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.



charco said...

One of the things I find jarring when drawing 99 is the nose, and linelessness (holy crap, surely thats not a word) around the nose, and upon closer insepction, the ears.

You do the cell shading thing very well, but to get over this issue you may have to get a bit more subtle with your lineart.

There's some subtleties to the eyes that might not be translating over. In this caser, looking at her right eye, there is an implied change of depth where the skin above the eyelid meets the eyelid...its almost imperceptible but thats the kind of thing I think you mean- I'm nobody to preach, but I've found a whole lot of squinting helps.

I'd say take a look at chamba's work ( ) as he's pretty much a master of mixing super effective lines with cel shading.

Finally, I'd like to recommend keeping the cell shading, purely for the time element. Or in the other direction, you may want to find a kickass inker/level up.

I sound like a complete prat when trying to give advice like that, and I apologise for that.

I should listen to what I write more often.

TWULF (Adam Law) said...

I appreciate you reading it.

About your mans work- it's awesome, I'm already a watcher but I don't want to look at his artwork for any ideas of where to take mine. I just look at it to appreciate it. I'll figure out the evolutionary step myself in my own way, want it to maintain its own identity and not have too many similarities to anyone elses.

Posted this up for my own release as I've found doing so has helped me solve more than a few issues of late- reading it over as if it's someone else writing it can easily produce some solutions that I'd be stuck figuring out before.

I understand what you're saying about the lost in translation subtleties, as is the point of the entry but I can't make the cell accomdate for that, it can't be any more subtle(and I'm aware it's brutal, not subtle). As for anychange to my linework, just isn't going to happen- it's how I naturally draw and I'm not going to dilute or change it. As far as involving the artwork with the cell- it'd obviously be far cleaner than it is in the demo image.

And are you telling me to either continue to hide my linework under cells or find a colourist? xD Cheeky git.

Avatar_pwnz said...

I still say the work you did for Magpie *that line art page* made a really good impression of ink. I think maybe exploring that might create that effect you are looking for.

T-Deines said...

I can't remember my blog info so if it shows Anonymous sent this. It's Deines. D<

Oshit I'm leaving a comment at an hour I shouldn't be.

Now that I see your confusion that you've been going through in high detail, I can understand where you're coming from. To be honest... I've been going through the complete vice versa lately. I keep wanting to move to a more digital feel but I struggle with it.

Lining for me has always been fast on paper. I can line a whole page of detail in one good sit... But on tablet... I spend days. I'm starting to think it's not worth the perfect unsmudged digital lines.

The no soul factor in digital lining is disheartening to me. I like the outcome of the digital lining I do, but I see it next to something I did traditionally and it just doesn't compare.

In your situation it's really hard since you've been doing cell shading since I've known you. I almost can't imagine you doing anything any other way.

I know you don't like your lines. As someone that has spent countless years trying to perfect keeping their hand steady I can tell you many things.

Lining takes a very, very clear mind. You can't be angry with the line. You get angry at the line and it'll fuck up worse then you're thinking it has.

The right ink helps also. Me being a lefty means I need stuff that dries instantly. Depends on how you work around your image. Also, different ink looks different when scanned. I've used everything from quills to sharpies. The pen that I use most you probably have around the house.

Do not change how you sketch. Tightening up your lines is good, but all pencil will be erased in the end anyway. Changing how you sketch can also determine the quality of how you ink. If you break from your sketch comfort zone, it'll be harder to learn how to line with intense precision that you want.

Doodle with a pen and a pen only before you ink a sketch. This ready's your hand. My hand is always a lil twitchy when I start anything. You don't want to jump in without your hand being steady.

This one is probably the one that got me the most improvement in a short time... Imagine the image will never be colored. If you think about coloring it as you're lining, it'll distract you and make you do some really stupid stuff. Since I don't color squat, this part is the easiest for me. I like to think the ink part is the finished product. (This part has caused me to do that high contrast that has stuck with me.)

Lines should only be what they are called, they should in no way have anything to do with the coloring part.

Do not think learning how to line digitally will be easier. It really isn't. It doesn't look as great when zoomed in on either compared to traditional.

I think I'm done ranting about that subject. xD;

The part that I'm struggling with is that I want you to do awesomely for the next issue and whatever comes with it. I'm also in shock that you're going to be straying alittle from your signature method of doing your art. I want to be there for you as you go through it. Changing something that extreme is almost traumatizing.

Also in an egotistical way, I want to be the person you talk to in anything linework related. Hense why I went out of my way and made a comment on a blog. Which I never do.

It'd be so much easier if I could talk to you in a better way then typing about it. I just paused to think about how much money I'd have left over to see if I could visit before school. That's how insane about this I am. I know you've been having a hell of a time with this.

Now for the new coloring method issue...

I suck at coloring. But I'm open to help on that.

charco said...

Where's the 'dig up' button?

No, not telling you anything, just the whole time vs quality thing- if it gets to a point where the bar is so high on every front, outsourcing could be the way to go...which you've already said elsewhere.

...not that I'm a colourist trying desperately to justify my career or anything :D

Frack it, you do great work, and I'm happy just to read it. Shutting up.

wahay said...

After looking at Jeffrey Jones' work I realized that spelling out every detail in crisp digital language would never make me happy. And luckily for both of us, his website is back up:

TWULF (Adam Law) said...

? Wahay