Pages and Pages

At first I was afraid that starting Dragon’s Fall would push The Elves of LleuGarnock to the side, and it wouldn’t get as much of my attention. I’m beginning to think that drawing two comics will improve the art I do for LleuGarnock in a number of ways. Of course, practice helps, but I figured the amount of practice I had been doing was just about optimal and more practice wasn’t going to make that much difference to the quality of the comic, at least not immediately.

The thing I didn’t take into account was that although I try to focus on the areas where I need improvement, it hasn’t been as much of a priority recently as it has been in the past. My priorities in the past months of LleuGarnock have been to produce decent pages quickly, tighten up my writing and pull the story together. In the area of art, I was satisfied by the improvement that I got focusing on those goals – I got better at inking with quick, smooth lines, making the figures look consistently good, and using digital media efficiently. These were all good things, and I’m glad that I took the time to work on the story and get comfortable with my equipment.

Composing and drawing Dragon’s Fall is a whole different experience. I’m pushing myself in exactly those areas that I’m worst at. The fact that I’m actually doing pretty well surprises me a bit, but I did kind of expect it. I know I can learn to draw anything, but the motivation has to be there. With DF I’m learning to draw so many more things, and in so many more ways, that it can’t help but influence everything that I draw. My repertoire, the number of elements available for my imagination to build with, is growing fast. I can see it in the pages of LleuGarnock I’ve been drawing, even if it’s just in small ways.

The other factor that I’ve noticed is that my time seems a lot more valuable. If I can do such great things with it, I should. I put so much effort and time into DF that when I sit down to do a LG page, my standards can’t find their way back down to where they have been. I have to look at the page layout, see its possibilities and do something creative with it. There’s no longer an autopilot setting for page layout. I have to put more into a page than can be read in the script.

I’m still a little worried that the schedule of LleuGarnock will be a problem, but I’m no longer worried about its quality. It’s only going to get better, and it’s always nice to have an alternate project to shift my attention to when I get stuck.  I think this is going to work.

On the subject of page design: I’m not a graphic designer and I’ve never thought I’m particularly good at layouts of any kind. The LleuGarnock site has been a sort of canvas for me, where I can practice my HTML and make the pages look however I want. The current design was very fun to design and put into place, but I’m not sure that it actually works. Like most media, I can tell you which website designs I like and which I don’t, but I often have very little idea why.  After working on the CSS override for the new ComicPress-based site, I have a much better idea of why my site designs tend to be clunky and chunky, and how to fix them.

The base I’m working off of for the DF site was actually designed by a designer. It’s sleek and elegant, with an obvious logic and room for everything. I’m impatient to see it in action. The modifications I’ve done so far have mostly been to the color palate. I think I’m fairly good with color, when I take the time. I changed the fonts in the header and put in a background image, but below that the shape of the page is exactly the same as the original.

It’s a basic principle of any art form that restrictions are good for the creative process. I’ve experienced this in poetry; some of my best work is rhyming iambic tetrameter. In painting classes, where the teacher places the subjects and the painter can only choose an angle and interpretation. And of course in writing. The two stories I’ve been most productive with are LleuGarnock and Dragon’s Fall. The first draft of LleuGarnock came with a time constraint, and Dragon’s Fall was spurred by William’s story idea. The best comic art I’ve done has been with his script and direction.

Having a structure to work with has also been very good for my website design skill. I’ve noticed some of the unconscious assumptions I’ve been making, and the solutions to problems I have noticed in my own designs. So when I get a chance (and I have no idea when that will be) I’m going to redesign the LleuGarnock site properly.

Of course, it also helps that the ComicPress system lets everything work together so well. It’s got a built-in comment system, which is awesome. On the LG site I’m juggling all kinds of different-shaped things like the HaloScan box, newsboxes and dropdowns. But a better basic design will help me deal with those better.


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