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Grimerican Episode Art

So, just in case you didn’t know, I’m the kid who does the featured episode art for each new and exciting episode of Grimerica. Seriously, it’s true! Starting up a new episode piece is generally the highlight of my week (unless something really extraordinary happens, and let me tell you, it would have to be pretty extraordinary to eclipse it!) I know its hard to tell from the written word, but if you think I’m being in any way sarcastic, I should tell you right here that I don’t get paid anything to do these. I create art for The Grimerica Show because I genuinely love the podcast, and simultaneously I love to draw. It’s that simple!

Episode art takes some time and research into each guest, seeing as you’re basically trying to sum up what they’re all about in a single image. Yes, it is a heady responsibility, and in this blog, I’m going to try and show you my process. I had wanted to actually film my work using a screen capture software like Camtasia. See I have a YouTube channel, but no videos. This makes me a bit sad, as I used to work in video and film production professionally, until I had my breakdown, (I’ll tell you about it sometime). Unfortunately, my YouTube debut will have to wait till I’ve accrued a bit more “disposable income” (if there is such a thing.) I know there’s some free alternatives to Camtasia, but most are either for PC only (I use a mac, how pretentious) or only let you record for 15 minute stretches, and well, that just doesn’t match my vision!

The magic begins, as it so often does in life, with a text. Harassing Graham and Darren on a regular basis allows me to discover who the next guest will be. I try to make my texts friendly, and non-threatening, yet raw with an innocent vulnerability and pleading desperation so as to increase the likelihood of a response.The process is not dissimilar to that of making a booty call. (I chose this text conversation to show because there’s no proprietary information!)

text

Once I have that information, Graham usually sends me some notes from the interview to help direct my work. At this point, I start to formulate an idea of what I’m going to do and skulk around the internet and my personal library shelves for reference imagery.

This weeks release will be Erich von Däniken, authour of such books as “Chariots of the Gods”, “History is Wrong”, “The Gods From Space”. Däniken’s work tends to focus heavily on alternative history hypotheses and ancient aliens theories. Being a comic artists myself, and a huge fan of Enkai Bilal, Däniken’s ideas start to dredge up imagery from Bilal’s “The Nikopol Trilogy” , a graphic novel series which touches on similar subject matter. If you haven’t read it, you should, it’s glorious. If you’re one of those folk who just can’t be troubled to read, (shame on you) they made a movie based on the first book in the series back in in 2004 called Immortal (ad vitam) So check that action out!

After a casual perusal of my comic collection and an impassioned Googling, I have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to approach this episode. I generally start out by creating a loose sketch of my idea, my layout.

vondansketch

I do this on a 35% grey background in blue at 35% opacity. The grey background will help show highlight and shadow once we get going. My choice to start out in blue harkens back to when I used to have to draw on paper (I use a Cintiq tablet currently.) Back in the olden days, I’d start my drawings off with a pencil in the colour of “non-photo blue.” It was useful in that when photographed your layout after inking, the blue sketch underneath vanished (for the camera anyway.) It just feels weird now to do my layout in anything but blue.

So, as you can see, we wind up with a sexy alien girl masquerading as Nefertiti. Alien ladies are a particular obsession of mine, and robot-girls, and girls with ray guns…and pretty much anything retro-futuristic and blatantly sexual. Call it a fetish, it tends to be where my art wanders to.

Now that the layout is complete, I solidify my design by tracing over my sketch in black on a new layer. I normally use a hard round pen tool in Photoshop, set on black at 100% opacity. In the brush presets, I set shape dynamics so they are controlled by pen pressure, with a minimum diameter of 0%. This gives a nice, tapered line, more like what you’d get from a pen or brush when you ink (take a look below and you’ll get what I mean).

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And now a close up on that crazy line work.

vondanligne

Next I generally add in the basic shading on a new layer.

vondanshade

And then the highlights on yet another layer, which I drag to the very top and keep it there through-out the rest of the process.

vondanhilit

With that business taken care of, I usually lay down my initial colour layer, set below the shade and highlight layers, just to block it out. I set my colour layer to overlay, because I’m going to paint over it. For my comic work, I do the colour at full opacity.

vondancolour

After I have my colours set, they serve as a nice template for my painting layer. For this drawing, I really only devoted myself to painting the alien girl’s grey skin, as I want all of her accoutrements to remain flat, and false looking (they’re part of a disguise after all.) I just go through intensifying shadows and details to give a more three dimensional look.

vondanpaint

I don’t want any background for this piece because I want it to feel a bit sterile. My idea is sort of that the human world is dull and mundane but alien influence adds in some colour, much needed pizazz, and sexual intrigue (note dat ass!) I also like the play of the greytones in her skin with the broad grey background. That, and I’ll be adding in text, so too much business gong on in the back can drown out the actual name of the guest, rather defeating the purpose.

vondantxt1

I used a font called Herculaneum in black, rasterized the layer and added a heavy stroke around the outside. I need to make sure the guests name is going to pop-they’re the whole point of all this after all!

vondantxt2

I then put a new layer with the same font on top of this, in a gold tone. This colour is actually the same one as the gold details in the alien lady’s outfit, except punched up to full opacity. The background being as light as it is, I wanted to overlay the text instead of using a drop shadow effect underneath. This way, I can create a crisper line that stands out. When I was in school they used to scoff and say:

“Oh GAWD, don’t ever use drop shadow, it cheapens the beauty of the typography.”

I say that’s a bit silly, I use drop shadow when it works, just in this case…nah.

Aaaand this is pretty much the final draft, unless revisions are requested (sometimes that happens.) Hope you’ll tune in for Erich von Däniken and the many other strange and delightful guests headed your way on the next The Grimerica Show podcast!  

-N

 

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The Comic Process

For the last two months now I’ve been working in my spare time to crank out a new issue of “Lost Bread”, a comic series for The Grimerica Show that chronicles my lucid dreams. It drives me nuts, sitting here, etching each tiny little line on my tablet. Don’t get me wrong, I love to draw (otherwise I wouldn’t bother.) It’s just that, dreams are so instantaneous, and making a comic is…well not. I have so many dreams in my journal waiting to be shared, but the process of transcribing them for eyes other than my own is laborious. However, I feel its crucially important to spend whatever time necessary for each and every image drawn to match what I saw in my head (otherwise, what’s the point?)

Since it looks like there’s still going to be a bit of a wait on this one, I thought I’d show you the process I go through in creating a panel for “Lost Bread”. I normally jot or rather tap my dreams down into iphone notes first. My trusty phone is always there waiting for me on my nightstand. I do this the moment I wake up, be it the middle of the night, early morning or an afternoon nap, so that I can still remember everything clearly. Then, I create a script, in a program called Celtx (free online) You could just as easily write it up in Word, but Celtx lets you divide your script up into panels, pages, captions and characters just by using a series of hotkeys. It makes trying to block out a comic a little bit easier. In addition to comics, it has settings for screenplays, stage plays and audio, all of which have their own specific format.

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This blog is going to follow the process used for the panel scripted as #12, but in the final layout, it wound up becoming #13. I go through several layouts before I’m happy with the end product. The first in the series is my “slop” layout. Here I’m just getting a very basic idea of how I want things to be positioned in the panel. I do some chicken scratch to represent the text, and make sure I won’t be crowding out any of my characters with rogue speech bubbles.

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After I do this, I normally sketch out the focal characters in the scene, conveying their body language and emotion. Here, my brother, Marco, and I have a spirited argument, as we often do.

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Yes, words to live by! The characters in this are actually reversed from their proper placement in the scene. I do that a lot. A little backstory here: I struggle mightily with spatial relations, to the degree that I have to actively think about which is my left and which is my right. Funnily enough, its never affected my reading, so I can’t claim dyslexia, just temporal confusion.

Knowing this about myself, I’ve found little ways to work around my handicap. For example, I used to work on ships, (I’ll tell you about it sometime.) For whatever reason, starboard and port click for me, where as right and left don’t. When I’m driving, my friends will call out directions as starboard and port, instead of right and left, so I don’t miss a turn. That doesn’t help so much in drawing, but you know what does…

Mapping out my scenes physically, so I have a reference.

 

Here I’ve mapped out the upper edge of the Campanile di San Marco using my art table, and created mock ups for the characters in clay. The bend in the clay shows me wind direction, which I’ll reference when drawing hair and clothes. My character (Nap) has a purple tip, (front left, er port, wait does a table have a port side?) The others all have their own unique markers to help me determine who goes where. This shot is just for place reference.

peeps1

Then I take another shot, with my iphone, from the angle I’ll be drawing.

peeps2

Now I can create my panel.

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Here are the characters in their correct placement.The pink colour is set on a layer below the line art, and will eventually be replaced with the final colouring. I’m not going to show you the final colouring here, because I want you to actually read the comic, and I’d hate to spoil the surprise. The pink just helps me differentiate these characters from the eventual background.

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I add in the floor tiles, to help give me a sense of space, and the box which will bound this panel.

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I use GoogleEarth to get an idea of what the view would be like from the corner of the Campanile my scene takes place on.

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And background is go! Now let’s add in some of those crazy balloons! If you’re following the series, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if not check this madness out! (by which I mean, click this link.)

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Again, I have these balloons set in a pastel green just to differentiate from the main background and the characters in the foreground. Now I’ll add in some more balloons in the distance, to create a sense of depth.

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And that panel’s pretty much where I want it to be for the now. It needs a little clean up (the largest balloon is breaching the panel’s bounding box) but as far as just getting the line art down, we’re good! Hope you enjoyed this little look behind the scenes, or were at least amused by the pictures. If not, sorry I guess. Either way, I’ve got to get back to comicing!

-N

 

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A Far And Reaching Darkness

Some exciting news! Matt Schmitz (A.K.A Matt in The Hat) and I will be collaborating on a collection of short stories. He will be authoring them and I will be providing the illustrations.

The first in our treasury “A Far and Reaching Darkness” was originally posted on The Grimerica Show website, and now can be found at Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Smashwords respectively!

Schmitz’s literary voice brims with the kind of tongue in cheek nihilistic abandon that would make Camus or Sartre chuckle wryly. He shrugs his shoulders, bemused by the mechanical antics of modern life and grins unflinchingly at the inevitable approach of oblivion. My words alone cannot do his piece justice, only a reading for yourself can accomplish that:

Please help support independent artists like ourselves by purchasing this story from:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/the-far-reaching-darkness-matt-schmitz/1123406832?ean=2940152622140

https://itun.es/us/vhPLab.l

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/614188

 

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Gordon White Comes To Grimerica

The chaos magic of Gordon White ( of http://runesoup.com/ ) is unleashed in a mesmerising interview from The Grimerica Show. I provided original episode art. It was a real challenge to try and capture White a single still image. He’s such a multifaceted personality. From his latest book “star.ships – the prehistory of spirits” to his views on the relevance of mythology and esoteric traditions in the modern world, White is a mind alive and brimming with ideas worth pondering!

#156 – Grimerica Talks Mythology, Spirituality & Much More with Gordon White

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Grimerica Welcomes Thom Powell

Tom Powell, authour of “The Edges of Science” gives a poignant interview regarding Sasquatch, and how the current paradigm of crytozoology may be fatally flawed. His dedication to the understanding of the entity known as sasquatch is sure to intrigue even the most hard nosed skeptic.

My own artwork, a sasquatch pinup girl, inspired by an unusual sasquatch report highlighted in this podcast is now available as a lithograph print in my store as well! http://www.lostbreadcomic.com/shop/

#155 – Grimerica Talks Squatchin’ & “The Edges of Science” with Thom Powell

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Mike Clelland Flies Into Grimerica

Mike Clelland of http://hiddenexperience.blogspot.com/ and authour of the new book “Messengers” talks to Grimerica about owl experiences, and how they may relate to synchronicities, abductions and a general stirring in human conciousness.

I provided the episode art, ad I have to admit this was a really fun one. I have had reoccurring dreams about owls all my life and I had the chance to incorporate some of that imagery into my artwork.

This interview is a wild ride, sure to take your mind to new heights!

#154 – Grimerica Talks Owls, Synchros, Abductions & More with Mike Clelland