Sunday, May 27, 2012

Toon Boom Animate Tests

Before I dive in, I have a few things to say about Flash. For over 10 years now, Flash has been everything to me. And I mean that—a statement couldn't be more true. I literally owe my career to that program. I owe the development of my style as a cartoonist to it, too. I was first introduced to (then, Macromedia) Flash as a sophomore in college, on track to what I then believed was an editorial career in Illustration. As soon as I discovered I could make cartoons and games with a tablet and a (then, $99) computer app, things were never the same. This little app propelled me into a career in educational media, where I'm now an Art & Animation Director at FableVision Studios. Getting accustomed to drawing with the vector brush tool in Flash (recall, a tutorial) lead me to believe I should try working with a real brush on paper.

Now, those of you who know my thoughts on the program know how much I love Flash MX—the version released in 2002. I still believe it to be the best version of the app, as it has everything you need to animate without feature bloat—and the brush tool draws like butter. Flash CS3 is a close second, and in some ways I'm growing to prefer how the brush works in that version as I've been trying to ween myself off of MX (for fear that it will no longer be supported by modern operating systems).

Anyway, I ramble. Adobe has completely gummed up what was once great about Flash. CS4 was an absolutely abhorrent release (quite possibly the worst, with all of it's bugs and failures), and I curse CS5 like the plague. The interface alone drives me bonkers. So, as you might expect, I have low expectations for CS6. As I find myself at a decade mark, I've been increasingly curious to try something new.

Enter: Toon Boom Animate. People have had great things to say about this animation tool for at least a year or two (most notably, John K). I'm sort of surprised I've ignored it for so long; Toon Boom has a vast industry record in animation. Their tools have always been unique in that they truly aim to serve the needs and frameworks familiar to the animator. When I've tried to dig in to their apps in the past, I've always been put off by their clunky interfaces. Things have changed with Animate—or, maybe it's just familiar because it strives to be a bit of a Flash clone.

Below is my first attempt at animating with it—a test flight.

There are a few things I really like about Animate. I like that you can customize your brush (size, taper), and I like that it draws in a way where I don't feel the need to fuss over it. Unlike Flash, the brush maintains it's size in proportion to your zoom scale. This is something which never made sense about Flash that we all simply got used to. I like that it stores and remembers individual brush strokes—making them easier to select and manipulate if need be. I really haven't made an attempt at precision level inking, but so far, the brush tool shows a lot of promise.

Onion-skinning is pretty groovy—red behind, green ahead. I found it distracting at first, but it became more useful as I animated.

I'm really not digging into the bells and whistles of it yet, but it's fun to do straight-ahead animation. I suspect the true muscle of the program is in the realm of motion tweens, morphs, IK, and other computer animation tools. There are certainly layers of complexity in the app that has Flash never offered (like a stage camera). In terms of hand drawn animation, it's a pleasure to use.

At the risk of this post getting too long—consider me impressed and intrigued with lots more to explore. I'm writing in case others have been using Toon Boom Animate. If you have tips or advice (pros and cons), feel free to drop me a comment.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

4 Heeby Jeebys and a Marker Story

Howdy! I just updated my online store so that you can now buy all 4 Issues of Heeby Jeeby Comix. For each book I sign and draw a little doodle in the back. Issue #4 is the newest of the bunch, and offers up tales of trickery, transformation, terrible hairdos, and amazing frisbee stunts! Our comics are all ages, shapes, and sizes approved—in easy-to-use-and-share book form!

Each issue is 32 pages, full color, and includes comics you've seen over at our blog.

I also still have copies of the mini I created for TCAF, Marker Story. I drew it over the course of a night with a Crayola marker as an exercise in improvised story-telling. It comes in multiple colors, and each book includes a customized ending drawn in marker.

So, if you're looking for some new comics, feel free to drop by my online store. Thanks!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MeCAF 2012 in Portland, Maine

May is quickly becoming one of my favorite months of the year (second to October—the month my birthday, my wedding anniversary, and Halloween collectively share). The month kicks off with TCAF, and a couple weeks later, MeCAF rolls around. Two amazing comics festivals in one month! What?! CRAZY, I tell you! And I have more fun tabling at MeCAF than at any other festival.

If you haven't already heard, the Maine Comics Arts Festival is this Sunday, May 20th from 10am -5pm at the Ocean Gateway (located on the waterfront) in Portland, Maine. Vacationland, yo! My home state!

Admission is only $5 and kids 12-and-under get in FREE!!!

Dan Moynihan and I are tabling together again—with all 4 Heeby Jeebys (including Issue #4, which debuted at TCAF). I'll have everything I had at TCAF, in fact, with a newly folded and stapled supply of Marker Story minis.

We'll also be doing FREE monster drawings on the spot!

So, if you're shuffling around New England this weekend, this is the place to be. Take a drive up to Portland, grab a lobster roll, and get some comics to go. See you there!

* I should add, that spectacular festival poster is by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

TCAF 2012

With TCAF right around the corner, I figured I'd collect everything I've been tweeting and tumbling (?) over here on the blog. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is this weekend, and I'll be debuting a bunch of new stuff, the biggest being Heeby Jeeby Comix #4. It's another book of 32 full-color pages for all ages! I literally received my first shipment last Friday, so if you're up in Toronto, you'll be the first to get them.

I'll have all 4 books for sale at my table, and actually, this weekend will be Heeby Jeeby Comix #3's first festival debut as well. What's great is that each of us (myself, Dan, David, and Chris) have all done a cover now. They make for a fun set, I think.

What else? I just finished (literally, a day ago) a new mini. It's the first time I've worked in the quarter page format like this—a 40-page story that I drew over the course of night with a couple purple crayola markers (the book is in b&w). Each book will come with a custom ending drawn on the spot in marker.

I'll have my usual collection of prints, and I printed up this new one. In pink, and an alternate dark color.

TCAF is at the Toronto Reference Library. Where you can you find me?
Well, if you found me last year, it turns out I'll be in the exact same spot.

Table 154. Over by the water. Look for the brain!

This year I'm tabling with Andy Ristaino— sitting alongside the comics crew from Doublefine, including Scott C., Nathan Stapley, Joe White, and Gabe Miller. To my left, Jesse Moynihan and David Huyck. I'm looking forward to returning to this row. I had a blast last year.

Finally: Panels! I'm on two this year; both on Saturday.

1:00pm – 1:45pm: Kids Comics Quickfire
(2nd Floor: Appel Salon, Novella Room)
Part drawing jam, part fast-paced game show! Volunteers from the audience are paired off with (or against) professional cartoonists in a series of fun-filled drawing challenges! Featuring Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Raina Telgemeier (SMILE), John Green (Teen Boat) and Bob Flynn (Heeby Jeeby Comix).

3:15pm – 5:00pm: The Adventure Time Mega-Panel!
(High Park Ballroom)
Who doesn’t love adventures? TCAF presents: Adventure Time creators doing what they do best: making crazy-delightful comics about the series they work on.  Don’t miss this fun-filled live drawing session, accompanied by Q&A and general discussion. With Pendleton Ward, Ryan North, Bob Flynn, Andy Ristiano, Michael DeForge, Steve Wolfhard, and Jesse Moynihan.

So, I'll be busy!

One more time:

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Saturday May 5th, 9am-5pm
Sunday May 6th, 11am-5pm
at the Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St., Toronto, Canada

Admission is Free.

Everything you need to know can be found on the official website.

See you there!