Saturday, 31 December 2011

New year again

Last year I did a brief review of the year in terms of my Strange Biros life.
I'd been made redundant, and found a short term contract, which has since become a permanent post.
I'd written and launched wychwolf with the kids, we've since finished part 1, and Adam has taken over writing part 2, which started a few weeks ago.
I won another 10t sketch challenge, but sadly havn't found the time to enter much since then.
I entered an completed the 24 Hour Comic challenge, and even formatted the result as a kindle book.
I didn't enrol on any more drawing classes, instead I did a ten week class in TIG welding,  and am enrolled on the final year of an online BSc in Computer Science.
I used my new iPad2 to draw some stuff, and whilst the tools were ok, it wasn't precise enough... though the interface was a lot better than the equivalent tools on the mac.
I upgraded to Mac OS X Lion, which broke a lot of stuff... including my old copy of photoshop elements 4.
Eventually I coughed up for a replacement, buuut it still didn't work with the scanner, and crashes when I try to change fonts. All in all Lion is very much a PC user experience... poor.

So this year, I have Wychwolf part 2 to complete, I also have a good 15hours of study a week for the BSc, which cuts down on sketching time.
I have toyed with the idea of buying a Wacom Inkling to allow me to capture sketches done in biro, but to be realistic If I were sketching that much I could scan, or photograph the pictures.
I do hope to enter the 24HCD challenge again.
Realistically I'll be pleased to get anything much done this year...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

#24HCD Exit through the Gift Shop

An exciting experiment in digital publishing,  starting around 10am on Saturday the 1st Oct, I've gone from story conception to publication in the Amazon Kindle store. in under 3 days.

I just bought a copy, and it looks fine on the iPad, will have a look on the Kindle when Adam gets home.
Perhaps I'll get round to drawing a prettier cover... maybe not.

Monday, 3 October 2011

#24HCD published to kindle

One of the good things to come out of doing the 24 Hour comic challenge is that I now have a neat little story that I can use to test the kindle store publishing process. I've often thought that when I complete the wychwolf story I'd collate it as an ebook, and put it on the kindle store.
It's clunky, and I had to use my windows pc,as the version of WORD I have wouldn't save in the correct format, and then the mac command line tool didn't want to convert the .htm file.
So aside from the usual frustration caused by using a pc, forgetting my admin password,it wasn't too bad, and I had the wholething done in under an hour and a half.
It takes a couple of days to get the book into the store, and I'll post when I get a link.
I put it up for the lowest price I could, which seems to be pegged to 99c.

In the mean time I've put the pics together as a .pdf

Sunday, 2 October 2011

#24HCD reflections

I nearly gave up.
I was tired, I have always been very good at calculating workload over time, and when I reached over halfway without having done half of the work, AND had to get some sleep, I thought I was just punishing myself.
BUT I didn't stop.
I'm not sure why, I think it was seeing various tweets from people dropping out, that made me keep going.
I've looked at the finished article, and found only one typo, "Overcomes Gurads", should have read "Overcomes Patrol"
I realised I missed out a couple of pages, that would have made the total up to 24, plus a cover.
- The "Inside Jail" page should have been a separate page.
- The "Killer Leeches" should have been a separate page.

When I have a little time, I'll finish inking up the pages, and add some colour. I also aim to collate the pages into a kindle book, just to check out the kindle publishing process.

In theory I should crack on with a little more drawing this afternoon to get the final pages of Wychwolf done , but I may give myself the day off.

#24HCD Success

had to skimp on shading the final pages... and found I only had 23, so had to pull out a title page.. but I have done it.

#24HCD post11 -hour 22.5 - 8am ALL outline inks done

Ridiculously simplified, outline inks done.
massive erasing of pencil lines about to start...
then scan session, and paint bucket fills.
See you on the other side.

#24HCD post10 -hour 20 - 6am back in the room

I had a brief nap.
I feel terrible, but I'm back in the cellar.
Dom was awake till around 2am I reckon working on his 24HCD entry, and has till 3pm today to finish it.
I have a massive mug of coffee, and a pile of pages to ink, scan and post.
The race is on.

#24HCD post 9 -hour 15- bed

I had a dip, and was tempted to give up, at around midnight... but strangely a tweet from someone who actually did give up, spurred me onward.
So now I have 24 pencilled pages... I've inked another 2, so am just over half way.
I'm off to bed, and will start again at 6am, when I'm a bit fresher, to see if I can blast out the remaining pages..
quality will go down, but I might just be able to do it.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

#24HCD post 8 -first ten-

#24HCD post 7 - very very tired

I'm flaking out.
don't think I'm going to get the whole 24 pages done, as I'm just at 10 pages, and over half way.
I'm going to post what I've done.
Here's how I did it.

Initial sketches on loose copier paper, to get the shape of the page. I like organic panels, breaking out of panels, but really like having panels...
Once I had the general shape, pencil sketches done on DELETER manga paper, using a pentel technical pencil and 2B leads, then inked using a mix of Faber Castell pigment felt tips, Rotring Isograph 0.25 and 0.5 mm pens, and DELETER no 3 and 4 ink. No 4 spreads really well, but No 3 is a far richer black.
As I'm going to be scanning just black and White the black density isn't such an issue.
Rub out the pencil using an old Rotring eraser, and scan using my basic Canon Lide 25 USB scanner...( I bought my original old parallel port version of this scanner late at night to scan some sketches to send to mentorn Urgently, and the only place open was pc world..II was using an IBM thinkpad (500MHz) at the time which was the best pc I've ever used.)
Scans are done from photoshop elements 4 on my mac mini at 300 dpi.
Save as a .PSD file, and then convert to grayscale to tidy up, as it allows me to blend some of the lines, without the overhead of going straight to RGB.
Drop to 72dpi, resize to 600x800, add a few highlights, and spot colour.
Save for web, as .png.

#24HCD post 6- 10 pages inked

Back from my shed,  I've outline inked 10 pages, of which 4 are finished (in as much as 24HCD pages are really finished).
I'm starting to block out some of the black for these pages, and will take a break at 7ish to nip upstairs and watch the DrWho Finale, whilst I pencil up some of the other pages.
Hopefully I should be able to have all the pages in pencil outline by 10pm, my halfway mark.
I reckon I'll work through to maybe 1am, and then restart at 6am.

#24HCD post 5, six hours in, 4 pages inked, 10 pages pencilled

My achey, achey eyes!
6 hours in and I have a full plot storyboarded. I have 10 pages roughed in pencil, and I've inked up the first 4.
Frozen to the core from working in my cellar office on the warmest October day in years, I have returned to my allotment shed, which is more like a sauna.
Time for a cup of tea and a quick post to the blog before cracking on.
I've just cleaned up the pencil lines on the inked pages, and it's a delight to be able to flick eraser scurf straight onto the shed floor.
I'll add some pics later, as the post editor for blogger on the iPad is useless.

#24HCD post4- page 1 inked and scanned

Just over 4 hours in, and I have managed to ink up page one... because it was an easy page... borrowing from the 10 ton studio logo.
I've scanned it, and resized it, but had no time to do any tidying up.
I have to go have lunch now.

#24HCD post3- outlines done, 10 pages of pencils

Nearly three hours in, and after two cups of coffee and a packet of biscuits in my sunny allotment shed, the first draft of the story is done.
I managed to get a whole arc out of the A-Z format, without having to draw too much boring tosh.
I'm not sure if I want to have additional text, or whether that will spoil the purity of the idea.
These are the basic pages:

1. Atomic Bomb, agent bob, again, blast
2.  alien brood, alert breach

3. Certain Death, containment down,
4. criminal deviant

5. Evil Fiend, electric fist,
6. energy field,

7. Great Hero, gorgeous hero, get him
8. glistening husk, glowing hole, gelatinous heap, giant

9. Intergalactic journey,
10. Idiots jetpack, intense jailer

11. Kryptonite Laser, killed limp,
12. killer lemmings, killer leeches, lost, last

13. Missile Nuclear, mind numb,
14. massive nest, mad now, marbles, never,

15. Orbital planet, ouch painful,
16. over panel, only professor

17. Quiet rescue, quick rocket,
18. quantum replicator, quick robot

19. Sonic thruster, super tunnel, space technician, stupid technology, said Ted
20. swift Titan, space turtle, silent threat, squid terror, slick tentacles

21. Ultra Violence,
22. under volted, under valued,

23. Walking xmen, wild excitement,
24. win excellent, wild xrays,

25. Yesterday zero, Yellow zero, yes, zero.
26. Yes zombies. Yeti zombies

#24HCD Post 2

As I've said before Mike Mignola is a huge influence on me, I love the style of his work, and perhaps more importantly I love the fact he just wants to draw monsters. I too think I would be quite happy just drawing monsters. I briefly had that gig at the turn of the century when I worked freelance for mentorn and the BBC visual effects dept on visualisations for "robot wars" house robots, and other shows.

So to make this whole process enjoyable I've really got to add a few monsters. We all have our recurring  memes, and mine tend to be giant squid creatures, killer robots and brains in jars...
I'm sure they are going to be appearing in this 24hcd project.
Off to my shed for some initial sketches, 6 mins till start of play.
Soundtrack: the sighs of Ali and Dom as England are beaten to a bloody pulp by Scotland, Radiohead - House of Cards.

#24HCD first post

24Hour Comic day is a challenge to create a 24 page comic from scratch in 24 hours. I've tried before and failed, because I drastically underestimated the effort involved. I've spent a year getting to grips with digital tools working on and have settled on a workflow which suits me, though I still struggle to break out of the basic side view shot of characters from the knees up. What have  found is that adding more constraints in terms of time and theme actually help me work, so to extend the constraints even further I have also added the idea that I will tell a comic story using a format akin to a child's  A to Z book. One of the first illustration jobs I had years ago was doing just this, (apple on a bed by Collins educational ) and I really enjoyed the invention around the simple script.

Monday, 26 September 2011

See the dog faced boy...

I had a meeting over coffee last week in the cafe under Methodist Central Hall, I was early and was delighted to see an art exhibition on display.
Whilst I wasn't really attracted to any of the works, which were all done in coloured pencils (this being an exhibition arranged by the UK coloured pencil society) I was intrigued by the sideshow put on by the sponsors: Faber Castell.
There were a couple of sculptures made out of pencils, including a ridiculously uncomfortable chair...

... more amusingly there was a display which held "the worlds smallest pencil".. which wasn't really very small at all.

"The smallest pencil in the world is 17.5mm short and about 3mm thin, made of North American spruce with a genuine graphite lead (0.5 mm diameter). Count Von Faber-Castell had this tiny object specially made to be able to givean appropriate present when the world's largest pencil was unveiled at the Faber-Castell plant in Malaysia."
I don't know what delights me more, the idea that this , the worlds smallest pencil could be trumped by another which was sharpened, precipitating a "worlds smallest pencil" record breaking sharpening match...
OR that there is a Count Von Faber Castell, presumably with a cape, and monocle.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

That's Numberwang

I have been dallying with the idea of creating an entertaining but obtuse iOS game, which would have plenty of monsters, and bold graphics, possibly inscrutable japanese text, and lots of shouting.... and then I found "monsters ate my condo" by adultswim.
It is madder than a bag of frogs, crammed with incomprehensible graphics, and possibly the best thing I've seen.
I think I may well follow their lead, and build some kind of godzilla game... with giant squid and killer robots obviously...

Thursday, 22 September 2011


Next weekend is 24 hr Comic day.
This year I will succeed.
I have set aside time to do the comic, and even booked the Monday off, so I can work through the night over the weekend and not be a sore headed bear.
The hardest part is trying NOT to prepare too much.. the idea of 24HCD is to create a story from start to finish in 24 Hours, and that's a tremendous challenge. It's very easy to start thinking of stories, characters and plot beforehand.
What I do know is I'm going to work in pencil onto DELETER Manga paper, and ink stuff with a mix of pigment fibre tip markers, rotring isograph pens and DELETER No4 ink using a flat brush.
... better check I have enough paper stock in.

Sunday, 14 August 2011


#Monsters by killercarrot
#Monsters, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

We bought a peg bag from Wonky Giraffe on the Etsy store.
It is one of my favourite things ever.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Sketchbook Pro for a proper computer

Tired of finger painting on the iPad, but very impressed by Sketchbook Pro I splashed out £39.99 on a copy for the mac. I bought it through the app store, so if/when i get another laptop I can port it direct. I  think sketchbook pro typifies the new design ethos that is creeping into mac apps.. I looked for my traditional keyboard shortcuts, to find there dont appear to be any, luckily I have a trackpad, and the zoom works on that. Its fast enough, but a bit laggy at high zoom, and suffers from the reverse axis controls that make sense direct on the ipad screen, but not so much on the trackpad.
I was pleased the speed and accuracy of what it rendered, but a little frustrated with the lack of a crop tool, and still miss my dodge and burn. Below is a quick sketch dashed out in about 6 minutes, and my very first attempt at using the app.
I remember the first time I tried to use Photoshop I came away with nothing... I remember dropping £200 for Adobe illustrator, and never coming away with anything.
Happy with my purchase.

Friday, 12 August 2011


Monsters#11 by killercarrot
Monsters#11, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Brain in a jar. Now I have the hang of sketchbook pro, I feel more confident to dash off looser sketches. I'm putting off doing more complex stuff as I have a wychwolf strip to get done which is going tomtakeupma fair bit of time.. I need to close the current story in the next month.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


Monsters#10 by killercarrot
Monsters#10, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Auto cad 123D for iPad is a free download, with a similar interface to Sketchbook Pro. It took seconds to smear some pictures onto a model. I'd post a little videoclip, but YouTube linkage to my google account doesn't work...
I finally managed to upload the video, but cant see the embed code on the mobile version of the youtube site.
Th share option allows me to email a link, or post it to Facebook, twitter or buzz link


Monsters#9 by killercarrot
Monsters#9, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Getting faster, down to 5 mins now. Next step is to try more detailed picture.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Monsters#8...or perhaps 9

Monsters#8 by killercarrot
Monsters#8, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Teddy scare

Monday, 8 August 2011


Monsters#8 by killercarrot
Monsters#8, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Hairy legs

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Monsters#7 by killercarrot
Monsters#7, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Quick sketch whilst watching Goldeneye

Via Flickr:


Monsters#6 by killercarrot
Monsters#6, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Woke up, made a cup of tea, and thought I'd have a go with some of the other sketchpad tools... Pencils and letratone..
I'm getting much quicker.

Via Flickr:
Fast zombie

Friday, 5 August 2011


Monsters#6 by killercarrot
Monsters#6, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Travelled back from York today, just remembered I hadn't done today's monster, so had a go using the primitive shapes in sketchbook pro.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


Monsters#5 by killercarrot
Monsters#5, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Getting much quicker with fingers only on the ipad2. Sketchbook pro today let me down in it's limited UNDO feature, and also managed to crash a couple of times when switching between safari, using the double tap home button.

Blogger interface is awful on the ipad2, I have to add in HTML tags for height and width of the images, however it's not as bad as the Flickr interface. I thought it would make sense to create a set of monsters pics, but the whole process involves drag and drop, which you might think would be perfect for the iPad.. but sadly it doesn't work at all.

I am getting round to thinking a 13" MacBook air is going to be more useful.

BlobVia Flickr:
Blob leech

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Monsters#4 by killercarrot
Monsters#4, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Snail creature. Sketchbook pro on my iPad 2, but today I used just my fingers rather than the hit and miss pogo stylus.
Using layers and judicious erasing seems to be the key. Yesterday I mourned dodge and burn, today I was feeling the lack of pressure sensitivity.

Via Flickr:
Snail creature

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Monsters#3 by killercarrot
Monsters#3, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Tried a smaller canvas size of 1024 x 768 to see how it works with blogger. Working through the brushes in sketchpad pro, but missing dodge and burn tools. The layers work quite well. Fill tools and erasers work ok. Text tool takes a bit of getting used to.
The text box in the Flickr share with blogger tool doesn't scroll well on the iPad
Via Flickr:


Monday, 1 August 2011

Monsters#2 using dropbox

This is an attempt to see whether I can upload from dropbox, Which I can't, as the blogger dialogue box obviously looks for a file system I can't provide...or link to a pic in a shared public folder, which I don't seem to be able to, although I guess the latter is asking for trouble.
I'm also a bit concerned by the iPad blogger interface, it's just plain HTML, can't access the "compose" function, which provides useful image placement and sizing... I guess it's just one of the little niceties I'd expect, fallen victim of the google/ apple divisions.


Title by killercarrot
Title, a photo by killercarrot on Flickr.

Second attempt at sketching with the iPad, using autodesk sketchbook pro, and the pogo stylus. A little more refined today, but still a long way to go. I thought briefly I might be able to use photoshop express, but it really is just for fixing photos.
I was a bit surprised to see the following condition on my Flickr account:
"Photostream views limited to the 200 most recent images"
When did that happen?
Need to look at some way of linking to picasa.
Via Flickr: