This post is to give you some insight into how my creative process works!

So... Instinct vs. intellectual understanding. Complex ideas are great. The only trouble with complex ideas is that you can't keep the whole idea in your conscious mind at the same time. So you need to just rely on the knowledge you already have, so you can build on it. The things you're thinking about actively, I call “intellectual understanding”; the things you already know, that you can use without thinking, I call “instinct”.

Of course, it's a good idea to go back and examine your instincts, from time to time.

I drew my last comic mostly by instinct. Especially the panel borders. I didn't think “What do I want this line to express and how do I accomplish that?”; I just thought “Hmm, this line doesn't look right... *redraw* ehh... *redraw* ooh, this works!”. In short, I had an instinct for what I wanted, but I didn't intellectually understand exactly what I wanted.

I love understanding things, so after I drew the comic, I went back and analyzed my own work! Here are some of my thoughts:

  • The flared border at the bottom of the second panel echoes the powers Tritia's using in that panel. It makes the concept clear that Tritia is having an effect on stuff, especially with the way it stabs into the larger image below.
  • The way the last panel is drawn “in front” of the others give it more emphasis (which is good, because part of the joke is the fact that such a mundane statement gets so much emphasis). It also puts it slightly outside the flow of the story, which is good, because the main flow is the fight with Tritia.
  • The way Jeva's katana ignores panel borders. It's a bit of a running joke to draw the katana above things that it would normally be drawn below, but it also works for me here – in the first panel, it helps capture the interrupted-ness of the continuation from the previous page, and in the last panel, it helps accentuate Jeva's droopy-ness. If it was in the panel, I'd have to move the speech bubble up, and anyway, having things break the normal rules usually helps emphasize them. Oh! And I hadn't even thought about the fact that putting the speech bubble at the bottom, curving down, added to the overall effect of that panel.
  • Some other things didn't work so well. For instance, there's no good reason for Sam's speech bubble to be all the way at the right side; it confuses the flow a little. That's something I can keep in mind when watching my habits of where I put speech bubbles. I also should have found a way to indicate more motion in the crevices (bits still falling off, perhaps?), to make it clear that Tritia just dug them. As it stands, you might think that they were there the whole time.

Anyway, one of the interesting things here is this: I'm finding it just as productive to study my own work as to study someone else's. That makes sense right now, because I've read a lot of comics already, but haven't written very many of them myself... yet!

– Eli

Prose vs. graphic narration

So, I was thinking about prose and graphic storytelling (comics). My thoughts might be hard to explain, so how about an example? Here's a line of prose:

“I knocked. No answer. Let myself in anyway. Where was he?”

I think pictures can normally communicate faster than words, but I tried to make that line the opposite on purpose: something that words can express more quickly. Let's look at how we might write that in pictures:

Image: Three panels. The first panel shows a person knocking at a door. The second shows zem waiting impatiently, thinking about the time. The third shows zem entering through the door, looking around. At the bottom left is a note that says 'Eli Dupree - 25 min sketch'

If we were going to print this in a book, those three panels might take up about a third of a page. The line of prose takes about, what, a twentieth of a page? Sure, you can read the pictures faster than you could read a third of a page of text, but that's not what we're comparing. The prose version gets the job done in a single line.

On the other hand, the prose glosses over a lot of details. The pictures show the style of the person's coat, zir attitude about [...]

Continue reading...

A little update

I still haven't been doing much for a while - mostly playing online games, watching videos, and so forth. Oh, and running a quirky Mafia variant on an internet forum - you can check it out over here on the XKCD forums if you're into that sort of thing. My inactivity has a lot to do with the fact that it's late in the summer, it's hot all the time, and I haven't been talking to other people too much. (Getting at least a little interaction with other people helps me, because it stimulates my mind and gives me new ideas.) I'm going to be going back to college relatively soon, too, and that's discouraging me from getting into projects a bit, even though I still have about three weeks left.

That said, I've still got a couple of projects running. I'm working on them occasionally, it's just that they're not taking the majority of my time.

One of them is that I'm learning more Javascript, so that I can make cool online games and utilities. Check out this extremely-unfinished game for an example of what I'm messing with.

The other is this: Since I'm blocked on the graphics editing software project, I've started just drawing stuff in an existing graphics program (namely GIMP). Here's something I randomly sketched [...]

Continue reading...

A few concepts I need

I made progress again on my graphics editing stuff; I have a program that takes tablet input and converts it into individual lines/strokes. That task was surprisingly easy; once again, I'm a bit unsure of what to do next.

So I just set myself a specific task: Create the software that I would want to use to write People Are Wrong Sometimes if I'd written it with this instead of on paper.

Which of course raises the question “What do I need for that?”. So I looked over People Are Wrong Sometimes from a conceptual perspective, turning the question into [...]

Continue reading...

Introducing the graphics editing project

This is going to be one of those posts that make me think “Why am I writing a post about this instead of doing it?!”. But it's late at night and I'm not really going to get anything done before the morning, so I might as well go ahead and write this up.

So, I wrote a graphic short st– No, wait, I'm going to tell this in chronological order, starting from way back in the beginning. We could have a long argument about where the beginning really is, and whether it's really a net or lattice rather than a linear story that starts at a single beginning point, but we're not going to do that, because I'm the one telling this story, and I've picked one beginning point that I like best.

It begins with me dorking around with the images from an old computer RPG called Sword Dream. Or maybe it was Yipe!. How old am I – ten? Anyway, it was basically me taking images and drawing over them or [...]

Continue reading...