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Ep. 21, Page 88
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Comic 1593 - Ep. 21, Page 88

6th Apr 2014, 1:52 AM in Episode 21 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)

Author Notes:

smbhax 6th Apr 2014, 1:52 AM edit delete
[Re-upped this page, in color now; notes down at the bottom of this folderal. : P Apologies to Catt and Mo for their deleted comments on the old, b&w version!]


Oh dear. Well, this page [edit: original version, shown above] may look like ink or ink wash or something, but I actually set out to make a color watercolor page pretty much just like the other ones I've been doing for the past month or whatever. Normally it might've come out looking more or less like this


but something about the color balance or the shading or something was bugging me; I did this to it


and felt that was a vast improvement, design-wise: no more confusing shading on the face, and the enlarged white spaces make the forms more powerful and interesting, in my mind—if only it weren't so blindingly...bright. So I messed with it some more and the black and white version you see as the final page was the most compelling version I could come up with, although I did spend a long time mucking around with sort of subtly tinted variants like this


Anyway, the point is I don't know what I'm doing. Oh yeah, toward the end of all that I got to thinking that maybe the real problem was that I just wasn't reconciled to the pencil lines being in there with the watercolors, so I erased them, and then tried to shore the border-less watercolors up with watercolor and white ink, but I lost the face and the whole thing kind of went weird. So we won't be using that version, although you can buy it off eBay if you're into weird things.

This isn't part of some intentional shift back to black and white. As you've probably realized by now, I kind of just take each page as they come in sort of a desperate struggle to come up with something that seems to express what that page is meant to convey. It is certainly true though that I've been going back and forth in my mind as to how I feel about the pencil lines; sometimes they seem fine to me, other times they seem like they shouldn't be in there—but usually I'm dissatisfied with the changes that occur when I try to replace them. What I should really do then, probably, is convince myself from the start of a page that the pencil lines are definitely just temporary, and I need to put the watercolor down in such a way that it will be able to stand on its own once I erase the pencil at the end. But I almost always get attached to the pencil lines and think oh, these came out really well here, I'll keep them, I'm sure that'll work okay. And then later they bother me. : P Sheesh, what a waffler.

There's an even larger issue though with the watercolor, which is that I have not been able to shake myself out of more or less just filling in the pencil lines with color, rather than actually slinging watercolor around like a painter. That is bothering me. I actually started doing a bit of it once I erased the pencil lines from today's page and was forced to try to salvage something from the page with watercolor; possibly if I had come in from the start knowing I would do that, I would have been able to make it work (not losing track of the intended layout of the face would have been nice, for instance!)—but then again, when the lines are there, I just tend to default to filling in the blanks. I felt better about this prior to page 44, when I didn't have proper watercolor paper and didn't really have the option of doing neat watercolory things with the paint. Maybe it would help if I went back to starting off painting wet-on-wet like I was doing from pages 52 though 71, because then unpredictable watercolory things can happen and force me to go somewhat outside of my neat little fill-in-the-blanks comfort zone. Like, hm, I felt like I hit a nice groove in pages 55 through 57, and in retrospect I had a kind of simple and loose approach but one that still made room for plenty of control—but then, I guess, I tried teaching myself some other tricks and got away from what I'd been doing there.

Huh hm huh. Well who knows what the next page will bring. I was at least pretty happy with how the pencil drawing went (which may have ended up being a problem in painting when I treated the pencils too preciously!); I was struggling with it for a while, and my eyes were blinking out on me, which has been happening lately, and finally I figured out that the lighting was too bright with the 40 watt bulb I have in my drawing table lamp; before, I was using two 25 watt bulbs, and that was okay for a long time but started bugging me a few weeks ago, maybe when I started getting super scrutinizing about my pencil approach, around page 74 (which was also a disaster). So anyway today after my eyes were okay with looking around my apartment, I went and replaced the 40 watters with 15 watt bulbs, and almost immediately was able to get the pencil drawing to come out okay—actually I think that started as soon as I turned off the 40 watt bulbs and was just drawing in the admittedly rather dim ambient light from indirect lights on the far side of the room. But so far my eyes seem much happier with the 15 watt bulb or bulbs, so that's a plus.

Maybe next week I'll stop overthinking everything and just paint, that would be nice. : P

(Oh but yeah there is the nice abstraction in black and white, isn't there? And the pencil lines fit in nice and tidy with the watercolor once color is removed...and the paper creates some kinda nifty tones, too. Maybe I'll paint in color, hyperconvert it to this high contrast black and white look, then recolor it digitally, haha! ... No I really shouldn't do that. I *do* wish I had a super-fancy printer that could print the contrasted design back out on heavy watercolor paper (in waterproof ink, too, I guess! : P) so then I could watercolor back over that, that would be interesting.)



Took another stab at the paint, on the theory that maybe if what I had really objected original was the shading on the face, all I had to do was white it out:


That helped, but after losing the lines, the painting as a whole had gotten fudgy compared to the original version I'd scanned with the pencil lines intact, which looked nice and sharp. Comparing the two, it occurred to me that if indeed my objection all along was to the shading on the face, then maybe I was actually fine with the pencil lines after all, and all that was needed was to replace the shaded version of the face with the brightened version via the magic of Photoshop—and voila, the final, color version you see in the comic viewer now, with sharp pencil lines, and the face magically lit up. Whewwww.

Okay, so what lessons do I take away from this? Uh well #1, I am okay with pencil lines, they aren't to blame for bad painted shading. #2, I shouldn't just go automatically shading everything—maybe especially complicated small detailed areas like smaller faces of main characters? Or something. #3, if I screw up on #2 again, Photoshop can salvage the pencil lines from under bad watercolor shading. Anyway, I owe my pencil a hug. There you go, buddy—let's never fight again!


cattservant 6th Apr 2014, 3:53 AM edit delete reply
Not a problem
Small loss indeed.
smbhax 7th Apr 2014, 11:05 PM edit delete reply
: o : )
moizmad 6th Apr 2014, 10:47 AM edit delete reply
OK, now I remember what I said, but it's not important, neither here nor there, but I do like the colour better.
moizmad 6th Apr 2014, 10:48 AM edit delete reply
OK just for the record, I said I only do my comic once...if ya don't like it, LUMP IT!
smbhax 7th Apr 2014, 11:05 PM edit delete reply
That is probably the wise way to do it!