September 01, 2009

Growing Pains

Cell-shading has always been a huge part of Felicity. It's always been there, from the projects earliest conception and it has evolved along with it. I've been struggling with some growing pains of late though and finding it difficult to decide whelter my artwork has actually outgrown the cell-shading method I apply to it. Let me explain-

The coloring method I use to render the characters(should be pointed out that vehicles/backgrounds are painted)is my own shoddy way of colouring that I first conjured up when doing Press Start To Play. I needed a colouring method that'd be easy on the eyes and create consistant results regardless of how wobbly my artwork might be(and would be).

Felicity adopted the colouring method for the exact same reason(albeit a far more advanced and evolved method). I built this method around the fact that I never used to be so good with my lines, I'm still a terribly messy drawer but compared to what I used to be, well it's night and day. I've cleaned up my act alot over the years and I'm feeling I don't have to 'hide' my lines so much anymore.

The method, whilst wielding the impressive visual look I wanted has always been riddled with downsides. The biggest of which has brought me to a point where I'm questioning its worth. To begin with, even back in the days of Press Start To Play(a comic that rarely if ever missed the update scedule before the eventual end)the method took BLOODY AGES. I do have to say though, doing nearly 100 PSTP strips, artwork in between and then a further 100 pages of Felicity(and all the other Felic stuff)took an effect and I found the time the method takes me now, it's not even half. So I got faster overtime- an interesting thing because I honestly wouldn't have believed prior to doing it for years that persistance would present knowledge and that knowledge would lead to shortcuts that not only made it easier and take less time but that made it more effective and prettier.

The biggest issue though, the one I want to bring up- is the 'Soul' factor as I'm calling it.
(Demo'd by the image above)
It happens with all kinds of digital art I've found(purely digital)from my own experience. Drawing a piece on a page is worlds different than drawing the same piece on a Cintiq, or a tablet. They both have their pros and cons but the drawing on paper will ALWAYS have more 'Soul' than the digital. On paper, the marks made can keep up with how fast you make them, on paper you can't fuss over one tiny element until it's pixel perfect, you have to go with your raw instinct. Paper is a far greater impression of you and your vision than digital can be. Now don't get me wrong- I'm not downsiding Digital(I am afterall a Digital Artist myself)but working in both mediums for so long I understand the problems. And one thing I didn't see happening was reaching a point where my lines(something I've built a colouring method around hiding)appealed to me more than my cells.

To avoid any confusion I want to lay down a quick rundown of what my Cell method actually is. I scan my artwork, I then simply take the layers above to 're-draw' the artwork in shapes bit by bit, tone by tone until it's complete. And yeah, it really is as tedious and long drawn as it sounds. Alot of my friends in the artworld are still baffled to this day that I ever colour like this. I can't deny that the thought of doing Issue 3 with cell shading sounds pretty damn depressing. It has always been a double edged sword of effort/result. Only now and ever since Issue 2 I've felt that there's too much of that 'Soul' Factor being lost in my Celling. For PSTP it didn't matter so much- it lent itself brilliantly to the zaney cartoon world, Early Felicity didn't suffer from it either, stylistically I had no idea what I was doing so the colouring helped elevate the sloppy artwork into a greater class it didn't deserve to be in.

Now, my actual raw lines, while messy- are what I want to show. Feel like I've got to the point where I need to rethink my colouring. The Cellshading is something that I'm not going to abandon or hault completely and certainly- whatever avenue I go down for the new colouring will be in tribute if not very similar to how it has always been.

I just need a way to evolve the artwork beyond what it is. It's been stuck like this for a long time now and all this time the linework and style has improved and the colouring, it's just holding it back now.

These are me'thoughts. Just spewing them out there. I want to run a few more experiments through the computer but I have to crack on and begin Issue 3 this month so I hope I can resolve the issue soon.