spqrblues: (Blues 5 ROMA)
2018-12-17 08:54 am


The images are larger than I used to post, and there are two different sizes below. I’ll tweak formatting if I continue to update here. Feedback welcome!

comics below the cut )
spqrblues: (Ave Sweetums)
2018-12-17 08:36 am

New comics

Hi - I’m not sure who’s still following the comic on this site, but there are a bunch of December updates, and they’ll be posted later today. I’d love to hear from any readers who are over here on Dreamwidth—I’ll decide this month whether it makes sense to keep posting here, and on spqrblues.com, and on Patreon in 2019. I know I’m extremely irregular in updating the story, but I’d like to make it easy and convenient for readers to catch up when I do.

Io Saturnalia and Happy Holidays!
spqrblues: (Blues 5 Felix colour)
2017-10-17 05:48 pm
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Back again, after the break for getting the printed book sorted out.

For the month of October, I've decided to try drawing the comic digitally, since I planned to be on the road a lot this month (and sort of on the road, at NY Comic Con). There may be a bit of a learning curve, and some panels may end up being tweaked (by which I mean, "obsessively fussed with") after posting. So far, though, the learning curve isn't as severe as the last time I tried drawing the comic digitally. I think that's because of an improvement in the tech, not me.

click to see the comic )

I find that drawing digitally makes my line a lot looser--not necessarily evident in this comic, since I forced the line into line--so we'll see how that develops.
spqrblues: (Domitian forgets)
2017-09-16 01:33 pm
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A Year of Four Emperors

I'd forgotten I'd meant to put something like this in the printed book for Chapters I-IV. I was flipping through some printer's proof pages and remembered all the future emperors Felix stumbles across in Chapter II.

The fact that one person can meet, say, 7 emperors in a single lifetime doesn't say much for imperial longevity, does it...

Year of the Four Emperors-to-be
spqrblues: (Antikythera hands)
2017-09-09 10:28 am

Testing new tech

I've heard wild and wonderful things about drawing comics on the new iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil (and an app called ProCreate--yikes). Maybe someday some new tech can join the art-supplies arsenal.

This test drawing is of a mishmash because I used about six different digital brushes/pens/pencils all on top of one another. I can see doing pencils and inking for the comic digitally, but I'll always be devoted to working with my actual ancient palette and its assorted exciting poisonous pigments.

In other news, any of you who supported the Kickstarter should have gotten both a backer survey and a download link by now; please let me know if you haven't received both.
spqrblues: Ave Sweetums Rose (Default)
2017-08-24 01:01 pm

Volcano Day!

It’s volcano day, the “official” pub date of the printed SPQR Blues chapters I-IV book. Happy end of the world (temporarily and only locally)!

I’ll try to put some new art up today!
spqrblues: (Antikythera hands)
2017-07-10 05:40 pm
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Sketch of the day: daily watercolour #5

After doodling a bee, I got it in my head I'd draw Wonder Woman in the leftover space, but somehow ended up turning her into Venus (the "on the battlefield with Felix" version), as you do. The greens and yellows are modern-style paints; the rest are from the ancient palette.

The sample paper--you can see its specs in the image--is Canson's Moulin du Roy. I have a sketch pad with their Montval watercolour paper, and don't like the way it handles water, and I think paints look dull on it. This is a higher-end paper, while Montval is meant to be student grade.

I like this Moulin du Roy paper a lot. It's less textured than some cold press papers (fine grain); it feels smooth and easy to work on. Buckling/warping, when not taped down, is minimal. It was happy to let me do a light pencil sketch, erase it, do another, erase it, about 10 times. The inked line was done with a 005 (very fine) Micron pen, which went down okay, considering this is textured paper and not the best surface for a pen like that.

There's something...I dunno...a little bit dirty about the surface, as if it had been left out to collect dust, but I'm not sure whether that's literally true, whether it picked up dirt in my bag, or whether there are grey fibers or other particles in the paper itself. I didn't notice it until I was peering at the art close up. I feel like the colours lose some of their vividness on this paper, but the fine-grain texture might be a fair trade off.

Update after holding it up to an east-facing window: Actually, colours look very vivid in the sort of direct bright sunlight one isn't supposed to expose one's paintings to.

Non-staining colours don't lift off this paper with the breezy ease of the previous papers I've tested this month. Paints seem to dry more quickly, which is good if you're impatient like me. My homemade earth-tone paints blend and layer easily on it. I have another sample sheet of the cold press, and I'd like to do more tests with it, and I'd like to try the heavier weight version. It makes me want to go out and do architectural paintings, of ruined temples and tumbled columns....

Read more... )
spqrblues: (arch scribe)
2017-07-09 02:59 pm

Sketch of the day: daily watercolour #3

This is another paper made by St Cuthberts Mill, called Bockingford. It's 140lb cold press, like the Millford paper, though it feels ever so slightly stiffer, and the texture is ever so slightly rougher. When doused with the same amount of water as I put on the Millford, it warped and didn't dry back flat on its own like the Millford--but it flattened out after I forgot it in the scanner for a while. Layering on this paper is easier; I've been adding layer after layer on the skin tone, and not only didn't accidentally scrub off the previous layers of paint (as with the Millford), but see no damage to the paper.

The manufacturer says: "traditionally made on a cylinder mould machine...surface is created using natural woollen felts that give it a distinctive random texture. Appreciated for its excellent colour lifting abilities. This is an extremely forgiving watercolour paper."

Read more... )
spqrblues: (arch scribe)
2017-07-09 02:57 pm

Sketch of the day: daily watercolour #4

(Also today, because I accidentally didn't post it: daily watercolour #3)

I let this dry a few days before going back to it so I could try layering paint. In the meantime I seem to have forgotten how I was doing the ponytail so that style could be continued for the rest of her hair. Lots of tweaking and changing is still in progress.

Still, every time I think I've pushed the paper too far with corrections and new layers, it puts up with me.

Read more... )
spqrblues: (Antikythera hands)
2017-07-04 06:55 am
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Sketch of the day: daily watercolour #2

Today's test paper is Daler-Rowney's Langton Prestige, 140lb/300gsm cold press/"not."

I didn't like it all that much. This drawing incorporates homemade paints, Indigo, Japanese-style Kuretake Gansai Tambi paint (did not play well with the paper), and various commercial-brand watercolours (Sennelier, M Graham, MaimeriBlu, & Daniel Smith). The paper holds up perfectly fine to lots of water (which seems to dry oddly quickly), to lifting/scrubbing off paint, and layering. I think the various paints look a bit lifeless in a way that's hard to quantify.
spqrblues: (Antikythera hands)
2017-07-03 02:31 pm

Sketch of the day: daily watercolour

I have at least 30 (possibly more) different types of watercolour sampler papers that I'd like to test, so I'm going to try to do a little piece of art each day--maybe during lunch breaks, so I can make sure I do them quickly, not worrying about the drawing details. Or worrying about, you know, anatomy and stuff.

Also of course I'm going to try to keep the comic chugging along.

Today's "spend no more than an hour on it this time" test of the paper samples stars St. Cuthbert's Mill Milford 140lb cotton cold press ("not") paper.

Read more... )

Light pencil erases easily; paints lift well; the paper warps when wet but dries flat; and I discovered I need to learn PATIENCE before layering on this type of paper--it doesn't dry immediately, but stays workable for a while, so I found myself accidentally scrubbing off the underlayer of paint.

I was also being my usual timid self, and the colours looked a bit washed out. I think more (patient) layering would give a much more vivid result, judging by how bright the more pigment-dense paints along the side look when thumped on the paper in masstone (in "full strength," so to speak).
spqrblues: (Blues 5 Felix colour)
2017-06-19 12:01 am
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SPQR Blues Chapter V: LXXXIII

Once I got started drawing--after a lot of warmups--finishing the pencils and inking went quickly. The dialogue started fighting back and being stubborn, though.

I accidentally left a speaker ambiguous a couple of comics ago, by having an off-panel not-yet-seen speaker. This time I thought I'd try doing it deliberately.

Read more... )
spqrblues: (arch scribe)
2017-06-13 11:00 pm
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ICYMI: sketches of today

Posted on Twitter today: I played with a sampler of QoR watercolours today (instead of getting the next comic done--but it was something I could do while thinking through the next complicated(!) steps in the plot).

QoR paints are made with a synthetic substitute for gum arabic, a binder traditionally used in watercolours and mostly sourced from one type of acacia tree in Sudan. I've heard that the synthetic binder is used in art preservation, but that disqualifies QoR paints from joining my ancient palette, even as a substitute for something poisonous :) The paints needed some finessing to work nicely on the sketchbook paper. They wouldn't be my first choice of paints, but some artists like them. I'll keep playing with them until my tiny sampler runs out.

These are photos, not scans, so the colours and proportions are slightly different in each Iusta image.

(click 'em to see larger)

Read more... )
spqrblues: (arch scribe)
2017-06-11 03:04 pm
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Still warming up

Today's warmup features antique & new dip pens; J. Herbin's archival black ink Encre Authentique (said to have been used by all the classiest ye olde French notaries); a variety of Rohrer & Klingner inks (the two iron-gall inks are not waterproof, the overenthusiastic burnt sienna is); and Copic markers, which I admit is a very weird combination of materials.

I grumped about the black ink not working with one of the nibs, but eventually got it going. The Copics sopped right through Stillman & Birn Alpha paper, but they blended reasonably nicely.

Read more... )
spqrblues: (Antikythera hands)
2017-06-04 02:56 pm
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Sunday Red: warmup sketch

Warmup sketch with two reds--kermes (bugs) on the left, cinnabar hue (substitute for genuine mercury vermilion) on the right.

I'm always worried I'll overshoot the mark and ruin a painting by overworking it, but I'm planning to do a second layer (glaze) on the cinnabar red and on the skin tones when this is fully dry.

Read more... )
spqrblues: (Blues 5 Felix colour)
2017-06-02 12:11 am
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SPQR Blues Chapter V: LXXXII

I kept falling asleep all day, or this would have posted before midnight Eastern time.

I'm not sure I'm awake right now, either. This is a common condition for me.

Read more... )
spqrblues: (Blues 5 Mus colour)
2017-05-29 03:00 pm
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SPQR Blues: Monday extra

A little scene. Painted with the ancient pigments--some ochres, malachite, indigo, a touch of cinnabar, a tiny bit of lapis lazuli, and some smushed-up bugs.

Read more... )
spqrblues: (Blues 5 Mus colour)
2017-05-26 05:13 pm
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SPQR Blues Chapter V: LXXXI

This here is a comic and all that:

Read more... )

Sometimes you burn the finest grapevine shoots for your black paint, sometimes you just grub around in the oven.
spqrblues: Ave Sweetums Rose (Default)
2017-05-25 09:35 am

New Bits

The next comic is inked & lettered (it needs scanning & cleaning) but "what I want to do" has to wait behind "what I have to do" for a little while. Hopefully just a day. Maybe less than that!
spqrblues: (Blues 5 Iusta colour)
2017-05-20 12:01 am
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SPQR Blues Chapter V: LXXX

I found the missing art boards (I'd left them at the art space where I work once a week, because I'm just that aware of my surroundings) and finished up the inking and scanning today.

I have a big project to complete tonight and tomorrow, so I'll aim for a Sunday comic next, but probably not a Saturday one :)

Read more... )