The Toledo Art Walk and How It Went

So on Thursday (July 24), I went to the Toledo Art Walk thanks to an invite from Packo’s at the Park and my friend Chloe. Packo’s wanted some caricature artists to help promote their restaurant and be a part of the Art Walk this month, and I was happy to do so because…

  1. I like to draw,
  2. My friend Chloe is awesome, and
  3. I drew caricatures at Cedar Point for 3 summers and knew what I was doing.

The day of the set up, we got there early and stopped at The Art Supply Depo.

Inside the Art Supply Depo.
Inside the Art Supply Depo.
Another shot of inside the Art Depo. They had artwork from local artists on display as well.
Another shot of inside the Art Depo. They had artwork from local artists on display as well.

The Art Supply Depo is an awesome store situated on South St. Clair street right behind Packo’s in downtown Toledo. They let Chloe borrow an easel for the night to draw caricatures on, and they had just the right markers and board that I needed to draw with.

The nice thing was Packo’s advertised for us in the Art Walk map, so that helped a lot in getting our name out there.

The front of the map. These were available at The Art Supply Depo and other sponsoring shop fronts.
The front of the map. These were available at The Art Supply Depo and other sponsoring shop fronts.
The back of the map.
The back of the map.
Our listing.
Our listing.

Once Chloe and I got everything we needed, we set up our tables by Packo’s.

Chloe's table sat next to me.
Chloe’s table sat next to me.

I didn’t bring any Validation or Johnson & Sir books with me. But I did bring Prologues, IF-X, and a bunch of smaller things like bookmarks and stickers. I also had a book of prints.

Close up on my comics, bookmarks, and stickers. I also had some copies of Mr. Dino and Friends and Ghost to give away for freebies.
I also had some copies of Mr. Dino and Friends and Ghost to give away for freebies.
I had to keep the stickers in the sorter because it got breezy.
I had to keep the stickers in the sorter because it got breezy.
These bookmarks will be listed for sale online soon!
These bookmarks will be listed for sale online soon!
The Book of Prints. There were also a selection of $1 prints in the back.
The Book of Prints. There were also a selection of $1 prints in the back.

Here’s Chloe’s table:

This was before I remembered that my book of prints had a few of her works in it.
This was before I remembered that my book of prints had a few of her works in it.
Close up on her prints, for RWBY, Wreck-It Ralph, and Sailor Moon.
Close up on her prints, for RWBY, Wreck-It Ralph, and Sailor Moon.

Our friend Alex also set up just down the sidewalk from us, selling some of her work. I meant to get pictures but by the time we got done setting up people were approaching us for caricatures left and right.

I managed to catch a few pictures before the customers left!

I loved drawing their hair.
I loved drawing their hair.
Their friends were teasing them the whole time. It was kind of adorable.
Their friends were teasing them the whole time. It was kind of adorable.

While I didn’t sell a whole lot of bookmarks or prints, I did get a lot of tips for working on caricatures, which is awesome!

Once 9 o’clock hit, we finished up drawing our last customers, and then we packed up.

This cart was the best gift I have ever received. Also, I'm a pro at condensing all the things into small packages.
This cart was the best gift I have ever received. Also, I’m a pro at condensing all the things into small packages.

And then Chloe, Alex and I went to The Durty Bird right around the corner for burgers and drinks to celebrate!

Left to right: Me, Chloe, Alex.
Left to right: Me, Chloe, Alex.
GRUMPY CAT FACES.
GRUMPY CAT FACES.
Inside The Durty Bird. Their burgers are delicious.
Inside The Durty Bird. Their burgers are delicious.

Of course I had to send the appropriate thank-you notes to folks, because I had a great time and the event went really well! I’m planning on going again when the next one happens August 28th. Hopefully then I’ll have more books (if people are interested!).

I intend on getting more involved in caricatures and doing them at art festivals and parties. But since comics and caricatures are both separate kinds of art forms, I’m making a separate blog specifically for caricatures.

It’s called “Caricature’d!” and you can find it here.

I’ll be adding more to it over the next couple of days, so keep checking back to it.

Here on this site I want to keep the conversation about comics, appearances I’ll be making, and the process of making comics (among other comic-related things).

Speaking of which, I’ll be making more of them soon…

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you on Wednesday.

How I Make Johnson & Sir

I was asked recently by a fan to showcase how I make comics. I’ve been meaning to do a post showing my work process for a while now, so today’s as good of a day as any!

Today I’m going to show how I make a page of Johnson & Sir.

In particular, I’ll show you how I made page 42. This page is a little different from how I make my pages now, but more on that in a minute.

Let’s begin!

Step 1: Script the Page

script for page 42
Click for larger image.

I do all of my scripting for this comic in a Strathmore sketchbook about 5.5″ x 8.5″. Since I’m the only writer for this project, I can script this comic however I like.

Most of the time, my script for a comic page looks like the one above. It’s just a rough idea of what I want the page to look like. This lets me figure out what’s said, where the figures are, and where the speech balloons need to be.

Sometimes my scripts don’t look like this. Sometimes they’re written like a movie script, or sometimes I’ll only have the dialogue written. My sketchbook is a mess to the outside eye.

So I script the page, and then I move to…

Step 2: Pencils

pencilled page of Johnson & Sir
Click to enlarge.

For this step, I take to the drafting table.

I use Strathmore Mixed Media paper with a vellum surface. Sometimes if I run out of paper I’ll dip into my stash of Strathmore Bristol Vellum (which I used for Validation). Either paper works fine, because they’re a smooth surface perfect for my rough pencils, for inking, and for heavy erasing.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the edges of the paper have guidelines drawn in. These guidelines help me keep the comic within the live area (which is the center of the page). It also tells me where I can draw bleeds, so if I want to draw something that extends outside of the borders, the guidelines tell me where the comic printer will cut the page off.

I cheated with the guidelines. I have a separate sheet of Bristol paper with the guidelines already inked in. Then what I do is I take the comic page, place it on top of the guideline sheet, and trace the lines. This saves me from doing a lot of calculations.

When I pencil a page, I tend to not use a ruler for the borders. I will, however, use a ruler for perspective, especially for that first panel. I like my drawings to be loose and organic for the most part. Gestures are important to me when I draw.

Once pencils are done, I go on to…

Step 3: Inking

inked page of Johnson & Sir 42
Click to enlarge.

I start with the panel edges and make dots where the live area ends (that’ll be explained later).

Because I’m right handed, I ink from left to right so my hand won’t smear the ink too much.

I also ink in some solid black shadows where I feel it’s appropriate. Like, along the collars of their shirts and coats, or the inside of their shirt cuffs. It helps keep the piece from being so flat.

After that I let the ink dry (usually for an hour), and then I erase the pencil marks.

Then there’s…

Step 4: Scan it in.

My scanner is old and prone to gathering dust on the scanner bed. No matter how much I clean it, there’s always some chink in it.

But that’s ok. I can fix that in a minute.

I scan the page in at 300 dpi (dots per inch). This is the standard size for book printing. Not only that, but that 300 dpi the work is much easier to do in Photoshop.

Speaking of which, right after the page is scanned in and placed in the proper folder on my external hard drive, I open it in Photoshop.

I use Photoshop CS2 for my digital work.

screencap of page in Photoshop.
Click to enlarge.

For those who don’t know how Photoshop layers work, I like to imagine them as layers of tracing paper stacked on top of the image. The original image is the bottom layer, usually listed as “BACKGROUND.”

Step 5: Make Edits to the Art.

What I do next is get another layer on top and name it “EDITS”. You can name layers by putting your mouse over the layer, right clicking it, and then clicking on “LAYER PROPERTIES”. A window will pop up that lets you name the layer.

I name my layers because not doing that gets messy and hard to keep track.

Anyway, in the EDITS layer, I paint over and correct any mistakes I spot. Mistakes will range from correcting over-extended lines to eliminating any spots my dirty scanner bed made on the page. This is also the layer I use when I copy and paste any recurring figures. (See the Johnson & Sir Christmas page for an example.)

Once EDITS are done, I move on to…

Step 6: The Background Colors

I make another layer on top and call it “BACKGROUNDS.” This will have my background colors.

This layer is different from EDITS because of one thing. While EDITS is in Normal Mode, BACKGROUNDS is set to Multiply Mode.

Screenshot 2014-05-30 14.10
As shown in this diagram. Click to enlarge.

You change modes by putting your mouse over the desired layer, right click it, then select “BLENDING OPTIONS.” The above window should appear.

Set Blend mode to Multiply, and keep the fill opacity at 100%. The fill opacity keeps the colors vibrant, which is what I want. Putting this to Multiply Mode makes it so I can paint and the paint won’t color over the original lines.

Once that’s done, I color the background!

click to enlarge
Click to enlarge.

I use the paint brush or paint bucket tools mostly. Sometimes I use the lasso tool to trace a particular area, then I use the paint bucket tool to fill in with my desired color.

Then on to…

Step 7: Color the Figures!

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

I make another layer on top and call it “FLATS.” I set the color mode to MULTIPLY with fill opacity at 100%.

Then I color in the rest of the comic on this layer. Usually it’s just the people in this layer, but that’s ok.

Recently I started including another step after this one. Which I’ll call…

Surprise Step! Shadows.

I’ll make another layer on top and call it “SHADES.” Then, I set color mode to MULTIPLY, but here’s the new part!

I set the fill opacity to 35%.

The reason? There are a few.

  1. 35% sets the color so it’s somewhat see-through (opaque), which is perfect for the shadow effect I need without it being overpowering.
  2. This layer set up lets me color solidly and not worry about weird layering effects of paint.
  3. The shadows are easier to modify this way.

Once the layer particulars are set up, I then color in the shadows.

And then…

Step 8: Lettering.

This is crucial.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

I say it’s crucial because it’s often a step other artists can ignore. But it’s important to know how to set up your speech balloons and sound effects so it’s easy for the reader to read along.

That’s often why I pencil in speech balloons during the scripting phase – that way I can plan the art so the speech balloons can be easily readable.

Anyway, in this step I write out the dialogue in separate layers. Photoshop as a program automatically separates the dialogue in the speech balloons into separate layers. I want to keep them separate so that if I have to move dialogue around, it’s easier.

The font I use for Johnson & Sir (as well as Validation) is called “Distinctly Dan,” and I got it from FontPanda.com.

Once the dialogue is written, I get down to the bottom layer, make a new layer, and then use the rectangle tool. I choose the rounded-edged rectangles, set the edge to 150 pt, and make the balloons.

Once balloons are done, I go back down to the bottom layer, make a new layer, and draw the tails in.

Since this page uses onomatopoeia, I use different fonts, depending on the effect I’m looking for. Thankfully, Photoshop lets me rotate the dialogue to whatever angle I want it to sit, so yay!

At last, I get to…

The Final Step: Flatten and Post Online!

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

I flatten the layers in Photoshop, and do two things.

Thing 1: I leave the image be and save it for print format. Then,

Thing 2: I crop the image to the live area (remember the dots from Step 3: Inking? Those come in handy right now), then shrink the page to 100 dpi so it’s web-friendly, and post it online.

And that’s it!

Next time, I’ll show how I do a strip in Validation. The process is different in a few ways from making Johnson & Sir, so I can’t wait to show you!

This Year at Phoenix Comicon…

This was my first year ever at Phoenix Comicon and it was a blast!

I spent most of my days at my table with Christian, the other half of Validation

Christian at the table we shared. The table is covered in comic books and art.

We sold out of copies of Validation by early Sunday afternoon, which is awesome! And I sold out of bookmarks not once, but twice. I even sold out of one of my really old art prints (I’m glad they sold. I’ve been wanting to find them good homes for years).

While at the con I saw my first ever Dalek with a voice box and rotating head…

Dalek rolls around the convention floor.

 

I also got the chance to meet my readers, which was fantastic. I even met new readers, including these girls:

three girls read copies of Validation.

There was also dinner at the Hyatt restaurant and enjoying the nighttime view of the city.

The restaurant itself rotated. It was the first ever rotating floor I ever dined on and it was…surreal.

And creepy.

And sort of terrifying when you’re drunk.

night time view of Phoenix

I also got the chance to have lunch with two guys from Team Four Star. They were really cool people. Later on I got to ask them a question at a panel they hosted. Realistically, theirs was the only panel I was interested in going to that entire weekend. I’m glad I went!

The entire time I was at the con, I was meeting comic artists and former TV producers over dinner, talking to really cool fans, and I even got interviewed twice!

The folks over at Watch Play Read and Land of the Nerds were kind enough to interview Christian and myself at the con. They should be up online soon.

Christian and I will also be appearing in other interviews. I’ll post links when they’re ready for sharing.

Phoenix Comicon treated everyone really well. The complaints were few and far between. Mostly we (the creators and guests) were all excited for the VIP lounges and the food the con provided for us.

The quickest way into my heart is with food, and Phoenix Comicon has won me over.

They had a bowl full of blueberries and it took all of my willpower not to just grab the whole thing and walk off.

Also in their guest lounges, they had toys and games on the tables and you could just take them.

companion cube from portal was a prize in the lounges.
Why yes! I will take a Companion Cube. Don’t even ask!

That’s how I got a Companion Cube and a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

And a dinosaur hand puppet.

I love dinosaurs, in case you can’t tell.

T-Rex Sissy Fight

 

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I have had in (what historians would call) a long. Ass. Time.

I’ve been sending thank-you messages to the people I met at the con and I still feel like it’s not enough.

The love I felt while I was there was immense. Not just the love for Validation or Johnson & Sir (but there was a lot of that, too!).

There was just such a love for comics and art and pop culture and it was so energizing and inspirational to see the enthusiasm and love everywhere.

Everyone was awesome.

I’m hoping to make it back to Phoenix Comicon next year.

Phoenix Comicon is Here!

Today was the first day of Phoenix Comicon and I had a blast seeing everyone there! (I need to take more pictures).

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered Validation already!

box of copies of Validation Comicon Special

Also, by popular demand, the T-Rex Sissy Fight is being printed tonight and will be sold the rest of the weekend!

T-Rex Sissy Fight

You’re all awesome. Seriously. Thank you for your support!

Available for Comics Making

JohnsonandSir20_small

Comic Book Page in Full Color: $45

Shadow_1

Comic Book Page in Black and White: $30

Validation59_small

Comic Strip in Full Color: $25

JohnsonandSir_Sketch_1web

Comic Strip in Black and White: $20

Not only am I available for other commissions, I’m also available for making comics for you!

I am available for short stories, webcomics, anthologies, graphic novels, and other long forms of comics.

I also have other miscellaneous services I can offer to make comics happen:

Scripting, Pencilling, or Inking: $30 per page

Colorist: $40 per page

Letterer: $15 per page

Formatting for Print: Email me for a quote. Prices vary depending on page size, number of pages, and other factors.

If you are interested in hiring me or if you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me at kelcidcrawford@gmail.com. I’ll be happy to answer.

Thank you very much for reading!