This article was originally published at Webcomics.com.
If you work with traditional media like I do, as much as you love it you may occasionally find yourself envying the digital artists who can copy or move images around with the swipe of a tablet pen. But if you know a trick or two, you can do all this stuff almost as painlessly as those digital artists and still have a nice-looking piece of original art to sell– all without Photoshop!
In this example above, I’ve just finished penciling this page, but now that I look at it I realize I really need to add in another panel in the bottom row. You might imagine for us traditional-media-users that would mean the tedious exercise of erasing and redrawing everything. But if you have the secret ingredient– tracing paper– the process can be as easy as the digital method. (Well… almost.)
You can buy tracing paper in pads, but I happen to have a big roll of it that I bought from a dressmakers supply store (it’s used to make and design patterns) and has lasted me for years and years. Cut a piece to fit over the area you plan to shift, and tape it down lightly to keep the paper from moving around while you trace.
Be sure to go over all the lines—it’s easy to miss an area if you’re not paying attention.
Once you’ve done the whole thing you have a copy of your original drawing, and you can go ahead and erase the area on your paper that you’re fixing.
Next, turn over the tracing paper. With a soft lead pencil (such as the 4B I used in the photo), rub graphite over the reverse side of all your traced lines.
When you’re done, turn the tracing paper back over and position it on your Bristol board (or whatever drawing paper you use) so that the image is where you want it to be. Tape it down, and re-trace the drawing to transfer the graphite. Again, be careful not to miss any lines! Here I used a purple pen so I can easily see which areas I’ve traced.
Below is what my page looks like after I’ve finished the transfer. I’ve successfully shifted the two images over (I decided to move the figure in the right-side panel beyond the border for effect), and now I have room to put in the extra panel I wanted. The pencil lines are a bit light, but I can quickly go over them again if I want to darken them.
And here is the completed penciled page:
You can use this same method to make a mirror image of your drawing, if you ever realize mid-way through penciling your page (as I occasionally have) that the panel would look better inverted. To do this, you trace your drawing as above, but instead of coating the back in graphite, simply flip the tracing paper over and trace the lines to transfer the reversed drawing:
The tracing-paper transfer is also an excellent technique for copying a background from panel to panel without having to re-draw it each time, or for reproducing a static panel for those comedically frozen moments. It can be a big time-saver! When you ink the panels they will inevitably look slightly different, so your art doesn’t look like you lazily resorted to the dreaded copy-and-paste.
So if you’re using traditional media, you don’t need to despair when you make a mistake. Who needs Photoshop!
Have you heard of the Auroras? The Aurora Awards, sponsored by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, recognizes the best in Canadian SF&F literature, art, and fan works of the previous year. Kinda like the Hugo Awards (which you probably have heard of), but specializing in us folks up north.
If you’re like me, you don’t typically choose your novels based on the author’s nationality, so you may not be sure which, if any, SF&F authors you read may in fact be Canadian. Probably more than you think! Wikipedia has a list.
The categories include Best Novel, Best YA Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Graphic Novel, Best Related Work, Best Artist, and several Fan-related categories. You can find a list of eligible works (not a complete list, but it’s a great place to start) for stuff published in 2012 maintained at the CanSpec Fic List. You may notice that Galaxion appears in the Graphic Novel category, which encompasses online comics.
What I think is most interesting is the hardest choice for me, this year, will be in the YA Novel category, rather than the straight-up Novel. Possible choices for nomination include Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema, Leah Bobet’s Above, Adrienne Kress’s Friday Society, and– oooh– Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina. (Actually, I think the separation between adult novels and young adult novels may be new for 2012.) Isn’t it amazing how many great books are being published for the youth market now! I suspect this is a publisher thing—in decades past, many of these would have just been marketed as adult fiction, but with the success of such series as Harry Potter and Hunger Games, which draw as many grown-up readers as they do kids, publishers are ready to push this section of the bookstore. Well, I’ve never been ashamed to admit I read YA books.
For a yearly membership fee of $10 to join CSFFA, any Canadian citizen or permanent resident can nominate and vote on the Auroras. For an award representing such a large country (in square metres, anyway) the number of ballots cast is actually pretty small. So in this case, every vote really can make a big difference!
The nomination period lasts from January 1st through April 15th, and the voting begins in early May. The 2013 awards will be presented in October in Ottawa at Can-Con. So if you’re Canadian, please consider showing your support for the great science fiction and fantasy creators in our country!
My 9-year-old daughter came up with this fabulous new word for me today. I’d just begun an explanation of what was a new word to her– superfluous– when she repeated back in a confused tone, “Su-purple-ous?” I corrected her pronunciation, but then stopped to contemplate the deliciousness of her version. Mm, yesssss. Supurpleous. That’s me all over.
I can trace back by obsession with the colour purple to a character in a book I read as a young impressionable child: The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs. This happens to be the third book in his Lewis Barnavelt series but it was the one I read first. (And I was disappointed to learn that the main character, Rose Rita, took a back seat to Lewis in the first two books.) In this book I was introduced to Mrs Zimmerman. Mrs Zimmerman is a witch. She’s old and clever. And she always dresses in purple, because that’s what she likes. I felt an instant kinship with Mrs Zimmerman, and from that day onward I vowed to fill my wardrobe and house with purple things.
I can’t say that I’ve ever achieved a Mrs Zimmerman level of purpleness. As much as I may wish to buy a dressy purple blouse, sometimes they’re just not available, or not in a style I’m willing to wear. I’ve had to accept that some shades of purple, particularly the lavender tones, just aren’t flattering on me. In the years when purple isn’t on the fashion designers’ radar as the new hot colour, I’ve had to make do with other bits of the rainbow. And for years I complained that although there are so many new colourful accessories for the kitchen, none of them were ever in purple (though I know there is a line of Kitchenaid products now in purple. If I didn’t already own a green stand mixer…). You know how long I’ve spent looking for purple kitchen dish towels? They only ever seen to come in green, blue, or red.
Not everything in my house is purple. My husband likes the colour, too, but I think even he’d get sick of it if I tried to paint all the walls in shades of grape. My bedding is purple. My bathroom towels are purple. Actually, I don’t normally dress all-out purple: usually I’ll pair a purple shirt with black pants or jeans. But, I admit, sometimes things can get particularly supurpleous. Not everything in my wardrobe is purple, but it continues to slowly move in that direction. Maybe by the time I’m as old as Mrs Zimmerman the transformation will be complete.
Supurpleous. Seriously, can you ever really have too much purple?
I do have to get some purple shoes.
(Actually, I have a nice pair of purple runners, but they’re no good in the snow.)
Final note: my husband and I had a debate about whether it should be “supurpleous” or “supurplous.” He argued the first looked like it ought to be pronounced “su-PER-plee-us”, and I said the second looked like it would be pronounced “su-PER-plus”. Neither was really what I wanted it to sound like– “su-PURPLE-ous”– so given that both were flawed I just went with the one that had “purple” in it.
Sorry about the somewhat blurry image of my table in the background. But, you know, we were all running from the Daleks.
Seriously, the Ottawa Comiccon was a great event. I sold out of my entire box full of Galaxion books by early Saturday evening. And here I thought I’d overpacked! So many people came by who’d never seen Galaxion before, but were delighted to have the chance to give it a try. If I met you at the show for the first time, welcome! I hope you’ll enjoy watching the story unfold.
Being so close to Quebec, there were a lot a folks there who spoke French, more than I typically encounter at a con. I got a kick out of listening to them pronounce “Galaxion” as though it were a French word. I got the feeling some of them were disappointed when they picked up a copy of one of the books, only to discover it was in English…
As I mentioned in the comic’s commentary last week, I was indeed perilously close to the Dalek base at the Ottawa Comiccon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one place! In fact, they were one of the fun experiences of the show, and hats off to the fellows behind this group. They would, several times in the day, emerge from their lair and swarm around the con floor, instructing humans in perfectly-synthesized voices to make way for the Daleks, and occasionally complimenting those attendees in electric wheelchairs for their fine taste in transportation. They always got a laugh and a smile, and were constantly followed around by cosplaying Doctors. It must have been a lot of work, and I applaud them.
There were even more fun things to see, such as the parade of Star Wars themed Lego Minifig cosplayers, but sadly I missed most of them due to being busy selling books and buttons and things.
It was raining somewhat when it was time to pack up and go, but as a lovely endcap to our day Mother Nature treated us to several lovely rainbows to send us on our way back home.
Well done Ottawa Comiccon! I have already signed up for next year’s show.
As you may have noticed over the last month or so, we’ve been running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund the printing of Galaxion Volume 3: Infection. The campaign came to an end at the beginning of the week and we are happy to say that it was successful! Far beyond our expectations successful. Enough so that by the end of the campaign we were scrambling to come up with ideas for new stretch goal perks.
We probably should have posted this wrap-up sooner, but we’ve been frantically busy getting the book off to the printers. If all goes well we should have the printed volumes in our hands in five or six weeks and we’ll then start shipping them out as fast as we can to fulfill our commitments. In the meantime, Tara will be busily creating playing cards and I’ll be putting together a couple of ebooks we promised: Volume 3: In the Making and Galaxion: The Salmagundi Years.
We’ll be using the extra funds from the campaign to get Tara a new computer, once capable of running software more recent than the Adobe CS2 she’s been using to colour the comics. Every time she sits down to do the colouring, she’ll be thanking all of the supporters.
As do I. In fact, I’ve put together a page here on the website to do just that. To thank you all by name (at least, those who didn’t request anonymity). If ever you get a Volume 3, these are the people who enabled its printing.
In the midst of the intense excitement that was our (successful!) Volume 3 Indiegogo Campaign, a modest little anniversary passed by. July 2-4, 1993, my cousin Franz and I drove 11 hours to go to the Chicago Comicon with our freshly photocopied-and-stapled first issue of the new minicomic we called Salmagundi.
Salmagundi was a “flip book”, which meant there was one story on one side, and then you flip it over and you get another cover and another story. Franz’s comic Vagabond was on one side, and Galaxion was on the other.
As I am fond of telling people, the 1993 Chicago Comicon was the Best Con Ever. We arrived on the scene as regular attndees, standing in long lines to get in, and with vague optimistic ideas of selling our new Salmagundi comic book out of our backpacks (yeah, well, we were young and didn’t know any better). But upon reaching Artist Alley we happened across Greg Hyland, a comic artist whom we’d met and chatted with at a comic convention in Toronto, and who had very kindly given us lots of good advice about self-publishing. We showed him our new comic and to our surprise he told us that this made us Real Comic Artists, and that we should go to Guest Services and ask for a table in the Small Press area of Artist Alley. A bit nervously, we followed his advice. Not only were we given a FREE table, when we informed these kind folks that we’d already paid for full weekend passes, they gave us each a Guest Badge and a refund for our passes!
These days I have a full convention kit that consists of tablecloths, display racks, signs, and banners, but for that very first show we had nothing at all. Didn’t matter. We were delighted. And amazingly, we even sold a bunch of comics! The great thing was, because we had no expectations at all (and because there were two of us to watch the table), we were able to enjoy a lot of the programming and evening events without the nagging worry about making back our costs. It was a great time to be a self-publisher. Really, best show ever.
In the twenty years since then (minus the six years between 2000-2006), I’ve been to dozens upon dozens of shows across the United States and Canada (but mostly the US). The badges I saved and have hung up on my work room door only represent a portion of all the shows at which I’ve hawked my comics. I’ve published Galaxion in at least three different formats, and I’ve drawn almost seven hundred comic pages.
Even I have to shake my head with wonder sometimes that I’m still here, still plugging away, still drawing. Still looking at the finish line off in the distance, the end of the story. We’ll get there eventually!
Looking forward to another twenty years. Thanks to everyone who’s joined me on the journey.
Remember that (successful!) Indiegogo campaign that launched Book Three? Well, the one of the perks that was unlocked for people who pledged for a set of all three books (or higher) was a title-page head sketch, in which they were invited to ask a question of any character from the Galaxion series. There have been some great questions submitted, and I’ve been having lots of fun with the sketches! I thought I’d share some with you. I didn’t include the original question, but you can probably figure it out from context.
Following up on last week’s blog post: a popular choice of character of whom to ask a question was Patty. And, unsurprisingly, all of the questions involved hats! Today’s post is devoted to She of the Many Hats.
All this got me thinking: if Patty acquired all these hats, that means there must be, somewhere in the Galaxioverse, equally strange folks making and designing them! But after a quick Google image search showed me some crazy hats that that actually exist, I no longer think that’s quite as unlikely as it first seemed.
Many thanks to all who contributed!
It’s time to post a few more of my favourite sketches from the Book 3 campaign! I took all these photos with my iPhone camera under various lighting conditions, which is why, for black and white art, they vary so much in colour. As you may recall, I offered to let the characters answer whatever question the campaign supporters might wish. This one below wasn’t so much of a question, but a desire to see several characters together:
I guess if I was Zan and was reading Chapter Nine, I might be a little concerned, too.
Mal was a popular choice. Would you want to work on a spaceship of which he was in command?
For the above, I was asked to draw a sketch the least-asked character, and have him answer what his favourite holiday would be. There were, I suppose, many supporting-cast characters I might have chosen, but I decided our dear grumpy Alex needed a little lovin’.
I’m starting to wonder if some readers are hoping I’m going to move the romantic plot along soon, since I received a few questions along these lines. Such as this one, directed to Fusella:
And this one, to Darvin:
And finally, Zan was asked what flower he might offer to Aria to cheer her up. Aww, how sweet.
Well done, Zan.
I wanted to have some fun drawing the characters in the Galaxion deck of cards, so the concept I came up with was to dress the characters in each suit in fashions from a bygone era. The Spades feature… the 1960s.
This just makes me happy, somehow.