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Thread: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

  1. #1
    Rainbow Carrot Loves You
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    I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    This thread is going to be kind of indulgent. First, I want to tell a story. Okay, extremely indulgent.

    When I was a kid I liked to draw. I was okay-ish, but never got serious. At the point in my life when pencil and paper started to become less relevant I decided to get a cheap drawing tablet and try my hand at digital art. It was awful, like trying to learn how to draw all over again. Seriously, seriously awful. I put the tablet in the closet and stopped drawing altogether.

    15 years later I start watching Critical Role. I binge the heck out of it, spending nearly all of my free time each day watching it. This goes on for months until I catch up and suddenly have this void of free time in my life. My obsession is still there, but I have no way to express it. I have gradually noticed, however, that the fan art community for this silly D&D show is really incredible. I start using Twitter for the first time in my life just to browse the fan art hashtags every week.

    During a particularly tumultuous episode for the community I am suddenly inspired. I want to play too! I drag the cheapo tablet out of the closet and make this kind of wobbly but maybe just a little bit endearing mess. I get just enough positive reinforcement to continue. I get a better (if still comparatively cheap) tablet, find a program better suited to what I'm doing, and gradually get better. My medium of choice, for reasons I will get into later, is that of a parody comic. I call it Critical Fail, and for a period of months I submit a new comic every week.



    Now at this point I have a couple goals in mind:

    1) I have an intense imagination, but am not actually capable of creating the things I imagine. All of the artists I admire not only schooled and trained and sweat and bled their art, but they spent their entire lives practicing and getting better at it. Making myself stick with it is the only way to get better and to create the things I want, and simple cartoon comics are probably the easiest thing to actually do at my skill level (though still harder than you might think).

    I'm still not serious enough about it to actually get good, but I have gotten good enough to fake it sometimes. And of course the best part about comic art is that even if the art is bad, it's really only an avenue for telling a joke. My jokes tend to be ridiculously obscure, but let's ignore that for now.

    2) At this point our Critical Role thread is actually fairly active with people watching the show. I egotistically think it would be a great laugh to have something I submitted show up on the stream and have someone here notice. Did you do that? Oh yeah I did! Haha right? Super fun. Except it never happened. This goes for both the pre-show of every stream that included 10+ minutes of fan art, as well as the weekly talk show that highlighted a "winner" every week.

    3) Drawing these comics is absolutely exhausting, but also kind of rewarding. At one point I decided I wanted to have a comic for every episode. I wanted Critical Fail to be an actual webcomic. This was a pipe dream at the time, something I had no idea how to actually do, but it is something I would think about sometimes.



    It is perhaps at this point when I fully realize what young people are putting themselves through these days. The anxiety of social media. Competing for attention and self-worth with literally every other person on the planet, with many of them simply being flat out better than you.

    I got a few nice comments, but everything I ever created was simply too far outmatched by the existing fan art community of, you know, actual artists. Nothing I submitted was every included in anything, and over time I started feeling ignored by the community itself as well. This alone is not the reason to do something, but it does wear you down over time. I considered just posting a few of my comics directly in the Critical Role thread several times but psyched myself out of it every time.

    I kept creating new comics every week anyway, to fulfill #1 if nothing else, but the show got harder and harder to keep up with. That's 4+ hours a week to watch it, and easily 12+ hours a week to make a comic about it. I kept thinking maybe I would get good enough to pump out a comic in just a couple hours like a real artist would but it never happened. Even now anything I draw consumes days of my life, regardless of how simple it is. So at some point I simply stopped.

    Fast forward another year. I've completely fallen off Critical Role (though I do want to go back some day), and I'm not drawing anymore. Every now and then I catch the bug but simply do not make time for it. Over the past couple of months, however, I have made time for it again on a couple of occassions. I made one comic for a different (much shorter) D&D stream, and a few comics for someone on Twitch who also shares fan art of their streams. (Both part of the Easy Allies gaming channel, for what it's worth)

    I'm currently planning on creating a few more comics for the other D&D show over the next month, as well as a Critical Role Anniversary comic, and that brings me to where I am now.
    Last edited by Wool; February 23rd, 2019 at 06:10 AM.

  2. #2
    Rainbow Carrot Loves You
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Before I continue, I think I should point out that I operate under a relatively high amount of social anxiety. I hug fake internet anonymity like a blanket. Forget real names, when I originally created these I almost didn't even attribute them to "Wool". Everyone gets the smallest piece of me, to minimize personal discomfort. This is the short version, as the long version isn't particularly important right now.

    I point this out not just because of how awkward posting this stuff is, but because it is largely part of why I have been so unsuccessful I think. I know daily training is important in getting good at drawing, but do not do it. I know cultivating a large social media presence is important in getting noticed online, but do not do it. I simply do not have the temperament or the patience for it.

    Half the reason why I have time to create this stuff in the first place is specifically because I don't waste hours every day actually interacting with people. And half the reason why I'm creating this thread at all is because even social pariahs need an outlet every now and then.


    With that unpleasantness out of the way, here are a few of the things I have done. Let me know if the images are too large or the formatting gets screwed up.


    The first thing I drew. This one is embarrassingly bad, enough that I don't want to share it, but I think it provides good context on growth.

    The story for this one is relatively easy to understand. It came right at the time when the community was embroiled in drama over the Vex'ahlia / Percy romance. Will they or won't they? Diehard fans in any community seem to love shipping, and this was well received despite being objectively bad. The community was going nuts at the time, and I capitalized on that.

    EP72thatshiphassailed.jpg



    This is the most successful thing I drew. I averaged between 8 and 30 likes most weeks (usually on the low end), but this one got over 200. I never figured out why. Visibility was a concern, and I tried posting at all times of the day/week, but was never that successful again.

    The setup for this one is that it occurred right when the party was having their long-awaited showdown with the big bad of that arc. Sam / Scanlan was given a magic flute to use in the fight. He insisted on saving it for an emergency, despite other members of the group being bewildered that he never did.

    EP79thestoryteller.jpg



    This is one of my favorite Critical Role comics. Just a simple joke poking fun at some of the characterization of Vex'ahlia being obsessed with money.

    EPXXthetreasury.jpg



    This is another one of my favorites. The introduction of Taryon Darrington added a lot of fun drama to the show. I actually like my comic the week he was introduced better, but it's super spoilery.

    After being introduced to a new character, the rest of the group had a lot of pent up emotions to get out. A few of them teased him relentlessly asking if his robot companion was his nanny. Well turnabout is fair play, so I have him in this comic do the same to Percy. It was largely all just an excuse to draw a sassy robot.

    EP86turnabout.jpg



    The other Taryon comic. I'll put this one in a spoiler tag just in case.

    Spoiler for spoiler:

    In one of the absolutely best episodes of the series, Sam / Scanlan surprises the party by roleplaying intense animosity and leaving the group/game. Half the party was heart-broken and the other half was furious. Legitimately, not an act. He then introduced a new character that was seemingly designed to annoy them. Like putting a "kick me" sign on the back of his own character. It was brilliant.

    EP85adieu.jpg




    No more Critical Role stuff. At some point I learn of the existence of an "hourly comic day". People make short comics for every hour they are awake on that day. I thought it sounded like a fun challenge, but boy was it so much harder than I anticipated. These were my favorite two strips from that day.

    Unfortunately with no followers, subject, or community to share it with, I relied solely on other artists browsing the hashtag for views. 12+ hours and 1 like.

    hourlycomicday.jpg



    I did a Scooby Doo parody for Halloween, with the intent to be dark. No likes, but I got good reactions out of the streamer/chat.

    shaggysfavoritebook.jpg



    My comic(s) for the other D&D stream, making fun of one of the players who had just gotten a new spell and spent every opportunity trying to find a time to use it. I got a bunch of likes for this one because the person whose character this was liked it and shared it with his friends. I was really proud of this one, as part 2 was the first time I managed to pull off this art style, and it was also the first time I drew something without references (largely because google image search blows ass lately and I had to wing it).

    P.S. The bread is an inside joke, meant to fill that panel. Sometimes something is more effort to draw than is really necessary and I fill a panel with something simple instead. They are very inexperienced players, used to video game rulesets. Their healer never has spell slots for healing, but is constantly summoning food and water. In the end, Part 1 only exists to provide context for Part 2.

    thereseanswer.jpg

    thereseanswer2.jpg



    The most recent thing I created (a few days ago). Also maybe the most obscure. They say explaining a joke kills it, and from that you can extrapolate that any joke you have to explain is a bad joke. I have to explain most of my jokes. Still probably the best thing I've done.

    I was watching/listening to a stream while playing a handheld rpg. He was playing Tetris 99 and beat a player named Khaleesi. He trolled chat (the people watching his stream) by saying she was a Big Bang Theory character. He also refuses to do "T-spins", an advanced move in Tetris that involves rotating a block into place.

    This comic went through a few different iterations before falling here. 1) A setup for a T-spin. 2) Daenerys (Khaleesi) from Game of Thrones uttering a Big Bang Theory catchphrase. 3) Daenerys calling one of her dragons, which at the last minute I decided should be Yoshi instead because I thought it was funnier that way (he also played a Yoshi game in this stream). 4) The tetris block being disintegrated by Yoshi's fire blast, anime style.


    songofbbt.jpg



    I will point out that one of my earlier conceptualizations had Daenerys being more cheerful and yelling the catchphrase after iconic/depressing scenes from Game of Thrones, but ultimately decided to avoid spoilers. I also originally intended to have a skeleton army and a different Tetris joke at the end. Not only was this proving to be unnecessarily difficult, but it potentially made the comic overstay its welcome.

    There are two things you quickly learn when doing comic art.

    1) Sometimes if something is too difficult to draw, it's a better use of your time to find an alternative.

    2) Making the most of your panel budget is a big deal. You might have grand ideas, but the reality is that you have limited room to work with, and limited time to make an impression on the viewer.
    Last edited by Wool; February 23rd, 2019 at 07:47 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Sir, I applaud your attempt and desires. I'm pretty much in the same boat, but my interests tend to wander so I have not attempted any drawing in a while (years).

    I'm certainly not great, but I may be able to throw a few ideas your way if you'd care for some input.

    I'm curious what software you use. Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are my go to choices. The learning curve was relatively steep and relearning other options was too daunting.

    I could go on and on. If you'd care to discuss we can do so in this thread, or via PM since you seem a very private person.

  4. #4
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    By the way, Slack Wyrm is a wonderful web comic you should check out.

    http://www.joshuawright.net/slack-wyrm-001.html

  5. #5
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    I don't mind talking here, it's probably more convenient than PMs, and anything that would make me nervous in one would probably be the same in the other. Of course, I also don't know exactly what you have in mind so can't say for sure either way.

    I'm also not super consistent or anything. I draw things generally on a whim and once I need a break I'll put it in the closet for a couple more months.

    Quote Originally Posted by Merkus View Post
    I'm curious what software you use. Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are my go to choices. The learning curve was relatively steep and relearning other options was too daunting.
    I've got a short version and a long version.

    Short version: I use something called MediBang Paint Pro. It's free and simple to use, while still having a couple advanced features that are basically mandatory (layers, decent brushes). This one is supposedly for manga artists and has a convenient panel creation tool.


    Long version: I tried a dozen different things trying to make a decision. I'm not even sure I can remember all of them now.

    Adobe Premier Elements: I got this a long time ago because I wanted to make Overwatch videos. One day my hard drive died and I lost all my footage. I used this to make my first 2 or 3 comics as my free Photoshop stand in (Paint.net) didn't utilize all the features of my drawing tablet. For awhile I still used this program for font until the aforementioned crash, and haven't reinstalled it since.

    Clip Studio Paint: If I had more money I might have gotten this. It was neat and had advanced features like poseable 3D frames that you could then trace. I want to say it was also one of the more complicated programs. There were a few that made my head hurt trying to figure out.

    Krita: This is probably the most recommended free option I tried. I didn't try to learn it much because by this point I had already gotten comfortable with MediBang.

    Design Doll: I've actually only used this a few times. It's a program exclusively designed to pose 3D models for reference. You then make a bmp and import it into whatever you are actually drawing in.

    Mischief: This is a sketching program. You can create transparent layers for tracing, or just simulate pencil sketches. I used this a few times when first getting comfortable with drawing but haven't used it since. My thinking was to create a basic sketch in this program and then "ink" it in another, but drawing and undoing lines over and over again works just as well.

    Artrage Lite: This came with my tablet I think? It's not a drawing program, but a painting one. It simulates various real world materials and is really cool, but I've got no frame of reference for how to use any of them correctly so have only used it a few times.


    My tablet is a Wacom Intuos, the cheapest you can get. It's very good and very small. I tend to draw with my wrist instead of my arm so the size doesn't bother me much, though this is a tremendously bad habit that I shouldn't really be encouraging. Oh well.

  6. #6

    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Man, i am impressed. I have very many practical skills, and a life style ago, i was blessed with a band that i could arrange almost any 5 piece combo into a song, but no matter how hard i have tried, i have never been able to do much more than stick figures when it comes to visual art.

    I am very envious.

  7. #7
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    While I'm sure there are some people with natural aptitude, I think for most what it boils down to is time invested. For genuinely good artists, it seems to dominate their life.

  8. #8
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    I'm a major slacker. Since I can't keep focus enough to write a complete response, I'll make shorter responses as thoughts occur to me...


    Layers are huge. I use them extensively for masking, clipping, coloring, line drawing, overlays, etc.

    You've probably been drawing by hand far longer than on a tablet. Try scanning in your hand line drawings. Set that layer to overlay mode and then paint on another layer.

    Another thing to consider is to digitize your line drawings and then import those into a vector program. You can achieve some really finished, polished looking graphics using vectors.

  9. #9
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Many cartoonists will draw up a character sheet with different facial expressions, profiles etc.

    Do up a digital character sheet and you can reuse those graphics over and over as opposed to hand drawing a character from scratch for each panel.

  10. #10
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    References! Style, how to, inspiration!
    As you can see, I love to collect books on the topic.

  11. #11
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Simplification.... some digital cartoons employ a minimalist graphic esthetic. The emphasis is on the writing, but as you know, the graphics can be difficult no matter how simple. The good artists are able to convey so much with body language or a simple facial expression...a dot or a line placed correctly can be so amazingly expressive.

  12. #12
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Exaggeration - caricatures can be really fun. Digital tools provide ability to warp and twist shapes. If you mess up, just undo the previous steps or save different versions on individual layers.

  13. #13
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    I'm pretty undisciplined. I have a pretty bad habit of collecting things I think would make a good reference, but then never actually using them.

  14. #14
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Dang! I thought I had them this time.

    Making this thread has made me sort of want to make another Critical Role comic again. I thought I would do an old gag I never got around to drawing before for their anniversary next week. I was trying to work it out (the drawing was turning out really poorly) when I noticed the Kickstarter thing blow up. A lame joke came to mind, and if I was the meme posting sort I probably would have just posted screencaps of the movie in question to make the gag, but I ultimately decided to shift my focus and make a cartoon out of it.

    I'm not 100% satisfied with it (the eyes are jacked up, for example), but I like the joke, and it's concerning subject matter that the community is in a tizzy over. I was sure it would go over well. It would have been better to post it that first day, but I can't work that fast. Even then, I still was not able to surpass my average of 30 "likes". Maybe my barometer for success is messed up.

    critterssmall.jpg


    Right when I finished this project I noticed that Critical Role actually has a drawing show now, where Marisha is learning how to draw from a professional comics artist. They also have giveaways for Wacom tablets, including a few of the premium models I would never be able to get on my own (with built in monitors!). I will never win this, but I sort of want to try.

    My assumptions are that there will be two types of people who win. 1) The amazing artists. 2) The people who have stuck with it from the beginning and have gotten better each week. I'm neither, but like I said, doesn't hurt to try.

    For the record, the reference uses an existing piece of fan art, and all I really did was copy the teacher. Knowing which lines to put where is a lot easier when someone is doing one at a time. I cannot make something original look like this yet.

    grogpubdrawbywool.jpg

  15. #15
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    I've spent most of my life avoiding other people. Trying to be noticed instead is a very peculiar feeling. Seeking outside validation in any capacity is completely foreign to me.
    Last edited by Wool; March 9th, 2019 at 04:52 PM.

  16. #16

    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Lol. That is awesome, Wool.

  17. #17
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    Re: I Draw Cartoons/Comics

    Hands are difficult and you do them very well!

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