Comic Process

Added on by Francesca Buchko.

Well, The Clearing is completely inked, and the project is well on its way to being completed, and now the bulk of my drawing time is going to my piece for Light Grey Art Lab's Stacks show. I'm creating my zine in homage to the television show Lost, which first aired in my chosen year of the Stacks timeline, 2004. It was difficult choosing something, because whether I knew it at the time or not, 2004 was full of things that are very important to me. In the end making a decision came down to what I'd prefer to draw. Again, very difficult. 

Fortunately, working on The Clearing and having a blast doing it made me realize that I'd probably like to keep drawing some foliage. You'd better believe a tropical island has some foliage. The fun part is going from a north woods forest to a tropical, south pacific forest. 

In the meantime, though, I'd like to share a few process pictures I took with my phone while working on a panel edit to the comic. The one difference between this process and most of the pages is that I sketched directly on the paper--for the rest I blue-lined the pages.

I start with a sketch or drawing. This one is relatively loose, though that is partially because by this point, I'd drawn so many panels of wolves and leaves and that kind of thing, I had a pretty firm idea of what this panel needs to be. 

I start with a sketch or drawing. This one is relatively loose, though that is partially because by this point, I'd drawn so many panels of wolves and leaves and that kind of thing, I had a pretty firm idea of what this panel needs to be. 

I love this part. It's loose, fairly fast-paced drawing, and involves wetting the paper and using copious amounts of ink. By this point, I have a jar of water that has so much ink in it, I can use that water to lay down the lightest greys. Unlike working with watercolor, though, I don't do as much layering. I work from light to dark (like watercolor), but because ink is pretty permanent, I get as much of my business done while the paper is still wet.

I love this part. It's loose, fairly fast-paced drawing, and involves wetting the paper and using copious amounts of ink. By this point, I have a jar of water that has so much ink in it, I can use that water to lay down the lightest greys. Unlike working with watercolor, though, I don't do as much layering. I work from light to dark (like watercolor), but because ink is pretty permanent, I get as much of my business done while the paper is still wet.

Detail time! The trick is to remember what was in the sketch. Again, not a lot to remember here, because the sketch was loose and a lot of the things I need to know is apparent from the washes, but in some previous panels, I would have been lost if I hadn't documented my first sketches. Always keep track of your process!

Detail time! The trick is to remember what was in the sketch. Again, not a lot to remember here, because the sketch was loose and a lot of the things I need to know is apparent from the washes, but in some previous panels, I would have been lost if I hadn't documented my first sketches. Always keep track of your process!

The last thing I do (outside of the computer, which is a pretty important step in itself) is go back in with a brush and add any darks that I might need. Sometimes they help clean up a composition, sometimes they add texture...I like to work this way because it gives me room to be fluid and creative within the boundaries of my sketch.

The last thing I do (outside of the computer, which is a pretty important step in itself) is go back in with a brush and add any darks that I might need. Sometimes they help clean up a composition, sometimes they add texture...I like to work this way because it gives me room to be fluid and creative within the boundaries of my sketch.

One thing I have to mention, because I believe it has a huge role on the outcome of a project, is how amazing it has been working with a great writer/client. Keith had a very clear (and wonderful) vision for The Clearing, and it was a pleasure to start working with such a clear plan.  At the same time, he has been open and encouraging to the visual ideas I've provided. Love this project so much <3. Peace out.

Multi-Project Ballet

Added on by Francesca Buchko.

Yow! It's the middle of June already?! Every time I look up I get to change the page on my calendar. I always liked changing the page, though. Hate New Year, like changing the calendar pages. 

My list of projects isn't really shrinking, but it's moving along steadily. I thought I'd share a few bits and pieces of things I've been doing. 

Character Collabs are popping up all over on Twitter, and my friend Katy organized one for the new(ish) cartoon, Steven Universe. The whole thing will be coming together towards the end of July, but if you check the tag #SUCollab, you can see a few of the pieces that have been completed. I illustrated Amethyst! She's my favorite! 

Loved drawing her hair :>

Loved drawing her hair :>

"The Clearing" is coming along–the inks are in progress. This is it. This is the part where I can break out the brushes and create some panels that I'm really proud of.  There's more things I'd like to post about in the works, so stay tuned in the near future!

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Spring

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
"If you've been up all night and cried til you have no more tears left in you—you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as though nothing was ever going to happen again."
–C.S. Lewis
She's not actually crying about the weather.

She's not actually crying about the weather.

This is another new piece from my Spyhouse show. This one was already in the works when I was inspired by Jen Mundy and Tyler Bartel's Bi-Weekly Challenge. The last challenge topic was "Spring", and that topic provided another layer to work with. It resulted in an image I'm really happy with.

Resting

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
I'm exhibiting at the Spyhouse from April 8th through May 26th! I've made a few new pieces, which I'll be sharing here throughout the next few weeks. Some of my favorites from the Icelandic Sketchbook project are also on display. Each piece is a framed, digital print, and available for purchase.
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Now that winter is (very probably) over, it's a lot easier to get up in the morning and just go and do things. When winter was at its worst, I tended to reflect on (rose-tinted) memories of pleasant times. Memories are very interesting to me, and I think a lot of my work is heavily influenced by memory. My self-started illustrations—even the pieces that include personified animals—are created because of a positive reaction to a place and time.

It's also interesting to me that it has to be both: Place and Time. Being in the right place at the wrong time affects how you feel about that place. If your strongest impression of San Francisco was the one time you spent a day there and had your bag stolen, your impression may be that San Francisco sucks. I really enjoy Los Angeles and I think that is in part because my first experience there was one of the best trips I've ever taken. Which brings in my third element of memory (and most definitely my illustration work): the individual that is experiencing the place and time.

Objectively, LA is a city. It has a high population for a city in the United States, and it is sunny for the majority of the year. I have friends who can't stand it and friends that love it for the same observations I have just stated. They could be there at the same time, in the same location, and still have opposing reactions.

The piece I've shared above isn't any particular memory of mine, but it is based on my own idyllic recollections of rain and resting. I love that illustration in general draws from the illustrator and their references, but results in new content. Despite the planning and process that goes into a piece, I still am either pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised by the result. Even when every element (color, composition, value, texture, etc.) has been accounted for!

If you'd like to see my show in person, and visit one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities, stop by Spyhouse Coffee on Nicollet!

Edison (ENFJ)

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
Lately, at Light Grey Art Lab, we've been spending a lot of time thinking and talking about the Meyers-Briggs personality test. Most of us have been into it for years–it's funny because now every popular IP has a Meyers-Briggs rubric, in case you want to know which Lord of the Rings character you are most like.

Edison is a character I made up for Light Grey's "Great Personality" show, which combines the Meyers-Briggs personality types with dating sims. You can download and play the games for free on Light Grey Art Lab's website. Right now, there's one game, featuring the "Guardians" group of characters, but throughout the upcoming weeks games will be released for the "Rationals", "Artisans", and "Idealists" (Edison is in the Idealists category).

For the game, each artist made a pinup...
Of course he's pouring tea.

Of course he's pouring tea.

...and a set of full-body poses, including a couple different outfits and a bunch of different expressions. Below are a couple of my favorites.
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The pinup is available for sale as a print here!

Bridgette

Added on by Francesca Buchko.

Merry Christmas! I hope everybody has had a great one!

This year I drew my sister Anna's name for our family gift exchange, which is excellent, because my sister Anna loves stories and adventures. I made her a painting of a character that has thus far has been dubbed "the Ginger Warrior", but now is officially named Bridgette. I've been working on a project with her (and her companion, the Winter Girl). More of that in 2014!

Going overboard with the gold gouache, but it's hard to resist in gift paintings.

Going overboard with the gold gouache, but it's hard to resist in gift paintings.

I've been up north for the past few days visiting my family, and it's awesome. We have our differences, but I'm always impressed and comforted by the willingness each one of them has to be present and loving. I think it's hard! I know I have trouble with it. It's easier to get trapped up and have self-pity tunnel vision, or to find reasons to argue. But this has been excellent. They never fail to remind me why I make things in the first place.

Here's to a New Year, and all of your families :)

6 Degrees

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
The year of Light Grey Art Lab shows! This piece is for 6 Degrees, which opens December 6th. Each of the eighty-some pieces is a postcard inspired by the artist's home. Since I've had a love affair with Minneapolis for some time now, I promptly made a list of my favorite local places, (painfully) narrowed it down, and put some bikes in. Voíla! Minneapolis.
I'm not even going to play like I was being generic about the coffee shop. It is one specific coffee shop, and I love it.

I'm not even going to play like I was being generic about the coffee shop. It is one specific coffee shop, and I love it.

It'd be great to try illustrating some neighborhoods of other cities. There are parts of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago that I think are really lovely and a lot fun. This piece is avaiable for purchase as a limited edition postcard at this shop!

Frenchie Bistro of Vyk'Tornaahl

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
Back in January, when the Light Grey gang got together to plan its upcoming shows, there were two that I was especially excited about. The first was In Place, and the second was named "Rolemodels". The premise was a combination of our favorite artists + fantasy role-playing games. Happily, this week Rolemodels opens at Light Grey Art Lab!

The Light Grey blog does a wonderfully thorough job of describing the whole project (which includes an incredible card game that is available for purchase and play).
Frenchie Bistro is my gamer tag (if I can call it that; I don't play many games and the ones that I do are pretty...well, they're a combination of Phoenix Wright and smattering of free iPhone games.) I didn't make it up myself–I think Chris thought it up–but I like it and I use it for everything, including playing D&D with the Light Grey team.
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The opening for the show is this Friday, and it's also a costume party! If you're in the area, you're invited! We're all dressing up as our characters (or at least, as our characters' classes). I've been working on a few pieces for my getup. Of course, this costume would be incomplete without my animal familiar :)
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Tea Cats

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
My newest favorite place in the Twin Cities is tea shop/cafe/bar called Verdant Tea. Verdant Tea has existed awhile as a company, mainly functioning through online business, but my friends and I have been waiting with baited breath for the Verdant Tea gang to open a shop.

The place is amazing, the beverages are even more amazing, and there is a good assortment of other edible things too, because Verdant Tea teamed up with guys like Sweet Science ice cream, Real Deal Chocolate, and Birchwood Cafe (all locally made and delicous).

David and Lily (the owners) have two black cats named Loki and Rothko, and the cats drink tea and have preferences. I like tea and I like cats, and I really like illustrating, so I've been sketching cats drinking tea quite a bit. I wanted to make a finished illustration of one of the sketches.
I think they're drinking Dragonwell Green.

I think they're drinking Dragonwell Green.

At Verdant Tea, you can participate in a Gongfu Chinese tea ceremony, in which your host will explain to you that one of the most important parts of tea–particularly in that service–is sharing. Hospitality and tea go hand in hand, and the more I thought about that, the more I realized that even when I'm alone at home drinking tea (or even putting the kettle on), a piece of me is comforted by the past times I've had it with people.

I started drinking tea with my grandma, who served it to me when I was a little kid. I drank it because I thought it was cool. Later I had tea with grandma after particularly rough days in highschool. My parents gave it to me when I was sick in bed or if I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. Lindsay, one of my best friends, introduced me to bubble tea, and we began our friendship over hours and hours of conversation/design work at a tea shop.

I can think of more reasons it has significance to me as I write this. It's more than "something good to drink". Food has that kind of significance, too, but that's for another day.

Drawing character

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
This past weekend Light Grey Art Lab held Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying, two Visual Development artists from Walt Disney Animation Studios. It was fascinating watching them work and listening to them talk about what it's like working at Disney! I've fantasized about the studio since I was a kid. My favorite part of their Friday night lecture was the explanation of what Visual Development artist does. It reminds me a lot of product design, from clearly defining/communicating a concept through visuals to material cost limitations. Intent is a little different–for a Vis Dev artist story is most important (which I loved to hear, too.)
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Story was important all weekend long, through Victoria's character design demo and Mike's environment demo. I enjoyed watching them apply classic drawing and painting techniques to their stylized artwork, reiterating that classic methods are tried and true and work for many different styles of drawing.
Victoria explained that characters need to be able to act even before they are designed. It makes a lot of sense–a lot of time little scratch drawings that I find really appealing–even more than my finished work, sometimes–tend to have more "character". Something is happening in those drawings that a person can engage with. It was a good reminder to keep trying to make characters that act before getting caught up in the design.
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I've been working on fleshing out a few stories and characters lately. Here are a few of the winter girl (civilized feral child) and a friend (who for now is called "summer girl" or "ginger warrior".)
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Congo

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
Light Grey Art Lab's second book is called In Place, and it comes out this month, along with a show I am immensely proud to be a part of. It features beautiful, exotic places around the world.
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There's something really special about this project. A lot of the artists are concept artists in the entertainment industry, and naturally are really really good at illustrating grandeur. It's essentially what they do for a living. But the great thing about this, is while they have taken a place and made an image with their own visual voice, they didn't have to heighten the fantastic. The places really are that fantastic in real life. You can visit a lot of them and see that they are. These places are the places that inspire artists to dream up fantastic things in the first place.
Detail close up. You can also see a larger version by clicking on the full image above, or visiting the illustration gallery.

Detail close up. You can also see a larger version by clicking on the full image above, or visiting the illustration gallery.

This was very much a research project. I ended up waffling around before picking a place (I even made a piece that was half done of a completely different subject), but after deciding on the Congo, it was going to be that or nothing. I did a lot of research– which always offers perspective and makes the world greater and more horrifying at the same time.

The Congo is a perfect example of grand and horrifying. It's incredibly lush and beautiful, with hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species. The people of the Congo River Basin are treated brutally, and have been for a long, long time. There are tribes there, though, that live in the rainforest, just as they always have. When I was working on this, I wanted to think about the places that only they have seen, that might be santuaries from human atrocity.
If you'd like to read more about about the project, or order a copy of the book, there's more info on this Light Grey Art Lab blog post.
Detail close-up.

Detail close-up.

Sketchbook Project Progress

Added on by Francesca Buchko.
I just went over to MCAD's gallery and spent a few minutes walking through the Jaime Hernandez exhibit. If that isn't a humbling experience, I don't even know what is. I love looking at original inked pages! I'm sure part of it is a learning thing—you can learn a lot about the way a person works by seeing original pieces. But I also believe there's something kind of magical about seeing work the artist handled.

Anyway, I'm eager to spend more time looking at it one of these days after work. Hernandez himself is coming to the show's reception on August 16th, and it's open to the public! Another reason to visit the Twin Cities this month!
I've finished my piece for Light Grey Art Lab's</i> Role Models<i> show and now I can't resist drawing more of that. Any excuse to draw a cat with wings.

I've finished my piece for Light Grey Art Lab's</i> Role Models<i> show and now I can't resist drawing more of that. Any excuse to draw a cat with wings.

I'm sharing a few images from my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. The deadline is fast approaching, though I'm pretty lucky to work in a studio with 3 other people that have the same deadline. Nothings puts the flame under you like seeing other people's progress on the same project.
I ended up gutting my tiny sketchbook and replacing the paper with some Canson. It's definitely better for watercolor.
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