I Moved to Arizona!

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I’m starting to settle in, but I can’t believe I just moved my family down to Arizona.

We've been living in Utah for 9+ years, and I've grown to love the beehivet state with its amazing people, beautiful canyons, and hiking trails everywhere you go. If you haven't visited Utah, you have to make a trip out there some time before you die. It is that great. There's a lot of reasons for this move, and I won't really go into them here other than our family needed a change in climate.

I grew up in Arizona, but I haven't lived there since 2001. It's changed a little bit every time I've gone back to visit to the point that some parts are barely recognizable. I kind of feel like I moved to an entirely new state!

Are you from AZ? If so tell me one cool thing you love about it here. Is there a restaurant I should try? A trail I should hike? A gallery I should visit? I'd love to know more about the area.

About that image up there. I was thinking a lot about the vermillion cliffs in northern Arizona and took some time one day and just tried painting a landscape for fun. I wanted to try something a little different from what I normally do and just experiment with color, value and composition. I hope you like it.

Here’s my temporary studio set up in the apartment we are renting while we house hunt. I still need to get work done and this stripped down set up will do the trick.

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Been here almost a week and it’s been so good to see some friends, hang with family, and explore a new area. I think I’m going to like it here.

-Jake

Advice for Recent Graduates...or anyone walking the creative path

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!” - Dr Seuss

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!” - Dr Seuss

In the last few weeks I’ve been visited by a handful of high school kids and college underclassmen asking for advice on what they should do to prepare to get a job in the art world. In response to that, I asked a bunch of my artist friends at Emerald City Comic Con what was once piece of advice they had for someone graduating high school who wants to be an artist for a living. I made a video of their responses.

Lacking from that video was my advice. I have some things to say to people who have chosen to walk the creative path. If that’s you, then settle in. If it’s not you, please share this with a person you know who’s going to art school, or recently graduated. You can read it too, or course. This advice is universal and it just might help you no matter what stage in life you’re at.

A Career in art is possible

By now you’ve probably figured out that it is possible to have a career in art. Some art careers make more money than others. Some are more stable than others. But for anyone who has the skill, the drive to improve, a healthy work ethic, and isn’t afraid of the unknown it’s possible to get to the point where you can support yourself and a family with a career in art.

I want to share with you five things you can do to help you get there. This is stuff I’ve learned over the years that has helped me succeed, and I wish this was advice that was given to me as a high school kid. I remember graduating, having no idea what to do, or where to go, but just knowing that I loved to draw and really wasn't qualified to do anything else. If someone had sat me down and told me these things as a high school kid it would’ve saved me years of spinning my wheels.

1 - Focus on one path.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose. “ - Dolly Parton

You need to be a heat seeking missile focused one thing. A heat seeking missile works by finding a heat target and then ignoring any heat signal that doesn’t come from that target. That’s why heat seeking missiles don’t just fly straight towards the sun when they’re launched.

Picking one thing to do does not mean that’s the thing you’re going to do forever. In fact, it’s very rare to be ONE THING you’re whole life. Steven Pressfield tells us of this truth in his book The War of Art:

“As artists we serve the Muse, and the Muse may have more than one job for us over our lifetime”

That said, you have to start somewhere, knowing how to do something. So pick something and learn what you need to master in order to get a job in that discipline. Learn how other artists got their job. Study the art of people who work where you want to work. That’s the bar that you need to reach. Visit the studios, meet up with the artists, acquaint yourself with recruiters. Do internships. Insert yourself into that ecosystem. Make it so that when you finally apply for that job, it’s a no brainer for whoever is hiring, to hire YOU.

The side benefit to doing this is that whether you want to go into animation, illustration, video games, film, comics, or children’s books the skills you learn to do one of these jobs has applications for other jobs. If you get into it and realize it’s not quite for you, transitioning to another job isn’t going to be an impossible feat.



2 - Learn your craft.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” -Archilochus

It’ll take you about 4 years to learn the fundamentals of art and a lifetime to master it. So learn how to learn, because the most successful artists I know are continually pushing the limits of their abilities. They understand that the levels that can unfold in art are inexhaustible.

Draw things you’re not comfortable drawing. If you’re bad at drawing people, draw people. If you’re bad at drawing environments, draw environments.

Read books on the subject. There’s an amazing amount of information stored in these relics.

Find a good school that can teach you these fundamentals. You’ll know it’s good if the work coming out of the school is good. If not the school, then find a teacher who knows her stuff. Your focus at school isn’t grades or a degree, it’s skill, portfolio, and friends. Those are the three things that matter and are going to stay with you as you leave the school.

Learn from your peers. It’s not who you know, it’s who you help, so look for ways you can help others succeed, and in return you’ll be made better for it as well.

Find a mentor. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone older than you, just someone more experienced than you. Again, see how you can help them, become a linchpin in their system, so that they need you as much as you need them.

3 - Get a life.

“It’s more important that you go off and learn what to make movies about, than how to make movies.” - Advice given to JJ Abrams from his father.

If the goal of mastering your craft is to be able to show the world your vision, then the goal of every artist is to have a vision that’s worth showing. In order to do that you need to live life and have experiences worth building off of and sharing.

Cut the fat, and live deliberately. Live less online, and more in life. Make friends. Date people. Get married. Go places. Whether it’s exploring the south side of town or the southern hemisphere, there’s something to be gained from every excursion outside of your home.

The purpose of this is to fill your creative bank account with enough creative capital that you can barely contain it.

4 - Do one personal project a year.

“You make your place in the world by making part of it.” - Art & Fear

Take all your pent up creativity and use it by putting out a finished product at least once a year. Something tangible. Something you can point to and say, look, I made this thing.

Pump all your experiences, the craft you’ve attained so far, and your passion into this project.

This is going to give you a benchmark for yourself. This will give you something to aspire to beat with your next project. This will also be a calling card and something that other people can point to and say “look, this person made THIS.”

You only become known for your projects you make, not for the craft you’re privately learning. No one will know the experiences your privately having unless you share them through your projects.

5 - Share your work.

“An artists job is not to be perfect, but to be creating.” - Jeff Goins

The students I’ve talked to are a little afraid to share their amateur work. If that’s how you feel, quit thinking of social media as an art gallery with wall space reserved for your best work. Instead, think of social media as a peek into your studio. Invite them in, give them a glass of water and a comfy chair, and show them what you’ve been working on. No pressure there. Use twitter, facebook, or instagram as a way to document your progress online. Think of it as a public journal of your development as an artist.

Tell people who you are and what you’re about. Tell them what you’re going to be someday, and invite them to watch your journey.

What will happen is your audience will grow as you grow. They will be your online cheerleaders sharing your work with others, and first in line to buy whatever you make.

Lastly, I just want to share this quote from Bob Dylan:

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do.”

Remember, life is too short to be stuck doing something you don’t want to do, and it’s also too short to waste time doing something that isn’t working for you. I hope these five things give you a head start down that path of doing what you want to do in life. As the good doctor once said, “Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!”

-Jake


Order a “Your Mountain is Wating” Print here.

How To Find A Mentor

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One of the best ways to find success in any career is to learn from people who are successful. You need mentors! Having a good set of mentors is essential for your growth as a professional artist.

I’ve had a few mentors over the years and they’ve all been indispensable to my success as an illustrator. Some have been decades ahead of me and some my age or younger. Some were actively mentoring me, and others had no idea they were my mentor. In every case, I learned massive amounts of information on how to make a career out of being an artist.

I'd like to take a minute and give a little direction on how to go about finding a mentor. Finding the right mentors is a lot of work, but if you go about finding them in the right way you can form a beautiful and long lasting relationship with someone.

First off, this quote Jeff Goins sums it all up: "It’s not who you know, it’s who you help." (btw, if you haven't read Goins' book Real Artists Don't Starve, you need to before the year is over) You must go into this thinking about how you can help people. Not only will you be an asset to those who mentor you, but you'll grow as you learn to solve problems and find solutions that will also help you in your own career at some point.

I’ve read a bit on the subject, I’ve mentored a bunch of people, and I’ve been a student to my own mentors. And while there’s no slam dunk way to get a mentor every time, I think there’s some best practices you could follow that lead to good results. So, from all of my experience, and the advice of others, I’ve put together a list of three steps to having the perfect mentorship. Here they are:

1) Do your homework

Before you can help someone, you need to become as familiar as you possibly can with what they are doing. 

This means you need to do your homework on what they already offer as a mentor.

    • Watch all of their Youtube videos

    • Read all of their blog posts

    • Listen to all the podcast interviews they've done

    • Read any books they've written or created

    • If they offer workshops, try and attend one.

    • If they offer online classes, sign up for them

Asking them to give you something for nothing if they make part of their living from formalized mentoring is not a good move. They are more likely to help you if you show you have done your homework and participated in what they already offer.


2) Offer them a win/win proposition

Offer to do something for them. Don’t just say you’re available if they need anything. That puts the pressure back on them to think of something for you. Instead do the James Altucher method and give them a list of 5-10 things that they could hand off to you, or things that they could be doing better and how you could do it for them. 

Here's an example I'm just going to throw out there,

"Hi Pro Artist, I'm a huge fan and love your work. I've noticed you only post on Instagram twice a week and the instagram algorithm favors accounts that post daily. I think you could grow your instagram account a ton if you posted every day. I see you have a backlog of portfolio work on your site that hasn't been posted on Instagram. Would it be helpful if I downloaded that art and cropped it for instagram so you could have more content to post? I'd be happy to help you out."

After you've helped them you can approach them about a problem you're having. Don’t just ask “I have a question/problem/project, can you help me?” 

Instead ask the question, then provide 3 solutions and ask them to pick. This eases the burden on them, and also shows your own creativity, it shows you’re proactive, and that you’ve already exhausted your own ideas.

So you might say, "I need help with my senior thesis. I have X problem, and here's three solutions I've come up with to solve it. Which one would you pick? Or is there another solution you would have that I haven't thought of.

3) Follow through, then follow up

If your mentor decides to help you, don’t be a disappointment. This is a huge opportunity. For you to disregard or abandon their advice is the best way to never have this mentor help you again.

Report back and tell them the results.

Thank them! Thank them right away, then in six months, then in a year. It show's you've really internalized their advice and help.

You're way more likely to get help going about it this way. If you repeat this cycle, (you help them, then ask for advice, then deliver) you've essentially created a mentorship for yourself without having to ask someone to be your mentor and built what could be a relationship that outlasts your initial problems you need help with.

Ok, real quick again:

1) Do your homework
2) Offer them a win/win proposition
3) Follow through, then follow up

I hope that helps. Do you have a method that has worked for you? Comment below and let me know your secret!

-Jake

Process: Tie Fighter

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How it was made

Since a few people have asked me how this image was made, I thought I’d take a minute (a couple hours actually) and I write up an old school process blog post. I used to do these every so often back in pre-social media era. Nice to be back at it again.

Over the years I’ve refined my process as more tools have become available to me. I float between digital and traditional all along creation of a piece.

However, most of these fancy tools are just there to help speed up the process or make the work a little easier. You by no means have to have a $2000 scanner, a $1000 printer, and a $1300 iPad pro to accomplish what I did here. A cheap printer, an okay scanner, a lightbox, and a computer that runs photoshop are all that I had for years.

Okay, let’s get down to it:

Step 1 -  Initial Sketch

Initial sketch done in my sketchbook.

Initial sketch done in my sketchbook.

The initial sketch was done early one morning in my sketchbook. You can see it’s loose, raw, and full of energy. At this stage I’m only really interested in getting a solid vibe of what I want to do for the final. The Underdrawing was done with a vermillion pencil, then inked with a standard technical pen.

Step 2 - Line Drawing

Next I scanned my drawing and imported it into Procreate. I dropped the opacity down and did a more refined line drawing over the top of it.

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I bought myself an iPad Pro a few months ago and found that it’s been a great tool for getting some drawing done outside of my studio. I also find myself preferring to draw on it than my Cintiq. Here’s the final line art from Procreate:

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Step 3 - Polish Line Art in Photoshop

After getting the line drawing to a point where I felt good about it I brought into Photoshop to see how it looks on my computer monitor. What I realized was the samurai sword was straight, and I felt like making it curved would ad a nice graphic element to the piece as well as be more accurate to the nature of samurai swords.

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Step 4 - Printing the Linework

Once the line drawing was finished I printed it out on a sheet of 11x17 card stock. I use an Epson P800 (another recent purchase) to make all my prints and to print artwork I’ll be inking on.

Note: If you’re going to buy any Epson printer I recommend buying from an official distributor, NOT amazon.com. Sometimes you might get a bad printer, or something might break on these intricate machines. If you bought it on Amazon you have little recourse for replacement or fixing. Buying from a distributor gives you more options if one breaks.

I print the artwork at a 40% opacity.

Step 5 - Inking

I inked this piece with a Copic Gasenfude brushpen. It’s a solid waterproof brushpen with springy bristles that make for smooth lines. Highly recommend it.

I ink my pages from left to right because I’m right handed and it means less smudging. I usually do all the contour lines first.

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Then I’ll finish with adding all the hatching to define form, texture, and shadows.

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Step 6 - Scan and Clean Up

About 6 years ago I got a big paycheck for a job and immediately bought an Epson 10000xl scanner. It’s been one of the best purchase I ever bought. I used to have an 8x11 inch scanner and becasue I’m always working at 11x17 I had to scan every comic page 3 times and stitch them together. The time spent doing all the photoshop stitching adds up and I decided that when I had the extra cash I’d get a scanner like this. Worth every penny.

I scan the artwork in at 400ppi as a jpeg file.

Once scanned, the art looks like this:

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The reason I scan the image in at 400 is because of the threshold adjustment. What this does is it looks at your image and decides if each pixel is dark enough to be a black pixel or light enough to be a white pixel and it divides you image up into just black and white pixels. If you zoom in close the lines look crunchy because there’s zero anti-aliasing. I usually just OK the threshold at the default level:

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Once it’s finished you have some crisp linework to color:

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Step 7 - Color

Color theory is hard. To hard to explain in this post. I can’t tell you how I arrived at these color choices, because my path there was messy, and fraught with indecision. Once I figure out the colors the rest is pretty easy. There’s 4 parts to this and I won’t go into too many details here. I’ll save that for an in depth color tutorial some day.

Part 1: Flat color

I set my linework to Multiply and do a flat color pass under the linework on a separate layer.

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Part 2: Shadow pass

I use a dark purple and draw shadows over the color. I set these layers to Multiply and drop the opacity to 30%. Here’s the shadows without any linework or color:


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Part 3: Light Pass

I have a few layers for different levels of light. These are set to either Overlay or Normal. Opacity differs depending on how much light I want. Here’s the light layers over black:

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Part 4: Texture and line effects

I then add a texture and I usually make another line layer with a slight blur to it to make the lines richer.

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And here it is all put together:

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Close up:

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Thanks for checking out this process post! Let me know if you have any questions, and please let me know if you want more stuff like this.

This print is available for a very limited time through Art Drop Club. You have until April 30th to join Art Drop Club in order to get this print along with a bunch of other Star Wars inspired artwork.

Thanks,

Jake

The TIE FIGHTER

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If I ever get a chance to pitch a Star Wars story to Marvel or Disney or Lucasfilm it’s going to go something like this:


The Empire has fallen.

Lawlessness spreads across the galaxy as the New Republic struggles to maintain order.

On a neglected planet, a former Scout Trooper has taken it upon himself to free his home world from a crime syndicate that threatens to control the entire planet.

He is: The TIE FIGHTER.

Thank You Mom

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She passed away on March 22 and I’ve been thinking about her life a lot. I don’t normally post personal stuff on here, but I just wanted to talk about my mom for a bit.

The reason I decided to pursue art is largely because of her support, encouragement, and example. If you like anything I’ve created, it’s because of her.

The daughter of a cowboy and an elementary school nurse, her father was a gifted woodworker who always had a good clean joke to tell. Her mother was a skilled artist who knew how to get things done. These were traits instilled into my mom’s personality which filtered down to me.

She was an educator who found many ways to help encourage, support, and inspire students from all walks of life. She was also an incredible seamstress. Happy to share her love and talent with anyone, she sewed countless dresses and blankets for friends, family and those in need.

She always made sure there was plenty of paper in the house. Though we didn’t have very much money, one time she bought me a full set of Prisma Color pencils. Every Christmas and birthday she made sure I got some kind of art book or comic collection to inspire me.

She taught me to be kind, to help others, to share my knowledge, and most importantly how not to wet the bed (something my wife is incredibly grateful for).

Thank you mom. Everything good in my life is because of something you did for me, or something you taught me.

Thank you for reading this. I just wanted you to know a little bit about her.

- Jake

I Love Star Wars

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I love Star Wars. Love it. Even the bad stuff.

My unapologetic love and fandom for Star Wars is probably like someone who is a life long Dodgers fan.

As a kid they get taken to the games, they collected baseball cards, they owned a jersey, and are brought up knowing all the players. As adults, regardless of how the Dodgers are doing they still watch the games, they still root for the team, they still want them to win the World Series. 

They also know when the team stinks, but that doesn’t diminish their love for the team...in fact, it might make them defend them and love them even more.

That’s me and Star Wars. Seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater when it came out as a six-year-old made a deep deep impression on me.

It would probably be like taking a kid who was into sports to a professional game and having them high five one of he players as he entered the arena.

I came home and replaced my Batman costume with a black Luke costume (with one black glove), and my RoTJ Luke action figure became a daily carry. A life long Star Wars fan was born.

I’ve never felt franchise fatigue for Star Wars, and I can plainly see that so much of it is designed to make money, but at the heart of it, just like in Major League Baseball, there’s people who are making it not just to collect a check, but for the love of the game.

That love still shines through in a well acted character, a really thoughtful piece of concept art, and an exhilaratingly creative scene. 

Which is why I love this brilliant, flawed, beautiful, stupid, but most of all FUN galaxy far, far away.

Tabling at ECCC: What would you do?

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For the last 10 years I’ve ran a table at at least one comic con show a year. The most I did in one year was around 2016 when I did 6 or 7 shows. However, I’ve been seeing a steady decline in the amount of money I’ve been making at these shows and I think it’s time for me to push pause on cons for the foreseeable future.

Here’s why I do comic cons:

  • I love meeting the people who support my work

  • I love making friends and strengthening old friendships in the comic industry

  • I like getting out of my studio and seeing new places ( also like the long road trips to clear my head)

  • I always come away from the shows wanting to do better and be better in my career. I get ideas from other professionals and fans about how to improve my work and business

  • Its a way to supplement my income

EMERALD CITY COMIC CON NUMBERS

By far the best show I do every year is Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. All my other shows gross roughly $4,000 to $6,000, but Seattle is always a good $2,000 more than that. I’m going to talk about Emerald City because I’ve decided that if I do any show from here on out it’ll be that one since it’s my biggest money maker.

In 2015, the first year I did the show, I grossed $9,053. My expenses for a show are between $1000 and $2000 depending on the amount of tables I get and what my hotel situation is. I walked away from ECCC 2015 with about $7,500 in my pocket. Not bad!

BUT, Here’s how it’s broken down since 2015:

2015: $9,053

2016: $8,745

2017: Took a year off

2018: $6,283

2019: $5,743

That’s a pretty steep decline. This year my best seller was by far my new SkyHeart book. I sold over 60 copies of it! However, this last year I sold less prints (for less money), less books overall, and I only did 2 commissions instead of my usual 9 or 10.

REASONS FOR THE DECLINE

Here’s some of the reasons I think there’s been a decline:

1) I don’t sell BIG Marvel Fan Art prints any more. They were 13 x 19 and sold for $30 a pop. (I don’t sell them any more for a few reasons which I’ll get into on another post) Also, the prints I did sell at this show are half the size of what I used to sell and go for $20. I made them for a smaller show and I’m just clearing them out. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

2) It’s been a few years since I’ve done any comic work for Marvel, and I didn’t bring any original comic art with me.

3) After FOUR Drawings books I think people might have all the Drawings books they need. Sales of those have definitely slowed down. (Maybe I should do Drawings 5?)

4) In 2018 and 2019 I moved my location to the Sky Bridge. Emerald City is set up with two main halls connected by a narrow glass atrium that looks over one of the main streets in downtown Seattle. It’s called the Sky Bridge and it has a lot of traffic, but it’s not direct traffic. It’s mostly people just passing through to get to the other side of the con. The first two years I was in the Artist Alley and I think the people who cruise Artist Alley are more likely to be there deliberately and are looking for specific things to spend money on.

I can fix most of these problems to maybe squeeze out a few more dollars from a show, but is it worth it?

But here’s some other theories of mine that I don’t think are fixable:

1) People are just suffering from con-fatigue and not spending as much money.

2) Cons growing in the amount of artists that are showing and the attendees spending the same amount of money, but distributing it to more people. (it looked like ECCC Artist Alley was BIGGER than it’s ever been this year)

3) I’ve tapped my full audience at comic cons. It’s entirely possible that everyone who is a fan of Jake Parker in the Seattle area already has everything they want from me. There were lots of people who came by just to say hi, which is super nice, but they didn’t buy anything.

REASONS TO QUIT

There’s a handful of reasons I do not like doing cons. They are an incredible time and energy suck. There’s the days leading up to the con that you’re getting everything ready. There’s the travel to and from. There’s the con itself which can be brutally noisy and socially draining. And then there’s picking up the pieces of your life when you get home. I usually have to spend a day doing all the house chores and errands I didn’t do while I was gone.

When I look at the reasons I like going to cons I wonder if actually tabling at a con is the best way to address those needs. It seems like the amount of time, effort, and creative energy that goes into setting up a table for a weekend at a convention could be better spent on deeper pursuits. A monthly google hang out could be a better way to meet fans in a more personal way. There could be a better way to maintain friendships in the industry via phone calls, texts, and skype hangouts. I could make a trip to another city where 100% of my time is spent exploring and experience everything that city has to offer and not have to spend 10 hours a day at that city’s convention. I could also spend money on specifically focused professional development courses/seminars and probably get more ideas and inspiration than what I would get from a convention. There a lot of better ways to make a few thousand dollars in a week where I still get to sleep in my own bed.

In short, maybe the money I make at a con isn’t worth it.

QUESTIONS

My questions I’m trying to answer right now:

Should I fix what I can and go one more time and see if the numbers rally?

Should I stop for a year?

Should I bid ECCC adieu?

What would you do?

BELOW: A sample of what I had at my table this year:



Posing is Half the Battle

I was talking with Aaron the other day about drawing and how it gets faster (and in some ways easier) the older you get.

One of the reasons for that is that when you’re younger and learning to master your craft you not only have to worry about the concept, the design, the structure, and also the rendering, but on top of that you have to pose your character in an appealing way. Just figuring out an appropriate pose can steal half of your drawing time on a particular character.

What happens after drawing professionally 20 hours a week for 10-20 years (especially if you do comics) is that you kind of have drawn almost every possible pose there is for a character. There’s only so many ways to show a character running, jumping, standing, punching, sitting, throwing, etc.

A more seasoned artist has drawn characters in all of these poses and from many different angles too. This means that when she sits down to draw a character the pose is almost done with muscle memory. The majority of her creative energy can then be put into the design of the character and the rendering.

The Running Quadruped

About 4 or 5 years ago I figured out a great pose for a running quadruped. It took me some time to really nail this pose based on photos of running horses. But once I had drawn it and committed it to memory it’s allowed me to lean on it for a variety of designs. You can see in the below examples where I straight up used the same pose for different characters:

By taking a large animal that’s typically portrayed as lumbering along on all fours and putting just one of those limbs in contact with the ground makes the animal look like it’s moving at a speed almost too fast for it to carry itself at.

By taking a large animal that’s typically portrayed as lumbering along on all fours and putting just one of those limbs in contact with the ground makes the animal look like it’s moving at a speed almost too fast for it to carry itself at.

Almost the exact same pose as above but with a few tweaks to make it a pinch more dynamic.

Almost the exact same pose as above but with a few tweaks to make it a pinch more dynamic.

And then some where I modified it a bit to suit the design of the character and to mix things up:

Here I just put the right front leg making contact with the ground instead of the left front.

Here I just put the right front leg making contact with the ground instead of the left front.

In this illustration I used the exact same pose as the sauropods up top, but I lifted the little paw off the ground to give this wiener dog racer a little more speed.

In this illustration I used the exact same pose as the sauropods up top, but I lifted the little paw off the ground to give this wiener dog racer a little more speed.

Lastly you can see here that once you have the pose down in your head it’s very easy to modify as needed to emphasize some aesthetic attributes you’ve given your design. In this one the longer legs wouldn’t fold up as nicely under the main part of the body, but with my understanding of the original pose I could splay the legs out easily and get a new pose the suited the design, and didn’t cost me too much extra creative energy.

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Want to get good at posing? Here’s a posing regiment you could try:

1) Take poses from comics, concept art books, life drawing, photos, and animation. I have a Pinterest page devoted just to poses I like.

2) Have a pose sketchbook and just fill it with copies and studies of the poses in your reference library. Don’t add any details like armor or hair. Just draw the basic shapes of the pose.

3) Now on your own, draw these poses you like from different points of view.

After you’ve done 50 of them you should have a solid pose library that you can refer to often. Bonus side effect: by drawing these poses you create an imprint of them in you memory. A memory that can be called up the next time you need to draw a character in a pose like that.

SkyHeart Update

A picture of all the books going out from last September.

A picture of all the books going out from last September.

I’ve been thinking about SkyHeart a lot lately. I’m currently writing out new chapters to be drawn and formulating a plan as to how I’ll be distributing it.

First, though, I just wanted to touch base and thank everyone who believes in this project and has bought a book. Watching SkyHeart get made, printed, and shipped out has been one of the most stressful, but overall rewarding projects of my career. I'm really proud of SkyHeart and happy to have finished book I.

Post-Mortem Assessment

I wanted to talk a little bit about what I would do over, if I had a chance to do this again. The biggest mistake I made in this endeavor was launching a Kickstarter for a book that wasn't drawn yet. This caused a few problems. It meant that my delivery date was over a year away from the launch of the Kickstarter. A lot can happen in a year, and some major life events (health probs) interrupted production on this book which delayed the delivery for over a year

This put me under considerable stress as I didn't want to let down my backers, yet needed the time to make a finished product I was proud of. When it came down to whether the book should suffer or the Kickstarter timeline, I chose the latter. 

The vast majority of my backers have been so supportive of this entire project and that's what's kept me going through the end. A handful of them expressed concern over the delays, and I appreciated that too. They were the wolf at my door motivating me to work harder and faster. 

Looking back at this project I think of my path to SkyHeart as a catch-22. I should've finished the book completely before launching the Kickstarter. However, I strongly believe that the only reason we have this book now is because I launched a Kickstarter for a book that wasn't drawn yet. This leads me to...

The Future of SkyHeart

Over the next few years I'll be delivering this story in chapter installments on skyheartcomic.com. Every time I have enough chapters to make another volume, I'll launch a Kickstarter for that and get a book printed. 

I've put a lot of thought into this, and I think this is the best way for SkyHeart to be produced. This means that SkyHeart fans will find out what happens to Wake and friends much sooner, and it means a much shorter delivery schedule between Kickstarter launch and actual book shipment.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks,

Jake