Line by Line

Work In Progress Report: Sorceress Comic: May Update

posted May 12, 2018

Tags: art, comics, WIP report, writing




The month of April has come and gone, and with it, my self-imposed deadline for finishing all my location designs. How did these designs turn out? The answer, a resounding "meh."

First of all, I'm not posting any of that design work here due to spoilers. That's not to say that the comic is going to have a ton of plot twists or anything like that, but I still think it'll be better to read it for the first time without knowing in advance what's ahead. Pretty much everything I did on the location front either spoils something or just isn't interesting enough to show.

Don't get me wrong: For those areas where the location matters somewhat, I managed to think everything through and come up with something plausible. But I realized that most of the things I was agonizing over were going to appear in no more than one or two panels, and that at the end of the day, this is only a seven-page story. It's not like I'm designing a recurring location for a series. Sure, I do have some vague ideas about what I'd like to do if I decide to make this an ongoing series (please don't hold your breath) but if that happens, I can always update the designs then.

So in that spirit, I made the choice that, while I wouldn't give up entirely on caring about set design and props, I was done worrying about them. As far as I got, plus one or two references I can easily look up, will suffice.

Consequently, I did not spend the majority of April designing sets and props. And it's a good thing, too, because the character designs are due at the end of this month, and it turns out I had no idea what my main characters actually look like.

On top of that, I'm terrible at drawing faces. That's not to say I can never get them looking right, but I'm in no way consistent. Eyes, especially, give me trouble. (Did you know that most people have two eyes, and that they're the same size and shape, but mirrored? Because my drawing hand does not know this!) Plus, I've imagined my sorceress doing a lot of her emoting using her eyes and eyebrows (okay, fine, she mostly just does a lot of scowling), but so far, my attempts to put eyebrows on a lioness face have mostly just ended up looking stupid.

But, as a wise man once said, you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a collection of exploratory attempts to get the sorceress's face looking right:

Exploratory sketches of sorceress character's face
(Click to view full size)

As a bonus, here's some exploration of the other two characters:

Exploratory sketches of nobleman character's face
(Click to view full size)
Exploratory sketches of escort character's face
(Click to view full size)

My plan for now is to keep working on (beating my head against?) these designs until I come up with something I can live with. I do have one more eyebrow idea to try before I give up, but I haven't played much with it yet.

There's one other thing I wanted to bring up, and I guess here's as good a place as any: I'm already beginning to feel burnt out on this project.

I've mentioned in earlier posts that the thumbnailing is the most fun, spontaneous, creative part of the project for me. It's also the part that's already done. Everything that's left is, to one degree or another, the hard/boring part. Which means there's a real risk of the project, like so many before it, turning into a chore: Something I derive no pleasure or sense of accomplishment from working on, that I do only out of a sense of obligation, that I begin to dread doing, and that I eventually avoid doing at all if possible.

Fortunately, I've managed to start another project, a single drawing, that I'm enjoying quite a bit. With any luck, I'll be able to get it finished and post-worthy. Even if I don't, I'll at least be able to reeturn to the comic with fresh eyes. Of course, I said that about moving between different parts of this project, and haven't really put that into practice much. I'm not sure if it's not working or I just haven't given it a chance. At any rate, at least for now, I'm feeling a bit more energized and ready to make some art.

I briefly thought about trying to squeeze a blog post about what this experience has taught me about art block and my usual approach to the chore problem, but for now I think I'll leave it at what I've already written here, plus this link to an Extra Credits video about not giving up.