Greetings Dieselfunkateers! LIGHTS, CAMERA, REFERENCE! Lighting in film and videogames is essential to storytelling. Meaning it’s a requirement for entry. But in comics, lighting is often a victim of technical limitations and time. Of course, masters like Eisner, Steranko, Gulacy, and Miller, have used cinematic techniques that derive from film. Lighting, what you can see and what you cannot, is all about communication.
Can you imagine Citizen Kane without the cinematography of Greg Toland?
Or more recently, Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival’ would not have worked without Bradford Young’s lensing (Hey, cat’s on Ron Howard’s ‘Solo: A Starwars Story so don’t sleep on em).
This even extends to videogames. Take for instance the cut scenes from the Starwars: OLD REPUBLIC games. The level of detail, and to be frank complexity of story, largely dwarf the actual movies.
But for the monthly comics schedule deep lighting is a difficult task to do. Which is why I have a preference for the more methodical intricacy of Graphic novels. Take the beautiful example of Canales and Guarnido’s ‘Blacksad’.
Comics and graphic novels are all sequential art of course and, oddly enough, it’s where all of the mediums of animation, storyboarding and film meet. In fact, I’ve had film students that have limited drawing skills, who refuse to believe a rough stick figure or crude image can reveal all sorts of dramatic information. In the climax of those lessons, I take their “crude” drawings and add simple coloring overlays to demonstrate that any image is capable of evoking emotion through light. Photoshop MAGIC Baby!
ARTISTS!, Don’t let ANYONE tell you your work has no value or style, regardless of polish or crudeness. The fact is, light can illuminate even the most mundane of drawing.
Furthermore, I cannot state the importance that reference has played in my work as of late. This can be in the form of a photo shoot, images from the internet, or even stills from advertisements and film stills. You see a cool lighting scheme in a photo, steal…err, USE it. Also, consider using newer online tools that are utilized by photographers to bring dramatic narratives to form. I’ll speak on those tools in the future.
I try my best to take advantage of light. YOU should too.
Check out Matty’s Rocket here
Greetings Dieselfunkateers! We are pushing so very hard to deliver the best of expansive narrative and content. We recently covered the idea of how concept design is utilized in Matty’s Rocket. One way to look at a Design Challenge is applying what can be called a Design ‘Solution.’
This solution has to strike a balance or bridge the chasm between not just conveying informational content, but also the emotional arch of the narrative. One might possibly think that ideas come in a chronological order. Sometimes they do. But sometimes, they absolutely don’t. If anything, ideas and the action of creating ideas, are very much a ‘non-linear’ process. For the average person, ideas come when and where they are ready to come, based almost purely on experience. The DESIGNER, as craftsperson, has to call on ideas at will. Their style, not to mention very often, their livelihood, is dependent upon it.
Thusly, I had to decide, what was it I wanted to convey about Matty’s Rocket? I wanted the audience to take a feeling of nostalgia and sentimentality based in the American and African-American past. But I also wanted to pay homage to the masters of cinematic movie and book posters. It would be an homage to the Struzan style of movie poster.
To be clear. I’m a huge Drew Struzan…
James Bama, …
and Jim Steranko fan.
So I wanted the book to feel like that. Frankly, the sketches came very quickly.
I then moved on to color, which I felt good about compositionally. The decision was made to not have the cover be fully painted. Inked characters would be integrated within a painted environment in line with the graphic novel. I felt the technical aspects were on point. However, even after rendering, something didn’t feel right. The feedback from folks I trust ranged from “its great” to “one aspect of the painting was too dominant over another.” I would spend days doing color correction and re-rendering to see if I could make it work. But still…
It wasn’t until I expressed to my wife that I didn’t feel right about the cover. What could possibly be wrong? She looked at me and said…”It’s too Dark”. That hit me like a ton of bricks in it’s clarity. Despite the technical proficiency of the illustration, it was the wrong design solution I was applying. All of the elements; the dominant klansmen on fire, the horrified family, Matty being overwhelmed. I was selling Matty’s Rocket as HORROR.
MATTY’S ROCKET IS ALL ABOUT HOPE!
I pulled out my iPhone and quickly drew with my thumb in Autodesk Sketchbook. The drawing was super rough. Done in less than a minute. But it provided the crystal clear color and composition.
Once a direction was in place…in MY HEART, everything went very quickly from there.
Check out Matty’s Rocket: Book One at www.dieselfunkstore.com
Greetings Dieselfunkateers! Things are moving in The House of Diesel. We illustrate and write our books, we print and manufacture our books, and we DISTRIBUTE. It’s quite interesting. We’ve learned that there is a small, yet vibrant community of comic book creators who handle virtually every aspect of production. Ranging from the numerous ‘Zine’, ‘micro press’ to ‘indie press’ operations. You can see many of these creators by conventions such as Small Press Expo, SOLcon/CXC and the upcoming Schomburg Black Comic Book Day. In fact, young hotshot zine operator, Kat Fajardo…Kat was also gracious enough to produce an awesome gallery image in Matty’s Rocket: Book One. Not allowing the younglings to have that market totally to themselves, we also dig the work of Jaime Crespo , a seasoned pro who does great work at Corn Tortilla Press.
What’s the DEAL? The deal is that technology is allowing creators to GET. STUFF. OUT.
Which leads us to promising things on the horizon. Part of the Dieselfunk operation was spawned in part by the parentage of Jason and Kemi Reeves of 133Art. That group does the full monty, full color comics and graphic novels. When Dieselfunk grows up, it wants to be like 133art. We’ve seen it with our own eyes folks.
Founded and run by the The illustrious Imani Lateef, this cat has fostered a robust digital marketplace for all things Black, of Color, Female, Super, Scifi, Horror, and Comics. Most recently, Peep Game Comix has started a venture in conjunction with…yes, those folks again…133art, to start a Print-On-Demand operation. Their flagship book is FRIKIN David Crownson’s ‘Harriet Tubman: Demonslayer!’Thank goodness, Imani has graciously allowed Dieselfunk Studios to continue to offer Matty’s Rocket as part of the Peepgame Comix operation. You can get Matty’s Rocket issues 1, 2 and 3. Plus the NEW graphic novel collection ‘Matty’s Rocket: Book One. In both digital download and PRINT. So go to Peepgamecomix or Dieselfunk. It all comes back to US anyway!:-)
Quick Note: The DIESELFUNK SHOW Resumes in just a few Days!!!!
Back to it!
Greetings Dieselfunkateers! World-Building Matty’s Rocket is an awesomely fun task. It’s so fascinating the process of creating fictional scenarios that audiences can buy into. In our present society, there are tons of artists out there who do exceptional concept design work. This has only grown with the advancements in digital technology. Having taught concept design for many years, I had to learn how to take old school research coupled with modern-day know how. I developed a philosophy that worked for me. As Matty’s Rocket is an alternative past storyline, I wanted to take existing facts as a jumping off point. So much easier with Google of course. This starts with collecting as much information about a subject as necessary. The effort to ground an idea in reality yet break the rules is all about blending previously uncommon elements. After collecting reference, I create drawings to solidify the direction.
Once i’ve done research, I then apply detail to sell the idea. However, there are many times where I utilize what I call “Implied Detail”. This technique is oftentimes visual noise that “implies” a deeper meaning to a concept or idea. Think of it as a sort of digital variant of “kit bashing” for old spaceship models. VFX technicians would build out of wood the basic shape of a design, but then add tons of detail from old toy model kits. I essentially do the same thing with the written and visual narrative. So my reference can contain decals or even photos.In the past I would exclusively do my illustration in 2d. However, over the last few years I create custom 3d models to refine and prototype. Modeling is a skill I picked up during my brief, yet miserable, stint in the gaming industry. This works great for tweaking a design to hold drama.
Finally I combine all of my elements to create my Illustration of the US Space Force: Bubble Fighter.
Check out Matty’s Rocket: Book One at www.dieselfunkstore.com