Monday, January 21, 2013

The Saddest Sasquatch online

Susie-PR-webI am very happy to announce that The Saddest Sasquatch is available to read for free on the web! It is one of our most popular comics so now you can enjoy it in all its glory from any location. It is a tiny little web site, but we hope to expand it with more tales of the saddest Sasquatch this year.
Remember you can buy it in two formats. A tiny little comic book, or a gigantic poster that would look just lovely on that wall behind you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gertrude published in inkt|art

Susie-PR-webBrief public announcement. Angela has five Gertrude comics in the premier issue of inkt|art. It’s brilliant. There are even two brand-spanking new comics.
It really is pretty awesome news.
Within a week, we should have prints of all the Gertrude comics available in our Etsy store.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Drawing with Ink

Angela recently took a class on inking from Nils Osmar (actually, it was in November) and I thought now would be a good time to gather our collected knowledge. So here goes.
Angela has used a few different black inks. Sumi is a great color of black and you can buy great big bottles. It is water soluable, so you can make any gray you need. It is not waterproof though, so if you are using it with watercolors, you must do the watercolor and ink it after it dries.
There is also India ink, which is waterproof. Angela’s preference is for Speedball. The Higgens and the Pen & Ink are too gray and tend to spider easily. Of course. There are many more inks and these are just Angela’s experiences.
Graphic Pen
This is a lot like a fat technical pen with the capability for my dynamics. I haven’t used it much, but it actually gives a look I like a lot. Especially when used to feather or lightly hatch. They seem to come in different sizes. The one Angela has is a 1, that is 1.0mm.

Lady drawn in a graphic pen

Technical Pen
Angela uses Rapidograph pens an awful lot. They are great because you can refill them so they are a little “greener” than other technical pens, like the Copic Multiliner and the Pigma pens. However, sometimes the Rapidographs leak. Angela doesn’t mind as she seems to like having ink on her fingers. The Rapidograph is filled with a particular ink that comes in a little squirt bottle.
The sizes of the nibs range from fine to thick but the line it draws is not really variable. To change the line thickness, you must change pens. Angela uses the Rapidographs fro hatching. On The Jerks and most others, she uses a size 1 for borders, text, and the outline of main characters; 0 for faces and clothes and foreground items; 00 for background outlines and detail; and 000 for hatching.
Rapidograph drawing of a lady

Brush Pen
Supposedly, the brush pen is not as dynamic as an actual brush. But the brush pen is very travelable. I like the brush pens a lot. You can fill a water brush pen with sumi ink for a fairly dynamic line. Even better, you can mix the sumi ink with water to get a gray ink.
The Pentel Pocket Brush is quite nice and seems to be a popular one among cartoonists. You can refill the cartridges too. The ink you use to refill the Rapidograph pens works to refill the Pentel Pocket Brush cartridges. Or you can buy more cartridges. I like the ink that comes in the cartridges.
The brush is quite lovely to use but requires refilling quite often. From what I hear, to get really good at it, you need lots of practice. Angela will start practicing on Spaz Hands in a while, when her current notebook for Spaz Hands is full. The paper in the current sketch book is too rough.
From her class with Nils, Angela finally learned how to fill a brush with ink. Poor a small amount of ink into something shallow. Like a watercolor tray or a medicine bottle lid. Then dip the tip into the ink and let it soak the ink up. As opposed to just dunking the brush in the ink bottle.
Lady drawn with a brush

Crow quill
These are the pen and nibs that Angela originally started working with. They are similar to a technical pen but more dynamic, depending on the nib. You have to dip them, similar to using a brush. Angela switched to the Rapidographs because she got sick of dipping.
The other problem is that a sharp nib can get stuck in the paper and splash ink everywhere.
When you first buy a nib, you have to prepare it. From the factory, it comes with an oil on it that you will want to remove before using ink. There are a couple methods we have heard of. You can soak it in vinegar for 5 minutes. But if you leave it in too long (like 30 minutes), you can ruin the nib. The vinegar will eat right at the metal. Or you can hold it in the flame of a match for a few seconds. Just a few. And don’t burn your fingers.
Fountain pen
Angela has an awesome Noodlers Inc fountain pen. Talking to the sales lady at the UW Art Store, she said the pen Angela got is one of the only fountain pens that comes with a flexible nib, which makes it great for art. The ink comes out a little sporadically  but she is probably still learning. It is super easy to refill. Two pumps of the piston with the nib dipped in Noodlers ink. And you can replace the nibs.
Happy New Year’s dodo birds drawn with a fountain pen

Hatching is a way to make “gray” when using just black and white. Like the shadows on The Jerks. I suppose, technically, The Jerks is an example of cross-hatching because the lines go in two directions across each other.
You can do a graphic style where all the lines go in the same direction like you can see in The Jerks. Of you can do a more illustrative style where the hatching goes in all directions. The original illustrations of Alice in Wonderland are a good example of illustrative. The illustrative style is more difficult than I expected.
Feathering is actually a simple idea. You create the brush strokes always in the direction of the light.
Three ways of shading a box

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Color, Part 1: The Basics

So, I want to talk with you today about color. If I have time I’ll get into the knitty-gritty of our process here but first I am going to start with the basics.
Color is light. You may remember a high school science class where you learned that the color that an object appears to be is that way because the objects surface is reflecting only that color of light. Let’s take an apple, a juicy red apple, as an example. The light that strikes the surface of the apple contains every color in it. The cells that make up the skin of the apple contain pigments that absorb every color of the light spectrum except red. So, the light that reflects off the apple is only red giving the apple it’s red appearance. Different colored apples simply have different pigments in their skins which absorb different sets of colors.
Did you notice the word pigment in that paragraph above? What that paragraph just described is called subtractive color. All pigments work on this principle; oil based paint, watercolor paint, Copic markers, printer toner, and the dyes used on cloth. They all create the color we see by absorbing, or subtracting, all of the other colors that occur in light. But, what about a computer monitor? You know the thing you are looking at right now?
A computer monitor, actually every monitor, works by shooting white light through a grid of red, blue, and green pixels. I’m going to give you the logical explanation for how displays work, not the physical. Each pixel in an LCD actually contains all three colors but we’re talking about color not LCD design. So, if the only colors a monitor can make are green, blue, and red, how do you get yellow? Or any other color that isn’t green, blue, or red, for that matter? Easy, the display makes yellow by shooting a bean of white light through the green and blue pixel at the same time. And, the brightness, or strength if you want to think of it that way, of the white light determines whether we see a dark green or a neon green. This is called additive color.
Now, here’s where things get interesting (read very difficult). Angela makes a beautiful watercolor painting of her autobio character eating her own entrails and she wants me to digitize it so every one on the web can see it. She also wants me to prepare it for print so we can sell a big poster of it.
The original art work uses pigments so the colors are subtractive and the pigments are analog so they have perfect smooth and continuous transitions from color to color and shade to shade. The digitizing process captures the reflected light from the art work and it does it digitally which introduces a bunch of complications that I will be getting into in my next article.
How’s that for a tease!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 looking ahead

This  year we hope to be as productive as this last year.
We plan to do more comic conventions, most likely even attending the same conventions as last year.
Angela hopes to complete a longer comic – but is having a hard time deciding which one to focus on. There is a new white board covered in comic ideas. No less than 16(!) story ideas from Angela alone. First she needs to complete the three short comics she started last year.
Also, we are planning to update this blog twice a month. Maybe not a regular schedule, but twice a month as we can. More if we can think of things. We already have two for January! Way to go!
Because Abe is learning so much at school, we will likely also have more exciting plans. For example, The Saddest Sasquatch may become a beautiful large poster and maybe even a t-shirt. He is learning lots of exciting things and we will try to apply his school projects to Flying Dodo ideas.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 in review

Happy New Year! Well, it was a slower year in 2012 than in 2011 for the crew of Flying Dodo Publications. We only printed three comics, but we have an additional 2 in anthologies.
  • Bubbles and Other Tales – originally in Bureau of Drawers Volume B (PDF); expanded in Bubbles and Other Tales online and in print.
  • Tightie-Whities and Their Men – small printed book of sketches
  • An Extensive and Practical Guide to Protecting Your Chickens from Coyotes – print only (so far)
  • Corner of Imagination – Bureau of Drawers Volume C (PDF); we will make a book of this short comic soon.
  • Tardigrade – Science: Fact and Fiction published by Stumptown Underground
Unfortunately we had a few failed comics, but they are still in progress. We have not forgotten about The Autovoyuerist, but that one just falls apart more and more. Not only do the original colors not want to print in a legible way, but we lost the original art somewhere. And we are having troubles with Great Beard colors. Colors are just difficult. But they are not in the scrap bin just yet.
However, there is another mini comic in the works – just needs layout and printing – calledDelicate Souffle. And I thumbnailed my longest story yet, working title of COB, that is about 108 pages. This will hopefully be completed by the end of 2013, so it should be an exciting year here. Look for an announcement of chapter 1 in March, hopefully.
I started my own web comic, Spaz Hands, for autobio, which is a genre I am extremely fond of.  And The Jerks went to full color with the marvelous talents of Abe.
On the show front, we did great. We had a booth at 5 conventions and I hosted an art show with my mom, Ink Tub Art Show. We got to walk around at Stumptown Comic Fest in Portland where we met Shing Khor in person (Marlowe the Monster) and said hi to Liz Conley, who we met the previous year at Stumptown.
One of the biggest things of 2012, Abe graduated from Seattle Central Community College with a certificate in Publishing Arts and now works at Minuteman Press. He is busy, but doing great and loving it.
In addition to completing COB in 2013, we, as last year, plan to blog more. And more interesting. This of course seems feasible after a week where neither of us had to go to work. I haven’t even left the house since Wednesday. But we have a plan and a list. Hopefully this pans out.
I would also like to introduce our new team. Some of us you already know.
Angela (that’s me) is the artist behind everything we do. She writes, she draws, she makes everyone (Abe) work really hard.
Abe is the head of IT, PR, Prepress, and Customer Service. Quite a big hat. He wears it well. He can be a bit of a downer but is good enough at what he does that it doesn’t really matter.
Walter takes care of our website and computing needs as directed by Abe. He likes sulking and the most we know about him is his headphones have skulls on them.
Pamela is responsible for all artistic decisions. In her spare time, Pamela is an enthusiastic, if confused, soccer player.
Susie is the only extrovert here and thus is responsible for letting you know when awesome things happen and developing relationships with people outside of our office (living room). Pamela is her twin sister. Susie hates soccer.
Bret takes care of your purchasing needs. Though he has been out of the frat for a while, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding according to him, he still has the frat mentality and will frequently shout “Chug, chug, chug” whenever anyone drinks anything. Ever.
Milton is our curmudgeonly owner. We tried to get him to retire, but he would miss grumping about the office too much.
Constance takes care of all our digitizing and layout needs. No one knows much about Constance. We had to tape her picture to the back of her monitors to remember what she looks like.