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Saturday Sketchbook: Gay Knights With Magic Swords

Saturday Sketchbook: Gay Knights With Magic Swords published on No Comments on Saturday Sketchbook: Gay Knights With Magic Swords

Art for the website’s second header. (And a demonstration of the “was your sword shorter before?” reference…)

I keep trying to give the comic a short, catchy tagline. This one’s not bad.

on Deviantart | on Tumblr

Technical Difficulties: the aftermath

Technical Difficulties: the aftermath published on No Comments on Technical Difficulties: the aftermath

So for the past few months my computer has had a couple of bluescreens and other random errors…culminating in this past Sunday, when it tried to boot and couldn’t even find the hard drive. Not fun.

The good news:
I got a new drive! Solid-state, so it’s faster and more durable. My programs are all reinstalled. Most of my data is safe. It only took four days, and I even had some things in the queue that I could post in the meantime.

The bad news:
It cost $600.

Yyyyeah.

How you can help:

Commission some art. Doable again, now that Photoshop and my scanner are back up and running. Having stuff to work on will even help me get all the settings reconfigured.

Donate through PayPal – if you don’t want any art but still feel like sending money. This is the link that gets you a bonus wallpaper.

Donate through Patreon – you can sign up for a recurring donation, or sign up and then cancel five minutes later to make a one-time payment. Also gets you wallpapers.

Click the “Purchase” link on this art (it’s just the high-res version of the image) as a quick’n’easy way to send money through dA.

– No cash of your own to spare right now? No worries. Link your friends to Leif & Thorn or give a bump to BICP to boost my ad revenue.

Every little bit helps – even $1 or $5 at a time can add up fast. And share this post around! If just 10% of readers chip in a few dollars each, we could have this thing covered by tomorrow.

Spooky comic settings, for #WebcomicChat

Spooky comic settings, for #WebcomicChat published on 3 Comments on Spooky comic settings, for #WebcomicChat

A post I had to illustrate with the stock image of Lady Stanczia and Lord Imri’s eerie mountainside castle. (Last seen in Vampire Hunter Thorn #3.)

Q1: How would you describe the difference between “spooky” and “scary”? Is there one?

“Spooky” is a particular aesthetic, all ominous and Halloween-y. “Scary” is a much broader category. If you narrowly miss being in a car accident, that’s scary, but not spooky. Dark misty forests with no sound except a cold breeze rustling the leaves, on the other hand…those are both spooky and scary.

Q2: What makes a scene or setting spooky to you?

Let me just rec some comics that do spooky really well, and you can work it out backwards from there.

The Last Halloween (ongoing) is full of claustrophobic staging and ominous crosshatching. Along with all the specific pumpkins-and-graveyards type stuff.

Stand Still Stay Silent (ongoing) gets these wonderful eerie effects from detailed art with limited palettes. Check out this shadowy, rain-drenched forest.

Awful Hospital (hiatus) does a great job of combining the gory and horrific with the oppressively mundane.

Serenity Rose (complete) has lots of shadow-filled forests, ornate but falling-apart old houses, and elaborate gothic architecture. Plus stuff in the corner staring at you.

Q3: Are spooky settings limited to specific genres? Why or why not?

If you’re writing something like a lighthearted comedy or a fluffy romance, there’s a limit to how deep you can go into horror territory. But spookiness doesn’t have to be horrific — you can also do the cute-and-fun version. Any genre can be paired with at least some point on the spooky spectrum.

Or, to put it another way: any comic can do a Halloween special.

Q4: What sorts of elements make a scene less spooky?

Bright lighting, pastel palettes, humor.

Spookiness isn’t really something that happens by accident, it’s something you have to actively cultivate. But those are things that can temper it after it’s been cultivated.

Q5: Provide us some examples of your favorite spooky settings!

I did it for other webcomics up in Q2, so here are some from Leif & Thorn:

The dark and deserted-by-order Embassy gardens from Homecoming. And again in Vampire Masquerade, complete with cold blowing winds.

Mata in a deep dark hole — this is one where the spookiness gets tempered by the way he stays relaxed and keeps making jokes.

Stanczia and Imri’s castle from the main continuity. Complete with ominous business deals.

Rec your own favorite spooky comics in the comments!

Send me art prompts: Sweet Affectionate Moments Meme

Send me art prompts: Sweet Affectionate Moments Meme published on 8 Comments on Send me art prompts: Sweet Affectionate Moments Meme

Adapted this from the original on Tumblr.

Send me a NUMBER & PAIRING and I’ll write draw a little something.

KISSES:

1. A Sweet Kiss
2. A Hot Kiss
3. A Tired Kiss
4. A Drunken Kiss
5. A Reunion Kiss
6. A Kiss of Relief
7. A Scared Kiss
8. A First Kiss
9. An Awkward Kiss
10. A Shy Kiss
11. A Morning Kiss
12. A Night Kiss
13. A Sorry Kiss
14. A Sad Kiss
15. A Hope We Don’t Get Caught Kiss
16. A Naughty Kiss

SWEET MOMENTS:

17. A Love Bite
18. Holding Hands
19. Cuddling
20. A Massage
21. A Promise
22. Caught in a Storm
23. Seeking Shelter
24. Slow Dancing
25. Exchanging Letters
26. Tending an injury
27. Accidentally Sleeping In
28. Teaching the other something new
29. Cooking Together
30. Sharing A Bath/Swim
31. Catching the other before they fall
32. Getting Caught in the Act

(Canon & non-canon pairings welcome! Only limit is, no family members for the romantic prompts. Everything else is fair game.)

Leif & Thorn calendar! — Volume 1, printing for 2018.

Leif & Thorn calendar! — Volume 1, printing for 2018. published on No Comments on Leif & Thorn calendar! — Volume 1, printing for 2018.

Now available on Deviantart, Leif & Thorn Calendar Vol. 1: At Your Side!

Featuring OTP artwork from the first two years of Leif & Thorn, a cross-cultural bilingual m/m fantasy comedy. One’s a dragonslayer with a magic sword and PTSD; one’s a gardener working off a debt in a country where he doesn’t speak the language. Turns out love knows no borders. (Although it does get sidetracked by poor translation.)

Originally printing for the 2018 calendar year. After that, it updates every July (so if you order after July 2018 you’ll get the calendar for 2019, order after July 2019 you’ll get 2020, and so on).

Some of the art hasn’t even been posted anywhere else yet, so if you buy early enough, you’ll get a sneak preview. Click through to purchase!

Talking about detail for #WebcomicChat…well, trying to.

Talking about detail for #WebcomicChat…well, trying to. published on No Comments on Talking about detail for #WebcomicChat…well, trying to.

Q1: How do you feel about comics with incredibly detailed visual or story elements?

Deeply envious. If I wanted to draw comics in a minimalist style, a la 1/0 or xkcd, I could pull it off. But lush, elaborate, detailed art? Even if I tried, there’s only so high a mark I can hit.

Check out these establishing shots from Devil’s Candy, or these eldritch city environments from Zebra Girl, or this surreal interlude from Floraverse.

Q2: What sorts of things do you find necessary to put the most detail into?

Establishing shots — that is, a wide shot of the scenery when the characters enter a new environment. That’s what both of these are:

(The first one following a fourth-wall-straining metajoke about “gosh, this scenery would take forever to draw.”)

After that I make a conscious effort to put the characters in front of a simple background — various walls, rows of bushes and trees, a cave, the sky. In a black-and-white comic you can get away with just leaving blank white space around the characters, but in Leif & Thorn there needs to at least be a specific flat color.

(But I’m A Cat Person falls between the two (in a…grey area *rimshot*). It’s somewhat easier to cheat because I can fill the background with whatever shade of grey fits the lighting and tone of the scene, without having to keep track of which exact wall they’re in front of.)

It doesn’t save 100% of the work. You still need to keep your panels visually engaging by doing long shots, different angles, and other things that demand some thought for the background. But it cuts it down a lot.

Q3: How do you balance complicated details with simpler, more accessible details?

Mostly the common advice of “keep the characters/point-of-focus detailed and the background simple, so the focus stands out.”

Make your characters’ everyday outfits relatively simple and quick to draw, then give them more elaborate and complex clothes on special occasions.

Same with rare and fancy objects versus common ones. There are complex magical contraptions with engravings and swirly bits, but the smartcrystals they’re always using to make calls or browse the Network are just plain rectangles.

Q4: Do you have any time-saving techniques or resources for handling fine details?

Make yourself some stock graphics!

I finally made a nice tiled pattern for the embroidery on the trim of the knights’ uniforms, so I don’t have to draw random little fiddly bits every time. It’s just black lines on a white background, so I put it on a separate layer and set it to Multiply, and then it blends naturally with whatever shading or color-adjusting happens underneath.

And I have transparent graphics for the detailed art-nouveau Embassy gates. They can be resized, skewed, and otherwise distorted to match whatever angle the panel calls for.

Q5: What are your favorite comics that have immense amounts of detail?

The ones recced above, plus Homestuck (a ridiculous variety of planets and dreamscapes), Buying Time (cyberpunk settings and equipment complete with cycling Flash animation), and Serenity Rose (spooky midwestern town and supernatural environments).

Readers, what are yours? (And/or, what’s your favorite high-detail Leif & Thorn scene?)

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