I read The Beano and Dandy comics as a kid, and loved single panel stuff like the Far Side, but I never really got into the DC / Marvel side of things. We didn't have a newsagent who carried them near my home (which is on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland). I loved drawing, especially cartoons, and all kinds of art. My parents had a fairly dim view of "artist" as a career path for their dear son, so I was gently encouraged to pursue a "proper job". This I did (I'm a teacher now, amongst many other things), but I always maintained my love of art.
So last year I started picking up some comics from friends. I loved the stories and the characters, but the art REALLY got me. I wanted to be able to do that. I began investigating the process involved in producing comic art and the world of the writer, penciler, inker and colourist was a fascinating one.
I knew my limitations, however. I knew I had no hope of being able to generate the kind of poses I'd seen in the books clean out of my own head, at least to begin with. I simply didn't have a grasp of the anatomy, musculature and perspective that are necessary. But the inking…? I remembered how much I’d enjoyed inking my cartoons back in high school. Inking, I could probably do. I also fancied doing it digitally. But I didn’t have a graphics tablet. A quick Facebook plea landed me a loan of a Wacom Bamboo. I downloaded a crazily complex pencil page of Spiderman by Jimbo Salgado, and on Monday 24th February, I set about teaching myself to ink.
Talk about a steep learning curve! But despite this, I felt I was getting along pretty well. It was tough work though, especially since I was using Adobe Illustrator at this point and it just wasn’t suiting the way I draw. I managed to finish the job and began investigating other software. Which is when I discovered Manga Studio 5 by SmithMicro. What a revelation that was! A piece of software that really felt like it was built for the job I was trying to do. The next couple of projects went much more smoothly, and I felt like I was getting a much better feel for the tablet (having got myself a shiny new Wacom Intuos) and the mental gymnastics involved in drawing HERE and looking HERE.
Two months in, I've pencilled one piece, inked four and coloured one. And I'm loving every second of it. Seeing other people's work on here and even working on the same pieces as others is helping so much. There's a lot to learn, but the satisfaction of seeing a piece finished? As MasterCard would say; "Priceless".
Thank you all for your part in the experience. Here's to the next 2 months!