Sunday, August 27, 2006

UPCOMING CHANGES TO ILLCRAFT.COM started over a year ago after I did an interview about drawing comics in Adobe Illustrator.

Some people seemed pretty excited by the potential of drawing comics with this amazing program. I was just going to answer questions that popped up on a message board. But the threads turned into a discussion about the moderator and his dislike of me for being the "first" to draw comics in Illustrator and they were shut down.

Why the drama?

He went off the handle and attacked me for claiming to be first and a whole bunch of other things I never said. Then the people who wanted the info on drawing in Illustrator attacked him and pointed out where he was wrong. He shut down the message board threads before I had a chance to reply to the questions about Illustrator let alone his attacks against me. I won't name the moderator *coff*coff*coffman*, but he was a real ass on that thread.

But without his jealous tirade I would not have had the desire to talk to the people about art without a moderator's editorial censorship.

So that started the hamsters on the threadmill in my brain and I quickly came up with the idea of starting a website to discuss this stuff and let the conversations continue there if people wanted. and best of all the discussions would be unfiltered! Assholes need not apply.

Slowly I began putting up information on different aspects of what I was doing as I came up with them. Illcraft turned into a good size blog for the niche market of comic artists using Illustrator.

Not as huge a demand for this information as planting shrubbery or something, but at least some folks needed the info. And I love putting the info out there. I've spent a few years reading other peoples tutorials online about different aspects of web design, graphics, photoshop, and illustrator tuts that gave me a good working knowledge of this program. I thought I should "pay it forward" and do the same for others.

I've spent some time working for Antarctic Press doing the How To Draw Manga series and I love contributing to artists. I know how hard it was for me growing up trying to study art. teachers at our public schools had a religious bias agaisnt us studying anatomy. My teacher thought skulls were demonic and we were not allowed to draw them in class. That could have been because of all the Heavy Metal guys drawing Motley Crue flaming demon skulls but still! Anatomy is anatomy.

I could only afford one art book growing up and that was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way .
I know how important it is to study art but it can be difficult at times to find good information. It was especially difficult growing up without the resources to learn what I needed. I spent time in the school library after school looking through black and white hard bound Batman comics by Neal Adams. That was a real benefit to me and it led me to study more of the masters of classic art.

So here I am in a position to give back and I feel I am limiting myself by just focusing on Illustrator. Now I want Illcraft to expand into more tutorials on drawing comics and good storytelling. There are a lot of books out there that do this just fine. hell if you go to the art section anymore there are hundreds of drawing comics books that will teach a lot of stuff. But looking through them the other day I noticed there was not near enough information about the things you really need to know about drawing comics.

I think I can help out there.

I've been working in comic studios for a decade and I've learned a lot. A lot of information and studio secrets that i think will really benefit the struggling artist.

So now I will focus the next few years working on a website that will give you a solid knowledge of comics and illustrating that you may not be able to get otherwise. By all means, if you are in a position to study at the kubert school or other graphic sequential classes then you owe it to yourself to take those courses.

But will be a great chance to learn a lot of stuff without having to pay for courses or more books you don't need.

I'm working on a new website for in my spare time with plans to launch it early 2007.

When I started thinking about what I want this website to be a number of ideas came to mind that I think will help out the artist. I think Illcraft does a great job of presenting ideas and tips for the artist to use Abobe Illustrator to make comics. But I want this site to be more than that.

Really, in 10 years will you still be drawing with Illustrator 10?

Will that program be as effective a few years from now?

If I am going to put a lot of time into tutorials would you get more out of tutorials for comics art or drawing in Illustrator?

I think you can benefit by both. I won't stop doing Illustrator lessons. I can see myself still using this program in 5 years. But the drawing lessons can be used over a lifetime.

So Illcraft will be expanding and I am working towards that. It's unfortunate at the moment that I can not share all of the new things I have learned until my new comics work ships.

But it won't be much longer now. I hope you can stay with me until then. You won't regret it!

I appreciate your patience.


Swan said...

No problem there Brian, I'll just sit here and wait, leting my RSS reader bringing me news as they come out. You're frickin' good at what you do man. See ya!

Scott Sackett said...

I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge. I think you are right to feel that you have more you can share then just software tips. After all, the software can be learned, but comics require skills which might never be developed without help along the way.

Too bad someone felt they should criticize you for drawing in Illustrator. That's like critcizing someone for the way they hold their pencil!

Gary Seaward said...

living in the UK, I have little chance of attending any kind of comic art school. I patiently, and hapily wait for the New & Impoved Illcraft site!

Keep up the great work!!!

Drew Price said...

Wait.. I don't recall locking any threads about this??? Are you sure it was ME? I don't recall being mad about anyone being "the first"-- In fact, I think I was interested in the process. If i was irrate, i think it was for some other reason

Good luck to you! -- DJ COFFMAN

Anonymous said...

One thing I'm hoping you'll cover is what you do when something needs to be erased. One of the great thing about a program like Photoshop is that you can just use the eraser, which Illustrator obviously lacks. Any tips?

Brian Denham said...

erasing tips---It's easy to just grab a line and delete it.

If you have a part on 1 line that needs to be erased you can correct it redrawing it with the Pencil tool-just double click the pencil tool and turn on the KEEP SELECTED tool and then redraw your line.

If you need to erase sketch lines then that's a bit different. I sketch like crazy on one layer. If I need to erase there I'll backstep or just grab some lines to delete. If I'm happy with all of the sketch lines I'll draw tighter lines on a layer above the sketch layer. And turning down the opacity as I go. Once I get 2 or 3 tight pencil layers I'll delete the first sketch layers.

One beauty is that once I do create sketch lines I draw over them with my "tight pencils" which are actually just black lines. If I would draw on paper it would be in gray, if I draw in illustrator it's instantly black.

So my tight pencils is actually full ink work. With a little bit of more effort to add in white highlights or break up some foreground-background shapes my pencils are my completed inks.

Which helps my page rates a lot! :)

Brian Denham said...

Hey, D.J.

You were saying a few negative things about me and that I was one of those guys that pop up and claim they invented everything.

And the peeps on the message board eventually jumped on you for being upset.

Then it turned into an attack on you by the people on the board. So you shut that thread down. There was a lot more that was said but when I read it a lot had already been edited out. People were griping about things that were said but didn't show up in the thread anymore.

So I started a new thread and answered some questions there and you were kind enough to let that thread continue. But it got me thinking that I needed to take the conversation to my own place.

So I started this site. Thanks for the kick in the pants, really. It got me to get off my ass and finally make a website.


Drew Price said...

Yeah, I must have shut it down due to someone attacking me personally in thread that had nothing to do with ME, so sorry about that. Back then, I think there were a few trolls around DW.

I understand now, and I am often annoyed by hearing "I was the first...etc" or "the first person to..." -- from a marketing standpoint, that gets old hearing that, so I was likely misdirecting my annoyance with that.

All that aside, Digital Inking, and using the technology we have as a "new tool box" sort of thing is really great and I support that, and the sharing of knowledge in that regard.

HEY-- Someone else posted somewhere about that Manga Studio program, for digital inking. If you get a chance to do a review of that or check it out, let me know. It looks promising, like they took things from multiple programs like Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator and put it into one program.

Anonymous said...

hey brian,

i've been visiting this blog of yours from time to time.i think what you're doing with illustrator is great. i 've used painter a few times but its slow. so it would be great for proper tutorials from you using illustrator.

anyway, wish you luck man. i will be surely checking your iron man stuff.

and hey if you have time check my blog as well. i would appreciate any feedback from you.



MGBEERS said...

I've checked out your site enough times to know how well-versed you are in not only Illustrator, but in writing tutorials which is nearly as important. I am very excited to see what you do on the comic book lessons/tutorials! I will keep an eye out!

Looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

I discovered this blog almost a year ago when I'd first gone to university. Because I was living miles from home, I'd decided to take a Wacom with me rather than lug around all the traditonal stuff, but you were one of only 2 guys in American comics working digitally and providing tutorials on Illustrating from scratch. Even if you search about now, There's still not that much info. Especially not for Illustrator. So I think you should still keep up with the digital info, and you had a great part in removing the fear for me of using Illustrator to draw with.

I also think it's cool you're going to be giving actual comics tips. Coming from a small town in England, I can tell you that there's alot less books on drawing comics and how things are done available. Not knowing as a teen alot of how things were done in comics or why things worked really slowed my progress and was really frustrating. It wasn't until I got the net a couple years ago that I got a real boost in my work.
I was meant to take a summer school in Comics and Graphic Novels with a Judge Dredd artist but it was cancelled. >_< So any tips I do are always welcome =)

Keep up the great work man.


Brian Denham said...


Thanks for your letter. I'm glad this site is helping you.

I've been thinking about the comic art tutorials and I think one thing I can do online that would be difficult in print is to use art from all comics as examples.

To print a book with tutorial lessons from the best comic artists would be a pain to get all of the rights from various publishers to reprint. But if it's online and done as a review of art I think I can reprint panels from a lot of publishers without tracking down the rights.

Since this will be free of charge, I don't think anyone will mind if I use an example of John Buscema, Marc Silvestri and J.C. Leyendecker all on the same page. :)

Keep up your work! You gotta draw everyday!