My lack of figuring out what or how to do the comic book that I was working on really had me discombobulated this week. That happens sometimes when things aren’t going too well. After all how can I do something when I don’t know what I’m doing? That may be an eternal question of life but it’s also an eternal question of making art. I find it best in such situations to fall back to something that I know I can get done. So that’s what I did and am doing. This week I made a print. Almost two at this point.

I have a lot of drawings already done. I stockpile drawings. It’s another thing I always do when I can’t figure out what project I’m going to work on or if the project that I’m working on isn’t going along as I expected. I draw. I don’t worry about if the drawing is going to turn into something finished. I find a little sketch I like in my sketchbook and then blow it up and make it into a drawing that works. That’s something I can always do so I always have a couple dozen finished drawings lying around the place. They just wait.

Making a finished print isn’t always easy but at least I know the choices I have to make. Find a sketch, make a drawing, choose how I want to make the drawing “Finished”, figure out how I want to color the print, and then usually I integrate a line of writing/type into the print. I like words and pictures together. The hardest part of this process for me is often choosing how to do and then executing the color. I love color. I’ve studied and figured out how to use it for the last twenty five years. But it’s often tedious to execute a color technique. I find that’s especially true when using a computer.

Color technique mainly involves figuring out your base color, y’know, what should be red, blue, green, yellow, or whatever color, and then adding darks, lights, and maybe some texture to make things interesting. Figuring out the base color is the part that takes thinking. That’s when I have to use my brain and act and react to the work I’m doing. The tedious part is after that because after the base color is figured out everything else is just a physical technique even if it’s digital. And it’s repetitive.

I’m not saying that technique isn’t important just that it can be boring to do. Technique is just a way of getting from point A to point B. It’s important to get from point A to point B but it can also be a long and boring walk. Technique is a way of making the print more interesting. It’s what makes the color come alive. Technique is when you add shading, dimension, or even flatness to the drawing. It’s what brings the whole piece together and finishes it. But it’s also made up of doing the same thing over and over again.

Where does the dark color go? Where does the middle color go? Where does the light color go? These are the questions I ask myself over and over. Even if I’m not doing a “Realistic” dark to light modeled figure these are still the three questions. Throw “How bright should this be?” and “How dull should this be?” in there and you’ve just about exhausted all of the color technique questions. All those questions are answered by whatever technique I choose to use and the answers aren’t hard, if it’s a familiar technique, but they are repetitive. Hence the boring part.

After I finished one print on the computer I had the desire to break out my markers. I was so tired of a computer screen that I wanted to use some physical tools. For some reason I didn’t want to paint. I wanted the instant color of a magic marker. That’s the appeal of markers for me. They deliver quick bright color neat and dry out of the end of a pen. They’re an instant gratification tool. I recently bought some 5×7 inch watercolor paper so I dipped into my library of drawings and picked out a few to draw in marker on that paper.

I made three finished marker drawings but in the end I found them unsatisfying. I was enjoying doing them but I didn’t like them much when they were finished. I think it was because I picked the wrong drawings. I was in such a rush to get started with the markers that I didn’t take the time to really choose what I wanted to draw. I picked three drawings I liked and got started. I rushed. I worked on them and it was fun to be using markers but none of them turned out to be a winner. It was all part of my discombobulation at failing to figure out how I wanted to make a comic book .

In the end it didn’t matter that I spent a few hours making the failed marker drawings as it did help straighten my head out a bit. It also lead to the print I’m currently working on. After I put my markers back on the shelf I left three new green markers on my desk to try out. Late one evening I picked up one of the markers and drew on a little piece of paper. I was just trying out the marker tip yet in the end really liked the small composition I made. I added a figure to it and had a surprise finished thumbnail layout. It seemed to come out of nowhere as the initial doodle/drawing took all of ten seconds.

The next day I blew up the small drawing and made it into a finished drawing. It took some doing since the initial thumbnail wasn’t much except a composition in silhouette but I managed to keep the same flavor in the finished drawing. I went on to ink the drawing and then scan it in so that I can color it on the computer. It has a lot of shapes in it and is rather complex so the initial color was tough to figure out. I even has to change the technique I was using early on. I started one way and said to myself, “This’ll never work” so I started again. Luckily I had just gotten started with the color so abandoning it then wasn’t hard. I got things back on track soon after that.

Now, of course, I’m at the tedious part. The technique. I’m putting darks, lights, and textures all over the many little shapes I made in the drawing. Man, it’s boring. But it has to be done if I want a finished piece. And at least it’s something I know how to finish. That counts for a lot right now.