The second image promised is now available in the gallery. No Photoshop brush work on this one, just gradients. Interesting look, but it could stand some refinement.
Which reminds me, if anyone knows any good sources of information on character illustration in Photoshop, particularly books, I'd really appreciate hearing about them. So far, all the books I've seen have been of the "here's how the crop tool works, now let's make an Aqua button!" variety. Something with a serious focus on creating art in Photoshop - not retarded web buttons, not shiny chrome text, not photo retouching - would be a pleasant change of pace and very useful to me.
This latest image nearly didn't get finished on time, as I discovered Second Life on Friday. What I've seen so far is pretty damned impressive. It is certainly light years more compelling than any of the current or upcoming tired old fantasy MMOG clones.
The Bman - October 4th, 2003 - 3:22 AM
Let me start by apologizing for this strip, particularly panels 3 and 5. I hang my head in shame.
Now that that's over with, I want to mention some changes to the art in FT that will be occurring over the next few strips. I hope nobody is too deeply attached to the shading as it is right now, because this is the last you'll be seeing of it. It has been on my nerves for a while, and this page was the last straw. Trying to get the damn strips finished at 3:00 AM, the last place I really want to be is hunched over my drawing board grinding graphite into the page with a small paper suppository.
Blending the pencil using the tortillion was an improvement over the sleazy shading before it, but it brought with it a host of other problems:
-It is unbearably tedious. This would be fine if it looked really great, but it doesn't.
-It pulls all the shading on the page toward a middle grey, which looks flat and boring.
-It leaves an ugly mottled texture in the shading, particularly on large areas.
-It is imprecise when working at anything approaching a reasonable speed.
-It is very difficult to create light greys.
-It takes even longer to smear the graphite than it does to put it down in the first place.
-It takes forever on large areas of shading, like hair on a face in closeup.
So, for at least the next several strips, I will be trying several different types of shading in order to find something that is both faster and better looking. I didn't want to go through such a heavy degree of flux six months into the strip (programmers will recognize the phrase "don't shake the jello"), but it would be even worse to continue with something that's both aggravating and ugly.
I will be trying at least the following styles, in no particular order:
Pencil only - A la Lovaria. This is the only alternative I have in mind in which the shading would still be done offline. When done right, it looks great, but I think this will ultimately be too messy considering how I draw. It would spare me the trouble of inking, though.
Black and white - as seen in Errant Story. It will be very difficult for me to reduce everything to b&w, but it does seem like the fastest possible approach.
Digital screentones - Ugh. I'm not very optimistic, and you shouldn't be either.
Cel-style CG - Overused AND lame, but I would like to be thorough.
Smooth CG - Not nearly so ugly, but much more difficult and probably far too time-consuming.
TBD - I'm sure I've missed one or two, and I'd like to not rip off other webcomics wholesale, so I'll also try to come up with a few other approaches to see if any work.
Except for the first, all of these would involve shading on the PC, which is quite difficult for me, inept as I am when using Photoshop. However, I'm sure it will ultimately be quicker that way, and I will also be able to keep the original line art for use elsewhere if I feel so inclined, something I cannot do at the moment.
During the process of trying out these various styles, feel free to let me know if you see something you think looks particularly good. You can, of course, also mail if you see something particularly bad, but odds are I'll already be flagellating myself over it anyway.
Maiko at Gametactics has (finally) launched Stick of Wrong, and since he plugs FT so often, I would feel bad if I didn't link him here now.