T-Shirt Design #1 for this year’s City Made Fest in Andersonville

Phew. Man. Running a Kickstarter takes up a bit of time! Gladly, we succeeded, and now our comic will print. I’ll have more information on where you can get one once it’s available (assuming you missed the opportunity to get one through the KS).

Now that it’s more or less over, I’m back to drawing regularly and it feels great. I did a couple of designs this past Monday during our bi-weekly meeting at G-Mart in Logan Square that I’m going to turn into t-shirt designs.

In the immediate term, I am working on 2-3 t-shirt designs to sell at the City Made Festival in Andersonville. If you follow my intagram feed, these will seem familiar. Our group Northside Comic Artists will have a table there and will also be giving a workshop. Here’s my first design:

Darth Mew? Darth Paws? I find your lack of treats disturbing.
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Darth Mew? Darth Paws? I find your lack of treats disturbing.

Let me know what you think of it. If you can’t make the festival, but want one, let me know and I can try to hook you up.

Help me kickstart my group’s comic

Hey everyone,

I’ve been quiet on here for a while because I’ve been working hard on getting my comic artists’ group off the ground. So far that’s been successful (check it out: northsidecomics.org). I’ve also been working with them to produce our first group comic. You can see my pages for the comic here on my site.

We have now just launched a kickstarter to fund the printing of the book:here’s the link.

Please don’t feel like you have to contribute if you don’t want to, a share is just as good. Double-brownie points if you contribute by the end of the day Friday July 24th.
Ed

What’s new?

Hey folks,

I know I’ve been out of commission for a while lately. Sorry about that. I’ve been swamped at my job and on top of that I’ve both been trying to expand my comic artists group (northsidecomics.org) as well as manage the submissions for said group’s first anthology comic (theme: Identity). Here are some updates:

Group updates:

  • We will be launching a kickstarter to fund our anthology very soon (mid to late July) and will be having a local launch party at Geek Bar Beta (details TBD)
  • After the comic is funded and printed we will be having a gallery show and celebration of the printed comic at the International School of Comics (details TBD)
  • I will post my contribution to the anthology “Happy Hour” to this page very soon (it’s two full comic pages).

Personal work updates:

  • Very shortly I’ll be back to doing weekly one-off comics here on the site. It’s been too long!
  • I’m working on a trilogy of mini comics (titles TBD) satirizing television which is currently being written by my long time collaborator and hetero lifemate Dean Gibbs. We should have the first part of the trilogy finished by year end.
  • Soon I will also collect my “nature’s most annoying creations” illustrations into a mini book and do a limited print run for sale or download. Just trying to figure out if there are any new ones I would like to add to the mix before doing so.
  • I’ve got a few video ideas cooked up to get back to the Manga Studio instruction, so I will get around to posting those in the next couple of months as well.

 

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro Initial Impressions

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This is my first non-Manga Studio video. I recently  picked up a copy of Sketchbook Pro 7 from Autodesk during an Amazon Lightning deal. This video is just my general impression of the software after some very preliminary experience with the program. Spoiler alert – I probably won’t be using this for finished comics, but its pencil brush has the closest feel to a pencil that I’ve ever experienced in a digital program, so I may end up using it for roughs occasionally.

Manga Studio 5 Instruction: Layer colors

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In this video I show you how to use the layer color function to your advantage when working in Manga Studio 5. The colors can be immensely helpful if you want to modify some of your line art (move, cut, transform) and eliminate stray lines. It’s also helpful for use when you want to copy most of a panel but modify some small part of it. I show an example in this video using my original line art for my recent pirate cartoon.

 

 

 

3D Modeling and Printing a Character

 

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A few weeks ago I participated in a 3D printing class put on by the Edgewater Workbench. They must have been struck by how photogenic I was because they filmed the session and used it as a promo on their recent Groupon deal for 3D print classes (now long passed). The class was a ton of fun and I feel like I got a good grasp of the software for design fairly quickly. Actually I think anyone who has played as many video games as I have would probably find it pretty easy to do as well. The hardest part, to be frank, is learning to manipulate the camera.

Anyway, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Workbench lately. Most of the time it’s for my drawing meetup (we meet every Thursday from 7pm-9:30pm) and the rest of the time it’s just me pestering the owners, Stu and Ally (they are nice people, so they never kick me out). Every now and then when I’m hanging around I open up one of their laptops and mess around on the 3D software they use to teach their class (it’s called Tinkercad and it’s free to anyone with a browser and an internet connection). Last week I decided that I wanted to try to build a 3D model of my character Darwin. You have probably seen him around this site and in a lot of my earlier cartoons, when I was doing a more typical comic strip type series, but in case you haven’t seen him, he looks like this:

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Tinkercad is a simple program with a lot of pre-loaded shapes (boxes, circles, cylinders, donuts, etc). I started modeling Darwin just like I would normally draw him. That is, I stared with a circle for the head and an egg shape for the body and then I would add in ovals for the eyes, and so forth. The program is pretty responsive and only occasionally maddening (which has been my experience with literally every design program, so it’s not Tinkercad’s fault, it’s just par for the course). Pretty soon he started to take shape:

darwin1
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I realize now that the proportions are a little off (bill is too large and high, eyes are too small) but at the time I was modeling off of memory. The whole thing probably took me an hour and at least half of that was just me moving the camera around and trying to get more comfortable with the features of the program (this was only my third time using it). Stu helped me figure out how to do some cool texture on the tail:

darwin2
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It might not look like it, but the model is really just made up of a bunch of different, simpler shapes. Basically you combine them in an additive or subtractive way to get a more complex figure. In order to texture the tail, I first made this sort of fence-like solid object, then I placed it inside the tail, and then I told the computer to essentially make it a negative (subtractive), so rather than taking up that space it removed that space from the other object. It was pretty awesome and I think made the tail look very visually interesting.

I made the feet and hands by combining shapes in an additive fashion:

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Then we printed it out:

IMAG0834
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This was a ton of fun. So, If you live in Chicago and would like to take a 3D printing class, I highly recommend that you check out the Edgewater Workbench. Tell them I sent you. If you don’t live in Chicago, you can still use the software to build 3D models. It’s available at Tinkercad’s website. If you make a design you like and you want to print it. I’m sure Stu and Ally would work with you to find a way to print and ship it to you. You can find their contact info on the Workbench’s website.

Manga Studio 5 Instruction: Panel Borders (Frames)

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This video shows you how to do just about anything you want with panel borders (called frames) in Manga Studio 5. If prefer a text walk through, read below the video.

First, you’ll need to locate the frame icon. It’s on your toolbar and looks like a blank comic book page:

frame icon
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That will give you the “Frame Subtool” box and below it will be the options for the selected tool. I’ll cover the different subtools and the options for each separately though many of the options overlap across frame tools. Here’s what the Frame Subtool box looks like:

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As you can see you have quite a few options split into two types of tasks – creating frames and dividing existing frames. Here’s a brief description of each:

Creating Frames

  • Rectangle Frame – “Rectangle” is kind of a misnomer as this is more of a “geometric frame” you can draw a roughly symmetrical round or edged geometric shaped (square, rectangle, circle, oval).
  • Polyline Frame – Create asymmetric  panels basically in any manner you can imagine. It bit more free form than Rectangular Frame but still with nice ruled and rounded edges.
  • Frame Border Pen –  With this tool you can completely free-hand your own panel. More difficult to master than the first two, but has a more organic finished look and feel to it.

Dividing Existing Frames 

  • Divide Frame Folder – You can use this to divide an existing frame into two separate frames. This option will create a new folder with separate layers for each. You can hold ctrl to make the cut straight.
  • Divide Frame Border – You can use this to divide an existing frame into two separate frames. The resulting frames will share the same layer folder and same layers. Note that if you do a lot of effects like lighting and such you might not want to use this option unless you want those effects to be shared by both panels. You can hold ctrl to make the cut straight.

Now I’ll cover the options for each of the above. There’s a lot of overlap between them, so apologies for the repetitiveness.

Rectangle Frame – Options

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The top is a preview of the final frame.

  • “Draw frame border” – uncheck if you don’t want a hard edge (pretty popular in modern comics)
  • “How to add” is asking how you want the structure of the frame to be in the resulting document. There are two options. Note that if there are no existing frames, both will produce identical results.
    • “Create new Folder” – this will create a new separate frame folder with it’s own layers
    • “Add to selected Folder” – this will add a frame but it will share the same set of drawing layers as an existing frame
  • “Raster Layer” – leave this if you want to create a new raster layer in the frame once you draw it.
  • “White Layer” – leave this if you want to create a new white backing layer in the frame once you draw it.
  • “Aspect type” – use this if you want to give a certain aspect ratio to your final panel it is unchecked by default, but if you check it, you can choose by ratio (eg, twice as wide as tall) or length (320 X 100)
  • “Brush Size” – this is the size of the panel border, expressed in pixels
  • “Anti-aliasing” – choose the edge (hard to very soft) off the panel
  • “Brush Shape” – if you want a non-traditional border or you want it to have a different look (e.g., airbrush)

Polyline Frame – Options

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The options here with the same names as the rectangle frame do the same things. There are two differences. The first is that this one has no option for aspect, which makes sense because it’s what you use when you want asymmetrical panels. The second is the new option of “Curve” described below:

  • “Curve” – This determines how you draw the panel. There are four options
    • “Linear” – draws in straight line segments
    • “Spline” – you set each bend point in your rounded panel
    • “Quadratic Bezier” – you set a start point then a bend then an end to create nice curves.
    • “Cubic Bezier” – you set the start, then the end, and then you can bend the inflection point between them to your liking. This one has a hard learning curve.

Frame Border Pen – Options

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Here again, most of the same options as you’ve already seen. There are two new ones:

  • “Make corner pointed” – supposedly this will make drawing corners more pointed. I have been unable to detect a difference with it on or off.
  • “Post correction” – this will adjust and smooth out your pen stroke. The five boxes indicate the degree of correction from left (least) to right (most).

Divide Frame Folder – Options

frame-folder-options
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  • “Shape of curve” – Same as “curve” in the polyline frame tool. Your options are linear, polyline, and spline. If you use the latter two, you have to double click when you’ve finished carving up your frame.
  • “Separate folder” – This is what you want to do with the newly created folder three options here:
    • “Duplicate Layer” – this will create a new frame and add a duplicate layer to the original layer
    • “Create empty folder” – this will make a separate folder but will not put any layers in it (presumably so you can add your own as you like)
    • “Not Change” – Why this is an option is confusing to me because it essentially produces the same results as the Divide Frame Folder subtool. That is to say that it draws a new frame but that new frame shares layers with the previous frame. This is good if you want stuff to bleed across panels.
  • “Space of frame border in preference” – you can use this to change the spacing between panels when you draw them and can make the vertical space different from the horizontal space

Divide Frame Folder – Options

frame-border-options
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Very few options here. Remember that if you use this it will NOT create separate layers and folders (can’t stress that enough).

Hope this helps. Let me know in the comments if you’ve hit any snags, discovered any tricks, or have ideas for future videos.

 

 

Ask Ed: Best drawing apps

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Ask Ed is a weekly series in which I give my totally unsolicited opinion about art, cartooning, and everything else. If you would like to solicit an opinion from me you can do so via email (Ed@kantorwont.com), Twitter (@edomaniac), or Tumblr (Ask Ed).

 

Today’s: Question:

“What are your favorite drawing apps?” – No one in particular

I might not be the best person to speak about this. Technically, I don’t do any of my digital work via smartphone or tablet. That being said, I could easily see myself incorporating more of that stuff in my workflow as time goes on. This list will be heavily iPhone/iPad specific. This is not because I have an iPhone. Well, I do have an iPhone 5C for work, but my personal phone is an android (HTC One M8). The reason it’s iPhone and iPad specific is because I’ve only been able to play around with these types of apps on another person’s iPad. Most of these apps will couple with a stylus (like 53’s Pencil) and when done, they rival a lot of the desktop software/hardware combos out there.

Paper (iOS only; Free)

paper
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Paper is a neat little app. No Frills, but it gets the job done. My friend Dean has done a bunch of cover-art illustrations for our stuff smart people like podcast using this app and I always think they look good. The most interesting feature of this app to me is the “rewind” feature. It’s sort of like an undo slider. That’s the best way I can describe it. Check out their page for some videos.

Autodesk Sketchbook (iOS and Android; free base version $ for upgrades)

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You can get Autodesk Sketchbook on your phone or tablet for free. It’s not the full version (Pro) which I do have for my desktop and sometimes use for doing thumbnails digitally, but it does have enough to get you started. For a few bucks extra you can purchase a few other features like brush resizing, layers, and selection tools. I love the desktop version and have messed around with the mobile version and other than having fewer features I didn’t notice any differences between the two. Edwin, one of the artists who regularly attends my meetup group does most of his illustrations in this program on his samsung devices. The finished products look pretty great. You can see a few of them on his Instagram page.

Inspire & Inspire Pro (iOS only; regular $4.99 | pro $9.99)

inspire
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I’ve never personally used Inspire. I’ve only recently become aware of the app because they briefly offered the regular version for free for Michelangelo’s 540th birthday. It uses a brush engine that they call “Sorcery” and it’s easy to see why. The results are pretty amazing. I’ll attempt to get my hands on it and give a future update on how it works if I can do so.

Adobe Shape (iOS only; Free)

shape
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Unlike most adobe products, Shape is free. I’d hesitate to call it a “drawing app” in the same sense as those others that are presented here. However, I think it could be used alongside typical drawing apps to help draw things you aren’t comfortable drawing. Here’s what I mean – Shape basically takes an image and converts it to vector line art (for an example, see my avatar on twitter). There aren’t a ton of features for it other than a slider that allows you to decide how many lines you want in the final product. I could see this being very useful, especially to an artist that has problems with composition and backgrounds. I’m not advocating replacing your actual art with it but you could easily use it to create roughs that you could import into your favorite program and draw over for your final product. You don’t have to use just images from your camera either, you can also use images on your phone. It’s pretty neat, even for non-artists.

Cartooning Exercises: Random Puns

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Just thought I’d keep rolling with my cartoons from my meetup group. This week is just a random collection of cartoons from our weekly group. For whatever reason when I want to make a funny cartoon in a very short period of time I immediately end up with some sort of pun. Here are three examples:

Prompt: “Cowboy”

cowboy cartoon, cow boy
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Prompt: “Alphabet”

alphabet cartoon alpha bet
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Prompt: “Custard”

general custard cartoon
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I’m sure I’ll have more of these to share in the future we do at least one exercise each week. I hope you enjoyed these!