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15th Jun2017

Up The Game: How To Write Powerful Comic Scripts

by PamHarrison

Pam Harrison is one of the first and best known CGI artists in Independent Comics. Her work with the historical fiction series House of the Muses earned her the 2008 Prism Comics Queer Press Grant for Outstanding Series, and she continues her storytelling in a gripping sci-fi space opera adventure, A Deviant Mind, that far transcends its original LGBT audience. Her work has also appeared in ALPHABET Anthology, Dark Mischief horror anthology, Voices Against Bullying and more. 2008 Prism Comics Press Grant Award winner Pam Harrison has been credited by Comic Book Resources’ Brian Cronin and veteran comic legend Sergio Aragonés as “THE best CGI comic artist EVER”.


I’ve been writing for literally 40 years now. My creative influences came to birth in 1977, the year that Star Wars burst onto the scene, firing into existence my love and passion for Space Opera and the dream of creating a saga of my very own. There was plenty more going on in 1977 but Star Wars overshadowed most everything. I would go on to create a number of stories over the years from the award-winning House of the Muses, which is shortly about to re-debut in a larger graphic novel format, to my current science fiction space opera series, A Deviant Mind, which was created back in 1980 but waited 30 years for its independent comics  debut. So if you’re worried that it’s too late to jump into the game, you’re wrong. It’s never too late. Grab a pen or a tablet or jump on your computer and start writing. When you’re creating a story, the first challenge is collecting that one big idea in your head and laying it down in a format people can follow. When you’re working with other artists, they have to be able to take your pages and your direction and lay the art in a clear linear fashion that not only tells your story to the readers, but excites, inspires, and leaves them wanting more.
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Not every writer creates their stories the same. Some of us doodle in notebooks or notepads. I lay out my stories in blocks on Dramatica Pro 4.0, but I’ve been using that program for years. I freewheel quite a bit. Other writers like clear outlines and templates to lay out their story from start to finish. In comics and movies, stories are first laid out in storyboard format. This gives all the creators involved a clear idea of the story ahead, what it’s expected to look like, outline visual cues for the artists, and lay the groundwork for the epic. The idea in your head is the prologue for the story you want to tell. Always have a clear idea of your intro, your start, your story and your finish. If you need to visualize your script in storyboard to get a good grasp of how to tighten that up, I have some suggestions. I’m going to enclose some templates to give you a solid roadmap on how to write a tight script. Explore all of these and use the final script template for your finished product, and let me know how it goes. Go forth and be awesome.

Scene from A Deviant Mind #19: When All You Once Knew Is Gone

If you need storyboards to start fleshing out your story, grab this template, along with several other script writing templates, from http://www.storyguide.net/gear/script.html

Storyboard Template– View PDF
Download Storyboard Template
This document is best used by printing multiple copies for roughing out visual concepts.

The most time-honored way to increase your expertise in writing is to pick your favorite writer, study what they do, how they do it, and write, write, write. You are only going to get better with practice.

Don’t forget to grab all the info you can from this article by veteran comic writer Fred Van Lente. Have more questions? Use the Comments section on this page and we’ll turn this resource into a seminar panel.

bio

Fred Van Lente is the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning writer of comics like Archer & Armstrong (Harvey Award nominee, Best Series), Action Philosophers! (American Library Association Best Graphic Novel for Teens), and Cowboys & Aliens (with Andrew Foley), the basis for the feature film.

His many other titles include Weird Detective, The Comic Book History of Comics, The Incredible Hercules (with Greg Pak), Taskmaster, Marvel Zombies and The Amazing Spider-Man.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the playwright Crystal Skillman, and some mostly ungrateful cats.

Writers Store

how to format a comics script

I’ve been very flattered over the years to be complimented on the way I format my comics scripts. I started developing this style when I was a teenager and discovered an unpublished Howard the Duck script that one of my heroes, Steve Gerber, had uploaded to CompuServe — this very script in fact, that a reader tracked down for me. I modified Gerber’s format considerably, particularly under the guidance of Lee Nordling, my supportive editor at Platinum Studios, when we did Cowboys & Aliens together. There have been a few tweaks since then, helped, if I remember correctly, by Nate Cosby while he was an editor at Marvel.

I was inspired to add this page to my site by lettering maestro Nate Piekos, who wrote a great article for his personal site talking about why he likes my format and the logic behind its layout.

So — keeping in mind there is no “right” or “standard” way to format a comics script — here’s templates on how I do it. This is what I think is the easiest-to-read and the most efficient format for the pencillers, inkers, colorists, letterers and editors to get the information they need to complete an issue.

Remember, save them to the “My Templates” folder in your Office Library or they won’t show up in Microsoft Word’s Project Gallery.

For more information on writing comics — not to mention drawing, inking, coloring, lettering, editing, pitching, publishing, and marketing them — pick up Make Comics Like the Pros by Greg Pak and I.

downloadable templates

Click here for THE TEMPLATE WITH INSTRUCTIONS. (*.dotx)

Click here for a CLEAN TEMPLATE WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS. (*.dotx)

Click here for a TEMPLATE FOR 1997-2004 MICROSOFT WORD. (*.dot)

UPDATES! The joy of open sourcing: Writers Michael Patrick McMullen and Rob Marland modified my template in useful ways. Michael made one for the Scrivener word processing program (which I highly recommend). Rob added fields to automatically add lettering and panel numbers. I am not a fan of auto-numbering but I also type about 90 words a minute (the joys of being an ex-temp) so manually adjusting the numbers is not a big deal for me. You, however, may feel differently, so here are his templates:

Click here to download MICHAEL PATRICK MCMULLEN’S SCRIVENER TEMPLATE. (*.scriv + related files)

Click here to download ROB MARLAND’S TEMPLATE WITH AUTO-NUMBERING FIELDS. (*.dotx)

Click here to download ROB’S AUTO-NUMBERING TEMPLATE WITH INSTRUCTIONS. (*.dotx)

Don’t email or tweet me for technical help. I’m not qualified to come to your aid. Fair warning!

script archive

Some completed scripts so you can see the format in action.

MARVEL ZOMBIES HALLOWEEN One-Shot Script / Copyright 2012 Marvel Comics / Read the completed comic here.

BRAIN BOY #1 Script / Copyright 2013 Dark Horse Comics / Read the completed comic here.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1 Script / Copyright 2012 Valiant Comics / Read the completed comic here.

ACTION PHILOSOPHERS: “Immanuel Kant” Script / Copyright 2006 Ryan Dunlavey & Fred Van Lente / Read the completed comic here.

 

http://oscarwildecomics.blogspot.com/2013/10/comic-script-template.html

http://www.fredvanlente.com/comix.html

Online Writing Classes & Seminars at Writers Store

28th May2017

Comic Book Reviews!

by PamHarrison

Contact Pam Harrison if you are ready to be a Comic Review Editor, and you’ll get your own account here at ICC so you can create some magic. If you have any questions, any at all, contact me and we’ll get you rolling. Let’s get out there and Make ICC Rock!!!

Roll call! The buzz has been going around on ICC’s Facebook page for a few weeks now. This page has all the info you need to know to be as professional as possible. Let’s get those hands up for reviewers and editors! You are chomping at the bit to create a strong comic book review forum for ICC, so let’s get those submissions in. Everyone with Editor status will be encouraged to create their posts here on the ICC website first and then share their links to our Facebook page.
Also needed: Art and Artist Spotlights, ICC Presents: (Which will give members an opportunity to present their comic, tell us a little about it, promo artwork and more), Video podcasts, Comic Convention Coverage and Updates, Upcoming Projects, How-To articles. Have some great suggestions on how to run a Kickstarter campaign? Want to share your expertise with DAZ Studio CGI techniques, Wacom tablets, Photoshop or Manga Studio? You will find an audience to share your wisdom here. When we get our Editors set up, you will have a point of contact for each area to submit your ideas and writing to.All comic book reviews must follow a standard format for maximum impact, and if this is your first time stepping into the world of comic review, there are many resources for inspiration to be found. Artwork, Photography, Video, Music, Poetry, Movie Making, Design, Cosplay. Whatever you enjoy doing, SHOW us. Tell us. This is a group dedicated and focusing on people as Individual Creators. The Talent is out there, we all have it. Let’s share it and also you can visit us on the web at http://www.independentcreatorsconnection.com/ Be sure to also visit our YouTube channel. Same rules apply as in the Independent Creators Connection Facebook group: If it’s a bad review, keep it constructive and polite. No bashing, no hate speech either in the review or the comments sections.
Why Review? To InformTo draw attention to good books — especially if they’re not as well-known as they should be — and to warn people away from bad ones. Although writing a bad review is easier than writing a good one, the best reviewers spend more time talking about good books than bad. It’s more productive in the long run, too.To Educate – To analyze the craft of creating a comic. To dissect how a good comic works or explain why a bad one doesn’t. To teach readers what lettering adds to a comic, or how panel layouts help or hinder the story, or any of a myriad other skills necessary to build a good comic book.To CommunicateTo start discussion or provide an alternative point of view. Beware, though, this may work against writing a good review, if the reviewer winds up discussing plot and characters too fannishly just to get responses. Also, reviewers shouldn’t cop an attitude just to get noticed. Attitude is cheap; content is rare.

Bounce! By Chuck DragonBlack Collins


To Develop Craft – To learn discipline and improve one’s writing and thinking.

To Get Free Stuff – If you’re good, and consistent, and build an audience, people may want to give you material in the hopes you will talk about it. However, it’s a mixed blessing: it’s great to get a chance to check out something you wouldn’t have bought for yourself, but review copies are a large responsibility, and the best material isn’t generally given away, so you’ll find a big range of quality in what you get (particularly if you’re starting out). For more on this topic, see How to Get Review Copies.

To Be Discovered – Please note that this is a bad idea, but some reviewers have this as a goal. Building a name for oneself cuts both ways; for everyone impressed by the comments (or opinions), there will be someone who takes it personally and holds a grudge. Plus, writing for comics is a different skill from writing about comics, so an aspiring creator had better be working on developing both abilities.
Comics journalism isn’t taken seriously in part because of this reason. It’s seen as a stepping stone instead of a craft in itself. Some professionals accuse critics of being jealous… and some critics are, but there are many more who aren’t. Many things are easier for competent writers to do instead of reviewing, and with most of them they’ll be better respected and maybe even paid. The medium needs intelligent criticism to continue growing and be taken more seriously.

Writing a Good Review: What to Cover

Ideally, reviews should be written of complete stories, chunks that provide a satisfying experience to a reader. Possibilities include graphic novels, trade paperbacks, complete miniseries, single-issue stories, and complete story arcs within a continuing series.

Reviewers covering monthly comics piecemeal should avoid assuming everyone read the previous issue. Coming up with something new to say about chapter 3 of 6 after reviewing parts 1 and 2 is challenging, but it can be done. Also, a reviewer might be criticized for not waiting until the end of the story to criticize it (especially if the comments are negative). It’s perfectly valid to review anything that’s offered for sale to the public, but it’s hard to evaluate the overall story without an ending.

Reviews should express an opinion about a work and say something interesting and unique. Online reviews should not go on longer than the reader wants to scroll. Also, short paragraphs are better; densely packed text can look daunting and unreadable on a computer screen.
What to Write

Pick a format and style and use them consistently. Include all the relevant pieces of information (creators, dates, titles) to identify the work being reviewed. Here’s one example:

COMIC TITLE: Subtitle (or #Issue Number(s))
Creator Credits, as printed in the work, one per line
US release date, if known, or cover date, or year of publication
Publisher, format (page count, binding, color or black-and-white, whether digital), price

[And don’t forget the website link to show people where to buy the comic. –Editor]

Tell readers something of what the comic is about, but keep it brief, and use spoilers as sparingly as possible. The plot of many standard-length comics can be summed up in a sentence or two. It may on occasion be impossible to discuss a story without revealing elements of it, but that should be a rare occurrence. Recommendations for or against a work should be based on the reviewer’s opinions and criteria, not the events of the story. A reader should be given enough information to determine whether or not she would find the comic interesting without her reading experience being ruined.

In the main body of the review, a reviewer should discuss what she liked and what she didn’t in regards to writing, art, plot, character representation, storytelling, and entertainment value. Comments should be balanced; there is always at least one thing in any comic that was well-done, and one thing that could be improved. Give examples. The reader should understand the basis for the reviewer’s opinions. I shouldn’t need to say this, but avoid personal remarks. Discuss the work, not the creator.

All comic reviews should contain art criticism; one doesn’t have to be an artist to describe what one sees and give opinions on it. Do items and characters look like what they’re supposed to be? Do the panels flow smoothly, supporting the story? Is the reader’s eye led in the right direction by the layout? Do the word balloons fit into the composition? Think about how the words and pictures work together to create the story. A reviewer who doesn’t cover both art and text is reviewing a plot, not a comic.

The tone should be informed and intelligent, but not superior. Readers may be ignorant of the work, but they aren’t stupid. Keep it friendly and entertaining. Readers are interested in the reviewer’s reactions and opinions, and some personal information may be necessary to understand the reviewer’s perspective (if she’s never read a comic in that genre before, for example, or if she previously worked with the writer), but reviews are not about name-dropping or unrelated life anecdotes.

Ratings are not mandatory. Some critics sum up their reviews with one, but other people find them unnecessarily simplistic. Regardless, they should match the comments given. The reader shouldn’t be left wondering why the rating is higher or lower than the rest of the review suggests. The scale should also be obvious and understandable, and the rankings should be consistent across reviews.

Try hard to get an overview of the entire medium. While it’s economically understandable that hobby reviewers can’t afford to spend that much money, reviewers who stick only with what they’ve already decided to buy are doing their readers (and themselves) a disservice. Be creative in finding ways to expand coverage. Many reviewers cut deals with their local shops to borrow comics in order to read more widely, for instance. Reviewers also owe it to their readers to be familiar with the best-known and -respected works of the medium (not just the superhero genre).

Given the bizarre nature of the comics industry, be sure to include information on how to obtain the book at the end of the review. If it’s a small press title, include the publisher contact address and/or website. If someone wants to read the reviewed book, let her know how. Also, be sure to state whether you received the comic for free for review.

Risks of Reviewing

Just because someone’s working in comics as a professional doesn’t mean they’ll have a professional attitude regarding criticism. People who should know better sometimes take comments purely about their work personally and respond on a personal level. No one’s handing out maturity with comic book work; sometimes a reviewer has to laugh and move on. In return, the critic’s behavior must be mature enough that people aren’t laughing at her, either.

There are also many people out there who identify too closely with the published work. With creators, at least it’s understandable; the fans, though, can be scary, especially the ones who take a negative comment on the latest superhero book as a personal attack. If fans become too pushy or threatening, take necessary precautions, such as using a post office box instead of a home address for review copy submissions.

Critics have to put up with being evaluated and reviewed themselves. No matter how bulletproof a review (in terms of pointing out flaws with copious examples; keeping the discussion about the work, not the creative team; and clarifying with terms like “in my opinion”), there will be immature people who will take a differing opinion as an excuse to question the critic’s intelligence, sex life, and general worth as a human being. Be prepared to ignore immature responses, no matter who they’re from.

On the other hand, don’t be one of those people who rank being right over being a decent human being. Keep the work in perspective. A bitter reviewer can be fun to read once or twice, but not long-term. People can be entertained by or find useful information from criticism even if they disagree.

Benefits of Reviewing

Everyone has their own list, but mine includes the intellectual joy of figuring out why I liked or disliked something, and the pleasure of expressing it well. I’ve met a lot of interesting people through comic fandom, and this is my way of giving something back.

Even if you disagree with me, please think about the issues I’ve raised. You may come to different conclusions, but you ought to be able to answer these questions:

  • What approach should reviewers take?
  • What’s their perspective?
  • What are their criteria for “good” and “bad”?
  • Are they able to distinguish “good” from “what I like”?

Reviewing is an art, like any other form of writing. Support the good, avoid the bad, and keep encouraging improvement.

Source: How to Review Comics – ComicsWorthReading.com


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22nd Jan2015

Evil 101-10

by Doctor Disturbious

imagesKOL0Y0AP

How to make people want what you got.

 

GOOD MORNING, you malingering pukes! It is I, Doctor Disturbious, and I have come forth today with yet another winning strategy to get your name remembered with fear and trepidation! Or at least mild fear and some trepidation, if you sorry sacks are willing to put in the effort!

Now it’s not unreasonable in today’s day and age that you can build a reputation for yourself on social media, by knocking over trashcans or jumping out naked in front of bread trucks. And that’s fine, I suppose, for a generation that is sadly represented by stretch-banded T and A, implants, stupid people with stretch-band implants in their T and A, airheads, and other losers who happen to have been molded by a corporate marketing machine into some kind of prefab plasticine crotch-monster. And then it seems like every damnable song that pours out of those poor defenseless speakers is talking about getting on the floor. On the floor. On the floor. Get on the floor. On the dance floor on the floor on the floor on the floor on the floor on the floor. When a real villain has to only to speak once GET ON THE DAMN FLOOR AND STAY THERE YOU MOBILE VIALS OF URIC ACID, OR I”LL BLOW YOU #$%ING BRAINS OUT THEN PRETEND THEY WERE VALUABLE!!

There see? I only needed to say it once and the point came across.

So! The first thing we need to do is to define our unique platform. Well, let’s break it down shall we? So what do you do? Yes you. Stop cringing when I talk to you. Never mind. Keep cringing and just answer. You maim animals. Typical. I am molding the future minds of those who will rise up and challenge gods in battle and we get MOLD! Yes I know. “Yes, Dr. D we all have to start somewhere.” Try starting somewhere competent. You know. For a change? Maybe? Yes?

Stop sniveling. Your platform should be awe inspiring, powerful and at the very least stand a chance of getting caught. What kind of sicko attacks without the thrill of being hunted? We are molding villain’s here, not juvenile delinquents. Low standards everywhere. Makes me so sad I COULD JUST FIRE OFF A HAIL OF BULLETS!!

Alright, that done, a unique platform is what you have that others don’t. Anyone can hold up a sign that says “will work for food” and that’s a platform. It’s a start. You certainly are capable of work. You certainly want food. But let’s say you want better food, because better food is better for you. You can hold up a sign that says, “will work for healthy eating choices.” This platform is a little long, and people might be confused by it. Possibly offering you jobs for pamphlets about dietary lifestyles, which CAN be eaten if nothing else presents itself, since most of them are printed on the same material you find in Hot Pockets.™ So perhaps some kind of skill should be expected so that people know you are serious about working and you have standards. So let’s find us a skill. Roofing? That IS a skill. So let’s present it on our platform “Will do roofing, for healthy meals.”

This may sound like it’s a failure, but hear me out. You may narrow down the list of people willing to help you, but you’ve also weeded out the ones that will suck up your time on your way to getting a healthy meal. This is what we call a win-win. Here’s my current platform and you’ll see “Will bring Captain Bullet to his knees for five million dollars!” So far I’ve got eight takers. Now we’re getting into real money. This is because I’ve spent years developing a skill set that allows me to not only hang that shingle, but not get laughed at for hanging it.

Now that you have a better concept of where to take your skillset and how best to present them, define your target market. You see back when we had “will work for food” our target market was anyone who A) had food and B) needed work done. This was a broad spectrum, but also lowered our rates. This was also marketed better to everyone. As opposed to “will cook meth for cash” which WILL net you more money, but also limit your market. That cuts down on who you can market to. Narks, suburbanites, lawyers, novelists, people with brain cells; these are NOT your target market. This only leaves masochists, addicts, televangelists, hookers, and politicians. That cuts down your marketing base. So you might want to market to those left over that are in power and have the finances to support you product. So hookers are definitely the way to go. What? You thought I’d say politicians? Well to be honest they DO have more money, so do televangelists. But where do you think their money goes? That’s right! Hookers! Hookers are the universal common denominator of men in power with money. They also don’t get replaced every four years or spend time weeping about how they’ve sunk into sin. This makes them a reasonably consistent marketing base.

Now you need to summarize the benefits of your services. For that let’s choose a different platform. “Will deal arms for unmarked cash!” always a reasonable idea. My neighborhood arms dealer certainly gets a fair chunk of my disposable cash every time I plan a new campaign, plus I LOVE the product demonstrations. He always has a fresh baked tray of cookies at the demo sites because it just brings back memories of home invasions I used to pull off. Now that, children, is RESEARCH. Live and learn. What are the benefits of weapons? Well there’s security, safety, vengeance… ooo that’s always a good one. Coolness factor is a big one as far as benefits. So already you have a reasonable amount of people who feel very unsafe and very un-cool, and they want a gun. That and you save money in marketing by only offering services through word of mouth.

That only leaves positioning your products and services. Right now my products are an Amnesia Beam aimed at the Spire City Superior Court Building. My service is that I’m going to stop Captain Bullet from testifying about the large local government graft program that seems to be going unchecked in the area. You see, kiddies, that’s why I file politicians as an unstable source of cash. You see they may get out of the courts scott-free, but the constituents are riled up and it’s only going to be a matter of time before they start a pitchfork and torch party. So remember, when you sell your services- get a contract. Because the way my contract is written s that I take Captain Bullet out of the ring for testifying… nobody told me to go and eliminate the evidence.

So your work study for the week is

  1. Describe your unique platform i.e. what you can offer for skills.
  2. Define your target market. Who do you want to sell to.
  3. Write down the benefits of your products or services, because you might have a unique skill set, but it helps no one if they aren’t bright enough to know how to apply it.
  4. Describe how you will position your products or services. It does no one any good to say, have a neutron beam and use it on a city full of self-repairing robots.
  5. Define your methods, refine your style, and find the best way for the news about your villainy to spread.
  6. Your threats mean nothing if you can’t back it up. So make sure you’ve got the skillset for the job you intend to do.
  7. Always get a contract. That keeps the suckers from adding to your workload.

Oh and, don’t forget to market to hookers.

 

This is Doctor Disturbious telling you to love the skin you’re in. even if it isn’t your own. Evil out!!

Doctor Disturbious is the mad alter ego of Jim Dyar who when not plotting revenge, and aspiring to sleep, he can be seen blowing crap up on his website

www.grin-n-spirit.com

Come by and celebrate a decade of being plot free.

 

 

 

 

 

24th Dec2014

Evil 101-7

by Doctor Disturbious

swamp

Five huge obstacles to your evil success story

 

Doctor Disturbious here! Welcome once again to another packed and exciting bathroom break on your way to absolute evil. Follow me quickly now, and try not to step on any of the frogs in this mildly poisonous swamp. Any one of them could have been someone like you. This cursed blistered wreck of land belongs to the venomous Darkana Traplight. Indeed if you were able to see magic spells like I do with my patented Ever-view Googles™, you’d be able to the air around us is actually pulsing with freakish energy straining at the boundaries of reality. ATTEMPTING TO PENITRATE THAT VAST DEPRESSING FIRMAMENT OF LAWS WE CALL EXISTANCE! Much the same as I’m on my way to grab the solid gold Staff of Souls she has in her possession. Yes I know she’s a villainess, but don’t assume she and I are on the same side. Sometimes when playing the great game, we encounter one person who breaks the rules so completely that the breach is quite unforgivable. In her case? Continuing to assume she’s riding high on the same level of evil as me. AND THAT SIMPLY WONT DO!! That and she turned me in to the authorities. Now I could mumble all night about back stabbing and undermining, but that just doesn’t cut it. I’m simply annoyed she beat me to it, and this is nothing more than a reminder that crossing me is only slightly less dangerous than crossing a street full of old blind people driving El Dorados.

Yes. Yes. I suppose I could have sent her a bomb, but to what extent? An act of retaliation should ALWAYS be a personal event. Otherwise it cheapens the whole revenge process and becomes work, work, work, and more work. If I teach you nothing by the end of this, I WILL TEACH YOU CRAFTMANSHIP AND PRIDE!!

Whoops! Did you see that flash of light? I’ll wager on one of our slimy and detestable group has been turned slimier and more detesting. No worries, they’ll be alright soon. Rub some lemon on it! No. It won’t break the spell, but at least your fellow wiggling worm will smell less like they’ve been rutting on a used orange in the bowels of hell.

Today’s lesson of questionable ethics involves roadblocks, much like this one. There are many obstacles, much like this putrid swamp. Some small, like these pathetic little amphibians hopping frantically trying to cross the mean streets of life. Some large, like those fishy looking swamp men straggling through just on the outskirts of the light. Even some smelling like a bowel blockage under the same pressure you’d find in the heart of stars. Waiting to rear its odiferous head from the great colon we call life. All these things block our path to our goal.

  1. Time. Taking the time to be evil. Yes there is never enough time to be evil in a day. Every evil second adds unwaveringly towards an evil minute, and each evil minute unerringly finds its way into an evil hour. However there’s not always enough time to savor the inevitable entropy of this Stygian abyss AND get work done. My recommendation is to spend at least half an hour a day plotting evil. Get good at it. Get VERY good at it. In as little as a half an hour you can train the mind to do incredible evil. And it certainly gets those creative juices flowing.
  2. Blocking. Sadly it’s true. Everyone gets evil block eventually. Even the foul abomination that is myself, has moments of self-doubt. Sometimes petty jealousy manages to stop my progress. This sucks off an amazing amount of creativity and leads to procrastination and even just general uninspired-ism. If not controlled it causes you to move onto less fruitful pastures where you go into a normal life because your expectation of success goes so low. If used properly this block can actually be your best friend. Yes jealousy can be interpreted as an augmentation for your drive and motivation. It’s fuel or fester in this epic slice of lunacy we call life. Let yourself realize that while someone else may have beat you, it’s whoever is left holding the stick and able to stand at the end that actually wins.
  3. The opposite end of this spectrum block is a biggie too. Being impatient is not for the faint of heart. Timing in this industry is everything. It carries a heavy price if you bring the cage down before the hero is standing on the bulls-eye. Sometimes you have an urge to set off multiple death traps for multiple heroes. This leads to slipshod thoughts and faulty craftsmanship. This is fine if you enjoy wearing blaze orange and have no problem showering with other guys. For the rest of us. There’s intense focus and a drive to streamline. This gives you the time to add those extra special touches. Like competence, and double checking. And of course CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM!!
  4. Not succeeding. Expect this. No one likes rejection, not even heroes. When they get rejection though, what can they do? They are bound by the invented whim they call ethics to attempt to lay still and take it. As a villain though you’re expected to get back up and do battle again. This also works out in your favor, because by not being bound to the laws, or even particularly nice. Rejection is an excuse to sharpen you prowess and return to the drawing board for an even bigger splash. And then. With a success or two under your belt, it’s time to get down to brass knuckles with those who rejected you in the first place. I remember my first rejection. Barely. Those who did it will never forget. And that’s the important part.
  5. Working the right people! THIS IS IMPORTANT! If you hold a city or a person hostage MAKE CERTAIN THEY CAN PAY OUT!! Holding Podunk Village (population squat) hostage with a atomic bomb would be easy, and successful. You thought small. You came, you squinted at it to make certain it was real, and then you conquered. AND FOR WHAT?? Ten trucks full of turnips and a pack of chewing tobacco?? The cost of eighty five hours scraping the glowing material off 2824 analog clocks just to get something that might react if you hit it with a fission grenade verses going on an all turnip diet and getting addicted to mouth cancer? GOOD ONE!!

And so to sum up while I extract this forty eight pound gold staff from her tent. There are five huge blocks to success. Each one has a counterpoint if you know where to look. Take time for evil every day or your creativity suffers. Jealousy is only good if it motivates you to vacate your buttocks and go for the real gusto. Focus your time and energy on what you really want. Do not scattershot time and resources. Use rejection, own that b*tch and make it your own. Use it for fuel for your way to the top. And find the right market and the right people, or else it doesn’t matter how good you are, it will most always be wasted.

What’s that? You say four foot three of angry enchantress is standing behind me in this tent? Well sometimes that happens. Sometimes you go for the gold only to have your paw slapped like some leg humping spaniel with lofty ideas above their station. Sometimes you are stuck holding the bag, and it’s full of rabid buttock stripping weasels.

And sometimes, like tonight, you even remember to bring a tele-porter…

 

This is Doctor Disturbious telling you to love the skin you’re in. even if it isn’t your own. Evil out!!

Doctor Disturbious is the mad alter ego of Jim Dyar who when not plotting revenge, and aspiring to sleep, he can be seen blowing crap up on his website

www.grin-n-spirit.com

Come by and celebrate a decade of being plot free.

 

 

 

 

27th Nov2014

Blambot Comic Fonts and Lettering

by PamHarrison

Artistic Tips: Lettering!

Blambot.com was founded by Nate Piekos around 2001. He has offered countless free and paid comic, lettering and logo fonts for artists and designers around the world. In addition to more fonts than you can shake a ruler at, his site offers articles and tutorials on Comic Script Basics, Comic Book Grammar, Installing Comic Fonts, Successful Logo Design, How To Hand Letter, and more.
Check it out at http://www.blambot.com

 

Nate      NATE PIEKOS graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Design from Rhode Island College in 1998. Since founding Blambot.com, he has created some of the industry’s most popular fonts and has used them to letter comic books for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Oni Press, and Dark Horse Comics, as well as dozens of independent publishers. In 2001 he became type designer to Harvey Award Winner, Mike “Madman” Allred, and has had his designs licensed by such companies as Microsoft, Six Flags Amusement Parks, New Yorker Magazine, The Gap, and many more. Nate’s work has not only been utilized in comics, but in video games, on television, and in feature films as well.
When not designing, Nate is committed to a regular fitness routine, reads voraciously, writes and illustrates webcomics, and is a dedicated musician. He’s married and lives in New England.
Industry Acknowledgements:

  • Recipient, 2010 Rhode Island College Alumni Honor Roll Award for Success in the Field of Design
  • Nominee, 2010 Eagle Award for Best Letterer
  • Winner, 2012 Ghastly Award for Best Horror Letterer
  • Nominee, 2013 Stumptown Award for Best Letterer
  • Design Director, 2013 Liberty Annual benefit for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
27th Nov2014

Easy Comic Lettering & Word Balloon Layout: Comic Life Tutorial

by PamHarrison

From ChrisOatley.com

We’ve been talking recently about the importance of lettering when making your own comics. In my two posts Comic Balloons & Clarity and The Comic Lettering Spell the discussion in the comments turned toward discussing our own processes.

Personally, I use a program called Comic Life.

A lot of you asked to see how I use Comic Life to letter my comic, The Dreamer. So while the topic is still fresh, I recorded my lettering process on the most recent page of my story.

In This Tutorial I Will Show You:

  • how to import and export between Photoshop and Comic Life so the process is seamless.
  • how to create and use Styles to easily format all your balloons in one time-saving click.
  • why lettering your comic early will help you make better, stronger comic layouts.

Read on to learn how I use this simple program with professional results…

01st Oct2014

Adobe Photoshop CS2 is Now Freeware!

by PamHarrison

Download Adobe Photoshop CS2 here.
03rd Jun2014

Cloth Room Introduction

by PamHarrison

Cloth Room Introduction
Creating your first cloth simulation

 

Poser 5’s cloth room can be a little rough to get started with. There are lots of knobs and buttons. You have to do things in just the right order to even get started.

This tutorial will help you load and simulate your first Poser 5 cloth. The tutorial is click by click and is intended for Cloth Room beginners.

 

Requirements …
  • Poser 5 or higher
  • A Dynamic Cloth Object.
  • The figure the cloth was designed to fit.
Load the Actors …
  • Start a blank scene in Poser Load your figure don’t pose it yet.
  • Load the Dynamic Cloth Object.
  • Make sure the object is parented to the Hip of the figure.
    • Select the cloth object
    • Press [Ctrl] + I to open the object properties
    • Click Set Parent
    • Click the “hip” of the target figure
    • Click OK
Tip: Ctrl + I is the “hot key” to open the Properties Box
Parent
Create a cloth simulation …
  1. Switch to the Cloth Room
  2. Click “New Simulation”
  3. Check the number of frames is the same as your animation
  4. Set the collision options
    • The vertex to polygon and polygon to polygon setting help produce more accurate simulations, but take longer
    • The Cloth self collision is useful for draping clothes that will hit together. It prevents the cloth from passing through it’s self.
  5. Set the number of drape frames (Some items don’t need draping. See the documentation that came with your item.)
  6. Click OK

Tip: You can change these setting by clicking on “Simulation Settings…”
Clothify …
  1. Click on Clothify.
  2. Select the object to clothify
  3. Click the Clothify Button
Tip: If the cloth object is selected when you click Clothify you won’t have to find it in the list, it will already be selected. Saves a few clicks.
Collision Settings …
  1. Click “Collide Against”
  2. Click “Add/Remove”
  3. Put an “X” in the box in front of your figure
  4. Check the “Start Drape from Zero Pose” box. (Unless your cloth uses a special starting pose)
  5. Click “OK”

Tip: You can speed up calculation by unchecking parts that won’t effect the cloth simulation. For example you could uncheck all the upper torso, head and hands for a skirt simulation.
Now you can pose your figure …
Now you can finally pose your figure. Set the animation slider at least 10-20 frames in. This will give the cloth simulator some frames to get the cloth into the pose you want to use. If you are just doing a still image you will use the slider to pick the best frame when the calculation is done and render that frame.

Tip: The more movement in your pose from zero, the more frames you need to give the cloth room to get the cloth into position.
Calculate!
Before you hit calculate make sure of these things

  • The figure is completely zeroed at frame 1 or set to the cloth’s starting pose.
    • Check the hip translation.
    • Check the body translation
  • The cloth prop was parented to the figure hip at frame 1
    • You can check in the Hierarch Editor to see if the prop is parented.
  • The Simulation Settings > Simulation Range frames are set to the same length as your animation

Finally what you’ve been working for! This will probably take some time. You may even think your computer is locked up. It usually takes a minute or two before the progress bar even shows. Each frame can take up to a minute to calculate. Patience!

Tip: The cloth room “thinks” at 30 frames per second. Keep in mind what real cloth would do as it moves at the speed your pose moves. This one point will help you get great results.
FAQ …
  • My cloth gets bunched up around the figure’s arms.
    • Move the model more slowly. Use more animation frames to get the figure into position.
    • Turn down the friction values so the cloth will slide over the are easier.
  • It ran the calculation and then jumped back to the default pose.
    • Download the latest patch for Poser 5
  • The cloth doesn’t look like I want it to.
    • There are lots of dials in the cloth room Unfortunately there is no “Talent” dial. It will take time and experimentation to get professional results. You will run lots of simulations before you can get just what you want on the first try.
    • Give the simulation more frames to work with. Add frames the the animation and Simulation Settings.
    • The cloth may need more “Drape” frames
  • The cloth falls (flies) off my figure!
    • You may need to add a “constrained” group to the cloth. Use the cloth room “edit constrained group” button and add some vertexes to the constrained group. Neck lines and waist lines are prime targets to be constrained.
    • You may have forgotten to select the “Collide against” figure in the collision settings.
  • The simulation fails and won’t restart.
    • This is a Poser 5 bug. Delete the simulation and recreate it.
    • Always save before running a simulation.
    • Check for crushed cloth. (Under arm area is common)
    • Use more steps per frame.
  • How can I keep the figures fingers and toes from poking through the cloth?

 

 

 

 

Copyright © by Nerd3D All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2005-01-04 (24008 reads)

 

03rd Jun2014

Cloth Room Tutorial For Poser

by PamHarrison

Editor’s Notes: I’ve found a large number of cloth room tutorials for Poser on the web. Rather than duplicate anyone’s work, I’m going to post the sources for you here. Many thanks to Morphography tutorials for providing this first lesson.

 Morphography tutorials
Getting Started in the Cloth Room
• Main Index • Tutorial Index

 

• Introduction

As the title says, this is the very barest introduction to the cloth room imaginable. It won’t tell you about many things, in fact it won’t tell you about most things. Its intention is to get you into the cloth room, get you started, and hopefully get you experimenting for yourself once you’ve overcome the first hurdles.

It’s intended as a companion tutorial to the QuickDress User Guide, but you can use it with ready-made clothing props if you want to.

• Here’s One We Made Earlier

You can download a copy of the summer dress mesh if you want to try this tutorial without going through the QuickDress modelling pages. It’s non-subdivided, and has a simple planar map, although you can fix those things if you want to make it a bit better.

summerdress.zip

You can also use the ready-made clothing props that come with Poser 5 or 6, or things that you’ve bought or downloaded.

• Figure Preparation

You’ll need a figure, of course. Bring Vicki into Poser, turn off the Inverse Kinematics (IK) on her legs, and zero her. To do that, make sure some part of her body is selected (it doesn’t matter which one), then open the Joint Parameters window (from the Window menu) and click on the “ZeroFigure” button.

• Add the Clothing

Import your finished dress mesh that you made (or downloaded); uncheck all the boxes in the import dialog, and it should pop into place over the zeroed figure. If you’re using a dress from some other source, add it from the library; remember that dynamic dresses are props, not figures, so you need to go to the right library.

• Posing

Now we’re going to set up an animation. That’s how the cloth room works – by simulating the interaction of the body with the “cloth”. To do that, the figure has to start off within the simulated clothing, and since the clothing was modelled over a zeroed figure, that’s where we start. There mustn’t be any “poke through” to begin with; so it may be best to use an un-morphed figure for the first steps.

Next, pop up the animation palette. This will come as a surprise if you never do animations. 🙂 Go to the end frame, which in the default case will be frame 30. This can be changed, but we’re keeping it simple here.

Now apply your pose to Vicki. This can be a preset one from the library, or one you prepared earlier and saved in a pose dot. Whatever you use, make sure it’s a single frame pose, not an animated one (pose dots always store single frames).

At this point, it will look horrendous, because Vicki will snap to the new pose, while the dress stays in mid-air. She will almost certainly leap out of her clothes and cause huge embarrassment. 🙂 It looks all wrong, but it isn’t; go back to the first frame and confirm that everything is back as it was.

• Into the Cloth Room

Click on the CLOTH tab to enter the cloth room. The only button that looks functional right now is New Simulation, so go on, press it!

 


You can give your simulation a meaningful name if you like (it isn’t compulsory, though). Leave everything else at the default settings for now. Note that the simulation range is set at 1 to 30, the same as Poser’s default animation length; however, if you change the number of frames in the animation palette, the simulation range doesn’t get updated and you will need to do it here as well.

Click on OK to accept these settings, of course.

 


Now the Clothify button will light up. I know you can’t wait, so press that too.

 


…and select what you want to clothify – in this case, the dress.

 


Now, we need to tell the simulation what the dress will be draping against, and that’s the time to press the Collide Against button.

 


The current collision object should be listed as None, so press the Add/Remove button…

 


…and you’ll get a hierarchy window. Your task is to choose just enough of Vicki to give a proper simulation; if you add body parts unnecessarily, it will slow down the computation.

I’ve chosen Hip, Abdomen, Chest, Right Collar, Right Shoulder, and (out of sight of the screen shot) Left Collar, Left Shoulder, and both Buttocks and Thighs.

If your figure is going to be lying on the ground, or sitting on a chair, you will want to add the appropriate prop to the list as well.

 


Leave everything at the default settings, and click on “Calculate Simulation”. If you’re feeling thirsty, this is a good time to make a cup of your favourite brew, because it may take a while. It depends on the power of your computer.

 


…and there you have it. As you can see, I chose the stock “Legs Crossed” pose from the V3 library, and the dress has behaved itself very nicely, in exactly the sort of way that conforming clothes don’t.

You can render the last frame as a still image, you don’t need to make an animation unless you want to – but I won’t cover that here.

 

• Further Study

The cloth room is obviously a complex place to be, as you can tell by the number of parameters that have been ignored, skipped over or left at the default setting during the making of this tutorial – that’s most of them, in fact.

What are the settings for different types of cloth?

This question isn’t as easy as it sounds. If it was, then maybe Poser would have a collection of preset buttons you could click for instant cloth simulation. In reality, the dial settings for a particular sort of cloth depend on the structure of the mesh you’re using, in particular the polygon density; the simulation treats the vertices as parts of a particle system, and the effect they have on each other depends on how far apart they are.

All I’m saying is that there aren’t any hard and fast numbers, you just have to experiment. Having said that, here are some links which may help you out:

  • Explanation of Cloth/Collision Parameters at Smith Micro. It gets quite technical, but will give you the background.
  • Cloth Parameters and Their Effects is more pictorial than the tutorial linked above – you may find it easier to follow, although it doesn’t dig as deeply.
  • About Cloth Simulation at Poser Fashion. More background, and at the bottom of that page are a few guidelines for certain kinds of cloth. Note: the link above is now sourced via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, since SergeMarck’s site appears to have been hacked and is currently unsafe to visit. However the Wayback Machine can be slow to respond. It gets a lot of traffic.
  • Dynamic Settings by dana3d – a thread at the Runtime DNA forums. This does give settings for various materials, and is a good starting point for your own experiments.

How can I speed up the simulation?

These things all have a bearing on how fast the cloth room does its job:

  • Mesh density (number of polygons). The more polys in your mesh, the more calculations there are to be done, and the longer it will take.
  • The number of collisions that have to be calculated. If you add unnecessary body parts to the list, they will increase the processor burden.
  • The number of frames in the simulation. You can often cut this down from the default 30 to 10, or even less; remember to alter it both in the animation palette, and in the simulation settings. The penalty is that complex clothing might not settle in time.

Help! It stopped working!

The usual cause of a “frozen” simulation is intersection. If your clothing passes through the figure at any place, or if it passes through itself (e.g. at modelled folds and creases), Poser tends to choke. This can also happen if the figure bends in on itself while posing; if one clothed body part passes too close to another, then the cloth will attempt to pass through itself, with unfortunate results.

Before you click on “cancel”, though, do give it a few minutes to check that it isn’t just going at a snail’s pace. Complex meshes can simulate exceedingly slowly. 🙁

Having insufficient memory in your computer can also hang things up. Vast amounts of RAM are definitely an advantage in these computationally intensive functions, I’m sorry to say.

Can I simulate more than one piece of clothing?

Certainly, if your computer can stand the strain. You’ll need to set up individual simulations for each piece, and also consider whether the two pieces of clothing will need to collide against each other at any point. This could prove to be a strain on your computer resources. Feeling processor envy yet?

Can I use existing conforming clothing in the cloth room?

Yes, quite often; but bear in mind the “no intersection” rule mentioned above. The original Poser 4 clothing, for example, has closed off neck and sleeves, which means it will intersect with the figure’s body; that won’t work unless you re-model if first. Some clothing is modelled in such a way that it intersects with itself, and that won’t work either. You just have to try it and see.

Here’s how. Import the clothing’s mesh directly from the Geometries folder. In the import dialogue, uncheck all the options except “weld identical vertices”. Then proceed as above.

 

Something else you can try is to clothify only a part of a conforming clothing item. This has the advantage of concentrating the simulation only where it’s needed, so speeding up the process.

For this to work, the body part to be clothified should have no conforming function, otherwise the two processes will fight each other. A good example is the skirt portion of a dress, where posing is achieved wholly through morphs and/or “body handles”, such as the Morphing Fantasy dresses from DAZ, which are made in versions to fit all of their female figures from Victoria 3 onwards. In this case, when you are choosing the item to clothify, pick the hip part of the dress and carry on as before.

Help! The clothing fell off!

Sometimes, the cloth simulation is too realistic… This usually applies to open-topped things like skirts and tube tops that have nothing to hold them up. In that case, you need to edit the constrained group to add vertices which will stay in the same relationship to the figure. For a skirt, that would be the waistband; and so on. Full details are getting outside the scope of this tutorial, unfortunately. One thing that may confuse you if you’re familiar with the grouping tool: the cloth room’s group editor selects vertices, not polygons.

Can I use morphed characters?

Yes, you can. The easiest route is when the morphs make the character bigger. Set their morphs to zero at frame one of the simulation, and set them to full at the last frame. The figure will “grow” during the simulation and stretch the clothing.

This approach can even be used to make clothing for a different character fit. If you adjust scaling so that the clothing “sort of” fits at frame one, you can arrange for it to “shrink” onto the figure. Serge Marck has some more detailed tutorials, which are worth reading. (As before, this link is via the Wayback Machine and may be slow to respond.)

• Main Index • Tutorial Index

More Cloth Room Tutorials
Poser Clothes Tutorials
Poser Cloth Room
Introduction to Dynamic Cloth
Getting Started in the Cloth Room
About Cloth Simulation
Draping Vs. Simulation in the Poser Cloth Room
Poser Cloth Room Video Tutorial Search List

29th May2014

Resource Samples

by PamHarrison

2010_IP-ad-swapLooks are everything when you’re promoting your comic. When you want to call attention to your series you want an ad that looks good, reads well, has great layout and design.
The best artwork in the world falls flat if you have a logo that’s too small, many typos in your copy, scattered images all over the page and doesn’t give a clear synopsis of what your story is about.
Many of us here at ICC have some design experience, and we’re glad to help you make your comic ad look the best it can be. Take advantage of these resources to use with your work.
IP_url

The permanent link for this page is at http://www.independentcreatorsconnection.com/ad-layout/. Be sure to bookmark this page, and we’ll add more resources for the team to draw from as time goes on!

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