Friday, 20 November 2015

Fall catch-up with Diary Comics

Well, it seems it's been a while since my last post.  It's been a very busy autumn.  Productive in many ways.  I've been doing a lot of researching, drawing, experimenting, practicing, trying out different techniques and styles.  Clearly, still trying to figure it out.
My goal is to one day feel settled and satisfied with a style.  I think I just want to start feeling that there's a little more "smooth sailing" with my drawing process.  That I feel a bit more settled in and comfortable with what I'm doing, I guess.  Though, hopefully, you don't stop getting better!

Here's are a couple short Diary Comics that I did in the summer/fall.  It was really fun to do these.  I didn't worry too much about drawing everything perfectly which was quite freeing.  And it was cool to write about my son, who definitely got a kick out of these.  In a way, these two stories are a good "day in the life."  When I'm not drawing, or procrastinating.

*For your reading pleasure, you can click on image to make it larger.

By Vanessa MacLeod

By Vanessa MacLeod

Friday, 14 August 2015

Lucy and Medo Illustration and Colouring Process

While I settle in to finish writing my second issue of Next To Nothing (then draw it), I've been having fun doing some stand-alone illustrations of my main characters, Lucy and Medo.  

I thought it might be interesting to show some of the stages of my colouring process.

Photoshop is still a bit of a wonder to me, and I'm certainly learning as I go.  For the most part, it's fun to do.  And I think the better my understanding of the program, the more fun and creative control I can have with it.

Drawing started with blue pencil, then regular lead pencil over top of that, THEN inked with a brush. (for smaller details I used a Staedtler Fineliner pen)

Here I tried to get the basic colouring done first, added some contrast on the trees.  At this stage, I wasn't sure how I was going to tackle the waterfalls, and the water was (IS) a big challenge.

Here I added more contrast (shadows, highlights etc), some water reflection, and detail on the rocks, as well as the background (behind the trees)

I wasn't happy with the overall colour, it was too cold, so I added a bit of warmth to it, as well as warmer highlights on the rocks, and on Lucy and Medo.  I also tried to make the waterfalls look more splashy and watery.  

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Next To Nothing by Vanessa MacLeod ~ Read the first five pages of issue #1

If you enjoyed this comic and would like to buy a copy of the first issue, please follow this link below to my Etsy shop.  Thanks for reading!

My first Comic Festival Part 3 (the exciting conclusion)

So, it all seemed to be coming together.  VanCAF was the next day.  My art was printed, my comics had arrived, and I was feeling pretty good.  I even managed to go to bed at a decent time!

I awoke the next morning feeling refreshed, got my stuff together and headed to the Roundhouse down in Yaletown.

When I first walked into the space, I felt like maybe I didn't belong.  Like I had somehow lied and cheated my way in.  Of course, it was all in my head. Everyone was friendly and when I found my table I was greeted warmly by my table mates.  It was all good.  I started to relax and set up my stuff.

Then, I started feeling weirdly over-confident.  I was thinking, "Yeah! Awesome! I'm gonna sell ALL my comics!  Everyone is going to think I'm super talented!  There's gonna be a buzz about me and my work!" (Ok, I don't think I really believed this, but still.)  I was just thinking in extremes.  

So the doors finally opened to the public.  The festival was two full, busy days.  I met some great people, got to talk to writers and artists that I really admired, and even sold a few things.  When it was all done, I was wiped out.  I tried to sleep that night, but my brain was buzzing!  The last two days were swirling around in my head and I couldn't stop them.  The best I can compare it to is when you're a kid and you do something for the first time, like going on the waterslides or a roller-coaster, and when you go to bed you can't stop thinking about it?  It's like you keep sliding down that slide or rolling down that steep coaster track?  That's kind of what it was like for me.  Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep and it was making me feel anxious, so I went downstairs and watched a movie to take my mind off things.

The next morning I felt better and was able to analyze my experience a bit more rationally.

I think the greatest thing I learned was that it's important not to invest in the experience too emotionally (does this sound impossible?) or base your self-worth or talent on how many sales you've made, or how many people stopped at your table.  The fact of the matter is, you do the art or the comics or whatever because you love it (hopefully) and all you can do is keep at it, continue to learn and get better as an artist.  

Of course, we need people to read comics and love art, and buy it sometimes, because that is certainly part of it too and it's kind of partly why we do it, right?  So people can enjoy reading/looking at it as much as we enjoy making it? 

I guess it's probably impossible to leave the ego out of what we do, but it's a good lesson to be learned.  Just do what you do, try to get better, be appreciative, and don't lose sight of why you do it in the first place.

I realize writing this, I sound like I've made a mountain out of a molehill in some ways, but when you get involved with things relating to what is important to you, I guess it's easy to get carried away and put a lot of pressure and expectations on them.  I suppose it's all about finding that balance.

And yeah, I may not have sold all my comics, or created a buzz, but that was never supposed to be the point, was it?   I learned tons.  Made new friends.  And despite my nervousness, had fun too.

I'm looking forward to the next time.  

I'm looking pretty chill, hey?

Friday, 19 June 2015

My first comic festival Part 2

...(continued from previous post)

*Okay.  Little recap.  So VanCAF is less than two weeks away.  I'm hoping that my comic will arrive in time, and I start to get everything else ready (business cards, illustrations to print, prices etc.)  I also get to work on some new illustrations that I can sell, especially because I'm really tired of my old stuff!!*

I should also mention, within this time, the comic proof arrived in the mail.  It is basically a real, saddle-stitched finished copy of my comic! And it was in my hand!  I had to go through it, make sure there was nothing I needed to change, sign a proof-approval form, and then they would print it for me.

I flipped through it.  I hoped so badly that I didn't see a really dumb spelling mistake.  Because I knew that if I did, I'd have to fix it.  And then I'd basically be out of luck.  I read through every page.  I felt kind of proud, but weirdly underwhelmed.  

Maybe seeing it in my hand for the first time was odd.   The pages and panels were so... small.   Maybe it was from staring at the original art for so long, and then seeing it reduced to a smaller size.  I don't know.  I couldn't quite figure it out.  Maybe I didn't want to get too excited, because if I was feeling really good about it, then I'd be even more disappointed if it wasn't ready on time.  

Other than the unexplainable emotion I felt about seeing my comic printed for the first time, I was really happy with the actual work the printers had done.  Colour, size, paper quality.  It was all great.  And their customer service was wonderful.  Leaving me with no other concern.  

Thankfully, no spelling mistakes!  I signed the proof approval form.

Finally, the last week rolled around.  

And then suddenly it was the day before the festival.  

I went out to pick up my business cards and a few other last minute things.

When I got home, there was a box waiting for me.  

I won't deny it felt great.  To see them all there.  The feeling that I actually FINISHED something.  Me.  After so many years of wanting to be this and that.  Starting stuff and never finishing.  28 pages of a story.  A first issue.  Beginning, middle, and end.  And it only took me about eight years to figure it out.

Not to be too hard on myself, I guess.  The road to figuring out what you really, really love is an unpredictable one.  But the satisfaction in myself was kind of short-lived.  I began thinking about all the things I wished I had done differently.

In my head, I was already working on issue #2 and thinking about how much better it would be....

Thursday, 18 June 2015

My first comic festival Part 1

It's been almost a month since I had my first table at Vancouver Comic Arts Festival.  It was an interesting experience for me.  I learned a lot, and I hope I'll be able to do it again next year too.  But, being my first comic festival, and in light of the craziness of the months leading up to it, it certainly wasn't without weird emotion too.

With everything that was going on, I had very little time to finish my first issue and get it printed before the festival.  Basically, two weeks to ink, letter and colour everything (in order to have my comic printed in time)  All I had were my pencils done, and most of the dialogue figured out.  Now, I knew it wouldn't have been the end of the world had I NOT finished in time, but in my head I really, really, needed to get it done. 

When you are working on something you really love, and it's really important to you, it's easy to put too much pressure on yourself; you want it to be amazing, and you want to be proud of your work.  And you want other people to love it too.

Working 13-15 hours a day, while I practically ignored my family and other household duties wasn't ideal.  And as much as I can appreciate a deadline, the life balance was way off for a while.  Also, there were so many things I didn't really know how to do, so I had to learn as I went (things like lettering, page prep for printing, inking-none of which I've mastered yet, of course!) I worked my ass off.

Finally, all my pages, were inked, lettered, and coloured.  Long hours, but in a weird way, I would soon find out, I had just finished the "easy" part.  

Almost there.  It was the night before my deadline.  

I went to a place to have my pages scanned since they were large pages and I didn't have the time to scan them on my smaller scanner.  (That would mean scanning each page into sections and then stitching them together)  Time consuming to say the least.  And I also didn't know how to do it seamlessly.  It would have taken me a very long time.  I got home with my pages scanned onto a little hard-drive, feeling like I was gonna make it!  I looked at the scans on my computer and then I realized something...

When I first started drawing this comic, I decided to use the paper that already has the margins/bleed/safe-zone lines on the page.  I thought they would save time for me so that I wouldn't have to do the measuring myself.  That's all very well, but what I didn't realize ~ and if you're a comic artist I promise you will cringe reading this ~ was that those blue margin lines would show in the scans.  Of course they would!  They don't magically disappear once you're done with them!  Especially on the pages where my art was full-bleed (for those who don't know, this is where the art runs right to the edge of the page), if nothing was to be cropped, then you'd see those little dashed lines running up through the page and through my art.  

My heart sank.  I couldn't believe I had done such a stupid thing!  That would basically mean cropping all my pages AND I couldn't have any pages with bleed.  And it would all take TIME!!  I was so pissed off at myself.

I worked hard to fix and resize all 28 pages.  And getting everything print-ready was so new to me.  And I didn't quite know if I was doing it correctly; if my page sizes were okay and the margins were correct.  

Then my printing deadline came and went.  And I wasn't done.  I wasn't really close to being done.  And I was devastated.  I wanted to give up.

After a good cry that night, and a restless sleep, I woke up the next morning feeling a bit better and decided I would do the best I could do, and hope that there was still a small chance my comic could be done in time.  If not, fine.  I'm an adult.  It's okay.  There would be many more opportunities, and I'd still have my art I could sell anyway.  Fine.  

So, I kept working on it.  And finally, about a week later it was all done.  

I'll admit I wasn't 100% happy with it.  I was disappointed that I had to crop the pages, and my cover wasn't what I wanted it to be, but I knew that if I let myself I probably could've worked on it forever and still not be totally satisfied.  

I emailed all my files to the printers and crossed my fingers.  But I couldn't just chill out now.  I had all the other things I had to do to get ready for the festival.  It was less than two weeks away...

Still working on the dialogue here.

Everything is now ready to be inked and coloured.
All my tools to get it done.
Colouring with watercolour pencils.
A page
Getting there...

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A Strange Spring

I suppose there's a lot to say but I don't really know where to start...

First off, my Dad died in February.

It was sudden and unexpected.  When my sister called around midnight to give me the news, all I could say was, "You're kidding!"  An expression more often used for general bafflement or less tragic circumstances, I suppose.  But that's all I thought to say.
In a way, it felt like a big joke.  My Dad was a force of nature, an artist to the core, a writer, a poet, a teacher, and a great operatic singer.  But he was also my Dad and he wasn't perfect. And I certainly had my issues with him.  

But despite all that, he was a good man and a kind man.  He taught me a lot about art, and poetry and singing.  He always encouraged my sister and me to follow our dreams and never tried to tell us what to do with our lives.  He respected our choices and he respected honesty.  He had a tremendous impact on the lives of his friends and his singing students.  And I know, without a doubt, that he loved me and my sister more than anything and never stopped trying to be a better person and a better father.  I miss him.

Illustration by my Dad, not sure when he did this.  Probably in his twenties or thirties.

My Dad loved his boots (and his hats.) 

Self-portrait.  College days?

My Dad in his art studio.

Oil painting of my Mom, by my Dad.  She is probably in her twenties.

This is probably my favorite photo of my Dad.  Early college years, I think. Loving the glasses and the haircut.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

A while ago I applied for a table at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival; a yearly event that showcases wonderful artists, illustrators, comic book writers and artists.  Basically, all the stuff I love!  I checked it out last year and it was great!  I talked to so many talented people!  And bought tons of cool comics and art!

Anyway, luckily, I was put on the wait-list for a table and turns out I got in!  This is definitely my first art-centered festival and I'm excited to be part of it; especially since I've been working so hard to finish my comic, if I can push through then it would be great time to get it out there!

Here is the link to the Festival website.  It's on in May.  Check it out!  And if you go, please come say hi!

Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Happy New Year

Wow, Christmas time is always such a whirlwind.  Lot's of fun, but a pretty surefire way for me to lose any momentum I might have with my drawing schedule.  My self-discipline is sill a work in progress!  

The new year for me will hopefully mean getting more drawing done!  I've given myself a personal goal to finish the pencil portion of my first issue of a comic I'm working on by the end of this month!  Fingers crossed.  

This comic is not something I've really posted very much about.  I haven't shared any of my work on it thus far, but I'm excited to be able to do that soon! 

Here are a couple illustrations I did before the holiday madness!  Brush pen, gouache,  and coloured fineliner pens.

Hope everyone will have a great 2015!

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