• Carpe Chaos News Roundup (December 22th, 2011)

    The holidays are here, and for me that means VACATION TIME! But before I go, let me catch you up:

    • Jailing Fortune is done! Man, it feels great to finish that story. Four chapters and 84 pages later, the action, drama, and profanity have come to a close. And that means that Anthony Cournoyer is ready to move onto another, even bigger, even more action-packed story that we hope to debut early next year. More details on that coming soon. And I wouldn't be surprised if Nate turns up in another story someday.
    • So maybe you noticed you didn't get a new chapter in December, because Chapter 4 of Jailing Fortune started in November and its updates were stretched up until now. And now you're probably noticing that we're taking the last week of this month off, returning in January. Yes, it's vacation time for Carpe Chaos. But to make up for it we made SIX FREE DESKTOP WALLPAPERS to help everyone last until our next chapter in January.

      Yes, for your downloading pleasure we have created two desktop wallpapers from Rising Up, two desktop wallpapers from Jailing Fortune, and two desktop wallpapers from The Myth of Midigan. The Rising Up ones were done by Daniel Allen, the Jailing Fortune ones were made by Anthony Cournoyer, and of course the Midigan wallpapers were created by Joe Slucher, the same artists that drew each story, respectively. Enjoy! And if you like any of them enough, they'll all be available as posters in the store in just a few days.

    • I set up FeedBurner for our blog! This means you can click this little animated GIF, , and by doing so get both chapter updates (once per month) and blog updates in your feed reader. You can also use it to get an email every time that happens! Looking at our update history, it would mean something like 4 emails a month, or so. Not too spammy, right?
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      To get blog updates delivered to your inbox!

    • I might have gotten a little carried away when setting up FeedBurner, because I got a bunch of other widgets for our blog too. You can see them all in the column on the left. DeviantArt didn't have one so I just took a screenshot of their page and made it an image link. Jerks.
    • One thing I did that was cool was add a ShareThis thingamajigger to the bottom of the main site at CarpeChaos.com. Hopefully this will make it easier to share Carpe Chaos, now that we are a fully mature web-based graphic novel series (webcomic for short) that has been updating regularly for 19 months now.
    • Got some convention news. We were confirmed for both WonderCon and Comic Con in 2012! Our table number in San Diego will be Q 13 in the small press area, and they didn't tell us our WonderCon table number yet. But that will also be in the small press area. WonderCon is in Anaheim this year, but the people at Comic Con International promised me that WonderCon will come back to San Francisco in 2013. You can get the latest on our Convention appearance schedule by checking our conventions page.
    • You might have noticed that the front page of the website looks a little different. That's because a few days ago we updated the site to remove the mini-descriptions from the New Chapters column. Really what we did was gain the ability to put different "teaser" text there, which we are working on. It's such a small space...
    • Another of my articles made it onto MakingComics.com. Here's the link, it's about what I look for when reviewing Carpe Chaos comic word balloons, pretty much.
    • So the new wiki article that I keep mentioning about the Porg's homeworld. Yes. It's still waiting on Eric, but since he's such a big man over at Red 5 Studios working on Firefall now, he's had to prioritize making Carpe Chaos comics over other "extra" stuff, like releasing more universe information on our wiki. At this point I think it's fair to say the public wiki project is on hold, unless, you know, you guys want to start adding information to it. Which we are hoping will happen, someday. If you want to get us to release the canon "citation" article we have about the Porg's home planet, the best thing to do is to contact Eric using our contact form here or tweet a plea with @EcnaEcna in your tweet. If he sees enough interest from fans, he'll be more motivated to stop drooling over the Firefall cosplay he likes so much and review and post the article!
    • Publishing schedule update! Our next story will start somewhere around January 5th, give or take a day or two. Depending on production schedules, either January or February will be the month for Midigan Chapter 4. The other Jan/Feb comic is called Unwelcome Emissary, a one-shot, 28-page comic written by Eric Carter and illustrated by Daniel Allen. And it's looking freaking awesome. Here's a preview:

      Kaeans in strength suits! So awesome!

    See you all next year,

    -Jason

  • Creating the lines of Jailing Fortune

    Hello, my name is Anthony. I've been an artist for Carpe Chaos for a little more than 4 years. My previous blog entry is here, and like before Jason is helping by editing my English. Also like before, my example is taken from Jailing Fortune.

    In this blog submission I will talk about my inking technique, and how I use Adobe Photoshop to do it. The method aims at work efficiency. It is really easy for inexperienced inkers to use since it tackles head-on the most common problem with inking, which is line consistency. The results of this method work well together with colors... but I would use a more complex style for anything that was going to be only black and white.

    I did not need to go too in-depth with the penciling here. You need to have a solid understanding of the designs and model sheets to allow yourself to ink something this basic. But then again, you have a lot more freedom when inking digitally than on paper.

    The first phase usually consists of locking the edges of the different elements. Here I used a hard brush with no pen pressure sensitivity. This helps a great deal in keeping some consistency in the line weight. The second default brush is the one you wanna select. To customize it you'll need to set the size jitter control to "off".

    These lines will end up being the heaviest. They are the #1 and #2 on the reference cube below. The lines of #1 are the outer edges that stand in emptiness. The thicker they are, the more cartoony the result. The lines labeled #2 are created by different objects touching each other. Their weight should be a bit less than the first but they basically play the same role of defining an object, or in other words wrapping a shape. Consider sizes 3 and 2, respectively, for panel-size artwork.

    To create these long lines without wobbliness, just add one "dot" at the start of a line, press and hold shift, and then add a second "dot" where the line should end. This will automatically draw a perfectly straight line, and because you have chosen to remove the pen pressure, the line will be the same thickness all around.

    Next up are the inner edges and are labeled as #3 on the reference cube below. I usually get rid of these lines by blending them with the rest of the colors... but until then they serve as shape guidelines and help the coloring and shading processes. I use the thinnest size and I still leave the pen pressure off.

    So from this point... everything inward can be inked with a small, pressure-enabled brush (marked #4 below). You do not have to cover an entire wall... a fraction is enough to give you cues when you do the shading. Like for the edges, these lines are likely going to be colored. But putting a fair amount of time in while inking makes the subject material (cement, brick, metal, etc.) recognizable. You can also use this step as a final polishing phase and loosen up some of the edges that may look stiff.

    There are a few things that are better left un-inked. In the example panel, these are the chain-link fence and stripes on the gate arm. Brick walls and tags are also good examples... Anything that you suspect will drastically change in appearance from the larger element in which it is contained should be treated as a flat templates for colors.

    You might think that using the brush I described above might result in a stiff look. But you cannot think that every single stroke you draw is permanent. You can come back and loosen up some of the edges when you lock up most of the line weight. You can also judge for yourself with the two characters in my example panel, which were inked using the same inking method. Some of the major lines that wrap the silhouette were tweaked a bit later one, to feel more natural.

    If you want to see how it turned out once colored, here it is:

    So in conclusion, the simplicity of this method can help inexperienced inkers get sharp results early on. That same simplicity is also very "selection-friendly" when it comes to colors. It is overall a core method from which you could push the details further, if you wish, with the assurance of good line weight all the way through.

    -Anthony

  • Carpe Chaos News Roundup (November 24th, 2011)

    Happy Thanksgiving! I got you all a whole bunch of brand new news:

    • Comikaze happened, and it went really well! Eric was there, and you can read what he thought of his experience in his blog post here. He was also interviewed by "Code Name: Epic" and thoroughly impressed the interviewer. I put the interview video on the blog here.
    • I mentioned in my last news update that I was working on a new wiki article for our wiki. The good news is that I finished it! The bad news is that Eric hasn't finished redacting all of the sensitive information, what with Comikaze and all. With any luck it will be up soon!
    • Reinvention is now in Graphicly! Here's what it looks like in Graphicly's web widget thing:


    • Chapter 3 of Jailing Fortune is now also in Graphicly! AND HERE IS YOUR PROOF:


    • As I mentioned last month, I contributed an article to the blog on MakingComics.com about the flow of a comics page, and things I look out for when reviewing Carpe Chaos pages. Here's the link! If you're actively making comics or thinking about starting, there is a ton of helpful information on that site and I would 100% recommend reading the posts there! Their podcasts are also pretty interesting, at least for me. I hope to keep contributing articles as I find the time. Here's their banner:
    • Google Buzz is going away, so I made Carpe Chaos a Google+ page! If you add it to your circles then you should get updates with it, just like on Facebook. My plan is to update the Google+ page any time I update the Facebook page, because I don't really understand how they're different.
    • The new version of the Carpe Chaos Webstore has always had the option to pay with Google Checkout, but now there is an icon on left to let people know it's an option.

      We should have added it when we launched the new version of the store, but at least we got around to it now, right? :-).
    • I signed us up for the link exchange and webcomic reader site Ink Outbreak, so if you use that site make sure you follow us! I also made this cool banner for it:

      There are no humans in Carpe Chaos, get it? My sense of humor. Anyway our RSS feed only updates when a new chapter is completed, which is on the first day of each month, so our banners might not get "bumped" very often even though we update with new pages all the time. Eric is looking into whether we can build an RSS feed that updates whenever a new page goes up, so we can use it with their site. I'm not sure whether we'll be able to, and our comics aren't written to be read page-by-page, but if we manage to get something working then people that use Ink Outbreak will see us at the top of their lists more often. Being on that site also means you can follow us if you have an account! Here's the button, to make it real easy for you :-)

      I've also added the link exchange box to the left-hand column of the blog, and as an advertisement in our HTML comic viewer's ad pages rotation. By the way, if you want to advertise with Carpe Chaos by putting full-page ads in our comic viewer, get in touch with us!
    • Jailing Fortune Chapter 4 is moving along nicely and is scheduled to finish on December 22nd, making the final page count for the story 84. Another great story finished. Usually we finish new chapters on the first of each month but after putting out a new comic chapter every month for 18 months solid we're all taking a well-earned vacation at the end of December. On the one hand you won't be getting a new December chapter, but on the other hand we have some cool freebies planned that will go up just in time for the December holidays. Just our way of making it up to you, the loyal fan, as we gear up for 2012!
    • -Jason

  • Comikaze Complete!

    Sharon and I just got back from Comikaze in LA and it was a great show! We shared a booth with DWAP Productions and Komplicated.com, under the banner of The Antidote Trust. The Comikaze crowd was great, for a first year show, there were a TON of people attending, and even better, everyone seemed really interested and engaged. Comikaze is definitely high on Carpe Chaos's list of shows to do next year.

    And now the obligatory picture of our booth that looks like every booth we do:

    I gave someone a free comic in exchange for taking a picture of us in our booth.

    Everybody loved our new bookmarks, and our Jailing Fortune floppies. We also donated a Moments of Elation 7 foot wall scroll to a charity auction for Baby Princess Leah.

    The exhibitors at Comikaze were all pretty good. None of the big names like Marvel or Time Warner were there, which really makes the smaller booths shine. The spectacle of those mega-booths seems to detract from a lot of the really great gems that you can find in the small and medium press areas, without adding much lasting value to the show. And better yet, very few of the exhibitors at Comikaze were amaeteurish or unrelated to comics, so it kept the average quality high.

    Three graphic novels caught my eye at the show, Romeo and Julient: The War, Popgun Volume 4, and The Umbrella Academy. I decided to wait till I had read a review beore I bought Stan Lee's Romeo and Juliet, but a transhuman cyborgs vs. genesplicer retelling of the classic tale (brought to life with really stellar art for a comic) is a tantilizing concept. Popgun is just a lot of everything, but at $35 I decided to look for it in a library. I came home with Umbrella Academy, and so far it's been a rompous adventure reminiscent of League of Extrodinary Gentlemen and FREAKANGELS. Very original, very snappy, with dialog almost as good as Scott Pilgrim, I can't help but like the maladjusted twenty-something superheroes. The over-the-top villians really clinch the deal (the first rampaging villian is the Eiffel tower).

    As I mentioned before, the crowd at Comikaze was really great. The show also had a strong presence of talented cosplayers, and the panel I went to had great energy and questions from the audience.

    Judging by the number of unicorn horns I saw at the show, and LA's position at the forefront of fashion, the coming year is going to be socked full of horned equine attire:

    A random unicorn horned girl

     

    -Eric

  • Midigan 3 done, Jailing Fortune 4 starting soon

    In case you missed it, Trading Tales: The Myth of Midigan Chapter 3 is now fully live on the site! Check it out on the comic timeline page here.

    The final chapter of Jailing Fortune, which is chapter 4, will begin on Sunday November 6th, and we'll be trying out a Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday update schedule for it. And don't forget Eric will be in booth 3303 at Comikaze this weekend!

    -Jason

  • Carpe Chaos News Roundup (October 26th, 2011)

    Back again with the low-down for y'all:

    • First on the list is a very important thing: Comikaze is coming up, and Eric will be there at the Carpe Chaos booth on November 5th and 6th promoting the comics, selling the "shwag," and talking to everyone who'll listen. The booth number will be 3303, and he'll be sharing the space with others from The Antidote Trust including Dale Wilson of DWAP Productions and also Hannibal Tabu. If you attend and miss our table, we'll be so sad!
    • Finally, some new wiki content! The script for Reinvention is on our wiki now! As far as the next background article it's slow going, but the "Porg Homeworld" article is next I'm really hoping to get it done in the next couple of weeks. As a preview, here's a picture of one of the species of wildlife native to the Porg homeworld of Artacuse:

      An Evlucu. These are to Porgs what monkeys are to us humans.

    • I have uploaded all of our comics to our DeviantArt page. It was a bit of work because we have over 300 full-color pages at this point, but it's done and they're all organized into folders and everything. I guess some people like to read comics with their DeviantArt accounts, so now whenever I load a new page onto carpechaos.com I also add it to DeviantArt. I mean, why not? If you happen to have a DeviantArt account, you can click here and use the menu on the left to look through our comics and add your favorite pages to your Favorites List!
    • Speaking of social media sites, I activated the Graphicly Facebook App on our Facebook page here. So you can read a few of our comics right there from Facebook! I think the technology is pretty cool, especially how the Facebook comments are shared between the app and what's on the Graphic.ly website itself.
    • And that brings me to the latest Graphicly release, which is Trading Tales: The Myth of Midigan (Chapter 3). It's only 99 cents, and if you buy it now you can read the ending early! We would really appreciate the support! Just for fun, here it is embedded in this blog post! Graphicly has all these cool widget things.
    • I ran some banner ads in Project Wonderful both this month and last month promoting Reinvention, and before that Jailing Fortune Chapter 3. I thought they turned out pretty good, so why not share them here? If you're one of the people that found us through these ads, welcome!



    • Trading Tales: The Myth of Midigan's Chapter 3 is will be completely uploaded to CarpeChaos.com on November 1st, right on schedule. In fact, I just uploaded page 49:

      We then plan to start uploading the final chapter of Jailing Fortune on November 6th, so look forward to the suspenseful ending! It will be great! And you should trust me, because I know how it ends. The ending is awesome!

    • I feel like we have so many things going on that I can't talk about yet because none of them are ready to show off yet. But, I'll tempt fate by mentioning a couple of things we hope to be able to show off soon:

      • You know how we have two iPhone/iPad apps in the app store? One for Moments of Elation and another for Daniel Allen's version of Rurban Sprawl? No? You should go and download them, because they are free! Anyway, after Apple told us we couldn't keep releasing one app per chapter like that, we began working on a single app that could load all of our comics. It's been taking a while because it's pretty complicated, but we're in the home stretch and we think a release may just be a few months away. I'm probably jinxing things by mentioning it early, but once it comes out it will be AMAZINGLY COOL. And as you can tell by the two stories that are already available there, the reading experience is completely different because the comics have been "remixed" to fit the screen with no annoying scrolling or zooming required to read them. I can't wait until it's done...
      • Jason Brubaker of reMIND launched a new resource site for making comics called, aptly enough, makingcomics.com. He invited us to contribute articles to the site, which is an honor for us, and we plan to make some how-to articles for him in the near future. Again, it's pretty early to mention it because we haven't written anything yet, but of course I'll post again here when something of ours makes it onto his site.

      It sucks to have all of these plans in motion and none of them done! We've got a lot more going on too, but I really can't announce those yet. Stay tuned for more updates!

    -Jason

  • Creating the artwork of Strength in Numbers

    Hello. I'm Daniel Allen, a freelance artist whose primary focus is digital painting. As of now, I've illustrated five comics for Carpe Chaos. These include Worst Case Scenario, Strength in Numbers, Rising Up, and most recently, Reinvention. I also created a version of the test comic Rurban Sprawl, which is not featured on the website (note from Jason: you can read it for free on your Apple mobile device by downloading this free app).

    In this blog post I'll be showcasing some of the stages we went through in picking the final art style for Strength in Numbers, as well as covering the basic technique for the final product.

    The script for this comic described it as "A playful lighthearted, somewhat sentimental vignette." While it does contain some dramatic undertones, especially for readers who are more familiar with the background story of the Turikasuul and the Xotron, the comic as a whole has much in common with a children's book. Jason and Eric wanted to emphasize this by choosing a friendlier, less graphic art style than previous comics.

    The initial style brief in the script was a tentative "watercolors." This was a good starting point, but required some exploration to find the right visual aesthetic. Watercolor painting is not in itself a style, but rather a wide range of tools and techniques which can be used to create almost any image imaginable, from messy cartoon art to extremely detailed biology illustrations or even photorealistic portraits or still life paintings.

    (click for full-size image)
    Click for full-size image

    In these first style tests, I experimented with line quality, contrast, and some different levels of realism. One concern we dealt with throughout this process was the realism of the imagery in relation to the Turikasuul and their homeworld Suulmalla. With only a few exceptions, Turikasuul tend to be dark and muted in color, and their homeworld is almost entirely covered with thick storm clouds that block the sun. In addition to counteracting the lighthearted mood we wanted to portray, drawing dark characters in dark environments ran the risk of making the art muddy and indistinct. This was especially true with the addition of paper textures and other traditional media elements which tend to flatten images.

    (click for full-size image)
    Click for full-size image

    The second wave of style tests attempted to address some of these concerns, while at the same time pushing the traditional media effects further. To me, this page has more of a mixed media feel, as the outlines and Turikasuul rendering appear to involve more opaque paints and possibly some dry media like chalk or crayon. While the the outlines used to emphasize the Turikasuul were discarded, the bright saturated skin color remained, along with other additions. White paper and rough, faded panel borders and speech balloons were very helpful in firmly establishing the traditional materials with which the comic appeared to be drawn.

    (click for full-size image)
    Click for full-size image

    In this round of tests, we've taken many of the existing ideas and pushed them towards a very simple children's book watercolor style. The emphasis here is on loose painting, bright high-contrast characters, minimal backgrounds with no distinct borders, and several types of watercolor artifacts, such as diffused line work.

    (click for full-size image)
    Click for full-size image

    Further revisions produce a cleaner look, with a more blended background, and more precise line work which has been allowed to dry before being colored.

    (click for full-size image)
    Click for full-size image

    With a few minor adjustments, we had the final art style established, and I began illustrating the comic itself. The process ended up being fairly straightforward, with little reliance on tricks or effects, other than the watercolor overlays on the clouds, and the use of paper texture. The main technique used here was to follow the basic rules of painting with transparent watercolors, and to avoid strict precision in brush strokes. By carefully painting the backgrounds around the characters, small light areas where the paper showed through appeared naturally. This traditional media look was reinforced by painting the character colors on another layer set to multiply, allowing the paint to saturate the background where it overlapped. Once everything was painted, the rain effect and paper texture were added, the full-resolution art was shrunk down to a third of its size, and a sharpen effect was applied as a finishing touch to bring out the details.

    Click to read Strength in Numbers!
    Click for full-size image

    -Daniel

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