Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pinging Art #3: Wacom Intuos4!

In the heart of Kuala Lumpur there lies a place of called Plaza Low Yat. It is called an "IT Mall". Everyone knows it as THE place to buy anything electronic. I'm told that in US they call them "Fry's" or something like that. Or was it "Curry's"? No, wait- I think that's British.

Hm... fries and curries...

Well, anyway... in KL it's Plaza Low Yat.

Mind you this place which exists in perpetual organized chaos is not quite like the chain-store atmosphere of Fry's. It's simply an entire marketplace-like mall consisting of miscellaneous little outfits dedicated to selling electronics and electronic media.

I hate malls, so I have never been there in my life.

But due to certain circumstances which require I obtain a new graphic tablet, I decided to venture to the only place I could be certain to 100% find a Wacom Intuos 4 which I had long coveted.

My main worry was the price. I had already visited other stores in search of my dream tablet. I was really hoping not to have to resort to going to Low Yat, but tiring of condescending shop assistants trying to fob off old stock to me at jacked up prices (Think Intuos 3's at 30% more than recommended prices) I figured that intense competition would help me find a tablet my poor budget could afford.

Of course, on arriving there on the first day of the end of Eid, I ended up avoiding maybe 50% of the usual crowds. Not too bad at all. But as it turns out, lots of the vendors in Low Yat aren't above trying to fleece naive-looking girls looking for esoteric pieces of computer equipment either.

I hope I don't come across as too pompous when I say I am neither. But after some intense search, a lot of walking, price checking, and some very interesting observations on the art of dodgy salesmenship yielded an interesting experience.

"Oh those models aren't out yet, try this one, this is the latest!" (Intuos 3, HAH!)

"My price is the best miss! My competitor says he's selling them for 300 ringgit less but I assure you, he has none in stock! I checked!"

Fortunately I DO check. And competitor has them in stock for price within and below my budget. I emerged triumphant with a brand new shiny Intuos 4 and a hole in my credit card.

Well, a metaphorical one, ok?

So what can I say about it? (the tablet, not the hole). After my teeny A6 Graphire 2, the Medium Intuos4 really is very very nice. I can draw directly on the comp with this thing, and I found that the bundled software it comes with works much better than Photoshop for drawing and painting.

One of the first things I drew with the tablet. A self portrait where I look like a deranged killer. You'd look like that too if you'd spent your whole day in a mall.

It has to be said the Intuos 4's control is so much better (I still have more control with my chienese brushes, but let's not compare apples and oranges here). I am definitely enjoying learning to use it, ranging from the funky LED buttons and the touch wheel that lets me change brush size on the fly. It will come in handy when I go back to full colour comics again.


Let's just hope that it's as hardy as my old Graphire 2. Now that was a solid piece of work...


So far I find it quite possible to create an entire comic digitally. In fact I think the textured surface and the standard nib do a pretty good approximation of pencil on paper. I haven't quite experimented with the different nibs (felt and brush) yet. We'll see how that goes, but for the meantime, sample of the digital comic making process:

I still think my rough blues had more energy though.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stopover at Catalyst: Nice but Niggly...

I'm not sure how I found Catalyst. It's been on the edge of my radar for quite a while now, but I never did remember how I found it.

However... I came across it regardless, on a whim I went through the archives recently. It's quite a fun read... the art is gorgeous, the characters (well some of them) are interesting and the world is nicely different and original.

I won't say the writing is bad or anything per-se... but I will be honest that after getting to the end of the archive, something really niggled me about the story, especially when I can't help but feel that something is missing.

I frequently think about what makes good storytelling. In fact I've been accused of (and plead guilty to) of thinking too much. In my previous entry I think I mentioned a phrase that stuck in my head shortly afterward: 

Some good writers are bad at telling stories.

This is something I feel quite keenly, because I have a feeling I myself sit in this demographic; that is, I have a pretty good command of the English language, I can write fairly decently and I'm aware what makes for bad writing; I can come up with unconventional original ideas and plots and have the added bonus of being able to draw somewhat.

But damn me, telling them stories well is where I run into all the problems. More often than not what I end up with is a faded, meandering, afterimage of what I envisioned, with the important things left out and what that does remain being arranged out of order. 

This is particularly prevalent in my experimental comic, The Longest Sojourn. Granted, it IS a comic I started when I was a gawky teen, when I wasn't aware of the importance of scripting and storyboarding. You can see it by how the chapters jump here and there, and how the plot gets more caught up with the characters's development it forgets about the direction and all that and meanders unnecessarily. Part of it is due to schedule, of course. Having to rush pages in-between real life commitments and flights and buses and trains doesn't make for smooth storyflow. Still...

Anyone can tell a story. The telling it well part is the hard thing.

Hm... about that something about Catalyst which still niggles me, even though I'm willing to bet most of the readers will not notice it on a conscious level- I think I know what it is now. I see too much of the same storytelling flaws I've made in it to be comfortable. 

There's a good story in there, make no doubt about that, but means of execution did not do it justice, and that was the niggling feeling. It could have been amazing and it only ended up pretty good.

There is a reason why I turned to scripting entire stories and getting them proof-read and rewriting the flaws out of them before even committing them to paper. Storytelling flaws, once executed, sadly cannot be corrected.

And I knew all this, but sometimes I forget them too.

Well I always did say the main reason I write this blog is to improve my art and writing skills.

Once in a while, I re-learn a lesson I forgot too, and be brought into awareness on how there's a gap in my knowledge that I still need to fill. 

And make use of.