Back in 2012 when I made my current website, I did a little drawing of the god-mode version of my fursona that’s hiding at the bottom if you scroll allllll the way down until the background peels away to reveal her.
Earlier this year I re-did the first thing you see when you open the site. And today I found myself looking at that old drawing of November-4 and feeling like I could do it a lot better. To be honest I was never entirely satisfied with it, it always felt a little off. But there were some technical reasons why it was hard to re-work (it’s all drawn in an opacity mask). Now I have some new tricks for doing transparency, and a few new tools to use as well.
I think I like this one a lot better. We’ll see if I still like it in about another ten years.
I am going through the giant prints left over from the gallery showing of the Tarot deck, so I can hang some of them at Morsel, and I am realizing they are from 2008.
That’s ten years ago. And it feels like a while. Some of these pieces I’d want to spend a bit more time on now. Some of them are still just fine by my current standards. My anatomy’s gotten better with subtle stuff but these are still perfectly fine drawings; I think the biggest change in the work if I was to do them from scratch now would be that I’d go from rough to final colors a LOT faster – I was still laboriously pulling paths out with the pen tool back then. I think it was near the end of the whole thing that I discovered that the pencil tool has settings, whose defaults render it useless, played with those settings, and switched to it for pretty much everything shortly afterwards.
I wonder if I should make a regular practice of drawing some kind of bright, happy flat piece once a month. As a vacation from the giant task of a fully-painted comic. I could do it as porny commissions with my alter-ego, like I did this December, or I could do them as my cleaner identity and regularly print them out and do galleries. Finding subjects feels like the hard part; I could start going down some prompt lists? Or I could occasionally just ask my followers/patrons for an assortment of words, then shuffle them together to give me some directions to draw in. (If I wanted to be topical it might be fun to do a series of Chaos Deities, since that sure feels like the theme of the past couple years. Eris, Kali, Tiamat, Kek (yes probably with a frog pin), Azathoth, etc, maybe even paired with Law Deities from the same pantheons because that would be a lot of chaos to evoke in my personal life without some balance…)
(more: hmm, really I could just mine “a selection of deities” for multiple shows. wisdom would be fun, I could use more of that in my life.)
Hmm. So I keep looking at that genie “painting” I did yesterday, and I keep loving it. This is a place I’ve wanted to be with my art for years, but my love of Illustrator kept me away from. I could have been doing painterly cartoon stuff in Photoshop or Painter, but I couldn’t stand to lose all that lovely, lovely editability. Now Illustrator’s had a pass or two of speed optimization on these features, my computer’s an order of magnitude or two more powerful, and I can do things like “put the ‘roughen’ effect on 75% of the paths I draw in this image” and still have things run fast enough to be interactive at the very end of the drawing. Back when the features I’m leaning on were first introduced I tried doing painterly stuff and everything quickly ground to a halt.
Admittedly it can’t be hurting that I’ve also gotten a good handle on highly limited silhouettes and shading. But a lot of it is that my tools can finally manifest my vision.
I’ve been really pushing to figure this sort of look out for The Drowning City, and now I’m completely sure that I can make it look exactly like it needs to be. City is probably going to stay mostly greyscale but I’m pretty confident that I can speed up a lot of the process enough to keep it looking moody and painterly.
I wonder what kind of experiments I’ll be doing when I finish that book, a few years down the line. My skills and tools will have advanced another leap. Who knows?
But right now I should stop pondering the future so much and get back to work on Decrypting Rita. It’s astoundingly close to done; I just have a few mega-complicated pages staring me down, plus a couple dozen simple ones. None of them are gonna draw themselves.