and full time employment in a draining job has gotten me a little behind where I’d like to be in creating some new content in my sketchbook. Particularly considering some of my latest stuff is literally part of a comic project that I am hoping to launch within the next calendar year. As such i don’t wanna spoil it too soon. The #SketchbookAdventures portion of the blog might get a little less jam-packed with images as the last several weeks have been.

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

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