Shaolin monk-eying around in the sword fight between the Dragon & Lion clans… The clans now at war with each other. Pure soul Hideo Mirumoto of the Dragon knocks Kujiko Matsu of the Lion on her arse several times until the poor dear doesn’t try to get up again.
Later, everyone is forced to put on jumpers and play a boardgame no-one understands… (It’s Go, which is really hard to draw…)
It was only when I was finishing this one that I realised that the colour scheme was basically that of a watermelon. BUT, Y’SEE, it’s informed by looking at the series as a whole and figuring out what colour scheme I haven’t really done yet. So I came up with green and pink.
I still wanted to work a full-length figure pin-up into a composition sometime, so this was one of those. Monkish Hideo of the Dragon Clan uses the Niten sword technique, developed in this setting’s history by a called character Mirumoto. It uses… Two swords! The katana and the wakizashi. This is actually a bit of a real-world thing, developed by actual, real, historical samurai tramp Miyamoto Musashi.
Yeah, I didn’t even go anywhere near trying to draw Go boards with a brush pen. My apology for this was to get Go grids into the frame layout… I was very careful to never ever have straight up-and-down lines, because that kills the life that’s in layouts like you would not believe.
Oh and you might see that I tweaked some of the scales of anatomy on this…
Next Samurai tragedy piece. This one had both sword-fighting and poetry in it! An incredible balance. There was a haiku competition. I composed some quick haikus for some supporting characters to spout and then the players proceeded to fully get into the spirit of things by composing their own. They got so good at it that the messenger app where we all plan RPG sessions was completely awash with haikus for days (if not weeks) afterward. (Try it for yourself if you like, it’s micro-self-expression and therefore very achievable. 3 lines, syllables run 5-7-5. Easy.)
So the haikus being short statements fitted the idea of different characters slotting into one frame of the comic very well. The full haikus were still too long to get included in their full forms, so I had to just have one line from each. And drop some of the supporting characters.
The idea of a grid for such florid, poetical expression seemed a bit off, so I went with a circle frame layout instead, which worked out well because the dead space around the edges of circles fitted into rectangles mean you can put more supporting frames in, as I did here.
And the piece without all those blazing verses.
Next time: Tabletop gaming inside tabletop gaming! An some more fighting!
So I was determined to make this one as comic-like as possible, just to show I was firmly a new resident of comic-town with this series. So cue loads of frames all squeezed in and lots of frame gutters. (I could still only fit in a tiny bit of the adventure, as always.) I just couldn’t resist the large, full-figure shot in the top left though.
It’s always interesting how making a single comic page means you have to twist things from the original source material (in this case, a role-playing game run by me with my mates) to make it work. Different mediums of storytelling require different approaches. Obvs.
Next time: MORE FIGHTING but also poetry.
So, funny thing… As soon as I decide to make this series into a range of standalone comic pages instead of standalone images, I then go and forget to put any frame borders in this one, so it might not read very well… AH WELL.
It’s not like it has lots of frames, I suppose. In a way I’m kind of proud that no straight lines or gutters crept in. (Every once In a while, I remember ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ creator Bill Patterson paling about, “the tyranny of frames.”
Reading down, it makes some kind of sense; exterior establishing shot, interior establishing shot, headshots and general view and then more closeups to finish.
At every stage of this – pencilling, inking colouring – I was just sort of breezing along with no great idea of where it was going next… And I kind of worked. I got a nice page by accident.
Next: EVEN MORE FIGHTING!
The first of a new breed of fortnightly-if-you’re lucky illustrations, I’ve decided to swerve these into the realm of comic pages.
The original aim of this series was to prove that I could actually just… Do an illustration. Now I feel I’ve managed that, it’s time to change it up a little. I’m a comic artist, but my finished pages output right now is woefully low while I write a graphic novel script and pitch, so I need to keep my hand in with the comics.
You could argue a vignette comic of an ongoing story always seems like it should be longer than just one page… Well, you might have me there, but producing work by any mindset whatsoever is still good, I reckon.
The thing about comics is that you have infinite possibilities but also particular constraints of time and space. These two fold into each in this case, because in comics, time is space. Frames of story equal acrage on the page.
So initially I thought I’d get more into this, but it’s ended up being a real snapshot. Ah well.
Quick, bad photo of the pencils. The turnaround on these is fairly quick and I hope it all feels fairly alive to look at. The brush pen inking helps with that too, hopefully.
So the moment in question I’m depicting here is a player character in the tabletop RPG I’m running challenging an NPC to a sword duel; all stock in play for noble samurai types in the kind of campaign I’m running.
Here’s the art without the dialogue. Along with the amount of information and story I was able to get in, even the dialogue got really heavily edited down for brevity and ease of understanding as a one-pager. (To my mind, It had to have speech balloon dialogue to qualify as a comic, y’see.)
Next time: the result of the duel! And also more fighting! POW!
Our main man for this instalment’s samurai tragedy is Mitsuhiro from the (possibly somewhat bookish) Phoenix Clan, who follows a mysterious figure seeming to be a servant across the grounds of Bayushi Castle, both parties deliberately appearing over-casual despite the low-speed chase that’s happening… Who is she? We don’t get to find out.
Later, Mitsu’ wishes his powers of observation weren’t quite so keen as he observes some fireworks from a celebratory procession of common townspeople. The flashing lights start triggering his epilepsy and he has to resort to a bit of support from his loyal retinue (and his player spending ‘void points’, in the Legend of the Five Rings RPG game system) to avoid having a seizure.
So on this one, I thought I’d had back into the headspace of classic poster and comic-cover character collage. Larger characters for inmportance, supporting characters dotted and and keep it simple in terms of points of interests.
I did (and do) know that I’ve hardly drawn many feet in this series to go with all the heads, so I was determined to get a few full-length figures in there.
(If you’re into comic art, you know it’s bad artists’ folly to never get around to drawing any characters feet. Deliberately or not… You should be mixing up the viewpoints and distances in your pages and compositions.)
I managed to pick a colour scheme for this one that I hadn’t really done already… Light blue. And some poppin’ yellow. (Truth be told, I wanted all the colours to pop, in a way.)
The inks! I couldn’t quite get the brush pen flowing properly while I was doing this, bu it just led to a bit more decent dry-brushing.
And a quick snap of the pencils. Grey graphite on grey paper, bad light, bad photo. Sorry!
I think I might be heading towards running out of ideas on this series, which makes me think that it might be time to start doing each piece more like a comic page. Get some storytelling in the there somehow. Even if it’s just two frames to a page. I’ve proven I can draw an image, now I need to prove that I can tell a story as well. Let’s see how I get on. Watch this space.
It’s knives out as the peace talks go South and the attendees end up reaching for their oversize letter-openers… It’s open war in the Samurai Tragedy of Bayushi Castle, part 10! (Anniversary edition!)
Now that I have a luxury of a series of images (did I mention it was 10 now?) to do the talking for me, rather than just one, it means I can now take wild steps to just chuck in things that we haven’t really seen so far, just for the sake of variety and always trying to put out something a bit new.
(The early pieces in this series were really busy because I still had everything to prove at that point. They’ve calmed down a bit since then.)
So, I had a look at the series and saw that we were missing out on objects as opposed to people again (It’s a little bit more easy to do design-led compositions with objects, they’re easier to place and contain than depictions of humans, so it was time to throw some more objects in. Also, we were in need of some hands. There weren’t really any compositions involving hands, something else we can emote with. Also also, we could do with some bright, poppin’ colours, like simple yellows and bright greens (and maybe even a tiny bit of sky blue) a scheme kind of like some kind of kids’ cartoon set on a beach.
To be honest, this one is probably too limited compared to the other and suffers as a result, but never mind.
TSToBC (as all the cool kids are calling it) now deliberately eschews the use of drawings of humans and now goes full allegorical.
So this represents the Lion and Dragon clans of the Empire of Rokugan circling each other in the courts and in a militaristic way along their shared border as they might be able to declare open-war on each other.
Looking back through this series, it occurred to me that there weren’t any illustrations that didn’t have people in, so I went for a ride with the idea that each clan in the story has an animal associated with it.
There’s also the other clans of the setting hiding in the picture too; the Kirin, Mantis and Phoenix.
A pretty bad photo of some grey pencils on grey paper.
And here’s some inks! This one was fun. The dragon and his long body meant I could make some fun shapes in the composition.
Rebuffs abound at the otherwise placid Castle Bayushi as the oily hosts the Scorpion Clan try being nice to visiting pirate Endo Moshi from the Mantis Clan and pretty much get a slap, then try reminding the pious Dragon Clan candidate about how he was going to throw the samurai tournament to prove a point, before the monkish Hideo Mirumoto proclaims that he’s in the lead because he just so bloody great.
And here’s a snap of the brush work without the colours. I did this one entirely with a Pentel Colourbrush brushpen. In my head, I though it was maybe a tiny bit chunkier than I’m used to, but it’s fine because the tip’s so good and the whole thing’s just so versatile. Now I need to find where I put my spare ink cartridges.
So I was looking back through the series and thought that I hadn’t done something with an all-over orange colour scheme, or a piece that was fairly dark yet. Or one with what filmmakers call a ‘two-shot’ of characters.
I keep on trying to get characters’ feet into one of these, but it’s not quite happening yet.
I think this one’s probably one of the more weak efforts in the series, but never mind. I was working on two of these at once, so you’ll have another one soon enough to make up for it.
There’s a horsemanship contest in the samurai tournament at Bayushi Castle and the Dragon Clan delegation talk over how to bring about peace with their warlike neighbours, the Lion Clan…
The soaring rider is the jammy so-and-so who rolled a crazy result on some dice in the role-playing game that acts as the beginning point for all of these images.
This one should have had a massive gymkhana with horses and riders doing various things with extreme action and thundering of multiple sets of hooves, but… Before drawing this one, I was looking at this series of images up to this point and came to the conclusion that there were too many compositions bunging the subject in the middle of the piece. So I resolved to make the next image have a completely empty middle section. EDGY!
The pencils. The composition having nothing in the middle seemed to make everything else slide up and down and around a bit too much, but we got there. Once again, this photo is pretty horrible (what with the grey pencil and grey paper) but the paper has a faux-canvas texture that comes in handy in the next step…
Inks! With a Pentel FP10 Brush-Pen that was running out at the time – on purpose – because the faint dry-brushing that you get the thing kicking out is pretty interesting compared to boring old pens.
As it was, my initial yen to make this one less busy then kind of got hijacked by the computer colouring process. I was thinking that this was one of the weaker pieces in the series and it was time to give a massive kick with the colours to save it from mediocrity. So I went for full, dark Ukiyo-e woodblock print colours, because that was something that I hadn’t done with this series yet either.
Ironically, I keep on thinking this has run its course and then it keeps on kicking me further down the track. I’m still having fun.
Oh and here’s a quick linkt to ‘The Table is Yours’ audiobook group, who’re reading aloud the Legend of the Five Rings fiction (classically, the game always has lots of official fiction, particularly on the web, to develop the story) from the new version of the game’s setting, available to listen to for free. I partook of some good listenin’ while I was working on this, to get me in the mood.