Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Comic: The test print

I haven't been putting up new posts about my comic book progress because I didn't want to post so much that people wouldn't want to read the final thing when I got it done! Anyway, I have a new post now about my comic! Tan ta da duuun!

Issue number 1 is all done and colored! I'm missing a cover, but the all the heavy lifting is done!

I was so excited to finish I wanted to see it in print ASAP! I sent off a test print to this company called ka-blam. I heard about them through Keith Erickson, a friend of mine at work. He published his own Dr. Pineapple comic book with them. The print he showed me of his black and white book was pretty nice, and apparently they do full color stuff as well.

The wait between sending my order and getting it was excruciatingly long, even though it really only took a week! I just wanted it already! When my book came, I was so giddy. I mean, sure nobody else sees this thing on shelves and all, but to finally have it in my hands... the feeling's priceless.

After around a year of working on this thing, it felt really good to have it in my hot little hands! It felt kinda good to tell people, oh yeah, I'm working on my comic book, here! Have a look! It's a crazy feeling for me to be able to do that.

The colors came out pretty good considering how saturated most of my schemes are. It's also a good guide for me to see how my digital colors look like in print. I'm still having trouble getting the hot pink I like to use to show up!

I'm so ecstatic over having it physically here, all stapled and everything, I don't think it's quite sunk in yet: what do I do with it?! I'm not quite selling it online yet, as I want to do it when I'm close to finishing the story arc, so I think I should show it around to publishers and editors. Get some kinda feedback, reaction, whatever.

But, I don't really know how to do that.

Nonetheless it's part of my dream, right? So this coming year, I'll definitely push myself out the door and put on my hob-nobbing game face and hit the comic book conventions and see what happens! Not my greatest strength, but definitely something I'm going to have to do, or else I won't know if my book can succeed or fail.

Anyway, that's next year's conundrum and prayer! For now, I think I'll just sit happily thumbing through the comic I made for an audience of one (so far!).

It's been a long road, with so many stops and starts, and I am very thankful to God that He's given me the strength to see this first issue through. That's it for this post! Good day and God Bless! The neverending battle continues!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 - Minesweeper/Coyote

Next up on the Wolf of the Battlefield front is Coyote. The red bandana wearing Rambo look-alike was never part of the initial character designs I had drawn up. What he was before was an explosives expert/minesweeper. I got a few reference materials on bomb diffusal equipment and sketched up his initial design.

He ended up being one of my more favorite designs from this game. I actually took his arm design from a previous design I did for Backbone (way back when we were still called Digital Eclipse). Since that old design was never used, I was happy to work it back into the minesweeper.

Alas ol' minesweeper didn't have such a happy ending. Midway (pun intended) through the project cycle, Capcom had switched management teams. We had lost our Capcom side producer. The new management wasn't quite happy with a few of our characters. They had wanted to change a few of the designs and sadly, the minesweeper got the ax. In his place, they wanted Rambo:

Apparently, he looked too much like Rambo. I didn't know this but Sly Stallone didn't really like other people using his likeness, even in a parody. I had heard that he had sued other video game companies for having his likeness. So, in an effort not to get the pants sued off of us, upon Capcom's request, I went through a few re-designs of the head.

I had already designed a few UI screens with the minesweeper, and because I really liked his design it was really painful to redraw everything all over again.

Really painful.

I think I was already close to my breaking point at this time, but I still had to push through. I remmeber trying to draw the options screen and I was just having such a difficult time trying to get the drawing to look right. No matter how much time I spent on it, I was simply too tired to get that drawing right. It still looks kinda funny, but it's passable.

So, while I like how the Rambo character turned out, I really do miss the grumpy ol' Minesweeper. Well at least, my blog will be the only time he'll be able to see the light of day. So here's to the old codger! That's all for tonight! Good night and God Bless.

Monday, July 28, 2008

1942: Plane concepts

Here's a couple concept pieces I did for 1942: Joint Strike. With the constant back and forth we had with the client designing characters for Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, we decided that we wanted a less character driven 1942. It was such a back-breaking endeavor for me to create cutscenes and try to single handedly do all the character design work for C3: WOTB, that cutting out characters for 1942 sounded like such a good idea (even though I like having characters in the game).

I had actually started warming up to the world war 2 characters theme outside of work, on my free time, and even created some characters. Luckily, we shot that idea down from the get go, otherwise I'd be so burnt out after shipping 1942. For 1942, the characters were the planes themselves and not so much the pilots. So I went about drawing a P38 Lightning and a D98 Mosquito.

Boy, these sketches just proved to me how much practice I need with vehicles and perspective! I am so bad at vehicles, it's not even funny! I had such a hard time getting these things to look like some form of plane! This task definitely led me to a great appreciation of technical illustrators and industrial designers.

That's it for this morning! Next post, I'll go back to the character designs of Commando 3! Sa susunod...!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

1942: Joint Strike is out!

The other game I worked on for the PSN and XBLA is out! 1942: Joint strike is now available for download!

The Lead Designer of the game, Marcus Montgomery, and I have been busy watching the message boards and reading through some remarks about how sucky our game is and thereby effectively lowering our self-esteem for the day (sometimes for the week!). Sigh. Can't seem to please anybody! Anyways.

Here are some 'turnaround' sheets I mocked up at the beginning of the project. The schematics of the planes are collected from various internet airplane sites (thank you various internet sites!). I overlaid some colors and mocked up the in-game planes' paint jobs.

Later on during production it was decided not to have specific countries tied to the planes. So we got rid of the American, Japanese and British markings. With these 'turnaround' sheets, I tried to give the UI artist, Diana Fong, some kind of reference to show her what I was thinking for the menus, and at the same time help give the modelers schematics to work off of.

The idea was mainly to give the game a very old-timey, sepia, sky captain-y look. So I went so far as to take a look at some pamphlets and their typography back then. I really liked how they mixed cursive and bold print in the references we had gathered, so I aped that in the mockups. We wanted to do propaganda posters, but I told Diana I wanted to lean more towards the American ones and not so much the usual German army type ones we've always seen.

I'm also posting up a line up of the silhouette sheet I created for Marcus and I to take a look at for our propsed plane types, relative scales (which is all fake) as well as bahavior types. This sheet was handy for us to have a quick glance at which silhouettes were working and distinctive enough for us to use. Marcus had some aversion to the flying pancake, but I wanted that in no matter what! So we made a compromise. I actually cannot remember what ithat compromise was life of me, but I got to keep the flying pancake! Yaaaay!

Tomorrow, I'll post up some concept art I drew up for the Mosquito and the Lightning. It's a great example of why I shouldn't be drawing vehicles! Haha! Alright until next post! Good night and God Bless.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 - For Sano

Well, WOTB: Commando 3 has been out on the PSN and XBLA for a couple of weeks now and I've been closely looking at the reviews and the comments from a few forums. And it's been getting a mixed bag of reviews. Our average review score is landing at around 65%. Our highest so far has been an 85% from and the Lowest is a 40% from Giant Bomb.

It seems I've really ticked off a lot of people with the art style I chose, especially in my character designs. In one case it seems to have really grated on a reviewer's nerves so much that He couldn't even get past how atrocious my stuff was that it basically brought the score of the whole game down! Here are a few examples of people's comments on my art work:

"The logos, menu layouts and pause screens are well-done, but the character art kills the overall package. Sorry folks, this one just doesn't catch the eye. Environments are nothing special, attention to detail is sometimes lacking, and did we mention the character art?"
- Ryan Geddes review,

"yea... not to be excessively critical, but im in the art industry. and i gotta say, the character art in this game is really weak. it looks like something i'd pull out of my a55 back in college when the the deadline for an assignment was 1 day away and i didnt even start working on it yet."
- 'drtaco99', Gamefaqs poster

"I think the art/style is fugly and low-budget looking. It doesn't match the series, type of game or even anything else Capcom is known for. I really hope this is the last game to use it since I'd rather have NO art than BAD art. The explosions and environments are decent looking without that cartoony crap spoiling it.."
- 'CrossHanded', Gamefaqs poster

"for an indie developer, i'd be less harsh on the artwork. this is Capcom, though, and i'm sure they could have spent the $100 bills they light their $1000 cigars with to get one of their regular artists to put a portfolio together." -'xenodolf', Gamefaqs poster

While I've developed a fairly thick skin for criticism for my art and being able to decipher constructive criticism from even the worst critic, I don't think I expected to get such a negative reaction from a lot of fans.

I think it's safe to say that if a sequel for this game would be made (which I doubt), I definitely shouldn't be a part of it! It's quite a blow to the ego reading some of the postings. People will go out of their way to state how they didn't like the character designs, but otherwise they enjoyed the game. For awhile, I really felt like I brought the team down.

In any case, I know I gave it my best shot. I definitely did not want to make another 'realistic' looking game. I'm one of the few that's pretty much sick to my stomach seeing the same old boringly-designed-space-marine-versus-boringly-designed-space-aliens-FPS. The way I see it, if other people can have their boring mediocre designs drive their games, why can't I have my boring mediocre designs out there too!

The thing is, I didn't think people would hate my drawings this much! One poster took a line from Dane Cook and said the art made him want to punch babies (that ran as our office in-joke for quite some time)!

Anyway, don't worry I'm okay, I've gotten over just how bad of an artist I am. Case in point: I just watched Wall-e. And I am both amazed at how awesome the Pixar artists are, and depressed at far I have to go as an artist!

Anyway! In one of the forums I ran across this one poster named 'Sano'. Now this guy didn't like my art either, but there was one thing I did that he liked. Here's what he said in the posts from the Capcom-Unity Boards (I'm 'Biggedy' by the way, and 'CapKraig' is the Capcom-side producer of WOTB: Commando 3):

I had initially thought it'd be a funny reference if I made the Commando's prison outfits mirror another Capcom character's prison duds. In this case it was Cody, from Street Fighter Alpha 3. It was a fun, but maybe a little obscure way of sneaking in an in-joke.

So when Sano posted, I was so happy that someone actually caught my reference! I was so pleasantly happy that day! One dude! One dude got my reference! Cool! That one guy expressing his appreciation for my in-joke (not even my art, really!), tipped the hate-scales for me by a lot. In my pessimistic head it went like this:

"Maybe nobody liked my art and maybe I caused the game to be brought down a few notches of where it could've been, but one guy actually got my gag! Cool!"

I think I would've been fine if it ended at that. But a few days later, Sano came back to post a screenshot of the panel he liked so much. Wow! He really liked it!

But that screenshot's too blurry, so...

This one's for you Sano, perhaps the only one I managed to entertain with my art! Thanks for single-handedly picking me back up from "my-art-sucks" land and bringing me back to "my-art-sucks-but-maybe-I-can-get-better-someday" land! And in true neverending battle style, here's the rough thumbnail of the drawing:

That's it for me! Good night, er, good morning all and God Bless!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 - Wolf

One of the games I worked on is finally released on the Playstation Network (and next week on the x360). So now I can unleash the hounds on my blog! Shuffling through this art made me realize that I generated a lot of art during the course of this project. In hindsight, I'm amazed because the project was on a very, very tight schedule and budget! How did I ever survive that?

Anyways, I'm posting up some of the concept work I did for WOTB: Commando 3, starting with some character designs. The first one we'll start with is Wolf himself.

Initially, we weren't working on a game that had the Commando license. It was just a game that kinda paid homage to it. I don't think we were ever thinking it would actually be the successor to Commando and Mercs. The license came in surprisingly (and a little painfully) later on. So what you'll see are some early designs that got scrapped as well as the final designs.

I had a lot of frustration trying to get a set of character designs Capcom had wanted and it was tough to try to please them especially with management changing hands midway into the game. So rather than shoot myself, we enlisted the help of another designer to help me out, Sach Steffel. Before I jumped onto the project, Sach had done some initial designs for the original pitch document. Who better to help me out than her right? Even though Sach was on another project at the time, she was able to help out and do double duty. I think having her help out maintained a little bit of my sanity as I also had to lead the art for the rest of the game.

For a couple of the characters she had helped me 'unlock the code', and get something the clients would agree on. Our styles are fairly different, so when it came down to generating the final assets for UI, cutscenes and turnaround sheets for the modelers, I had to translate her designs back into mine, so everything was unified. That was actually a pretty fun process! I think I had fun identifying and taking the important parts of her designs and seeing them through. Anyway, make sure to visit her site, she's got some great stuff! This turnaround sheet is what I ended up generating:

Mind you, all this initial character designing was before we had the WOTB: Commando 3 license. Later on in the production cycle, once we already finished generating character assets for the game, we had to go back in there and change it again! It was down the wire too, I remember being so stressed having to re-draw all the UI assets over. Ugh , the pain. So for the main characters alone, we ended up doing re-designs, new models, textures and cutting out two other characters and generating a brand new one (more on these guys in a later post).

So the blue guy above keeps more in line with the original Mercs dude, except he's wearing a shirt (it gets cold in the jungle). So, even though we were bummed about all these changes, the team did an amazing job pushing on (I guess having no time to spare will do that to you!).

My favorite piece of art I did in the game were the M-crashes. They were 2D panels that slid in whenever the player did a special move. They were also the most action packed drawings I did of the characters within the game. Plus, I'm such an old school nerd, 2D panels sliding in are always fun!

Wolf's pose is based on the original pose the main character was in, in Mercs. I was actually surprised it only took me one rough sketch to figure out the pose he'd be in. With all the work that was piling on top of me my greatest fear was being so stressed and fatigued that stiffness would start creeping into these panels. While the stiffness does appear in my later drawings, (in UI assets, cutscenes, etc., hey, I'm sorry I was tired okay!) the character M-crashes, thankfully, made it through fine.

That's it for today, I'll try to post up more of these next time! Sige!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Comic: page six

Plug, plug, pluggin' away! Just finished page six of my book and as usual it took me longer to figure out the colors, yada yada yada. Anyway, the main difficulty was this outside scene now had 'real colors' in it. My main character's uniform is for the first time revealed to the reader... and to myself!

Yep, all this time I had no idea what color my main characters' uniform was to be! I've always colored her in a monochromatic fashion, I never really stopped to think about her color scheme. Anyways, after much mulling over and trying out different colors, it occured to me there was only one color that would work for her all those other times I colored her in: white.

My friend, Roque, cautioned me though: since he and his studio (Ghostbot) had done a pilot where a character was all in white before. He told me it'd be a tricky thing to do. And sure enough, I was raiding my collection of Samurai jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars animated (Genndy Tartakovsky version) for some color help!

I got her colors to work on the page finally, but there was something missing to her being in all white. Something about the color of her visor was bugging me. It seemed so plain. As usual, when stuck with color theory, I messed around with Photoshops' Hue/Saturation adjustment tool (best thing ever)! And now her visor becomes a very distinctive part about her, and gives me a nice variable to mess around with when I stick her into tricky color schemes. plus while coloring it in, it also gave me ways to incorporate the visor color into story telling too, so it ended up being a win/win situation.

A little side note/ bruised ego rant: the visor color and her design, I've realized, is a tip of the hat to Battle of the planets. I hadn't realized that's what I drew inspiration from until a friend of mine pointed it out! Makes sense! I even have a sequence in the book that's like the intro where they all float down in a circle (Silver hawks does this in some of their episodes too if I remember correctly!).

My ego has taken quite a beating realizing that my stuff isn't very original, but I've gotten over it after with awhile. It's quite a humbling experience, mind you, and really knocked the wind out of my sails for awhile. Anyway, I picked myself back up and remembered what I originally set out to do on this book.

I wanted to have fun while drawing comics. And I wanted to tap into that same fun I had as a child that I believe is missing in me nowadays. Apparently, I am totally tapping into that childhood better than I thought! I have found working on these pages has brought back the sense of enjoyment I used to have when I drew comics for myself a long, long time ago. The main thing that gets me over my unoriginality is that so long as I'm aware of the people I'm ripping off ("influenced by" if that's too harsh!) and simply embrace it, and strive to build on their knowledge, eventually I'll get better.

Heck, I'm ripping off Yoshitaka Amano, Osamu Tezuka, Shotaro Ishinomori, Genndy Tartakovsky, Jack kirby and frikking Sonic the Hedgehog to name a few! Hopefully I'll learn a thing or three from these people (and hedgehogs)!

My giant sized ego always makes me forget this truth: I am far from being anywhere good yet. But hopefully with this comic book, I can start working all my assorted kinks out! So thank you for dropping by and taking a look at my personal work-in-progress, truly warts and all! And that's it for today! Good day and God Bless!

P.S. And I know this has been stuck in your brain since I mentioned it; sweet intro isn't it? Gonna have to steal something from there! ;)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Comic: Page four and five colors

Got some more updates for my comic book. Everything seems to be going well. I do have to confess though, I can't believe how long I take dwelling on colors, especially on something so simple! The reds really weren't a problem, but for some crazy reason, I had a hard time deciding on what color the shine of her eyes would be on panel two of page six.

I kept switching from a light red or sky blue, to an undersaturated blue, to a white, to a dark green, to black, to... well you get the picture. On one hand a red hue was the safe bet, but when I slapped that blue on there, there was something nice about it (at least to me). I kept stressing out whether people will get thrown off by it too much. Anyway, I ended up going with the blue of the sky. It makes for a nice highlight, and connects the panel to everything else. I think what really clinched it for me was that it also signified what she's looking at (the sky outside). Now I don't know if anybody's gonna even get that, but in my head (for now) it makes sense. That blue color is also the perfect lead in for the next page.

Well, at least if I can get it to work! Tune in!

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Comic: Page Two and Three colors

Strangely enough, coloring these two pages seemed to take more brainwork from me than the first page, even though these pages are a whole lot simpler than the first. There's something very difficult about coloring a very sparse background. My brain thinks it needs to color more in than it should, and add more details. I found out, while coloring these pages, it seemed the simplest solution was the best.

Anyways, I'm tired! No long winded commentary this post! Good night... er... good morning and sundan ang susunod na kabanatan!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Comic: Page one colors

I haven't had a lot of posts up on my blog recently, but for once it's not because I've been slacking off! In fact quite the opposite! I have just finished inking, cleaning up and lettering my comic book! And I've just finished laying down the first color pass of the first page! Quite exciting!

I'm just coming off of three weeks of comp time from work and while I slacked off a bit in the first week, I made sure to keep a regular work day for the rest of it and power through to getting my comic book done! So, a lot of days spent scanning, piecing, re-sizing, inking and lettering went into effect.

While all the other things felt like the usual production work, I gotta say: adding letters to my comic made it come to life! It was such a rush to put bubbles and arrange panel flow!

I'm not sure if the final panels' colors are going to be these since I don't know if that color scheme will work for me yet later on in the story. A friend of mine has suggested I do a quick color study on thumbnails of the whole book so I can take a look at how I want the colors to interact. I kinda just plowed into this first page without knowing if these are going to work later on... Anyway, it's a work in progress, hopefully I'll have more in the coming weeks!

I'm also a little paranoid about how my colors look on my screen compared to everyone else's monitors. My Cintiq's colors look like how I'd want them to be, but then my secondary monitor's colors look out of whack. Sigh. The usual stuff I suppose! Anyway, until next post! Good night and God Bless!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Special thanks

Hooray! My games have been announced! I just wanted to do a quick post with some links of screen shots and videos. It's always quite exciting to see a little bit of buzz at the end of a project. It almost makes me forget all the crud the team had to go through to get this stuff done... Almost!

Well, we're not out of the woods yet, there's still a few more things needed to be done to tidy everything up. But for now, it's cool for once to see the game screens on something other than my dev kit.

Maybe later on when these games are actually out the door and downloadable, I'll start posting up some of the character designs and pre-production stuff I did. For now work your way over these links:

Commando 3: Wolf of the Battlefield

1942: Joint Strike

There are a lot of factors that went into going into this game and a lot of unknown things to plan for, everygame does. Anyway, the more I look at these two games (Commando and 1942) and how they were able to come together, the more thankful I become to God. I've been blown away by how many 'coincidences' fell into place to get these games pumped out in such an excruciatingly small amount of time. It's absolutely impossible! These games are a testimony and a milestone to me of God's amazing hand.

The sad part of it all is I couldn't even include God as a special thanks into the credits. I guess it's policy not to have religion in the credits. The credits! In our own personal thanks! I couldn't even do that. Can you imagine that? I remember being able to do it a few years back, but nowadays it seems people are getting touchy over who other people wish to thank! Amazing. Will wonders never cease. Sigh.

Well, I still have my Blog, so this posting is a giant special thanks to my God. Definitely without whom I would have utterly gone insane and turned into a sniffling, crying ball of flesh during the course of these projects (moreso than now)! Thanks for His guiding hand and assuring me everything will be okay, even when I was so highly strung and stressed.

My biggest shame is that I let these games overtake my life, and ignore everything else, even Him. But my biggest joy is in knowing that even though I did that He never turned His back on me, He was always there.

If this kind of praise offends you, what can I say? It's the truth and this is my Blog. You can find your "politically correct" views in any number TV shows, websites, magazines and so on these days. And you know what? You can find it in the special thanks section of video game credits too.

But here? I get to praise Him. I mean it when I say it old-school: Thanks be to God! Good day, and God Bless. Until my next post!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Back to my comic - Part 1 googleplex

Things are looking pretty good; my Commando 3 project at work is finally starting to wrap up, the sun's is shining amazingly and I've been getting some good nights of sleep. It's time for me to get back to doing what I love the best: comics!

Sadly though, I seem to always have a bunch of postings that are exactly like this. I work on my comic book, some big thing totally gets me off track, and come back to it again (and have a hard time doing it). I keep trapping myself in this artistically unhealthy pattern of start and stop. I really need to be more consistent with setting aside drawing time for myself. Anyway, for now my schedule's back to normal. And checking in on my comic after half a year or so reveals this: I haven't done anything. Nada, zip, zilch. I suck.

So, to kick start my return, I did two very expensive things: 1) buy a smokin' new computer and 2) buy a 20 inch Cintique. Now, while this has lead me to live like a miser and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches three meals in a row (okay maybe just two!), I have to say it's definitely eased me back into comics creation quite painlessly. What can I say? The Cintique rocks!

To warm me back up to my comic book I drew a little pin-up of my character:

Yep. I think she's noticed that I've been gone too. I'm a little wobbly with my line work, but with some practice I think I can do my second issue all digital. Anyway, I'm back! And I'm setting a new deadline for myself! Again! Here it is: My comic book totally finished by the end of this year! From colors to letters to a brand spankin' new cover! Bring it on! ...and gulp!
And before I leave, I thought I might post a totally random (and yet awesome) picture a friend of mine took awhile ago when the Osamu Tezuka exhibition came to town.

I have to admit, I look like a total doof in the picture, but considering I'm high fiving Astro boy, my nerdness is quite appropriate. If I can even channel a fraction of Tezuka's energy into my comic book I think I'd be very happy! Alright, I'm out for now! Good night and God bless you. Easter is coming!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For Daniel

The older I get, the grumpier I get. I'm becoming a crotchey old geezer at thirty-two. It's such a sad truth. It makes me grumpy just thinking about it. I was IMing a friend of mine about it and he seems to share a similar disposition. We were trying to figure out how could this have happened. How could we have turned out to be such cosmic killjoys? I can point my finger at all manner of stuff: work, stress, lack of excercise (I'm trying to go back to the gym! Honest!), rainy weather, the color of my shirt... whatever. But really, everybody goes through all this stuff too, I have no true excuse to be an "old fart". I remember being a cheerier person when I was younger. As an artist, my mindset definitely affects my artwork. When I get down to making art, it can usually change whatever mood I might be in (default mood settings = grumpy). But I guess I have to get down to actually making the art first! And lately, I just haven't had the time to work on my own stuff.

Three or so years ago I joined a missions program with my church(
Bethel Christian Church) that helps out orphans in Kenya. The AIDS epidemic runs rampant there and many children are left without parents because of it. For a small monthly donation, it's possible to send a child to school and give them a decent meal.

The first child I sponsored had dissappeared along with a relative of his a while back. The second child I sponsored, one of my church elders had actually met and wanted to be his sponsor since they got along so well. So now I have my Third: Daniel Mutie. From some of the updates I've gotten, I've learned Daniel follows Kamba tribe culture, wakes up at five o'clock in the morning to start his day, is now in Class Five at school and he likes to draw.

With the kids I've previously sponsored, I usually try to draw them a little something. But it wasn't until Daniel that I actually got to sponsor a kid that also likes to draw. Very cool. Unfortunately, since I've been so busy with being so self involved, I wasn't able to send a quick drawing to Daniel for the longest time. But that's okay. Daniel took the initiative and drew me up something and sent it to me just before Christmas, 2007.

It's the kind of inspiration that I needed when I needed it most. There's nothing quite like a child's drawing. It's very honest and pure kind of mark-making. I don't think I'll ever get to a state of drawing that's as free or as unburdened as when I was a child. When I see children's drawings, it reminds me to strive for that kind of freedom, that kind of fun. I've become such a grump in my old age, I've forgotten that I make art because it's fun! I don't think I've ever been as prolific in creating art as when I was a kid, and some of the coolest
stuff I created was when I was a child! Now that mr. Grumpalupagus has entered the building I've been such a stick in the mud about drawing.

Well, I definitely had to draw something for Daniel now! But I really had no idea what. How could a comic book dork like me be able to connect with a kid a whole ocean away? I kept trying to think about it, and realized the most sincere way I could do it was with the medium I liked the most: comics! Abuh--duh! I wrote up a simple letter I could send to him, and started trying to figure out a way to draw myself. I wrote out the monologue I had planned and started drawing my poses in a panel by panel progression.

I wanted it to be like a Sunday comic strip, just like the ones I enjoyed reading growing up, and was going to experiment a little with my medium. I would sketch out my comics in pencil, but then I'd use my Wacom Tablet to do the inking and coloring chores.

I have to admit the final product isn't the best it reminds me of one of those boring web comics (Sorry Daniel, I'm pretty rusty)! But--! It was a good experiment for myself, and a great way for me to get my bearings back in the creation of comics again. It was good for me to try and figure out if this process of drawing from start to finish was something I could manage. And you know what? I think just with constant practice on the Wacom I can get comfortable enough to do my drawings fully digital. But baby steps first!

I can actually see from panel to panel, my depiction of myself started solidifying a little better (ie. not staying on model!). I suppose that's what I get just going in there all gung-ho! I also notice I have a hard time depicting myself, as a stylized character. Must be some kind of mental thing. Maybe in time, I'll get better at that too. Anyway, while not the best stuff I've done, I'm actually happy with how I worked on this little comic strip: it was very fast, very fun and very first-impulse. Maybe it felt like a faint echo of how I drew when I was a kid? Maybe...

Anyhow, with that done, I picked out a picture of myself to send off to Daniel. He had requested one awhile back.. I picked one out from my trip to the Philippines that I was sure he'd get a kick out of:

Crazy huh! That's me and my sister, holding a baby tiger! Nutty! And this was few days after I had heard about the crazy incident that happened with the escaped tiger in San Francisco Zoo! And better still? The whole picture taking process only cost us around ten bucks!

Thank you, Daniel, for getting me to remember what fun it is to draw! Unfortunately my drawing muscles seem to be out of shape, but hopefully I can keep up the 'exercise'. I still have to finish up the first issue of my comic book after all! God bless you all and good night!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Balut and Bibingka!

I think this is probably going to be the last Philippines-based blog post. I'm returning to the States on the 7th of January and my flight leaves the Philippines on the 6th. I've had such a great time being back home it'll be sad to leave my family (a rather large family at that: We tallied up to 17 for the trip, not counting my two brother in laws and the 4 maids and 1 driver we had to help out in the chaos!) . I just came back from a great trip we had in Batangas and Tagaytay (two other cities in the Philippines). I'll post more on that next time though. For now, I'm posting up pictures of when my parents and I went to Market! Market! In Fort Bonifacio. That's my mom, posing quite nicely next to the fried pork and barbecued chicken! Hi Mom!

While Market! Market! is the usual large mall that one can find in the Philippines, my favorite aspect about it (surprise surprise) is it's food court. My parents tell me
old-school Filipino Bus terminals were structured with some kind of food area next to it so that while people waited they could eat. The food was usually at an affordable price and the most part food that's prepared fast and ready for take out.
Market! Market! follows the same design, just everything's a whole lot larger, so more food choices, a decent vegetable and fresh fruit market in it, tons of seating space and of course a big parking lot to house all the public transportation. I had a whole slew of food there like Pancit Lukban (Chinese-Filipino style noodles with seafood) Sisig (Made of TRUE not FDA approved pork parts! Not the best sisig that I had, but I had to eat it just cause!), Fishda (Barbecue style Fish) and Balut! Unfortunately the Balut didn't have a substantial duck fetus in it to really write home about, but hey, part of the true Filipino eating experience right?
I went to this restaurant called "Tsoko.nut", they have some great hot chocolate there and this Filipino dessert called Bibingka. Bibingka is like a giant desert rice cake that's baked on a banana leaf. It usually contains a salty egg in it and is served with butter and coconut shavings. I love this stuff!
My brother tells me, back in the days when we were colonized by the Spaniards, they brought over Hot Chocolate. Apparently the Spaniards back then didn't want the filipinos to get their hands on the high class hot chocolate they dubbed "Chocolate Eh" (Say "Chocolate" filipino style with me: "Cho-Ko-Lat-teh"). So for some time the Filipinos couldn't get their hands on the good stuff. Sometime later however, my countrymen either got their hands on some "Chocolate Eh" or swiped a recipe from the Spaniards and created our own slightly watered down version of it. We dubbed it "Chocolate Ah". This old school Chocolate brew is the kind they serve at "Tsoko.nut" ("Choconut" if you haven't guessed it yet). Oh and the hot chocolate is awesome, too. Here's a pic of my sister and her son (who seems uninterested in taking a picture with food at the moment!) and close up of Bibinka and "Tsokalate Ah" above it. Yum!
The comic segment for this post comes in the form of House of Secrets number 128. The first story's artist is Leopoldo Durona. I like the line weight that he employs in this short called "No Way to Run a Railroad!". It's the very nice, expressionist thick and thin variation he employs throughout the story that really grabs my eye. His style reminds me a lot of B. Kreigstien's artwork, down to the nice color choices to denote action, like using a bright red background color to add emotion to an act of murder that takes place in the story (I want to do an entry on Keigstein too as I just started getting into him recently, but that'll be for a later date!). Durona's got some nicely composed panels and page flow too, so it's an easy read.
The second short story of the book is my favorite. It's the story that introduced me to Alex Nino. Alex Nino has a style that I really like, he employs line work in a very distinct fashion that makes it so interesting to me. It's line work that has roots in old-classic-filipino-komiks style but it's soo slick and stylized, it's all his own.

Something that's very telling to me about an artist's work is how they approach drawing 'effects'. It's so hard for me to make my own effects so interesting, so when I see other people do it successfully it always kicks up my appreciation of them a thousandfold. So when I see someone draw their 'default cloud', 'default smoke' or 'default mirror reflection', I can tell if they got the 'stuff'. In this short, Mr. Nino even makes the word balloon speech arrows have so much character! If you're not familiar with Alex Nino's stuff you can easily see him strut his stuff in Disney's "Mulan" and "Atlantis". I think I recall him being an effects artist for Mulan, but I could be totally wrong.
Anyway, enjoy the pics! I included the whole 3 page Alex Nino short for your enjoyment! I'll probably be posting stateside next time! So long and God Bless from the Philippines!
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