Gunmetal Frontier #1 Page 004

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Gunmetal Frontier #1 Page 003

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#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 #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 #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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#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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