Xemnas (A Sketch)

Yes, I finally got a copy of Kingdom Hearts 3 and started playing it recently. (Don’t spoil anything! I’m still only one world into the game).

Kingdom Hearts is a game series I have a lot of fondness for in my heart, despite all of its issues. It was the series that convinced my teenage self that video games could be an art form because it prompted SO MANY FEELINGS (instead of just rage and frustration at the mechanics of whatever game I was playing).

This was the series that helped me get through high school. Not just because of its cool game-play or its silly character moments, but also because of the fandom.

Yes, I was one of those fans who giggled at the idea of rearranging Xemnas’ name into “Mansex.” Who loved all the crack comics comparing Saix to a puppy and having Demyx and Roxas use a laser pointer to torture him. I even devoured so many hours of a video series called “The Stupid Files” where a fan with a LOT of time on their hands spliced comedic audio samples over Kingdom Hearts cutscene footage. It was like a precursor to all the abridged anime series’ out now.

But.

Kingdom Hearts as a game series has a LOT of issues. I am not a fan of the fact that the spin-off titles, or “interquels,” change the core mechanics of the gameplay. I did not like the card system of Chain of Memories, but I ESPECIALLY hated the Tetris-inventory mechanics of 358/2 Days. I could not finish either of those games because of those gameplay mechanics.

As a fan of the series, I feel like a lot of those in-between games could have just been made into movies and be JUST as effective. Most fans of Kingdom Hearts I know only ever watch the cutscenes of the side games and play just the anchor games (the anchors being games 1, 2, and now 3).

That’s the thing that being a fan of Kingdom Hearts has taught me: that you don’t have to consume EVERY FACET of a property to be a big dork for the thing.

I will never play the interquel games. At most, I will watch the cutscenes. Heck, you can watch videos on YouTube summarizing the lore of Kingdom Hearts so far and – ta-da – you’re now caught up to the series without having to touch any of the crap side games.

(358/2 Days, why did you have to SUCK?)

That said, I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts 3 so far – on Proud mode! I haven’t touched a new video game in 13 years and I can play Kingdom Hearts 3 on Proud Mode without dying. That…actually might be more a statement on the game’s difficulty than on my expertise. But that aside…

Playing Kingdom Hearts 3 reminded me why I love this game series in the first place. It’s fun to play (at least the anchor games are). The characters are stilted but they’re still fun. The dialogue is cheesy but it works. And GOOD GOLLY JEEZ, the fact that you can play as a character interacting in Disney worlds is great. I’m looking forward to the Toy Story world the most because those were some of my favorite movies as a kid.

It’s a game series made for people who are young at heart, who need a little light to combat all the cynicism and self-awareness that the video game industry is saturated in. And thank goodness for that.

That’s all I’m going to write for now. I could talk for days about this series.

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

Designing a Print for RathaCon, Step 2: Pencilling

After much discussion and user feedback via Instagram, the votes trended towards THIS design shown up top. So I drew it.

RathaCon is host to a LOT of nerdy events, from tabletop gaming rooms to belly dancers and Quidditch. I wanted this design to incorporate the many scenes that RathaCon has played host to.

I even squeezed in some gears for the steampunk elements, because there’s a steampunk contingent that appears every year. Magic: The Gathering cards and comic books will fill up some of the spaces around the edges. Plus the GhostBusters logo is to homage the local GhostBusting team.

There’s still some details to fit in, but so far it’s off to a great start. Don’t ya’ think?

Designing a Print for RathaCon, Step 1: Sketching the Ideas

RathaCon is an Athens, OH-based pop culture con that’s been running successfully for 8 years. This year they’re running a KickStarter to give special passes and rewards to convention goers.

I offered to draw a limited-edition, KickStarter-exclusive print themed around RathaCon. And they REALLY liked this idea.

So I sketched out the following two ideas and sent these to the crew, asking, “What do you think?”

Of course, if they have a hard time deciding, they could pitch it to KickStarter backers and ask for their feedback.

I do this with everyone I collaborate with, no matter if it’s a comic strip I’m paid for, or a logo I’m designing pro-bono for a non-profit. I sketch out the ideas I have, send them over, and ask, “Eh? Thoughts?”

I’ll be sharing the progress of this project as it develops.

Usually, posts like this are shared only with patrons on Patreon(unless there’s a contract saying not to). I’m making the progress of the RathaCon print public so you can get a taste of what patrons on Patreon get to see. Of course, they see more projects in progress than the general public does.

If you’re interested in seeing more behind-the-scenes progress on art, go to my Patreon page and pledge. You can change or cancel your pledge amount at any time, and it’s totally optional. (But the option to support gets you goodies and helps me make more art.)

Stay tuned as this print gets made!

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.