Earlier in the month I had some time off work. It was supposed to be a family vacation that vanished into nothingness, but I didn’t feel like cancelling my time off, so I used it to my advantage. A full-blown colour piece. It was initially supposed to be just a quick one-night pin-up. No perfect ink or colour. But after finishing that, I found I wasn’t satisfied. The piece wasn’t strong enough to post or share, but the concept was strong enough to warrant a do-over, and so I did. Roughly 4 hours a day spread out over the 7 days off. And the result I am very happy with. Got it turned into one of my annual posters for the wall rotation too.
Aloy, from Horizon series. Below is the Ink, some details, and the final.
What I’m Reading
In an attempt to improve, I recently got some new art books, focused on composition, and figure drawing. As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, my goals for 2023 are to do more colour and scene pieces, less straight up pin-up left at the outline stage. I want to add more to the inked piece, with shadow and rendering, and then add more background or scene elements, lighting, etc.
Also just finished reading another auto-bio-graphic-novel It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood. Like Ducks, which I read earlier this year, it’s a journaling of the writer’s life and career over a 6-month period, about her story, her art, her mental health struggles, etc. That’s a disservice of an explanation, but the book is very good, and deals with some heavy material, so not recommended for anyone that might not be in the best head space themselves. But one might find it relatable. I dunno.
Less: A Novel
The Wheel of Time Book 10
What I’m Playing
Finally jumped back into The Witcher III after a brief trip that was Immortals Fenyx Rising. I had started The Witcher first, but it had a slow start and I was craving something a little more action-y. But now that I’m done with Fenyx, back to the Witcher. And happy to report that I’m fully invested again. The story has really picked up, and the combat gameplay, I’m starting to learn, has many strategic layers.
In the co-op space, after finishing Far Cry 6, we’ve moved onto Gotham Knights. A very pretty multiplayer Batman universe game. You can play as Batgirl, Red Hood, Nightwing, or Robin. It’s a very strong presentation, but maybe not quite at the level that the Arkham series left us expecting. It’s very pretty, as I mentioned, but the combat is not as nuanced. There’s also gear scores which are lame. But we’re still early on, so more thoughts on it later.
Recently Completed: AER
What I’m Watching
The Last of Us
The Witcher S2
Ted Lasso S3
Lastly, I haven’t shared these in a while, last posted here was Episode 4 I believe?… but I’m up to Episode 9 of my Halo Minute: Co-op Misadventure Halo Infinite video series:
This year one of my goals is to colour more. I find I do a lot of detailed, inked, pin-ups, but then leave it at that. I always say I’ll go back and colour it but instead I just move on to the next drawing. I suspect this is because I colour infrequently enough, that the idea of it is daunting, so I always put it off. I’ve also lapsed on the Stranger Than Friendship comic for almost a full year now if I don’t get a new one out before April. I just need to sit down and think of some ideas. I did have one ages ago regarding Wordle, but I fear that fad has passed. Maybe I’ll do it just to get it out of my system.
So yeah, back to colouring – I think doing the colour step more regularly will help keep those skills sharpened, and allow me to work more efficiently as I continue to improve. And to make the idea of it less daunting. And less time spent on the actual figure/ink steps, so I don’t burn out.
With that, since this is the first update this year, I’ll share what I’ve done, in order:
What I’m Drawing
I started this year playing Immortals Fenyx Rising (more on that below in the gaming updates) and I really enjoyed the art style, so I kicked off the first drawing of the year with Fenyx herself. This version is her most basic starting gear before I even realized the many, many, different customization options available. I do want to colour this piece, but I may go back to the gear design first (there’s so many more ideas).
Another quick drawing, in Lollipop Chainsaw. And a work-in-progress update of The Gwen Who Laughs. As it had been a while since my last Spider-Gwen variant I figured it was time (my wife would say never again is too soon), and the idea of a Batman Who Laughs version was really intriguing to me. Very fetish, latex look. Corset and belts. Very harlequin type look. Could pass for a Harley Quinn variant instead almost. It was after struggling with this WIP that I decided to take a break and focus on more colour for a bit.
Gender bent Johnny Bravo. Modern day Miss Bravo if you will. There’s actual an episode where Johnny Bravo does get turned into a lady so that he knows what it feels like to be hit on incessantly.
Sasha Banks / Mercedes Mone. Former WWE wrestler who made her debut recently in New Japan.
And Supergirl. Got excited after watching the most recent Flash movie trailer, with Michael Keaton and the reveal of the new Supergirl.
So yeah, colour. A little less focus on the ink outlines. After the sketch is cleaned up, I basically just jumped right into colour. And a simple background. Supergirl probably has the most detail as I did a semi-rough ink version to go with it. The other big change is I am working 100% in Photoshop for these which I don’t typically do. I usually sketch and ink in CLIP and then move over to PS if I need to for colour. But it felt kind of refreshing to stick with the one program and explore some new brushes. Hopefully more to come.
What I’m Playing
Immortals Fenyx Rising: A very solid adventure game, very much like Zelda Breath of the Wild. In art style and gameplay. This is the game that’s kept me the most busy between January – February.
The game is a very vibrant soft coloured game and there are lots of different arena and puzzle style challenge rooms to mix up the standard-type combat. Ability to fly and ride a horse for traversal. And the collectibles usually involve some sort of challenge puzzle as well. Story is decent, and a good length – a humorous take on the Olympus Gods and Titans stories. Basically a big evil has been released and has turned everyone to stone and taken away the godly powers. Zeus and Prometheus are the two narrators of the story. Prometheus is more of the lead storyteller, and Zeus provides his colour commentary. Telling the story of how this mortal, Fenyx, will save the day. Combat is fairly easy to understand once you get used to the light attack and strong attack button mapping.
As I mentioned above, there is a lot of customization options with the gear you unlock throughout. Each gear item has its own perks, etc, but you can always change the look of that gear while it’s equipped to another style, if you wanted to stick to a theme, but needed the perks.
Roughly 40hrs to beat the story, but I didn’t stick around to finish all the various dungeons, or DLC packs.
Returnal: Returnal which was a PS5 launch title exclusive was recently ported to PC and I wanted to give it a try. I’m not a big fan of rogue-like games. But I thought I’d give it a shot.
I understand the appeal of the genre, and this game is gorgeous, and from a die-repeat-die-repeat perspective it’s not actually that bad. It is, however, difficult, and that was a turn-off. I understand that this genre does require a certain level of difficulty to ensure the player improves and advances and unlocks new stuff, but I unfortunately don’t have the time to dedicate to a game like this when I have so many others in my queue. A friend invested over 100 hours into the grind, and still hasn’t “finished” the story. That’s just not my style. So, I am content with the fact that I did “trial” it, but it’s not for me.
Somerville: A quick 4-hour game, like Limbo, or Inside. Same idea, with the puzzle mechanics that allow progression. A cool alien invasion story too. And very cool looking – I really liked the art direction with this one. And its a little bit more 3D level design than those of its kind. Which made it a little bit clunky to play, but still fun.
Far Cry 6: Oh man, finally, finally, knocked this story out in co-op. There’s one thing that can be said about playing in co-op with ILLESTRADER, and that’s when we start a game, we know it’ll take like 6 months to finish. Since we only get a few hours per week, if we’re lucky, and that if we play that game. Sometimes we switch it up, like jumping into Halo Co-op campaign, for example. But it feels good to say we finished the campaign. I think our next outing is Gotham Knights, but we’ll wait for the next sale. In the meantime, we’ll play through some of the DLC in FC6 and some more achievement collecting.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has me hooked. I’m trying to complete at least one chapter a night as I steadily make my way through the game. Hoping to wrap it up by the end of the year.
The game is a fun play through, with solid writing. And besides that actual story writing that drives the narrative, there’s just a lot of dialogue that is mostly background noise between crew mates. You really get the impression that this crew has been together for a long time and their banter just sounds natural. I stepped away from the computer at one point while the characters were just sitting on the ship awaiting me to progress the story to the next mission, and when I left they were talking, and when I came back they were still talking. It’s mostly Rocket and Drax that talk the most. With the occasional “I Am Groot”. But to be fair, its mostly Rocket.
And the game includes a surprising amount of “swearing”. It’s not true swearing because its mostly “flark” and “flarking” but I guess they can get a way with it because its not English. Sounds pretty close. I guess it’s similar to Firefly, where they were able to get away with swearing in Chinese without upsetting the sensors.
Speaking of the end of the year, it has been a pretty solid year of games. I have my curated list of games I played this year, ready to go for my year-end Games Reviewed Quickly post:
The Gunk (2021)
Watch Dogs Legion (2020)
The Pedestrian (2022)
Borderlands 3 (2020)
Far Cry New Dawn (2019)
Golf Club Wasteland (2021)
Grounded (2020 early access)
Mortal Kombat 11 (2020)
FAR Changing Tides (2022)
Dead Cells (2018)
Sniper Elite 5 (2022)
Grand Theft Auto III Remastered (2021)
Hitman 2 (2018)
A Plague Tale – Innocence (2021)
GRID Legends (2022)
Hot Wheels Unleashed
Forza Horizons 5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Far Cry 6
Guardians of the Galaxy
What I’m Playing
As I mentioned above, I’m playing GotG (hoping to wrap it up by the end of the year), Halo on co-op nights, Fall Guys, Lego Star Wars with my 4 year old, Far Cry 6 on co-op nights, Need For Speed Unbound, and even tried Gungrave GORE.
What I’m Drawing
I haven’t been drawing at all, sadly. I put like an hour into one of my comic pages, just flatting one of the panels. I also tried re-drawing the first panel in my book, as black and white, kinda like a manga to see if I like the style. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the idea of continuing where I left off or starting over in the format below, in the interest of saving time. Drawing, inking and colouring is a huge undertaking, and I don’t know if I’m cutout to actually progress. I might have to make some sacrifices to my original vision just to actually move ahead and make progress. Whether that means changing the art style , or changing the colour method.
What I’m Reading
I recently picked up Ducks which is a illustrated memoir about Kate Beaton’s 2 years in the Albertan Oil Sands. Paints a very real picture of what life is/was like there, how lonely it can be, how being a woman in a male dominated industry is like. A very good, honest, bleak, book all around. On the top 10 lists for non-fiction books for 2022.
Also picked up the Classic Collection of Spawn Batman, the combo DC and Image published books, as well as the latest edition that Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo did, that released this month. Among my many other comics that I pick up every week.
Below is the most recent (3 weeks ago) episode of our Halo playthrough. Unfortunately after finishing this episode, the next two nights that we played, the capture get messed up as it didn’t encode properly. So I got 2 hours of audio, and no gameplay :(. They were some good sessions too. So the series will have a little gap, but hopefully our next session I’ll be able to pick up the recording again and jump into more editing.
That wraps up the last few weeks for sure. Next update should have me completed GoTG, a new Halo Episode (fingers crossed) and my 2022 Reviews Done Quickly.
I’m playing a lot of Death Stranding. The past few days not as much as I’ve had other things on my plate (I’ll pick it up again tonight), but the game released into Xbox PC Game Pass Aug 23, I started playing Aug 28th, and between Aug 28 and Sept 6 I’ve put in over 20 hours. And I am loving it. I am a little concerned that I’m still only on Chapter 3 of 14 after 20 hours, but we’ll see where it goes.
I love the mechanics and gameplay, and the story is just the weird style that only Hideo Kojima can deliver. Looks and plays really well on my new PC too. And it has a photo mode!!
A few below, but here’s the link to the gallery I’ve created. 57 photos and counting:
Not really a lot lately as I’ve been busy with Death Stranding. But I did need to try out the software and monitor to make sure everything worked after switching over to the new PC, so I worked a bit on my Batwomen:
Sketch/Ink done, with flat colours.
But other than that, with my lack of time I’ve also felt a creative drought. Possibly just burnt out from life in general. I do have some new ideas cooking though.
Also recently was the #faceyourart2022 annual challenge that popped up, so I put together the faces of all my drawings this year. A few are missing from the May Sketch A Day as I wanted the clean 3×3 squares. Overall I am happy with my production so far this year. Its only September now so I still have a few months, and as the weather cools down I find I produce more.
Psylocke, X-23, Storm
Kate Bishop, Rogue, Domino
DareDevil, Harley, Electra
The Riddler, Ghost Rider Spider-Gwen, Hana Solo
Raven, Mystique, Baby Doll
Lady Deadpool, Spider-Man, Punchline
What I’m Reading
I’ve been thinking lately about this section and I wanted to have a more focused view on what I’m consuming, instead of the weekly comic book day pull box, as after a month, that list just repeats itself. Maybe I’ll highlight new titles I’m getting or one-off graphic novels or something. This week I will highlight a few things:
Ping Pong Vol 1 and 2. A very popular sports manga about Ping Pong. I still am a regular listener of the Mangasplaining podcast, but don’t pick up nearly as many books as I did when it first started. But the occasional ones that pique my interest I will grab.
I purchased a few Frank Cho art books. Amazing stuff. 20+ career.
And late last year I backed a kickstarter project for Top Cow’s Cyber Force complete collection which hasn’t been in print in any form since 1994. Finally arrived 🙂
That’s all for now I think. I will get back to more Death Stranding, and I have some ideas brewing for some more art.
I took some time off after Easter as a mental break, but also as a cleaning break. Spring Cleaning I guess? But also I haven’t really had any real breaks from work since last summer. So some time off was overdue.
Plus, the boys were about to start up again in daycare / pre-school. The wife ready to go back to work. Easter was already a four-day long weekend, so I tacked on the week after as holidays. Cleaned the house, cleaned the garage. It was cathartic in a way, but ended up not being a relaxing time off at all. But I didn’t turn the computer on a single time, so that was one positive.
Which means I didn’t draw. I actually hadn’t done any drawing since I finished the last Stranger Than Friendship comic. Which tends to happen for some reason. They take a toll on me creatively more than my other art projects. Plus, obviously, the screen break plays a role. Which got me thinking about getting back into physical art again, and not relying solely on the computer. So I’ve bought myself a toy to try out. Deliver me my Huion LED Lightbox!:
I did some research and its one of the better reviewed options available. And it’s portable. Which is good because I don’t have any spare room on my computer desk.
I think I’ll still do my layouts/sketches on the computer, and then print it out and lightbox it for Pencils, Inks, Watercolour, etc. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I wanted to do my wrestling comic traditionally with pencil and ink, and then just scan for colour and the rest. So now I can give that a go.
// What I’m Drawing
I did a quick cartoon drawing that I’ve had in the back of my head for a while, ever since watching the movie Luca:
Luca is a Disney movie about a fish boy who travels to land. When he’s above water he’s in human form, but underwater he’s more of an underwater mermaid boy. Obviously being a Disney property, he’s a very cartoony character design. But, I always thought it would be funny to do a darker, Tim Burton-ish version. More of a sea monster type.
So I drew this up quick last night and I think this will be my jump-back-into-physical-art attempt. I’ll print the sketch, lightbox the pencil onto watercolour paper, and then finish as a watercolour.
I should have a finished product by my next update, and hopefully keep it from my 3yo toddler who enjoys the movie. Wouldn’t want to spoil that for him…
Besides that I have a few projects cooking:
X-Ladies group shot: adding Magik and 1970s Mystique to the group, and then colour
Angela – colour
Finish Goblin Queen
And a few projects simmering in my head:
Let Me Solo Her (Elven Ring community player 😉 )
Scarlet Witch (hopefully before the movie comes out)
Also I have the next Stranger Than Friendship webcomic idea, revolving around the popular game Wordle. I actually collaborated with a friend on this one. My idea/plot, but he volunteered to do the script.
// What I’m Playing
Knee deep in Halo Infinite. Half way through the campaign on Legendary; having just finished Mission 8 – Pelican Down and the 2 bosses. I’ve also been grinding through the collectibles as well, so it’s slow going. So far the campaign has been a lot of fun, feels like I’m at the part where its starting to really shine, and has an enjoyable story thus far.
Next week Season 2 of the multiplayer kicks off, so I’ll also be playing around in that. Trying out the new maps and modes, and the new Battle Pass.
In co-op, I’ve been playing Sea of Thieves – Pirates of the Caribbean Adventure. And also Grounded. Slowly expanding our base out a bit and exploring/completing objectives/crafting. We recently finished the Jungle Lab and stumbled across a might scary Spider Tunnel:
At home, my wife has volunteered me as the bug killer/catcher, so I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of spiders or bugs in general. But in-game, regardless of the game, I have a few phobias: Being underwater (very stressful / claustrophobic), and real world creatures, that are bigger than me, in-game. Like the Spiders in Grounded. Especially the Wolf Spiders. They’re just mean. Anyways, this spider web nest was creepy as hell and I was not interested in sticking around.
// What I’m Reading
Week of April 13th
King Spawn #9
Week of April 20th
Batman: The Knight #4
Blue & Gold #8
Catwoman: lonely City #3
The Nice House on the Lake #8
The Walking Dead Deluxe #37
I think that wraps up the last few weeks. Stay safe.