For those of you who've been waiting for some "KiiKii's Cave" to get out of its lengthy hiatus (or cancellation), the wait is finally over! The Harlem Shake, the sketches, retouching the Forgotten Pages from 2010, they were all trying to encourage me to tell the story I wanted to. They were all keeping my skills fresh and getting me ready to slowly come back to something I really wanted to do.
I have several new pages, and I plan to wrap up the current chapter that was left off with little Pips zooming after some mealworms. Well, he's been causing mischief while Deepshade and KiiKii slept for, what, a few months now?
*looks at the Date Modified stamp on her file*
TWO YEARS?! Oh, this will not do. That is FAR too long a hibernation. Surely, Pips has gobbled up every last mealworm in the cage by now!
So yeah, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, or for those of you who want to play catch up because you forgot everything over the course of -ugh- two years, here's the folder with everything KiiKii: The "KiiKii's Cave" Folder
The latest chapter will be posted on a one-to-two week basis depending on how quickly I can ink and colorize them, starting tomorrow. I'll also be uploading them a tad larger, since I now realize just how tricky they were to read in the first chapter. Pay comic or free, it's nothing if you can't read it.
Artistic Details Old and New
This is the process yammering most people bypass, but if you like how things are made, it might interest you.
You'll notice a distinct style change this round, though nothing that can't blend well enough with previous pages. I'm now using Manga Studio to help me ink, as the traditional style was too painful on the wrist and just plain tedious. I'd originally designed the Cave to be sketched and inked traditionally on comic board then colorized and lettered digitally. Well, that really didn't work for speed, since the average home scanner can barely fit a piece of looseleaf, let alone the 11x17 board I was drawing on. This resulted in muddy scanning of ink when half the page was hanging out the scanner, and the underlying blue-line was still there, which meant digital retouching, which meant loss of quality, which meant digitally re-inking a lot anyway. And we haven't even gotten to the fun part of matching up the two halves of scanned inking, let alone colorization or lettering. As I said: tedious. The end result with Manga Studio is not only speed but far crisper ink work. I can zoom in and cram in little details that do make the difference even after the image has been reduced to online size, and since it's faster than before anyway, no harm, no foul! And while we're at it, that whole mentality of "if I can't do it traditionally, I shouldn't cheat digitally" needs to die. Yes, that was my silly small-minded mentality when approaching a daunting and lonely project. Commendable, but foolish and doomed to burn me out where I was calling this comic cancelled because just thinking about it drained my creative energy. The mentality of doing things just so and no different even when sense called for it sacrificed speed and constricted possibility. Now the pages are still sketched traditionally for on-the-go needs, but scanning is a two-step breeze, and inking is smooth and sharp. I no longer look at hard-board pages as painful and expensive obstacle courses leading to expression. I'm no longer scrambling to find that one still-working Micron .005 pen and it's .01 companion, no longer fearing my wrist will jitter uncontrollably or I'll inhale and screw up that one line. Now it's flexible paper, sketch, scan, compile, letter & speech-bubble, ink, colorize, done. I now even add a little bit of shading here or there to give things a suggested depth, and the characters' eyes are more than just eerie black orbs now. Bat pupils are huge, but even if the irises are dark, they are there, so now KiiKii and the others have slightly distinct eye colors to add a little character and help them to express themselves.
What Kept U?
I feel that two years of something coming back to life requires some explanation. Though people understand it's a free bit of entertainment and I do have a life outside art, the reasons behind why it took from October of 2011 until now, September of 2013 to begin publishing the Cave again are interesting and actually do have a great deal to do with art, though not 100% of course. Outside of family life and just wanting to enjoy existence without sitting before a screen or drawing board, the end of 2011 not only saw pumpkin carvings in October and preparations for Christmas art, but it was the start of an artistic endeavor that would eat up nearly all my artistic energy until nearly the end of 2012: my first illustrating of a children's book, "Baby See-through". The sales of this book would go toward the very animals that "KiiKii's Cave" is all about! I was painting one illustration practically non-stop due every two weeks, twenty-one of them, plus a cover, layout design, promotional material and editorial suggestions for the writer. Outside of my main job, this took up nearly the rest of my time! Last-minute retouches between myself and the author to send to the publisher were going on even during Hurricane Sandy, if I recall correctly. I remember babysitting a coworker's guinea pig because we had heating at some point into the aftermath, and I carved a pumpkin in her honor that is still in this gallery. October pumpkin carving is a tradition that can't be ignored no matter the incident, and it's a nice distraction from the troubles.
How a year goes by so fast when you have scheduled goals. As December of 2012 came, it was time to make presents, so no KiiKii for then either, this while working on a sudden idea for a coloring book design to add with "Baby See-through" as more promotional material. This was about the time I began creating promotional bat art to aid in raising funds for Bat World as well. Into 2013, though January is generally a cold and unproductive month for me artistically, I created a few of these promotional bat paintings with varying success, and it is around this time that I began thinking up a better way to create pages for "KiiKii's Cave." The Cave-themed Harlem Shake was put out at this time as well. For the past few months, I've been sketching, coming up with concepts, sharpening my Cave design skills and even scrapping a page or two, perhaps to be integrated later.
So here we are, entering September with a few video games under my belt, a healthy swim-lover's beach tan, and pages ready to be shown, others scheduled for completion. Better late than never, I guess. Too bad about the TL;DR though...