Video lecture by fantasy art master Charles Vess! Enjoy!
Posts Tagged ‘how-to’
As most of you already know, our printer lost the negatives for the entire A Distant Soil graphic novel series, throwing the project into limbo. If you have no negatives, you can’t print, and you can’t make digital editions of your books. NO, for the thousandth time, NO! You can’t just go to some pirate website and take those awful low res scans and do computer magic with them and print from them. No.
We’re in the home stretch of the first volume of the A Distant Soil graphic novel restoration. Here is a look a the quality of work Allan Harvey is doing on this book.
This page was scanned directly from the original art. As I mentioned before, I hired someone for this job who screwed the pooch very badly. He not only had no idea how to do it properly, but absconded with the art and I had to beg him to get it back. That took almost two years. He was certain that scanning the art at 600 dpi bitmap was the way to go (originally, he wanted to go even lower, at only 300 dpi, and being the kind of guy he was, he was sure he knew everything, or could fake it until he did,) but this is the result you get when you do that.
A classic illustration of how bad scanning can destroy a job. It’s hard to believe that blob was shot from the original art.
And here is the restoration.
The proper way to scan this art is at 1200 DPI GREYSCALE, and then go through a process of digital cleanup. Because this art is more than 20 years old, has many tiny, almost invisible debris artifacts, and hand applied tone sheets, you can’t treat it like crisp, new black and white art with no tones, which was what this guy was trying to do. Every flaw shows up in the scan. You can even see where correction fluid was used under the tone sheets.
I now archive all my original black and white art as greyscale, and then do cleanup and conversion to a bitmap file, even if the art has no tones.
This archiving debacle was about a decade ago, when it was especially difficult to find people with real expertise at digital archiving. I had NO LUCK hiring out at all. It’s still tricky finding the right people. Everyone with a scanner thinks they know what they are doing, and almost none of them do.
A few of the later issues of A Distant Soil were scanned improperly, as well as the entire last volume of the series. Looking at it now, I can see how substandard it is, with thickening of lines, and muddying of tones. A long conversation with Jose Villarubia put me on the right track. But I’d already lost six years while the book sat in limbo trying to get it restored, and knew it would be a long time before I developed the chops to do it myself.
Fortunately, Allan Harvey, a long time A Distant Soil fan, and professional photo/graphics technician was right here all along and had the chops. Boy, am I glad I asked him to come on board. He single-handedly brought this series back from the dead.
Allan had to go in to every single original page of art, make meticulous selections and remove all of the debris and tones digitally. In some cases, the images were so degraded, I provided Allan with photostats of earlier versions of the drawings that had been made before the work was completed. He cut and pasted to replace damaged areas. Then he added digital tones.
The pages look better than new. Allan has, in key places, been able to swap out some tones with cool stuff we didn’t have access to when the book was created. When the book is finished, it will also have new lettering in my style, courtesy of a custom font by Comicraft.
All back issues will soon be available on Comixology, including all the back issues that were not originally published by Image Comics. The new graphic novel edition will be available in June. Ask for it NOW at your local comic shop!
More tips from my FB page, with some added commentary
I know a lot of you out there are dying to get into publishing, but many of you don’t go about it the right way. Here’s a few simple tips that will help you target your efforts more effectively.
It is very easy to put off a potential client, or friendly contact, with one simple mistake: failing to research the person whose attention you’re trying to get.
One of the worst and most common mistakes is to send emails, particularly those which include manuscripts or artwork, as attachments to artists and writers. I don’t know any creators who are happy to get those unsolicited works. I got five this week.
Most of us have lawyers who tell us not to look at anything we haven’t solicited. We live in a very litigious society, and unfortunately, professionals also have to deal with unbalanced people who seem to think we’re getting all our ideas from their stuff. Stuff we could not possibly have seen. Ideas are common, similar ideas are common, and throwing around accusations of idea stealing is so common it is not funny. Which is one reason why many creators won’t look at unsolicited work at all, or even do portfolio reviews.
Creators don’t do the hiring as a rule, publishers do. So you are wasting your time sending your work to a creator.
Sending your work to a creator also proves right away that you are not serious about being a creator yourself. You show that you don’t know what you are doing right out of the gate, and didn’t bother to find out what to do. That’s cute when you’re 14, but it’s not so cute when you’re 30.
A serious creator will do some research, and will check out publishers and their submission guidelines.
If you are emailing an artist or writer like me about how to get hired, asking who the editors are, where you should send stuff, and if I can make an introduction for you, I know right away I am dealing with someone who is trying to take shortcuts. The names of editors are easy to find. You need to scope out editors, look at the kind of work they edit, scope out publishers, look at their submission guidelines, and then proceed accordingly. Asking me what publishers want to see wastes your time and mine because there are no hard and fast rules about submitting. Every publisher has different rules.
There are no shortcuts to getting published. It isn’t “Who you know,” so trying to be best buds with an artist or writer online will not get you very far unless you have good work to show someone, and you show that work to the right people. If you send spam emails, and clog up FB and twitter feeds with your stuff, you will not make an ally of a creator. You will just piss them off.
Your target client is not other creators, your target client is a publisher.
Find the publisher that suits your goals, and do what you should do.
Remember, a publisher speaks business, but an aspiring creator speaks need. You need to learn how to speak the publisher’s language. They already know how to speak your language, they hear it from 100 people a day. Your need to be published is common. What you must show to a publisher is how your needs are congruent with theirs.
So, don’t waste your time targeting creators.
On occasion, a creator will get you a job. I’ve done it.
But I’ve never done it for someone who sends me huge email attachments and spams my feed. That trick never works.
Something you guys have got to understand: this is our job. This is what we do for a living.
To an aspiring creator, it’s a dream. Their identity as creators is a core tenant. The need to be acknowledged by a respected source is crippling to some artists. And almost everyone says, “Oh my God, I love it so much I don’t do it for the money! I’d do it for free!”
And that is why it is hard to move from pro to aspirant. That is why you can’t connect: we speak a different language.
To you it’s a vacation, to us it’s a vocation.
If you want to be a pro, you need to tune in to pro values and language.
One of my publishers (a big one) who reads my blog regularly wanted me to pass this on:
He doesn’t want to work with people who don’t care if their work makes money, who’d do it for free. He wants to work with people whose work makes money. Because if the work he publishes doesn’t make money, he goes out of business.
If you want to make love to the world with your art, by all means do so. No one is stopping you. It does not devalue your art in any way.
But if you want to be a pro, you must learn to think like a pro. Informing a client you don’t care if the work makes any money is not going to impress the client one bit. You can be sure the client wants to make money on what you are hoping he’ll publish.
Some emphasize the importance of networking, getting to know pros who will put in a good word for you.
That’s not really networking, because you are not in the network until you’re a part of the scene. You are not part of the program, any more than you’re on television because you know an actor.
There is no value in knowing a pro unless you have good work to show. No pro is going to push you unless you have something to offer. They’re not going to give you an introduction without a reasonable belief you will be able to pull through on a job. If you flake out or screw up, it reflects badly on their judgment. I’ve had reason to regret a few people I’ve pushed forward. Big time.
Knowing a pro is absolutely useless without your good art samples or a good manuscript. It is not really that hard to get published somehow or somewhere in this business. This industry is crawling with small publishers, and anyone can publish on the web.
Getting published is common. Getting published well, not so simple.
Cozying up to creators will avail you very little without quality work. Work on your art. Your art will get you much farther than hitting the like button 1000 times on someone’s FB page.
The work first, worry about the pro life second.
Do good work.
Then be a good pro.
I’ve done only one oil painting in the last two years, but I’ve done dozens of digital paintings, and the painting area in my studio was starting to look both lonely and useless. The easel just sat there gathering dust. Not only do most of my publishing clients not want analog art, I just don’t have as much time for it anymore.
But I hate the feel of working on the Cintiq: the mounts you can buy don’t satisfy, I hate leaning over my table. I dreaded every time I had to fire the thing up and work on it.
Then I got a visit from Captain Obvious!
Mount the Cintiq on the easel.
The Cintiq weighs no more than a large painting, so it clamps right on there, and seems as sturdy as it does sitting on a desk on one of those mount things they sell you. But my easel feels more normal and natural as a work space to me, and I can raise or lower it more easily, which is important for someone who is as short as I am.
Here is what my digital office area looks like now.
My large screen Apple monitor is on the now-cleared desk, which feels a lot more comfortable since it no longer competes for space with the Cintiq. The Cintiq is right there on the easel next to my computer tower. Behind it, my home made treadmill desk, now moved next to the window, where I write posts like this one on my laptop. This new arrangement also keeps all the cords out of traffic areas, so people who visit don’t trip and kill themselves.
I like being next to the window watching the birds, and getting some fresh air while I am on the treadmill. So does the resident fox, Mycroft Peverall Cumberbatch III.
I hope this easy and quick Cintiq solution is of interest to my peeps. I’m loving it, and it integrates with the look I also prefer in my work area. Give it a try.
A lovely article on imaginative realism, art that combines realistic technical skills with fantastical subject matter, like this gorgeous piece by Donato Giancola (©2012).
This year, the Association of Fantastic Art in coordination with the Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania, USA, will be putting on a groundbreaking exhibition: At the Edge: The Art of the Fantastic, from June 3 through Sept. 9, 2012.
Donato also has a new video on his art technique which chronicles his work on a large scale painting of Joan of Arc. You can buy the dvd at his website.
In this film, Donato provides step by step narration as he creates Joan of Arc, from initial abstract concepts, reference gathering, and detailed preliminary drawing to the final application of oil paint and glazing mediums. His extensive professional knowledge and intimate trade methods provide the viewer rare insight into how to create a complex and detailed narrative work of art.
A few weeks ago, I was on one of those websites which sell painted reproductions of classical art. All legal, because all is out of copyright. However, I found a number of Donato’s paintings for sale on the website. I dropped a note to Donato and the art was removed quickly. Seems the site did not realize Donato was not an old master.
If you’re going to have your work stolen, that’s the only way it could be considered a compliment.
An very interesting article on whether or not characters enjoy copyright protection. Every creative should read all of this.
In Detective Comics, Inc. v. Bruns Publications, 111 F.2d 432 (2nd Cir. 1940) the Second Circuit was asked to determine whether a comic called Wonderman infringed on the Superman copyright. Wonderman argued that “various attributes of “Superman” find prototypes or analogues among the heroes of literature and mythology” Id. at 433. The Second Circuit disagreed, finding that the “pictorial representations and verbal descriptions of ‘Superman’ are not a mere delineation of a benevolent Hercules, but embody an arrangement of incidents and literary expressions original with the author, they are proper subjects of copyright and susceptible to infringement.”