Untold Tales of Bigfoot Nominated for Another NCS Reuben!

UToB_ReubenNom3_DorseHere’s some fun news (for me, anyway). Untold Tales of Bigfoot has been nominated by the National Cartoonists Society for a Silver Reuben in the Online Comics: Long Form division. This is Bigfoot and Scout’s third nomination (they won in 2013).

We’ve been buzzing about this here in the cave for the last few days, feeling very honored and grateful. Congratulations to my fellow nominees, John Allison and Ru Xu. Bigfoot and I consider the nomination itself a win, thrilled to be recognized alongside some other very talented creators. Scout, however, really wants the wall plaque and he won’t shut up about it.

Either way, we’ll be having a great time rubbing elbows with all the other cartooning professionals at the 72nd Annual Reuben Awards, May 25th-27th in the City of Brotherly Love, good ol’ Philadelphia, PA! Whether we go home with the bauble or not, it is always a sincere pleasure to spend the weekend hanging out with some of the funniest, creative people I know. -v

For a complete list of the nominees in all the divisions, CLICK HERE!

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My Comics Process: Pencils, Inks, Colors.

I just finished up a 14-page Untold Tales of Bigfoot short (you can read the whole thing from the start right here) and this last page (spoilers?) was a lot of fun for me, so I thought I’d break down my process here.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

I’ll be taking you from the initial pencils all the way through the final colors, and noting my tools/apps as I go along. So if process is your kind of thing, read on, friend.

Pencils

This looks like an unholy mess because it’s my scanned pencil roughs covered in digital scribbles (done in Clip Studio with the Blue Layout Pencil).

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

The pencils were my rough, stream-of-consciousness plans for the page. The blue pencil is my attempt to clean those ideas up and define what I really want.

Inks

Inks are done in Clip Studio. For stuff like this, I use the G-Pen (comes standard) or any one of a handful of custom brushes you can find online (Ray Frenden has a few nice collections for sale).

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

Since this was the final page of the short, I wanted to end it with a big, splashy image. So the dominant illustration of the forest stretches out over all the edges of the page, full-bleed.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

Here’s the entire page, inked (the top two frame borders were made using the Rectangle Frame/Divide Frame tools in Clip Studio).

Flat Color

Next step is flat color. Until Clip Studio has a proper CMYK space, I’m coloring stuff in Photoshop. I’ve also been experimenting with Affinity Photo (one of the few digital art platforms that boasts a CMYK workspace), but I’m not adept enough at Affinity Photo for a job like this, so off to Photoshop I go.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

There’s a few different ways to flat, but for my purposes, since I’m the one doing the finished colors, I just go in with a hard, round brush, opacity at 100%, pressure sensitivity turned off, and I lay in the base color of the objects.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

If you’re flatting for someone else, you may want to explore the lasso tool/fill method (select your shape with the lasso tool, fill with flat color, repeat), since that’s a pretty reliable workflow. But my approach works fine with this project for my workflow.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

With some techniques, you can drop in any random color during the flatting process, and then change it with a simple fill later. But since I have a color palette set up for my Bigfoot comic, I start with the actual, proper color, saving me a step.

Don’t Get Sloppy

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

Whichever method you end up using, just try to make sure there isn’t any gapping between the colors of your flats. If the ink plates shift even a little during printing, you could end up with some sloppy looking white space peeking out from beneath your linework. So check your flats and clean up any gapping before moving on to the detailing.

Lighting , Shadow, and Texture

This part’s more fun than flatting, but it’s also all over the place with technique and tools. So I’ll just highlight some of the stuff I do to model the forms.  Still in Photoshop, I bounce around between tools to help me achieve the lighting and texture I’m looking for.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Heading For A Fall (Process)

Sometimes I’ll use a hard-edged brush at 40-50% opacity to build up things like tree bark or model the foliage, other times I’ll use the hard-edged pencil tool to carve some shadow into rocks. I think I used a custom texture brush on the ground to give it an irregular, dappled look. And in the water, I experimented this time with a combination of hard-edged and soft-edged brushes. I like the way it came out, so I’ll probably mess around with that technique again in the future.

Pencils to Final Color

So here are all the steps, animated in this gif. I approach most of my comic art in a very similar way, sometimes simpler, rarely more elaborate. But I’m always scouring the internet to find new ways to experiment. Anything that’ll help me make my comics better…or faster — optimally, both — I’m willing to try it.

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Hope you got something out of that. Again, if you’re intrigued enough to read through the whole 14-page “Heading For Fall” short (inspired by the nice fall weather we were having at the time), here’s the link to the first page. Have a great holiday! -v

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Shameless Plug: My Kickstarter is Live!

If you’ve been coming to this blog to see my process work (thank you) you may know I also work on an award-winning webcomic called Untold Tales of Bigfoot. Well, I just launched a Kickstarter Campaign to get that comic into print, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t post that info here.

If you have the time, go check out the Kickstarter. Untold tales of Bigfoot is an all-ages adventure about a lost dog and a lonesome bigfoot, and the theme revolves around the importance of friendship and family (but Bigfoot also wrestles with a mountain lion and stuff like that). Thanks for listening to my pitch. : )

Untold Tales of Bigfoot Kickstarter Page

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My Watson Guest Strip

Looks like my Bigfoot & Scout characters had some new visitors to their neck of the woods! That’s Fudgey and his dog Watson, the main characters in the online comic Watson, created by cartoonist, family man and notorious nutball, Jim Horwitz.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseJim came to me a while ago and asked if I’d be interested in collaborating on a Watson guest strip. Look at that winning smile. How could I say no?  Watson_JimBioNot only is Jim a funny, talented cartoonist, he’s also a nice guy with a high-energy personality and some impressive writing chops. In fact, he wrote that last sentence. Here’s a recent Watson strip that’s a good example of Jim’s style.Watson_SimonSays

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So, Jim had an idea for a gag where Watson and Fudgey meet Bigfoot and Scout, who are turning a decent buck selling Bigfoot merchandise. Jim had a script all written out, so I roughed out a first draft.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorse

I sketched directly in MangaStudio (ClipStudio Paint) this time. No pencil or paper, just digital. Jim hated it. Well, maybe hate is a strong word.  But he did want some changes. He suggested I open up the space a little more, create some breathing room between the characters. Turned out to be a good note because, even though I was shooting for BIG and BOLD, the text Jim wrote wouldn’t have fit in my original composition. So I took another pass at the composition.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseI’ll admit…I didn’t run this second draft by Jim because I was afraid he’d have more changes and, frankly, I did not have time for those kind of shenanigans. But I was pretty confident I nailed the aesthetic he was looking for (hope so, anyway). I jumped into to the inking phase.

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Inks were done in MS with a standard brush. I didn’t try to match Jim’s style — a dynamic mix of stylized blocks of borderless color and lines so thick and heavy you could use them to beat someone unconscious. I just went with my standard style, hoping it would do Jim’s idea justice.

Jim and I bounced around a few different ideas for the color. But here’s the thing: Jim and I make different kinds of comics. His strip is punchy and gag-based and often leans toward bright, bold RGB colors while my long-form comic benefits from the laid-back, subtler CMYK mixes. So we compromised…Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorse

I laid down my flat colors in MS, but went a little lighter and brighter than I normally would. Afterward, I exported the file, converted to RGB and used Photoshop adjustment layers to brighten and saturate the colors even further. In the end, what I sent to Jim wasn’t quite as bubbly as his usual strips, nor was it as mellow as my usual color palette. A decent, middle-ground.

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Here’s a close-up of some of the modeling I did on the trees and figures. All done in MangaStudio. Jim’s strip is very sharp and crisp, but since this was my guest strip I decided to throw all that out the window and try something different. I used soft, textured brushes to model the trees, and built up the highlights on Bigfoot’s fur with some rough-edged, low-opacity brushes to give him a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. Did Jim like it? I don’t know. But what’s he gonna do? Recolor it? With his deadlines? I’d like to see him try.Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseIn case it’s of any interest, here’s what my colors look like without the ink lines.

And, finally, here’s a mock-up of what the strip looks like with all the text, full color and with the official Watson border around it. Not too bad.  Watson_UntoldTalesofBigfoot_GuestStrip_VinceDorseI had a great time working on this guest strip with Jim, so big thanks to him for giving me the opportunity! Why not visit the Watson site , support Watson on Facebook, and browse through the archives where Jim celebrates the subtle moments in life and pokes some lighthearted fun at politics, Hollywood, technology, pop-culture, and other cartoonists. -v

Untold Tales of Bigfoot, Page 62 process

page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsHappy New Year! There’s a few more of you following the blog this week, so I thought I’d dig around and see if I had anything to post. I found these images from a comic page I did a couple years ago, and I thought I’d break them down in a little more detail.page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsRoughs: These are the roughs. The very rough roughs. This stuff was scribbled on napkins, in sketchbooks, and on printer paper when I was trying to figure out what the page was going to be about. I was still hammering out the story here, so a lot of these panels are just free-floating thoughts that I scanned and rearranged in Photoshop.page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsPencils: After I got the images in the order I wanted, I printed it out and put it on a lightbox to trace a more polished version. Why bother? Because I really like working with pencil on paper. I know I could’ve imported it into MangaStudio (and these days, I might…depending on time), but I like the control and tactile feel of pencil on paper. Once the roughs were tightened up, I scanned them in.page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsInks: Okay, here’s a minor shocker. These inks weren’t done in MangaStudio or even Photoshop. In fact, most of the inks from Untold Tales of Bigfoot were done with a custom brush I made in Corel Painter. Yeah. It’s rare that I find anyone who inks in Painter (and you should see the way people screw up their faces into a grimace when I admit UTOB was inked in Painter) but the truth is, with a little tweaking and time, you can build the brush you want with almost any decent software program. I still prefer the look of the line in Painter to what I’ve turned out in MangaStudio, but I’m always working toward making my lines better. So maybe MangaStudio will be my preferred inking program eventually. And nobody said I couldn’t have two favorites.
page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsScript change: You can see the difference in the staging and dialogue between my roughs and the finished inks. That’s because I wrote all these pages as I was drawing them, and the story stayed pretty fluid up until the last minute. In this case, originally, I was going to lead into a page about Bigfoot’s ever-growing vocabulary. Interesting plot stuff, sure, but I felt like the story needed a little jump. So, instead of the language thing, I came up with a deadly peril for the guys to face on the very next page, and ended up changing the pencils to set that up. (If you want to see why Bigfoot was being so cautious, here’s the next page)page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsFinished colors: As usual, I colored the page in Photoshop. With this comic, I just used flat, hard-edged brushes. No blends or gradients. It’s the look I wanted. Simple and retro. As for how I laid down that color — everybody does this differently, so you can find a way that suits you best, but I usually set it up with the character flats/highlights on two layers above the background flats/highlights. It just gives me more wiggle room to make changes. And I’m always making changes straight up until upload day.page 62 from Untold Tales of Bigfoot, process stepsOkay, that’s it!  Hope 2016 is a good one for you! -v

Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D Figure by Blokko: How It’s Made!

I’m happy to present the very first, official Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D Figure by Blokko! Months in the making, custom designed by me and the folks at Blokko, and beautifully sculpted by Blokko co-founder Prad Lal, Bigfoot’s one of the first figures ever released by Blokko. And since this is my process blog, I thought it’d be fun to show (and tell) you how this figure was made.

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HOW DID THEY DO THAT?

Way back in January, I got a call from Blokko co-founder Rahul Thayyalamkandy. He wanted to tell me about Blokko, an innovative new company that designs 3D printed figures based on engaging stories and comics. At Blokko, you can read stories, learn about the creators, and buy toys based on those stories. Rahul wanted to create a 3D figure of my Bigfoot character. It seemed like a fun idea, so we started the ball rolling.

The first step was providing a turnaround view of Bigfoot so Prad would have a basic design to work with.

Bigfoot model sheet for Untold Tales of BigfootPrad then blocked in this first, red sculpt (below) before pulling in the turnaround drawing. This base sculpt gets the ball rolling and gets some rudimentary features into the figure.

Early mesh for Untold Tales of Bigfoot figureAfter that, Prad used the turnaround drawing to get the proportions closer, evolving the early mesh, each step looking a little more like our furry friend. Prad sent me some screen shots of the process.

3D modeling process for Untold Tales of Bigfoot figureBut Prad’s a meticulous artist. He didn’t just rely on my model sheet. Both he and Rahul are fans of Untold Tales of Bigfoot and, as such, Prad pored through pages and pages of my comic, working with me via emails, tweaking the design, fine-tuning it, and making sure it reflected not just one static image of Bigfoot, but his attitude and personality as well. You can see the progression of the sculpt below, including changes to color, the design of the base, and the evolution of the shoulder area and body mass.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D figure by Blokko process

ONCE IT’S SCULPTED, THEN WHAT?

The next step was the test prints. It’s not just about aesthetics at this point in the process. Stress-testing and breakage are important things to consider. Since we weren’t sure how the sculpture would stand up to everyday wear, Blokko tested two different versions of Bigfoot: one with the waving arm attached at the hip and one free floating.Untold Tales of Bigfoot Blokko Test PrintsThe test prints withstood the drop tests and looked good — but not quite perfect. And these Blokko guys are perfectionists. Prad thought the fur texture could be more obvious, and the color still wasn’t right. We had to wait a few more weeks while the testing and tweaking were repeated and perfected. You can see the alternate colors and alternate arm position below (along with Jason Brubaker’s Victuals figure from his graphic novel reMIND).

Untold Tales of Bigfoot 3D figure test prints by BlokkoWith figures like these, there is no after-sculpt painting or assembly. The figure is created through a process called polyjet printing (a lot like regular inkjet printing). The object is built layer by layer, using a composite of gypsum and, I assume, magic, depositing colors and a binding agent from multiple tiny nozzles at the same time. Once this part is done, the object is cleaned with air jets and dipped in a solution to give it strength and bring out the colors. One more coat of cyanoacrylate to resist against weathering and it’s ready to be shipped!

UTOB 3D FIGURE TURNAROUNDAnd here he is! Some friends lent me their figures so I could shoot a single-shot turnaround pic. Now there’s a whole herd of Bigfoot in my studio. Bigfoot’s personality leaps right off the page and into this figure. All those months of working and waiting and painstaking tweaking have paid off.

How Do I Get One?

Anyone who’d like to have this friendly Bigfoot for their desk, bookshelf or workstation, just head on over to the Blokko Bigfoot Page and pick him up for $48 + shipping (which, in my case, was only 5 bucks). The figure stands 12.5 cm (about 4.9 inches) and is the very first collectible toy based on Untold Tales of Bigfoot. For size comparison, here he is making friends with the Dark Knight.

Bigfoot and Batman

Discount Code?!

Yup, there’s a discount code for loyal fans. Right now, for a limited time, you can get 10% off with the code FORSCOUT. Plus, if you help spread the word via social media, you can get an additional 5% off when you share on Twitter and another 5% off when you share on Facebook. And that’s all taken right off the top, so you have the potential to get 20% off of your total! Just stop by the Untold Tales of Bigfoot page at Blokko and give Bigfoot a home.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot : Blokko 3D Figure

Edit: I just uploaded a short (2-minute) unboxing video of me opening this toy up. It’s not gonna win any Oscars, but if you wanna see it, it’s here.

Writing Process: How A One-Page Throwaway Gag Became A 12-Page Supporting Character.

Hey, weird for me to do a process post on writing, but this is a case where reader feedback helped me see some opportunities for my characters, so I thought it’d be fun to share. First of all, here’s some panels from page 30 of Untold Tales of Bigfoot.
UTOB page 30When this posted, I introduced this nameless, one-off squirrel character who startles Scout. His appearance lasted only four panels. A quick gag and he’s out. That’s all I needed him for.
UTOB page 30But I got a flood of comments and emails from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the squirrel and they wanted him back. Well, you’re outta’ luck, I thought, because he ain’t comin’ back! I had the whole story outlined in my head and, frankly, the squirrel was done.

UTOB SquirrelBut it stuck in the back of my brain for months. And every once in a while someone would ask “is the squirrel coming back soon?” It got me thinking. Maybe I should take another look at the story and see if there were any spots that might benefit from bringing the squirrel back. I found one.
UTOB page 60Now I had a running gag. Scout flips out every time the squirrel sneaks up on him. But now that the squirrel’s back, what do I do with him? Turns out, at this point in the story, Scout needs a sounding board for some of his character development. He’s growing as a character and his interactions with the squirrel are a great way to show that.UTOB page 62Bringing the squirrel back also provides some opportunities for comedic and dramatic moments that I hadn’t considered previously.
UTOB page 65The whole experience reminded me that, no matter how set you are on your story, there’s nothing wrong with taking another look at it with fresh eyes every now and then. And sometimes other people can see things that you’re too wrapped up to notice. Now that I’m readying the comic for print, I’ve been adding a page or two, here and there, to help flesh out the story. I’d be remiss if I didn’t toss in a few more panels of a certain, very popular rodent.

UTOB Scout and SquirrelThat’s it. Next time I’ll be back to breaking down some art process. -v