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.

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.

Why I’m Getting in the Affiliate Marketing Game

If you’re in the webcomic sphere of the internet, you know that Project Wonderful shut down back in August 2018.

Project Wonderful was a tool that let independent creators (especially webcomic makers) advertise their comics for literal pennies, while also having ad spots available on their own sites to get some ad revenue in.

However, because the internet is constantly changing and evolving, ad spots on websites aren’t really a positive anymore – they’re a nuisance. (Hey, I get it. I browse the interwebs as much as I post stuff on it.)

It’s also gotten to the point where ad blockers are getting really, REALLY good at their job. To the point where Project Wonderful wasn’t making as much revenue for creators as it did in the past.

Plus, well, Patreon is a thing. Patreon has made making any kind of creative content for a living much, MUCH easier than just copying and pasting ad spots.

So, Project Wonderful shut down.

I feel bad for the comics makers who depended a lot of their income on that project (I know one creator who spent an absurd amount of money on ad spots in that service).

That said, I’ve been looking for new ways to get some kind of passive income in – not to get rich, but enough to cover the cost of hosting all the sites I run. Because I have this site, Johnson & Sir, Charlie & Clow, and now The Legend of Jamie Roberts, plus some other projects in the works.

To that end, I looked into affiliate marketing, and I’m willing to give that a shot.

However! I have some ground rules of my own, and I hope you hold me to these when it comes to pursuing affiliate marketing:

  1. I’ll only promote the products and services I have used that I can vouch for. E.g. I’m working with Blick art supplies because I’ve bought from them in online and in-store capacities. I like their selection and service.
  2. If a blog post or site page has affiliate links, there will be a disclaimer at the top of the post.
  3. Amazon affiliation will be kept to a minimum. I’d rather support other brands.

On top of affiliate marketing, the webcomic sites I run (as well as the secret projects that are still in the works) will have something that may be a throwback to Project Wonderful, but with my own twist…

Sponsorship Spots.

The way it works is this: if you or a creator you know has a project you want to promote, send me a web-friendly image and a link to the thing, PayPal me, and your thing will be in the sponsor slot for a month. (More specific rules are listed here.)

I’m starting with The Legend of Jamie Roberts’ site to see how well it works. If it does well, I’ll expand it to the other webcomic sites I run. Sponsorship spots may not be a thing on this website, though, since this is a blog and portfolio site.

I wanted to let you know about these changes to be upfront and honest about it. Your support through Patreon, KickStarter, the online store(s), conventions, and even just interacting on social media and leaving comments is still HUGELY appreciated! Affiliate marketing is just a small avenue to pursue to help cover some basic costs, so I can keep bringing comics and other work to you.

That’s all for now. Thank you very much for reading, and for your understanding.

You. Are. Awesome.