I am very pleased to say that I have finished the first draft of a YA fantasy novel based on Arthurian literature which I have been a fan of forever. Very excited about my story and have put it aside for a couple of weeks in order to get a fresh perspective when I come to edit it. I know I have to change the beginning (too much backstory) and weave what I need to into the main story, but overall it works. I have a sequel or two in mind as well! So, while I wait I am playing with the new software (see previous post). I played with doing a cover for the next chapter in my graphic novel (Paris Ballad). Here it is: It looks significantly different than the previous ones which were bolder looking. Not sure which I like better. Still, it works on it's own.
I just got Manga Studio 5ex and it is quite a bit different. So many plusses, but a huge learning curve! I love that I can really customize brushes and the colouring options are unbelievable. The frustrating bit is that they have changed the look of many of the icons so I have to relearn them. Grrrr. I don't see why that was necessary. It seems to run a bit slower, and a couple of the changes, unless I am missing something, I don't quite like. For example, before when I had a double page spread - it worked as a full page so that I could continuously draw from left to right. Now, though you 'join' the page into a double page spread, it doesn't allow you to continuously draw and instead forces a left and right side of the page. Not quite what I want. I am sure I will get used to it and make it work - but it'd be nice to have the option to draw on both sides as though one side. Overall though - they have added so many new options to make your work really beautiful and better quality that it is really just nitpicking.
I was fortunate to be asked to review Mastering Manga Studio 5 by Packt Publishing and am very pleased that I agreed. I have just started it and only in the second chapter but Liz Staley, who wrote it, provided wonderfully detailed information and I am finding it very helpful so far. Have made a couple of brushes - which I would never have figured out without this book. I will post more about this book and what Manga Studio 5 can do. You can get it yourself from www.packtpub.com. If the other publications from them are as good as this one, I might check out some other stuff too. This was WAY better than Manga Studio 4 for dummies which I had bought when I first started on that. It seems more in- depth. Although Liz Staley does say she presumes that you already know a bit of the software, it seems suitable so far for newbies as well. Anyway, so far so good and I wouldn't steer you wrong even if I did get a free copy. I had been asked to write the book ages ago and had considered it - but glad I didn't! Liz did a great job and I don't think I would have done as well.
I skipped ahead and without the book played with the new 3d option in the software and am excited about the possibilities to speed up my work on my graphic novel. This will help a lot! I wish it had young children though. It seems to go to teen/tween but not young children 3d forms. I'd have liked that. Looking forward to seeing how much I can modify and create new models.
That's it for now.
Reblogged from a Tumblr page - tychuckpalahniuk which was reblogged from cultureprn.
A friend in my writing group passed this along to me. A bible of sorts for aspiring writers:
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’d roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example:
“During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs Forget and Remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast. Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
- posted by KD.
Getting to the finish line is always so hard. I think it is for a few reasons. I am on the 7th iteration of creating the illustrations from my picture book "Way to Go, Kid!". I love the story. So, it is a good start - but as I get to the end of illustrating - I find I am not entirely happy with it. Early on, in the initial versions, I rushed it and did it too fast - plus it was all in watercolour - the pages too large and unworkable for me, and the page numbering and double page spreads - not as well planned as they needed to be. This time I have it much better. I am mostly happy with it, though as I near the end and have spent so many years on it I find myself still not as happy as I'd like to be. Everyone else likes it. They liked the last version too. The problem of course is as time passes and I learn more, I learn things I think could make it even better. My technique improves over that time resulting in a lingering dissatisfaction that ---it could be better. It is a never-ending cycle and the only standard I can ever meet is - good enough, which like most artists is not good enough! I can't wait to begin to send this baby out into the publishing world. I also think that is also part of the problem of finishing it. I have no excuse not to send it out for judgement into a very small and selective world and that too is nerve-wracking. And of course, it is saying goodbye to the creative portion of the work. Saying goodbye in many ways to the story - at least for a while. That said, I have a good 2-3 weeks of work left on it but I am going to try to enjoy every single minute of it. Then on to a story that is more Middle Grade chapter book than anything but it has been patiently waiting for my attention.
While going through facebook today, someone shared some artwork that I just fell in love with. The headline was focused on the age of the artist. And it is true. It is remarkable that someone so young could have such vision, skill, and talent to create works that are so beautiful and magical. He is also an excellent subject. The vast majority of these'photos' are self-portraits., but they have such an emotional, and a real quality - while never neglecting that very real magic of perception.
At any age, this work is remarkable. The fact that he is only 14, is astounding. He has a long bright future ahead. He goes by the name Fiddle Oak. http://www.demilked.com/surreal-self-portraits-14-year-old-fiddle-oak/
Another artist's work I found on the same website was from this artist - whose simple self-portrait images are so masterful, bold, and iconic. She is 22 years old. Noell Oszvald. http://www.demilked.com/surreal-self-portraits-noell-oszvald/
Talent is talent - at any age.
A Japanese & A Mexican folktale
I recently finished the final art for a Japanese Folktalke that I was hired to illustrate. Even though I know I did a very good job on it and was very pleased with my work - which is always a good sign, you never know, so handing it in is kind of scary. I hoped they would like it.
This was the reaction of the art buyer who contracted me:
"Your final art is stunning! I love it! You have done such a lovely job with this story and I hope that the client is as excited as I am with the final outcome. We appreciate the time and professionalism that you gave to this project. I hope that I can find another manuscript in the program that would be a good match for your illustration style. I actually have a Mexican folktale that I am still looking for artists for. If you might have an interest, please let me know."
Well, I was both thrilled and interested in the Mexican Folktale! My name was submitted as a possible illustrator for this and the publisher chose me to do it! I am very excited about working on this next project. I wish I could share with you some of the artwork that I did, as I think it is my best work, but it is part of my contract that I can't until it is published - which won't be for another year. But stay tuned. As soon as I can, I will. If you are an editor, agent, art buyer, or art director please click here to get exclusive access to these illustrations.
This is great advice - not just for the young - but for everyone. Very inspiring video.
"Build a good name", rock poet Patti Smith advises the young. "Life is like a roller coaster, it is going to have beautiful moments but it is going to be real fucked up, too", she says.
Ahem. A Manga Artist?
August 8, 2011
I just noticed that gfxinc.com was really nice and added a link to my website for giving them a nice testimonial. I did really like their service etc. They have me listed as a manga artist, and it isn't the first time I have seen that. I do use software called Manga Studio. I still love using it. More than any other drawing software I have EVER used. Including all the big names. I am, however not a manga artist. Whoever is coming to my site looking for manga will be largely disappointed, although I am grateful and happy to have the link to my site none-the-less.
So, apologies for any confusion. My guess is this post isn't going to help me...I said the M word too many times.
I might as well use this opportunity to also update you on the software itself. I am still learning how to get the most out of it. Rulers still have me flummoxed. I have become AFRAID of them. But I haven't spent much time trying to figure them out and how they work with the other layers. I have always hated using rulers or measuring things. I was terrible at pattern-making at fashion design school and I can't bake because I like to freestyle it. The slightest challenge using them and I become intimidated by it. All that to say, it may not be the software - it might be me.
There are little things that drive me nuts too. I find that it sometimes switches inexplicably to Gray - a halftone dot brush - and I don't always notice it right away - which means I have to redo the line. I thought it was because my palm kept hitting it (I use a tablet-computer) - but now I am not so sure. Still trying to figure that one out. (update: I figured it out and it is very easy. Haven't a clue as to why I couldn't figure it out before!)
I'd like to see a few things added to the software. Additional brush styles - watercolour would be nice.
I'd like it to be easier to move pages around in order. Right now I can't seem to do it at all without completely messing up the folders and making it impossible to go through the whole document afterwords in Story view - or print it as a complete story. I have to assemble it page by page if I want to change the layout and need to reorder the book. That is a big one for me.
Another big problem is I can't select all layers at once. If I need to move something - I have to move it one layer at a time - then realign it all, then merge the layers onto their proper layer. Aaargh! I keep trying to find a way - it shouldn't be that difficult. Please fix that!!!
Otherwise, the software is a dream to use, very responsive. I feel like I am using my watercolour palette whenever I use the beginner's assistant - and it feels very natural. I haven't used Photoshop or Painter on this tablet - but I can tell you Corel is absolutely useless. I used to be a fan. This version of Corel Photopaint and CorelDraw was supposed to be made for the tablet especially. It is slow, complicated, and nowhere near as natural and easy a feel. I bought it and it was a complete waste of my money. I never use it.
With Manga Studio I use identical methods that I used when I did watercolor inks. I no longer have to buy and go through sheets and sheets of tracing paper. I have no mess to clean up. My arms and nose aren't covered in pencil smudge anymore, and it has sped up my process a thousand-fold. I would recommend it to anybody. And it is an incredibly affordable price for the artist. I bought the EX version ($299) which does Vector within the same software. However, I could have just as easily bought the 49$ Debut version since everything I have done so far has been with the tools available in the Debut version. ALL the work on this website was created using Manga Studio. Although there are a few things that REALLY need tweaking, it is so worth the workaround that I am prepared to deal with it for the pleasure it gives me to use everyday.
Update (shortly thereafter) by little jo
Well, ask and ye shall receive...I had asked for a watercolour brush and what do I discover today?! That the pencil brush can have many of the same effects as a watercolour brush if you de-select the Compare Darkness Compositing button and set the pencil to taper at both ends. It will layer just like a watercolor brush. At first, I didn't see in the Draw Layer section - probably because I used the beginner's assistant a lot and for some reason it isn't there. They could easily modify it - or add that button to the other brushes and pens. That would be great. It also can have a similar effect to a chalk pencil or pastel depending how you do your strokes. The finer the brush - the more it seems to resemble a chalk pencil. I think I am going to play around coloring with this technique. Think I might use it for the next WIP.
Update April 24, 2013 *Please note these prices above are for Version 4. They have just come out with version 5 and I can't wait to upgrade to it. Even the Debut version of version 5, at only $79.99 for new purchasers has nearly everything the previous EX version had - plus a few other things I had been hoping they would provide like a 'multiply layer' feature. You could always do several layers - but now you can integrate the layers as in Photoshop.
Also, since writing the previous blog post, I have got a real good handle on rulers, symmetry rulers which are great for making patterns, logos, and various designs (I used them to make the art nouveau covers for Paris Ballad), and I am beginning to get a handle on the perspective rulers. The amazing thing I also found is you can get your tones to follow your perspective rulers, so floor tiles, wall papers in scenes easily look accurate. This software is the best value out there and I really highly recommend it. Better than ANYTHING out there and more comprehensive than Adobe. You get so much in one very reasonably priced program.
New Tools - Manga Software + A Tablet
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Getting the right tools. It is so important. Certainly, once you have them, suddenly they are critical. Like having a great knife if you are a chef. For myself it comes down to the right computer and the right software. And I think I finally found all the right tools. Thank you technology!
I just got my brand new HP TM2 2050 tablet computer
and though there have been, and continue to be a couple of quirks, namely when I shut down in tablet position it stays there when I relaunch - so that at first, everything is upside down. That is easily fixed by putting the tablet back in tablet position and then back in computer position again. Another quirk that I haven't found an easy fix for is the pen sometimes goes in the opposite direction than the way I am moving - I found just closing and opening the program resets it...but I do wish it wouldn't do that.
I would like the descriptions in the 'context' menu for tools to show up above the tool rather than below as my pen and hand block the descriptions. I hope I can find something that will adjust that.
Otherwise, it is a dream machine and everything I hoped it would be. The learning curve on the new Windows 7 is a bit of a challenge. It would have been nice if they included more tips and instructions - especially for tablet users - as some things don't work the same way in tablet position.
Now, for Manga Studio.
I purchase the EX Hybrid version, which is the full professional version good for Mac & PC and it is priced at 299.99
Right out of the box this software was immediately useable and useful. The very user friendly beginner panel is right there. With a number of different tools and layer options to work with, I can create a sketch in 'blue pencil' and then when I am ready...the magic begins with inking. Now inking has thus far been my least favorite thing to do prior to getting this software. Now I think it is my favorite thing. All my lines are smoothed and perfected. The range of tools and the beautiful pressure-sensitivity I get from my pen tablet on the screen is amazing. It just looks so professional and better than when I draw with pen and paper. Editing is easier and no more smudgy pencil on my face, arms, hands etc. I may never use pencil and paper again to sketch - this program is that good. I should add that the tools will, for the most part, be identical to those you are used to in Photoshop and that alone shortens the learning curve quite a bit. The language is familiar (nodes are called vertices though).
It will provide a number of layers and options (though it will allow only 2 colours plus transparency per layer) convert photos into tone images for use in drawings, and has a 3d design element as well - which I am not at all familiar with yet. It handles full color in CMYK or RGB. It also, within the same program, does VECTOR! It is like having illustrator and photoshop in one little compact and beautiful program. update: actually it does as many layers as I want and unlimited colours per layer. again - (what was i thinking when I wrote this?) You can also save to Photoshop PSD layered file with a limit of 5 layers exporting and it seems unlimited importing.
So far, I have done sketching with amazing results, imported line art I did by hand and re-inked it so that now it is MUCH better. You can set it up like a proper book with pagination, doublepage spreads, a variety of layouts for comics and manga, and add text and more to it.
This program is fully compatible with Photoshop and I expect Corel Photopaint as well, since it will import and export all layers (if selected) as a PSD or TIFF file.
I look forward to sharing with you shortly some of my new work created with my new awesome tools.
Update April 25, 2013: I have been using this computer for nearly 3 years now and must say I have been totally thrilled with it - which is why I am a little disappointed that I won't be able to buy it when I am ready to get a new computer. At least that is what it looks like. To get even comparable to what I already have from HP, I actually have to pay nearly $1000 dollars more than I paid for this one. i don't get it. Very likely I will be moving to Asus which seems to be developing quality pen-enabled and pressure sensitive tablet PCs. I do hope that HP gets it together and realizes that they have a real market here if they just do it right. I could have sold thousands of these computers as people were amazed with what I was doing on it and how affordable and flexible it was. Seems a shame that they will be losing a customer that was a huge fan of their tech.
I had been quite disappointed at first when I found out that I could no longer use Squarespace to create my website. I had been using them for about 4 years or so and thought that it was a pretty good service. When they were not able to take alternative payment arrangements and it was credit card only--I began looking for alternatives. There were a number of possible candidates. All comparable in price - except for one. Weebly. It was totally free. i found that oddly a little disconcerting at first. I thought there must be a catch. There must be something that is missing. Perhaps I won't be able to use my domain name. Perhaps something along the way that I really need - I'll have to upgrade for--but every review I read, raved about it being one of the very best, if not the best on the market. Regardless of price. So I decided to test it out. Even if I did need to upgrade to a paid version - even they were cheaper than all the rest. I had nothing to lose.
The templates weren't as exciting as I had hoped they would be - however, with a little tweak to the html/css I was able to reduce the header size and space between the navigation to something that worked for my taste. After that everything else was so easily customizable in blocks that I am really quite impressed. Clever use of the columns and you have a very personalized site. It actually gives me MUCH more than Squarespace ever did, and I pay nothing! I can transfer my existing domain name to it - FOR FREE! I can create beautiful slideshows, online stores (though I am not even using their system for that in mine), and frankly it is much more flexible and easier to design than anything I have ever used. So, there is one catch. There is a small 'Create a free site with Weebly" in the footer. That's it. I certainly don't mind promoting them for free for all that they give me for free. I want to shout from the rooftops how great it is. I have realized I have been paying $90/year for nothing. Wish I had come here sooner!
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 little jo (Jo Swartz) All rights reserved.Please do not copy or use these images in any way without express written consent. You will be sued and/or publicly shamed