Ahoy hoy everybody,

I just want to start off today’s post with a few words about the Charlie Hebdo killings – No matter what your opinion on the stuff they were publishing, choosing murder as a response is brutish. In fact, words really can’t do justice to the senselessness of the massacre. They may have been offensive, but surely that didn’t merit their executions?

And, potentially at the risk of annoying some folks but I honestly believe this about any religion – Muhammad (pbuh) is a big boy. He doesn’t need people to defend or avenge him. And I certainly don’t think he would have advocated wholesale slaughter just because people were offensive about him. My uncle has a saying – you can’t be a buddha unless you can laugh at yourself. I’m inclined to agree, and surely the same applies to prophets and saints everywhere.

I hope further bloodshed can be avoided, and that the French police and military are able to capture the gunmen alive so that civilised justice may be served to them. It’s looking likely, however, that the safest way to end their threat will not end with them in cuffs.

Anyway! On to merrier things. I did say I was going to talk a bit about how I use reference images for backgrounds… Sometimes. I’ve been drawing this comic for… Blimey, just over five years now, and I’ve improved in leaps and bounds in that time. The main point of improvement came from when I started to use references for anatomy, and actually started drawing studies of bodybuilders to learn about muscle shapes.

Rather surprisingly, you might think, I rarely actually use reference images for the background. This is largely to do with abject laziness than any drawing philosophy – it adds time to find the right reference material, and then to match up what’s being drawn with what reality is like. But the results I can achieve when I do use the reference photos is nothing short of a huge jump ahead in terms of quality. For example, compare the scene a couple of pages ago in The Accountant’s parlour with Monday’s page, in the forest and in the caves. Do you not feel that there is a lot more depth in Monday’s page, that the detail is more realistic, more believable, and that the environment is a lot more vibrant and alive? I certainly think so.

The key, I think, is not to replicate the image exactly. Instead, what must be acquired is a ‘flavour’ of the scene, that is then applied to an overall imagined form in the panel. That way, rather than simply tracing over the image and getting a 1:1 copy, we can boil down the reference to its bare essentials and exaggerate them to enhance the nature of the scene, one of the key things I’ve been learning and practicing in my acrylics class. It also allows me to combine multiple scenes into the one environment, which gives me a sort of ‘blending’ control and allows me to make more interesting and complex backgrounds.

Hope that little tidbit of information was interesting to you! Tune in on Monday, and I’ll catch you then! Adios!


P.S. Anyone else watching/watched Attack on Titan? I just started it IT IS SOOOOO GOOOOOD