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You’re invited…

You’re invited… published on

Come to the book release party for the totally awesome, must-read, new comics antholugy: “Sci-Fi San Francisco” – this Saturday at Mission Comics & Art:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1975402312788148/

Celebrate the Bay Area’s deeply weird future with Sci-Fi San Francisco, a collection of comics about everything from secret societies to hyper-evolved kitty cats, from space travelers at the Legion of Honor to robots at Bay to Breakers, from genetic caste systems to social media private eyes. Come find out what the future (and alternate present) holds!

Sci-Fi San Francisco features a cover by the inimitable Chuck Whelon and 20 black-and-white comics, featuring the work of:

Storm Arcana, Walker Ricon, & Yabette Swank
Eli Bishop
Craig Campbell
Sean Chiki
Beth Dean
Danny Djeljosevic & Diana Naneva
Emma Dudley & John Mathis
Jamaica Dyer
Shaenon K. Garrity
Pete Glanting & Eric Wong
Steph Godfrey
Joe Hewitt
Cheryl Leong & Philip Lambert
Jackie Lo
Ed Luce
Karen Luk
Jonas Madden-Connor

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017 published on

Here is the Planet Urf Entertainment holiday shopping guide for 2017. Fun stocking-stuffers for the more demented members of your family. Great for keeping your kids off their devices for up to 5 minutes. Or just give up and get them the Kindle editions…

New for 2017:

World Travel Puzzles & Mazes

http://amzn.to/2B5qI4q

Good Times Puzzles Mazes:

http://amzn.to/2B3Ww9M

Still Available:

Wizard Pickles Original Edition

More challenging puzzles for smart-ass kids: http://amzn.to/2B4DOz4

 

Not yet Banned:

Pewfell Books 1-5

Just like YouTube, in that it’s officially inappropriate for kids under the age of 12, but Donald Trump is President, so who cares?!

http://amzn.to/2BCwJH6


http://amzn.to/2iQ23GK

http://amzn.to/2kZILmO
http://amzn.to/2BA2z76


http://amzn.to/2BCKt4z

Talking of El Presidenté

Different Donalds

All the Donalds, any way you want them.
http://shrsl.com/otf0

The Bacon Flag

Join me in celebrating the United States of Bacon.

http://shrsl.com/otev

How to Write Adventure Modules that Don’t Suck

How to Write Adventure Modules that Don’t Suck published on

I recently drew over two dozen cartoons for this lovely little book called “How to Write Adventure Modules that Don’t Suck”, being published by Goodman Games. The book has a whole bunch of advice from some of the greatest RPG writers in the world. It really is a must-have for anyone even thinking about running a game. The advice it contains applies to all kinds of creative endeavors, and life in general. It just launched on Kickstarter and already made its funding goal, so go order your copy now!

You can see some of my cartoons on the Kickstarter landing page, here are a few more:

To see the rest you’ll have to get the book:

http://kck.st/2jUXTgq 😉

 

 

Donald Trump Comic

Donald Trump Comic published on

I made a comic. I think this is the general gist of Trump’s candidacy.

0000001_trump_02

Urfling 2001: A Space Odyssey

Urfling 2001: A Space Odyssey published on

2001_Set

 

Here is a little set of Urflings based on Stanly Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Last week I went to see the Stanley Kubrick Exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. If you are in town, and a Kubrick fan, you should definitely go see it!

 

 

Wizard Pickles Process Tutorial

Wizard Pickles Process Tutorial published on

I’ve been asked to make a post outlining my process for creating a puzzle page. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so here goes. I’m using my most recent puzzle page, Mazie’s bedroom, as it’s a fairly typical example of my work.

The writing generally comes first, and that’s just something I’m doing in my head all the time. Sometimes, though, a drawing will come first. I use the Notes app on my ipad/iphone, which backs up to the icloud, to jot down ideas as they come to me. I have tons of stuff in there, enough “idea debt” to keep me busy drawing for several lifetimes.

Anyway, once I have the general idea for a spread sorted out, the first thing I do is start making some rough sketches to spew out some of the ideas in my head. These are really just very quick notes for my own benefit. Here are some of the things I scribbled down for Mazie’s room, with my wife Tina’s help:

01_ideas 02_ideas

 

Next I need to decide on the overall layout, so I’ll do some quick thumbnail sketches for that. For some scenes it can take a while to fix the idea in my head to a specific scene on the page. For Mazie’s Room, though, I already pretty much knew how it was going to look, so I didn’t need to spend a lot of time on that. Here is my thumbnails for it:

03_thumbnails

All, super rough, as you can see. Just enough for me to know what I am going to do. I work very fast and very scribbly.

Now I am ready to plunge into the main drawing. I usually build the puzzle pages up in several layers, generally starting by working out the background/overall scene, especially if there is some architecture/perspective that I need to get right.

In this case, I had already done the drawing of Pickle Farm on page 1, and while doing that made some notes and sketches on it’s layout, so I could establish it as a “real” place, and know what it was like inside, and who’s room was where. I knew that I wanted Mazie’s room to be an ‘attic’ room (a bit like my son’s bedroom at home), and it was to be right above the big archway in the farmhouse courtyard. But I realized I needed to know a bit more, so I made some more detailed notes on the house and it’s layout. You can see those here on my Patreon page.

Anyway, here is my drawing of Mazie’s room:

04_WP_03_Bedroom_Sketch_RoomRough

 

You’ll note that I draw in red pencil first, then go over it with a regular B pencil. In the past, artists used a blue pencil, which could be easily dropped out photographically, but I’ve found that it’s actually very hard to make blue drop out on the computer, it always leaves grey lines behind. I discovered that red pencil works much better – just turing off the red channel and then converting the image to greyscale makes all the red disappear like magic. Hooray! That is my #1 artisiic discovery to date.

With the red channel turned off:

05_WP_03_Bedroom_Sketch_RoomRough_GreyOnly

 

…and a tweak of the levels:

 

06_WP_03_Bedroom_Sketch_RoomRough_GreyOnlyLevels

I’ll often draw the main characters separately, especially if they are more prominent in a scene like this one. It usually takes a few goes to get them right, but in this case they popped up more or less fully formed. I then scan them in along with the background, and make a composite image in the computer, which I then print out so I can add more elements and continue building the image. Depending on the scene, I might have several rounds of doing this, building things up in layers – particularly for complex search scenes. In this case it was fairly straightforward to add the additional items to the scene. The trickier bit was placing everything in exactly the right place with regard to the eyeballs. Again, the computer is very helpful in playing around with the layout and figuring all this stuff out.

07_WP_03_Bedroom_Sketch_Characters

 

Here is my sketch of the room elements:

08_WP_03_Bedroom_Sketch_Stuff

And the final composited sketch.

09_WP_03_Bedroom_Sketch

Up until now I have been drawing everything at the size it will appear on the finished page (with a bit of additional scaling done on the computer), which is an 11×17” spread. I now print the finished sketch at 135%, which requires 3 tabloid-sized sheets of paper, which I tape together. This is as large as I can make it to fit on a sheet of 19”x24” Caslon Vidalon Vellum, which is what I use to do my inking on.

Here are some of the pens and tools I typically use. Most notably for inking are the Pitt Artist pens, and special Japanese brush pen which I buy in bulk from Asia on eBay. I love these, which I discovered through my pal Brian Kolm. Before that I used to use a Windsor and Newton sable brush, but these brush pens are so much easier to use, yet still give me the nice cartoony, analog brush line that I want. The inking is a pretty fun part of the process, and I usually put on my Pandora playlist and just get into the zone for however long it takes. The most important thing in inking is actually is to be sure that the pencils were just right when you start. If they are too loose and ambiguous, it leads to too many mistakes in the inking as I try to resolve things. By the same token, if the pencils are too tight and rigid, then the inks become a bit dead as there is no room from expression. To some extent I still need to be able to invent and draw as I ink, but not too much! This is because I’m inking my own work. I think it’s a different story if you are doing pencils for someone else to ink, or if you are inking someone else’s pencils, but since it’s all me, I just know the balance I need to keep in order to work as efficiently as possible.

Here is a shot of my inks, as I stick them together, as the original is so bit it takes 3 passes with the scanner:

10_WP_03_Bedroom_SketchStitch

I then tweak these further on the computer, cleaning up errors and making other little fixes. As you can see in this initial drawing, I had kind of cheated because I wanted the view from the window to show the trees and the forest, as a visual cue for the next scene. I had figured it was Ok to use a bit of artistic license here for story purposes, but in the end I decided that it was more important to stay true the the world I was creating, so I made sure the view was what you could actually see through the window – i.e. part of the farmhouse wall. But sill, there’s always a bit license taken. The main thing is, though, that the hidden joke of this spread is that Wilma is actually floating up to the window, and Mazie will have to jump down using (SPOILER ALERT) an umbrella and a pillow.

Cleaned up inks:

11_WP_03_Bedroom_Inks

Next is where I use some secret sauce to process the image, and this bit is more for you technical nerds out there. I have devised a script to separate the image out into layers. The usual way to process comic artwork is to convert the image to bitmap, and this is what all the how-to books will tell you to do, but I hate those jaggy bitmap edges at any size. Sure, at the correct size, you can’t see them, but what if you wanted to enlarge them. Early in my career I worked in a print shop, managing the “Desktop Publishing” desk. I learned a lot about print production techniques and was an early Mac user. As a result I know that you can actually print things at a low lower resolution than the textbooks tell you, but those jaggy edges would be a dead giveaway if you were enlarging an image too much.

So I developed a way to keep them a little anti-aliased, which means that I don’t need to work at a super-high resolution. Well, OK I do work at 405 dpi (because of 300 dpi x 135%), but you can actually get away with only 150 dpi before most people would notice, so I say you could print my images at nearly 3 times their original size before anyone would notice. OK, well, I did say that this bit was for only technical nerds!

My inks layer:

13_WP_03_Bedroom_InksCJW

Traditionally bitmapped inks:

13_WP_03_Bedroom_InksBitmapped

 

 

I could explain in more detail if anyone is interested, but basically I tweak the levels so they are almost fully bitmapped, but not quite. Then, by selecting the channels I copy just the anti-aliased black inks to their own, transparent layer, that looks like this:

12_WP_03_Bedroom_InksTransparency

But I also create a duplicate inks layer which is fully bitmapped. This is the layer I will color on, and I use a plug-in called BPelt Multi-fill to random fill the bitmapped area with colors. All that is part of the same single script, so with one click I end up with this:

14_WP_03_Bedroom_RandomColor

You can read more about the BPelt plug-ins here:

http://peltmade.com/psplugins-flatting.html

It’s a very useful start to the color “flatting” process. Basically it helps you more quickly see where there are “holes” in the artwork that need to be closed before filling with flat colors. Color flatting is basically where the drudgery happens. The idea is simply to define flat areas of solid color. One day I’d love to employ and assistant to do this for me, but right now I just put on a good audio book and get to work, and it’s a pleasant enough way to pass the time. It’s no wonder those adult coloring books are getting so popular!

It’s not 100% necessary for colors to be accurate at this stage, but I try to get them more-or-less right, as it saves times later. I have a specific palette of color swatches that I have developed over the years. This is largely based on the colors found in Crayola crayons and Copic markers. Bright and cheerful, and giving my colors a signature look.

I have a Wacom Cintiq, which is basically a pressure-sensitive screen I can draw right onto. This is an invaluable tool. Previously I had just a regular Wacom tablet, which is better than just using mouse, as a mouse is almost impossibly tedious to use. I know that a lot of the kids coming up these days don’t even bother with pencils and inks and just draw straight into the computer using their Cintiqs. I don’t know, I feel like I spend enough time staring at screens as it is, so I prefer to keep to the old fashioned ways for the pencilling and inking. Plus lines drawn on a computer just still feel dead to me, but they do look a lot cleaner, I must admit, and I do do it sometimes.

The trick while doing the color flats is to turn anti-aliasing off, i.e. hard, jaggy edges formed by working with just the pencil tool and paint bucket, as this makes the next stage possible.

Once the color flats are done I run another script on the image, using another bPelt Plug-in called Flatten Pro. This removes all the black lines from the image, and expanding the color fills to replace them, resulting in something that looks like this:

15_WP_03_Bedroom_FlatColor

I always find the way the colors look at this stage very appealing, like nice colorful cutouts. I’m always wondering about a way to eliminate my ink lines entirely, but I haven’t figured out exactly how I could do that and still maintain the cartoony look I am after. Anyway, at this point I hopefully get a good feeling about how my overall color scheme is working. So far I’ve kept my transparent anti-aliased lineart turned off on another layer, now I turn it back on again:

16_WP_03_Bedroom_FlatColorWithOutlines

The second script I ran, also duplicated the color flats layer and added some layers for highlights and shadows. I keep one flat color layer under the other, using the lower one for area selection and the upper one to work on. I keep the ink lines on their transparent layer separate and on top.

The next part is the most fun. The hard work of sketching and thinking is done, as is the drudgery of color flatting, now I just let go and see what happens. I suppose the main trick is not to overwork the image. I use the magic wand tool to select areas and paint in colors with the various brushes I have developed over the years for the process. I’ll use the airbrush a lot for gradients, the trick with that being to select an area with the wand, and then deselect parts with the selection tool to get the right combination of hard and soft edges. That is more-or-less the way digital coloring was developed in comic books, and it works pretty well. I’ll also use a harder edged “Cartoon Brush”, with a variable line-weight, and a “Modelled Color” brush. All the brushes are pressure sensitive, so this is where the Cintiq really comes into it’s own. I also have a few favorite textured brushes that I have developed over the years. It’s worth spending some time figuring out some brushes that you like to use. I guess some artists have tons of them, myself, I like to keep things pretty minimal.

The fact that the linked line-art is still on its own, transparent layer means I can now very easily add color to the outlines, instead of just leaving them black. Mostly I like to keep them nice and black, but a few touches here and there helps to de-emphasize certain lines.

I’ll work away at the image for a while, using the highlight and shadow layers to broadly define things, then work on a more specific areas. Some artists like to keep lots of layers, but I find it’s more efficient just to merge layers pretty freely, and am generally not afraid to commit to things. As long as I keep my original “flat color’ layer intact, it’s easy enough to select and re-do areas. It’s possible that I might even go as far as merging the line-art layer to the color layer, but usually after I am pretty certain that I’m committed to everything, as there’s no turning back from this. Still, it can be especially useful once it gets into the final editing stage, particularly as its now so easy to work directly on screen with the Cintiq.

At some point I guess I should make a coloring video, to show the process in more deatl.

Anyway, basically that’s it! Here’s the final result:

17_WP_03_Bedroom_FullColor

Thanks for reading! if you would like to see more, please join the fun by visiting my Patreon page:

http://www.Patreon.com/cartoon

Masters of Webcomics Panel at Silicon Valley Comic Con

Masters of Webcomics Panel at Silicon Valley Comic Con published on

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be hosting a very exciting “Masters of Webcomics” panel at the upcoming Silicon Valley Comic Con next month (http://svcomiccon.com). The show is the weekend of March 19th-20th, and the panel will be on the Sunday, March 20th, in Room 2 at 12:00 noon.

Many of the panelists were guests on the first season of my “Masters of Webcomics” podcast, which you can find on iTunes and at MastersOfWebcomics.com. They are: Shaenon Garrity (shaenon.com), Amber Greenlee (panel2panel.com), Jonathan Lemon (lemonworld.com), Jason Thompson (mockman.com), Jason Shiga (shigabooks.com) and a special mystery guest (the attached flier will give you a big clue as to his identity — and no, it’s not Matt Daemon)!

This being Silicon Valley, I’m also going to attempt a live digital ‘satellite linkup’ with my co-host, Adam Prosser (phantasmictales.com). Also, my good pal Don Howe (linkedin.com/in/donhowe) reckons he knows how to record the whole thing for playback in Virtual Reality! So it’s all going to be incredibly stimulating.

I’ll be exhibiting at the con (booth #96), with copies of my Pewfell graphic novels, my boardgame “Legitimacy“, and children’s puzzle book “Wizard Pickles“. The con is expected to sell out, so get your ticket now!!!!

Chuck Whelon
Feb 24th 2016

MastersofWebcomics_SVCCPanel_March2016_Flyer_Color_LowRes_NoBleed

Masters of Webcomics: Amber Greenlee

Masters of Webcomics: Amber Greenlee published on
In which Adam & Chuck have a wide ranging discussion with the multi-talented and highly amusing Amber Greenlee. Aside from being a  webcomicker, Amber has also been a Disney Princess, puppeteer, stand-up comedian, painter, professional joke-writer, short film and documentary producer. She also has the longest IMDB listing of anyone we’ve interviewed so far, thus making her our most hollywood guest yet. Sit back and enjoy as we talk about all that, and more.
Links:
Webcomics, including No Stereotypesl: http://www.panel2panel.com
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1454568/
Deviant Art: http://glych.deviantart.com
Transylvania TV: http://www.transylvania-tv.com
Amber on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glych

The Webcartoonist’s Song written & performed by webcartoonist Owen Dunne: http://www.youdamnkid.com
Pewfell: http://www.pewfell.com

If you’ve enjoyed this show, please remember to like and rate us. To keep up with the show, get bonus content and recieve the latest episodes first, SUBSCRIBE TO US ON PATREON: http://www.patreon.com/urf

Masters of Webcomics: Jonathan Lemon

Masters of Webcomics: Jonathan Lemon published on

Our guest this episode is the fascinating Mr. Jonathan Lemon, creator of the comic “Rabbits against Magic” which appears at GoComics.com and is syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. Like Chuck, Jonathan was born in England and now makes his home in San Francisco California. However he is far more travelled, worldly and wiser than Chuck and has had many interesting experiences on his journey to becoming a successful independent cartoonist. Adam Prosser apparently forgot that we were recording this episode, so is completely absent throughout.

Links:
Rabbits Against Magic: http://www.rabbitsagainstmagic.com
Jonathan Lemon’s website and portfolio: http://www.lemonworld.com

The Webcartoonist’s Song written and performed by webcartoonist Owen Dunne: http://www.youdamnkid.com
Pewfell: http://www.pewfell.com

For bonus content, SUBSCRIBE TO US ON PATREON: http://www.patreon.com/urf

Masters of Webcomics: Jason Thompson

Masters of Webcomics: Jason Thompson published on

A highly entertaining conversation with the extremely talented Jason Thompson. Jason’s gotten quite well known in recent years as the creator of a series of official classic D&D module walkthrough maps, which you’ve probably seen on the interweb if you are a tabletop gamer. Jason is a man of boundless imagination and this is just one of the very many other diverse projects he has worked on. Others we talk about include his webcomic “The Stiff”, his “King of RPGs” manga, and his several successful Kickstarter campaigns, including the one for his epic and masterfully creepy comic-book adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s “Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath”.
The conversation otherwise ranges from 80s horror movies, to the early days of D&D,  Jason’s upcoming boardgame “Mangaka”, and Adam Prosser’s Left Brain-Right Brain theory of comics. Later, Jason convinces the impressionable Chuck to finally finish reading Moby Dick after giving up on it 25 years ago.
The interview opens with Jason revealing that the secret to his success may have something to do with his childhood diet, and he concludes (after a quick APE 2015 report) with a magical tip that could prevent any artist from ever starving to death… if only they can truly believe!!!

Links:
Jason’s main site: www.mockman.com
Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath: http://mockman.myshopify.com/products/the-dream-quest-of-unknown-kadath-and-other-stories
The Stiff: http://mockman.com/2013/05/04/the-stiff-part-1/
Mangaka: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/175627/mangaka-fast-furious-game-drawing-comics
The Map of Zombies: http://mockman.myshopify.com/products/the-map-of-zombies-24-x36-poster
The Street Master: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KGgBQ-hGgU
King of RPGs: http://www.kingofrpgs.com
 
The Webcartoonist’s Song written & performed by webcartoonist Owen Dunne: http://www.youdamnkid.com
Pewfell: http://www.pewfell.com

For bonus content, SUBSCRIBE TO US ON PATREON: http://www.patreon.com/urf

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