The long wait for this update

 

 

 

I moved at the start of November.  Then during December I had some hefty mental health issues come to a head, COVID, and an insane period with the surgery to fix it postponed due to having COVID.  I did get in to have the surgery done on an emergency basis but it took a lot of hospital and doctor visits with some pleading. Now, half way though January, I finally back to being able to work and get projects done. I missed a lot of work and I feel very blessed to still have my job. However, I don’t have time to really crank out webcomic content.  My goal is to go back to every other week (like I originally intended). 

I have a plan to update on how I make a comic. My process has changed since the last time I made a blog post about it, found here. I think the biggest change has been the use of a document I fondly titled “# Shit I’m tired of drawing.” I’m not being trendy with the title, symbols appear first in folders, so this file is always right on top.  Currently, it holds a bunch of backgrounds that I can copy and paste into the comic and then trim to the panel rather than drawing the damn book cases over and over. Most of the backgrounds for Drexel’s house are pretty simple and made with the shape tool and a Gaussian blur. However, when you consider how many pages there are, how many panels, that’s drawing a book case a few hundred times. Unlike the character’s facial expressions, it isn’t suppose to change. Therefor, not fun to draw again and again and again. 

I have a few things in there that I don’t use very often like a set of lines that will divide the page into even thirds. I found that I can save all my layers and the panels as a template. I pop that in and boom, my page is divided into thirds by the panels and I have all the layers, named and ready to go. I add the other divisions to create each panel after I have the scenes sketched out. I also use auto actions for the Gaussian blur, turning the shading down to 50% occupancy, and turning the sketch layer blue combined with lowering it’s occupancy. These are little things that don’t take long until you have to do it multiple times.

 

This is the sort of chapter written when someone feels down. I remember it was one of the first I wrote and I had a darn good laugh writing it. Gwen’s comment about the bees and the bees just makes me chuckle and I feel clever. The opening of chapter 3 explains Mira’s observations toward Drexel, including not getting idioms or sarcasm. It also applies to innuendos. Of course, I bring back Gwen for a little extra humor. I do use Drexel’s literal nature throughout the story, there’s plenty more humor that way. Drexel’s facial expressions through this set are my favorite. Almost every panel seems a little funny just by his reactions. 

I tried a new way to sketch out how I want the comic but I found it has overall added more time to the process with the same results. I feel like having all the backgrounds premade and ready to go has been helpful. 

 


looking back on chapter 5 and foward to chapter 6

 

“In which Drexel and Mira meet Archimedes” is one of my favorite chapters. First, Mira is excitedly playing matchmaker. She feels like Drexel is lonely and when Archimedes looks at him in admiration rather than the distaste of Northwick, she acts fast. She is not expecting Archimedes to notice her, however. So when he mentions that Mira has a darkness that follows her and that there’s a reason she sought Drexel, she becomes scared her secret is going to be exposed. While she found Drexel’s secrets easily, she doesn’t want her own revealed. (Don’t worry, Mira has time to shine on the trauma train later). 

Second, I just really love to make Drexel blush. The poor guy has been alone for decades and is terrified to admit he’s not into girls then a handsome fortune teller shows up and smiles at him. As much as Drexel is awkward, Archimedes is steady and sure. I love the juxtaposition between Drexel’s logical approach to Mira’s giddy emotions and Drexel’s bashfulness to everything Archimedes. 

Drexel is scared to death to have two people come into his life. They will see something in him and leave and that pain is worse in his mind than being alone.  The only thing worse is if his headmaster returns to harm Archimedes or Mira. Both of those fears continue into future chapters. I also want to explore how mental health issues continue in relationships. Drexel’s depression/anxiety/PTSD play into his fear that Archimedes and Mira will leave or be hurt because of him and furthermore, he’s not worthy of their love and affections. He wrestles with though incongruencies like “someone likes me, that can’t be true” and “I am unworthy of love or human decency.” And while Archimedes has the right words, his problems and thoughts do not magically become better. 

Then between chapter 5 and chapter 6, there are a few challenges in how to illustrate c

ertain things. First was the choking sound Drexel makes when he’s surprised and embarrassed. It took a little bit of research to really determine how to make those sounds. Then how to show that special feeling Archimedes gives Drexel. Clip studio has plenty of sparkle brushes reminiscent of a Sailor Moon scene. Perfect! In the next chapter, Gwen visits again and wiggles her eyebrows. I’m still mauling that one over. Mira also has some sing-song lines and draws out Drexel’s name. I think it will be fun exaggerating her expressions and actions next to Drexel. 
I’m excited for the next chapter. There’s a lot of comedy with a few heartwarming moments. I’m going to sit down and plan out some pages so the parts are divided well. The more I get into this comic the less I can I fly by the seat of my pants.