Bridging the gap

So I finished my final project for the quarter and am gearing up for my spring break trip to Chicago where I will get to see Lunasa.

I told Sam I had finished the Guns & Roses script, but after starting to draw the first page I changed my mind and started revising from page 12 and forward (the start of the story remains unchanged).

The greatest challenge art-wise has been drawing the House of Eternity (where Reisen is from) and the Jade Tower (where Youmu is from). Having no nearby Japanese castles to visit, I’m relying on Google image search for all my reference.

I’m having a hard time getting the scale of everything right. Are the stairs as big as they should be?

And then there’s the level of detail. G&R is the same number of pages as Fairy Ring, but there’s more information per page, and I’m working at a higher resolution. This allows more detail, but also takes longer. The first pages will be somewhat of a struggle as I try to find a balance between detail and speed.

I’ve already spent 4 hours on the castle shown above, which is too slow for the 20 hours and 4 pages a week that I was able to hit when I hit my stride with Fairy Ring. The proportions are also somewhat off because I was already rushing things.

But then there is the whole “Eric Johnson problem”, where being too much of a perfectionist means you make people wait 9 years between albums…

For the sake of general technique improvement, I’ve started following a random tutorial I found with Google here and here. The artist is Ayu.

This is the lineart from the tutorial.

And this is my clumsy attempt to do the same thing with the same tool (although I’m working in Photoshop and not Sai, I’m still using a 3px pressure-sensitive black brush with the tablet.)

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Untrained people might not be able to see the difference in level. Ayu has a much greater degree of control over the boldness of the line, where I still struggle to get long lines to go in the right direction and with the right weight. For some long lines, I just draw multiple short segments, and the line becomes ugly at the points where the segments meet.

Now here’s the first stage of the coloring.

And here’s what I had.

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It goes without saying that I still have a long way to go before I can be a pro. I’m sure the differences in ability will become even more apparent when I start airbrushing. My color work uses mostly hard-edged brushes with 50-100% opacity, but in order to get the tech of the pros I have to use the same tools as them.

I’ll continue this when I get back from Chicago. In the meantime, if you’re a pro (or a highly skilled amateur) and would like to show me how it’s done, feel free to clean up the lines and do the colors of the Photoshop file or the PNG.

7 Responses to “Bridging the gap”

  1. GoldenSunfreak says:

    I think you still did a good job, even if you don’t think so. Keep up the good work! We’ll wait patiently for you to finish, so don’t feel like you have to rush.

    As for finding examples of of the House of Eternity or the Jade Tower, you could always look through doujinshi to find examples. I’m sure you can at least find the House of Eternity in Silent Sinner in Blue, though the art is kinda rough.

  2. Khôi says:

    I am always amazed how people can draw such godly perfect lines with a pressure sensitive tablet. I’ve tried in both SAI and Photoshop (albeit some time ago) and must say that it is quite easier to draw lines in SAI – mostly because of the stabilizer function. But I still suck balls drawing an acceptable line.

    Correcting lines in a bitmap layer takes a lot of time, and that’s why I’m using a vector layer for the line art in order to have great control over the points. I fine tune pressure values and edit curve points after drawing them.
    It also helps when I need change the general thickness of some parts later on (it doesn’t help when I drew most of the picture and then notice that I drew the fingers too thick compared with the rest).
    Yes, I am aware that it isn’t the way pros do it at all and yes, it takes me like several hours for simple line art. And yes, my work doesn’t even look remotely as good… I guess I need more practice.

  3. Sixten says:

    @Khoi: Where’s your pixiv/deviantart at by the way?

  4. Mushyrulez says:

    Maybe you could try to force yourself to finish things on time (even at a loss of quality)? Set definite, hard deadlines for each page, so that you’ll always spend, say, six hours on each page? Then, at the end, if you’ve still time to spare, you could make edits to it. Kinda like NaNoWriMo, though it might be much harder to go back and make edits with artwork…

  5. Sixten says:

    @Mushyrulez: Forcing myself to adhere to a time limit is all well and good, and is the only way a long-term project can ever finish. You may remember a number of background-less panels when racing to the end of Fairy Ring. But sometimes you just want to take the audience’s breath away, and that always takes more work than you initially think.

  6. Khôi says:

    @Sixten I don’t have a pixiv/devianart profile, because I don’t deem myself good enough 🙂

    My RL friend blogs some of her art at and I told myself to get at least to her level before I’m showing my art to the public (don’t tell her tho :))

    But if you really want to see my art, I’ve put it on twitter here:

    I did the art for a local soccer tournament aimed at kids aged between 4-16 years old (I’m in the organization comittee of that tournament – but I never intended to do any art for it). I sketched for them a picture, because they didn’t want to commission a real artist for it (and pay like money for them).
    In the end everyone liked my art better than the commissioned work, but the president now commissioned the artist out of pity, since she was a single parent having to raise two children (it’s fine by me though, I always wish for artists to be compensated for their work, since they are so godly and I’m not 😉 ).

  7. Sixten says:

    @Khoi: The hands on that character look off, but other than that you’re better at drawing people than I was when I joined DA in 2005. I’ve historically been more of a still life or landscape artist than a character artist, and it’s only in recent years that my characters have started looking respectable.

    Your friend on the other hand is like a Swiss/German Gayarou. (I mean that as a high compliment.) If you’re waiting to be at her level before you create a Pixiv account, you’re waiting too long.

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