Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Naked Head - covers for nonexistent comics.

A good few years ago now, I used to run a website called '' which I occasionally think about restarting. The idea was photoshop tennis - people post images on a theme, then others manipulate and evolve.

On the whole, the site was a success, in that it generated some cool ideas and people enjoyed themselves. No points scoring, no winners or quality control: a communal sketch pad.

Anyway, i'll probably be posting some of the images on this here blog, for my own nostalgia more than owt else. All authorship is communal. It's getting on towards halloween, so here's a couple of fake comic covers that turned up:

Part of what made it interesting for me was that image size and download time was much more of an issue than it is these days, so the war against the constant introduction JPG artifacts and decay of image quality became a part of the game and part of the aesthetic.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Illustrator Comic Panel Guides Template

What it says on the tin... a guide document in A4 for comic book panels in Adobe Illustrator. You can stretch it or resize it as needs be, but this is working for me a bit at the moment, at least for quick thumbnail drawings.

It's basically a blank Adobe Illustrator document with layers for different divisions of rows and columns. Switch the layers you need on, the others can be deleted. Mix and match between different tiers is also possible.

Anyway, no warranty or support etc, this is something I made that I think is useful.

Something for the Weekend?

Can't be bothered? Quick start - here's a 42 page PDF with a variety of panel layouts, some basic grids, some more complex. Print out the lot for the kids or for improv sessions, or just the pages you fancy.

How to make your own?

Oh go on then...

  1. Open up illustrator 10 or above and create a new document.
  2. Find the rectangular grid tool - it's hidden behind the line segment tool.
  3. Shift or Right click it to select the number of horizontal and vertical dividers.
  4. Fill your page with the grid. It will be just lines, no gutters at this point.
  5. Select the grid and change the 'stroke' to be 16pt or whatever thickness you want your gutter to be.
  6. Go to Object -> Expand -> Fill/Stroke
  7. Go to View -> Guides -> Make Guides
  8. Done, you now have in your layers palette a whole group of guide layers for each panel and gutter. 
Make sure you have 'snap to point' set, and you can draw with any of the line, rectangle or curved rectangle tools in whatever point size you want for your panel borders.

    Now i'm no expert in comics, but i'm not bad at this digital art stuff. So if anyone can point me at good software for making captioned screen videos of this kind of stuff, do let me know and i'll put some up.

    Also, if anyone has a good way of making decent naturalistic speech bubbles and laying out lettering that ain't just plain ovals, that would be cool too. I'm currently using a font from Blambot called Digital Strip in my work. I quite like it.

    Monday, 26 October 2009

    Over the Rocky Mountains - by Mister Fusty

    Over the Rocky Mountains is the latest album by Whitley Bay based guitar/computer fiddler Mister Fusty, also known as Rob Gibson. It's his first to have vocals, and despite being a bit shy about it, it's damn good. Before I became familiar with the songs I would often find myself thinking 'why! who is this fantastic band' as he passed through my random shuffle.

    Atmospheric, textured, alive, Mister Fusty's latest reminds me of Mercury Rev, Grandaddy, that kinda thing. Go visit his website, he links to plenty of places for you to listen to the album for free or even purchase if you like, like:

    Oh yeah, I did the cover art, based on a handful of Mister Fusty's photographs from his recent trip to canada.

    Space Monkey - from Paper Jam

    Space Monkey is the latest anthology from the Paper Jam Comics Collective based in the Travelling Man store in Newcastle. It's the second one i've had anything to do with and the first with a colour cover.
    The full title is, as you see above: Space Monkey, featuring: Squids, Bicycles, Cowboys, Skeletons, Bogeys, Dinosaurs, UFOs, Galleons, Loners, Emos, Aliens, Accidents, Bulls, Electricians, Pizza Pirates, Missing Heads, Secret Codes, Astronauts, Cheese, Massive Plants, Toilets, Tortoises and Bob ...And That

    It features some pretty cool strips. Mine is ok, though more of an experiment for me than a strip, so i'm cool with it if you think it doesn't work. My personal favourites are Oscillating Brow's "Dinosaur Nigel", Bainbridge and Waugh's "Dog/Pipe" and Clifford and Fallows magnificent "Biancas Bicycle", though there's nothing in there that you won't like. Really.

    The cover illustration of Bosko the worlds greatest space monkey is by Dan Gilmore and is quite, quite splendid, as you can see. I did the design/lettering and put the damn thing together. I did ok :-)

    Anyway, you should buy that - three of your english quid from Travelling Man for the time being though other places soon.

    Sunday, 25 October 2009

    Costume Party - by Jack Fallows

    I recently read Costume Party, by the extremely talented Jack Fallows. I've had a copy for months now and keep glancing through individual pages and lookin' at the pitchas rather than actually reading the thing.

    If you've done the same, I do recommend getting round to reading it. If you haven't bought it, do so. It's very strange and appears to tell several entirely different stories tied together by the title and tone. And the tone is downbeat and sad.

    The first few stories are slice of life fragments of a child or teenage characters various failures to communicate, except via ink. He's haunted by an imaginary dull uncommunicative inky form, who turns up after the antagonist has left and says nothing despite it's only facial feature being a mouth: depression, barely personified. The design of this beastie is spot on.

    Since the character is so Jack like, I hope that he's happier than this comic makes out - he does seem to be! But I don't want to put anyone off by saying that this is downbeat - this is beautiful stuff, drawn in Jack's typically poetic style.

    Costume Party is a 210mm square book, black and white interiors with a very well designed colour on beige card cover. I normally see it for £3, and though it's fairly short, the craft here is lovely and well worth it.