Appearances

Page 212 – Showdown

Well, all right, all that art-talk over the last two blogs was a complete dud and no one cared. Sorry ’bout that.

 I don’t have the time to write up much of a blog this week, I’m under the gun on an art deadline and am cranking out pages. I wouldn’t leave you with nothing, though, so here’s the audio of Amelia telling an Axe Cop story. I requested it be in a smoothie shop because I was trying to tie it in to the comic story, and didn’t wind up using this at all. I definitely don’t have the time to draw it these days, but if anyone  has the time, this’d make a good guest strip.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Me: “I need to take a shower.”
Charlotte: “Why?”
Me: “I need one, I’m stinky.”
She gives me a hug.
Charlotte: “You’re not stinky.”
Me: “Aww, thanks!”
I sneeze.
Charlotte: “But you ARE gross.”
                                        -Charlotte, 6 years old

Amelia is going to get her room painted.
She says she’s going to have pictures painted
of “blocks and tigers and people and butts and people.”
                                        -Amelia, 4 years old

Next week, the first act of aggression in this street fight is about to go down, and it’s a doozy.

Ask Axe Cop #92 – Military Training

This one goes out to all the Axe Cop readers who are enlisted or are veterans of military service.  I am always humbled by people who choose that path, considering my line of work.  If it weren’t for people like I could never live in a country where making silly comics like this would afford me a living.

Ethan

Page 211 – How to be a bad guy

For anyone wondering, yes, Axe Cop only slept for two minutes.

Last week, I mentioned that I’ve come up with a pretty solid inking technique in Manga Studio and said that if anyone wanted to know the process I’d fully detail it. It got a couple of responses, so here we go. These instructions are for Manga Studio 5 or EX5. If there’s some way you can make it work for your inking program, do it up.

Coloring Detail-02-02

Before you begin, go to Manga Studio > Shortcut Settings and in the Main Menu settings area, find Transfer To Lower Level. Set its shortcut to Cmd + F. You’ll be using this function a lot, and this command will make the process much quicker for you than clicking the button on the Layer palette, seen above. Note that I use Mac, so PC users substitute Cmd with the Ctrl key.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.55.46 AM

1. Have your pencils on a layer. Set the Expression Color to cyan and lock the layer.

Expression Color is a very useful setting in the Layer Properties palette. It applies a lightening color to everything in the entire layer, but not permanently- meaning that if you click it off again, the image is normal. You’re using it as a way to see between your layers while you work.

2. Create two layers above your Pencils layer. These are your inking layers. Name the top one “Working Inks” and the bottom one “Finished Inks.”

3. Set the expression color of Finished Inks to red.

4. Begin inking, in black, on the layer Working Inks. Hit Undo frequently and redraw a line as often as it takes to get the line you want.

Remember that you can change your brush size on the fly by holding Option + Cmd and dragging your pen to find the desired size. This keeps things moving so much more quickly than clicking over to the brush palette and sliding the brush size slider. Also hit the R key to rotate the page freely as needed.

5. When you have a chunk of inking you’re happy with, hit Cmd + F. You’ll see the inking turn red as it moves to the Finished Inks layer.

6. When you have overlapping ink lines at corners and edges, erase at will on either inking layer until you get the desired effect.

Hitting the C key will set the color you’re drawing with from black to erase. This keeps things moving somewhat more quickly than switching over to the eraser. Hit C again and you’re back to black.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you’re done inking.

8. Delete Working Inks and click the Expression Color button for Finished Inks to turn it off, and to turn the red lines to black. You’re done!

I hope some of you find this helpful. It’s really streamlined my process quite a bit. To think that just a year ago I was inking on paper, erasing pencils, scanning, and cleaning up the mess in Photoshop. I’ll never go back.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Me: (yawn) “Man, I’m tired.”
Charlotte: “So go to sleep.
Blah blah blah, end of story.”
                                        -Charlotte, 6 years old

Daddy: “Charlotte, you have to eat some of your salad.”
Charlotte: “But I don’t LIKE salad.”
Amelia: (points to bottle of bacon ranch dressing)
“Probably, this will help you.”
                                        -Amelia, 3 years old

The kids are planning to stay up until midnight tonight and then camp out in the living room in Amelia’s new Spider-Man tent that she bought with her Christmas money. Amelia’s a huge Spider-Man fan. Everyone got her Spidey stuff for her birthday and Christmas (I got her a full costume, she loved it) and she still bought more on her own. It’s pretty awesome. Anyway, I’m predicting that Amelia will have passed out by 10:30, and Charlotte will be a zombie by 12:20. They always think they’re going to go all the way on these late nights they occasionally have, but they never quite make it.

This year’s been good for me, and I hope 2014’s even better. Have a great New Year’s Eve, everyone, and a happy 2014.

Next week, it’s a showdown on the street, good guys vs. bad. Heads are about to start getting seriously chopped.

Page 210 – We Have To Plan Revenge

Merrrrrry Christmas, y’all! I wish I had more of a “very special Christmassy episode” to share with you today, but today’s page is all about the plan.

I thought I’d talk a little, today, about the art process. Unless you like art-talk, the following chunk of text will be terribly boring to you so skip to the end for your Kids’ Quotes and you’re free to leave. For everyone else, let’s go.

I work entirely digitally these days- everything from sketch to finished happens in the computer. I understand Ethan works the same way. The difference between us is that now and then, I think he still likes to draw on paper in the real world. Me, I couldn’t be happier to be done with paper, art supplies and scanning. I don’t have to go to the art store anymore at all, now, and I love it. It’s kinda like when you discovered Netflix and began dancing merrily on the grave of Blockbuster Video.

I’ve tried going wholly digital in the past with Painter and Photoshop. Painter had a completely baffling interface that I couldn’t figure out and Photoshop’s brushes were nnnnot good for inking. I felt trapped in the world of drawing on paper. Then- and here’s where what I’m saying is going to start sounding like a paid endorsement- I tried Manga Studio in March of last year. A colleague had used it and recommended it, and it was only $80. I gave it a try and was impressed- it did almost everything Photoshop did (at least for art production), the interface mimics Photoshop so it was easy to pick up how things worked, and the inking handled like a dream.

Ethan uses it too, but he’s much less… I dunno… evangelical about it. I use it for almost everything and I sing its praises all the time. These days I only open Illustrator and Photoshop to do lettering and photo manipulation, respectively. I’m churning out pages in a quarter of the time and at twice the quality, and I do it going from sketch straight to inks. I never fully pencil anything out anymore. I’ve pioneered a technique- or at least I think I came up with it- that maximizes speed and efficiency in digital inking. It involves using two layers. If anyone’s interested in the full inking process, sound off in the comments and I’ll detail it fully.

Here’s a video I made doing the art for my pin-up in the new Axe Cop print volume.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

We’re playing superheroes one day.
Me: “I’m Superman. I can fly and I’m strong. What can you do?”
Charlotte: “I”m Spider-Man. I can play on my ropes, jump,
stick, and make everybody pay attention to me.”
                                        -Charlotte, 2 years old

On the phone with mommy, who’s at work:
“When you come home, can I have you?”
                                        -Amelia, 2 years old

If you’re looking for a nice present to get me, I could really use one of these. Don’t look at the price, just get it for me… we’ll both be happier that way. Merry Christmas everyone.

Ask Axe Cop #91 – Mustache Wax

Apologies for the late post.  I had such a busy day on Thursday that I totally forgot to post this.  I took off on quick romantic getaway with my wife and realized I forgot to post Ask Axe Cop.  Luckily it was all ready to post, so I was able to do it remotely.  I mean that in the sense of controlling my computer at home using my tablet, but I also mean remotely as in, I am in the middle of the woods right now on a weak satellite internet connection.

So, here you go.  One of the most bizarre episodes of Ask Axe Cop, and that is saying something.  Turns out we have been experiencing Axe Cop’s second life with-mustache this entire time… all of Axe Cop is the new memories of death bed Axe Cop with a mustache.  Thanks for reading.

Ethan