UniDragonMaid: A Sketch

One of my Patrons on Patreon, Pat, suggested I draw a UniDragonMaid. Little did she know that I would ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE.

Why a UniDragonMaid? Well, I was looking for ideas to draw for an upcoming art show in Columbus, OH themed around mythical creatures.

And… well, she was too cute of an idea to pass up.

I drew her with some colored Bombay India Inks a friend of mine gifted to me recently. The lines were drawn with a Kuretake Bimoji Fude Brush Pen I got from ArtSnacks.

Patrons on Patreon not only made the request to get her drawn, but they got to see her published before the general public. If you would like me to draw random things for you, consider supporting me on Patreon with a monthly subscription.

This Shading Hack Saved Me A Lot of Headaches

Here’s part of page 9 of my webcomic The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

Ever since I switched from PhotoShop to Clip Studio Paint, I have LOVED how much easier Clip Studio Paint is to use.

That said, on occasion it can be a bit of a headache. One specific way it can bother me is when I’m adding shading to a comic page.

See, I cheat a lot – I’ll trace a shape over where I want my shadows to be, and then I use my Bucket tool to fill in the blanks. When I do this I often have the bucket tool set to “Refer to other layers.”

Why? Because my line work is on a separate layer from my shades. I don’t do all of my art on the same layer, you fiend.

That said, sometimes CSP will have a brain-fart, especially if the shade color is very close to a color I’m painting over. So instead of only filling in where I want, sometimes CSP will be like, “color THE WHOLE THING? OK!”

But I figured out a way around this. And it’s made producing comics WAY easier.

The secret?

Well, I need to show how I do a comic page first.

I have the following layers to work with: the base drawing. The Edits (where I clean up lines and smudges). Colors. Shades. Letters.

The secret is: I turn the Color Layer off.

It’s super easy: just click the little eyeball on that layer and boom – it turns off.

This has made shading A LOT easier. My Bucket tool no longer tries to fill in a space that’s the same/similar color to the shade color.

Also – it has made looking at what I’m shading WAY easier.

I tend to include a lot of dark colors in my pages. That makes shading a thing pretty tricky to the naked eye. So turning the Color layer off has made it far easier to judge how far shadows need to go.

Another plus is if I wanted to make a black and white version of a color comic, this cheat makes it easy.

I hope this helps you in your creative process.

Thanks for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

The Silly Tale of the Smith Family Commission

I was first approached by Mr. Smith, at the Pittsburgh Witches Ball. He asked me if I was available to do commissions.

That made me ask, “What would you like me to draw for you?” And he said, “I was thinking of getting my family drawn as superheroes. But let me get back to you on that.”

About a month later I was approached by Mrs. Smith.

She asked, “Can you please draw my family and me as super heroes?” To which I said, “Absolutely!”

That resulted in this:

While I was drawing this, Mr. Smith contacted me again. He said, “Hey! Are you still available to do commissions? Because I would really like you to draw my family as superheroes.”

Before I could reply, I contacted Mrs. Smith and said, “Uh…your husband just asked me to make the same thing you asked for. What should I do?”

She laughed.

So I said to Mr. Smith, “Sure I can make the thing!”

And that’s how I drew this:

They were both surprised when the presents were unwrapped.

The Legend of Jamie Roberts’ Newest Print

Awwww yeah! This print got finished not too long ago to showcase my new upcoming webcomic, The Legend of Jamie Roberts. (Coming online mid- to late-November.)

Illustrated here, from foreground to background, is Jamie Roberts, Ragun Ranki (pronounced Rah-Goon Ra-N-key), and the dragon shape of Ragun Basho (pronounced Rah-Goon Bah-show).

This took a little while to illustrate, especially with the waves of The Way in the background. The Way is the spirit world, where souls rest after death and before birth, and where Ranki was banished after The War of the Leaders 500 years before the start of the Legend.

Here’s some clips of the progress of the piece:

The colors of the background and Ranki were done in Clip Studio Paint to save me some marker ink.

This image will do double-duty as both a print and as the cover art for Chapter 1’s online serialization.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

How I Learned to Face My Fear and Make Fantasyville Productions A Thing

Fantasyville Productions, LLC is my business that I filed into existence back in February.

It will now be my label for the books I make and publish. In the near future I intend for Fantasyville Productions to be the publisher of fantasy-themed stories made by other creators, as well as me.

There’s also a podcast in the works, and when it’s ready to go, Fantasyville Productions will be its home.

I have realized that freelancing and having day jobs just isn’t for me. They have helped me get a financial cushion for sure! But I’m at the stage in my life where I’m ready to jump full-time into making Fantasyville Productions (meaning my comics and art) actually pay my bills and get me sandwiches.

It took me a while to realize this, but here’s the thing…

Kia (my little sister and co-creator of Seeing Him) and I are not only back to speaking with each other, but she made me realize a truth I was denying myself:

The truth is I don’t really want to freelance.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to collaborate with folks to make comics. I want to make art in collaboration with folks that resonates with an audience, and get paid for my skill.

kf comics

The life of a freelancer, though, is based a LOT on multiple gigs – and not just finding multiple illustration gigs.

Freelancing is a lot of skill juggling. For example:

“Ok, Monday and Tuesday I’m cleaning these folks’ homes, Wednesday I’m drawing caricatures at this business party, Thursday and Friday I’m working behind the desk at this store, and Saturday I’m playing ukulele solos at this bar.”

I’ve never really been good at this freelancing thing. It stresses me the f@$k out.

What I AM good at, though, is making stories.

I make my own, I collaborate with folks on theirs, and I find folks to help me with mine.

I’m also very good at going to conventions and selling these stories.

And on Monday, I was talking with Kia about out respective careers, and I was asking for an outside opinion: I needed to know if I should just go full-time on my own pursuits or keep my current “day job.”

I said, “Well, back in April, I managed to make enough money through KickStarter, convention sales, and Patreon to pay off $1000 on my credit card – “

“HOLY SH*T Just do THAT,” said Kia.

Because holy banana pants, she helped me realize that at the rate I’m at now – and the rate I’ve been at for the last year – I’m making more doing my comics than I am working at a “day job.”

(It doesn’t really help much that the only “day jobs” available to me around here are part-time, minimum wage jobs.)

The truth, though, was that I was second-guessing my own ability to make Fantasyville Productions, LLC a feasible full-time endeavor.

I have realized that, especially in the last year, I’m second-guessing myself WAY TOO DAMN MUCH.

I think, too, at a deep level I fear failure. “Yeah we all do,” you might say, but for me it’s different…

I grew up in a family where my mom and dad ran and owned their own business. However, if dad was employed elsewhere, the business would slump. If the business was ok, dad was unemployed. As mom often said, if both dad and the business did well, things would have been a lot better.

When my parents got divorced, mom then got the business. But through a combination of encroaching competitors (coughWalMartcough), the death of one of our suppliers, and just plain old sexism against a single mom running a business and raising 3 kids on her own, the business closed before I was 13 years old.

I saw that failure early, and it left an impression on me that instilled in me the Voice of Professional Doubt.

The Voice of Professional Doubt is the voice in my head that says things like:

“This business will never get off the ground. Keep your day job.”

“You need this day job. Your fantasy business won’t pay all of the bills.”

“You will never have a good day job and a thriving side business if you live here.”

I have realized that by listening to this voice, I was suffocating Fantasyville Productions. I was denying this creation the chance to grow into something that could not only pay for itself, but pay me.

I’m not saying, “Quit your day job and do your own thing!”

Everyone’s situation is different. If you have a side gig, it may not be ready to support you full-time yet.

But Fantasyville Productions is ready to support me. So I need to be ready to support it.

mr dino and friends beach

I took a mini-vacation (or “staycation,” since I didn’t travel) from Sunday to Wednesday. During that time, I meditated on these fears, realized what I was doing to sabotage myself, and made vows to myself to make this thing work.

Today, I’ve been working on comics I’m making for clients, plus I finished a new Mr. Dino print, AND I emailed a handful of zine distributors asking if they would like to carry any of my work.

I also heard back from Genghis Con – I’ll be exhibiting there again this year!

I hope to keep this momentum going! I want Fantasyville Productions to succeed! I want more and more people to have my comics in their hands and my art in their hearts.

Not gonna lie – I’m freaking jazzed right now.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.