Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Undefeated - Character Design

This is part two of how to make your own short comic (I bet you'd thought I'd forgotten this didn't you?) The observant of you will have noticed the project title has changed to Undefeated. That is because between times I had a good think about the kind of stuff Comica / Cape / Observer might go for and decided though I still like my original idea this one would be more fitting for their competition.

Anyway - character design! This is a page of designs for Michael the main (and only) character from Undefeated.

There are two main reasons for drawing character sheets for your characters:
  1. So you can experiment with their physical characteristics and clothing before you start drawing. This is so important if your character is to have a uniform / costume. The last thing you want is to draw a page / chapter and realise you don't like the design. Its going to be a hell of a long time (if any) before you can write in a suitable reason for a look change. This is less important if your character wears everyday clothes - they can wear different clothes every day - but I would strongly advise not changing your characters' looks too much (and not changing their physical appearance at all unless actually part of the story) if you are writing a short graphic story such as my four pages. Your reader needs to connect with your character instantly - it just won't happen if they keep changing, like it wouldn't happen if they kept changing personality.
  2. So you can get used to drawing them. Nothing shouts unprepared / inexperienced than characters that have unintentionally changing hair length / jaw shape / eye size / height etc.
There are no rules on how many character sheets you need to do. Do as many as it takes for you to feel comfortable with drawing them.

Don't just do head sketches (as tempting as it is). Head sketches are really important as they are a great way of drawing your characters' expressions but you also need to know what the rest of their body looks like! Also remember to vary the angles that you draw your characters from. You won't always be drawing your character face on so you need to get used to what they look like from the side / behind.

There are also no rules on what medium you use to draw your characters with. These sketches are, after all, just for you. e.g. I never usually draw with colour pencils however they felt right for Michael. What I would suggest though is that at some point you practice drawing your characters in the medium you plan on drawing your comic in. I planned on drawing my first idea digitally so I drew the character sheets 100% digitally. Here is the beginning of one:

Well done! You are now ready for stage three...drawing your graphic story!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Recipe - green tea and kiwi cupcakes with a lime and white chocolate glaze

This recipe is inspired by my visit to Japan and Hong Kong and will make 12 cupcakes. It works (and looks) best with matcha however if you don't have matcha loose green tea or the contents of a green tea teabag will do just as well.

125g butter / butter alternative
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
75g dried kiwi
150g self-raising flour
60 ml milk
1 tsp matcha / green tea
100g white chocolate
A large lime

Green food colouring

  1. Preheat the oven to 170oC / 150oC (fan-assisted) / gas mark 3.
  2. Beat the butter, vanilla, sugar and eggs together until light a fluffy.
  3. Chop up the dried kiwi pieces so that they around 1/2cm long and stir in.
  4. Sift in the flour.
  5. Infuse your milk with your matcha / green tea by adding it to then milk and gently heating. Do not let the milk boil or catch! Leave it to cool then add to your mix (if you used loose tea strain the milk first). If you didn't use matcha but would like that green look you can add a few drops of green food colouring.
  6. Divide the mixture into your cupcake cases and bake for 35 minutes or until golden.
  7. Leave to cool on a rack.
  8. Grate the rind from the lime and then juice half of it (use the other in a cocktail or something equally glamorous...I picked a Moscow Mule).
  9. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of warm water. Don't let the water boil and don't let the water get into the chocolate. Add the lime juice. It will seize and go grainy but if you keep stirring (I used a whisk for this bit) it will return to a liquid form.
  10. Let the glaze cool for a bit then apply to the cooled cupcakes.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Friday Feature - Bad Veins

This week's Friday Feature is Bad Veins an indie pop project by Ben Davis from Ohio, USA.
A few years ago I found this indie pop group called 'Fun.' At some point I was going to Friday Feature them (I was being lazy about it) but before I knew it they were singing with Rhianna, UK number one and basically no longer undiscovered...I'd missed my chance. I'm not letting that happen Bad Veins! These guys are destined for greatness - how they are not madly rich and famous yet I don't know.
First of all don't get scared by their name. They sound like a gangsta rapper or possibly a death metal band but it's just an anagram of Ben Davis. Bad Veins' music is ridiculously catchy - every song on their second album, This Mess We've Made is sing-along-able - an album which very unusually (in my opinion) doesn't have a single dud song on it. The majority of the album is upbeat, dance-around-the-room, indie pop with an electro finish. There is also the more serious song such as haunting, menacing (and honestly amazing) 'If Then' which makes for good contrast. Everything is then rounded off by the slower paced, brassy farewell song, 'Not Like You'. I'd wager, however, anything would sound endearing, passionate, emotive and powerful if Ben applied his lyric and vocal skills to it. If you are a fan of bands like Fun., The Feeling and Hellogoodbye you will LOVE Bad Veins. Honest.
Where will I have heard them before?

Bad Veins won the first ever Target Music Maker Award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. Since then they have toured extensively with acts including Two Door Cinema Club and We Are Scientists.

Featured Song: I Turn Around and If Then


Where can I hear more?

You can listen to all of This Mess We've Made on their soundcloud as well their EP Outliers and first album Bad Veins, where you can also download track Don't Run for free. You can then download the rest via iTunes and amazon etc

What is their website?


Next week: Saint Motel

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Kitto Katsu

One thing you can't help but notice when visiting any Japanese convenience store, motorway rest stop, market or even gift shop is the abundance of Kit Kats. That's because in Japanese 'Kit Kat' sounds a lot like 'surely win'. Often they are presented in cute little boxes and are given to students as good luck presents before taking exams. Even on single 'fun size' bars there is a space to write the recipient's name.

Due to the popularity of the Kit Kat in Japan they come in many special and limited edition forms. In Japan there have been over 200 different flavours released since 2000 ranging from ginger ale to soy sauce! This year the flavours have been regional. Lucky for me then that I was on a tour of Japan so made it my quest to find as many different Kit Kat flavours as possible. Here were my findings:

Blueberry Cheesecake - Jyo-Koushinetsu (found at Osaka Kansai Airport)

Brown Sugar Syrup (found in a motorway rest stop somewhere between Tokyo and Hakone)
Sakura Matcha / Cherry Blossom Green Tea (found at Osaka Kansai Airport)
 Cinnamon - Kyoto
Hot Japanese Chili (found in Matsumoto)
Japanese Strawberry (found at Osaka Kansai Airport)
Matcha (found both in Takayama and Osaka Kansai Airport)

 Strawberry Cheesecake - Yokohama (found in a motorway rest stop somewhere between Tokyo and Hakone)
Uji Matcha - Kyoto (found at Osaka Kansai Airport)
Wasabi - Shizuoka
All of the bars apart from the chili bar are white chocolate so taste very sweet. My favourite flavour was cinnamon as the spice cut through the sweetness nicely. I also liked the matcha (green tea) flavours. Matcha, unlike normal green tea, is a bitter flavour so goes really nicely with sweet things such as cakes, ice cream and white chocolate.
If you live in the UK you can buy some of the flavours at the Japan Centre.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Violence Out Tonight - Little Comets

This morning I read Rosie + the wolf's post about Little Comets and just had to share with you guys their video for their single Violence Out Tonight. The song is about rape and the general abuse of women by men. The video by Fern Berresford is simple yet effective. It makes me so happy that there are men out there who get that it is not right for a woman to not be able to go out at night alone without apparently inviting someone to rape her. It makes me even happier that out of all the songs they could have picked to be their single they chose this one.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday Feature - Rebecca Sugar

For my first Friday Feature back from Japan I really wanted to write about a Japanese musician but the honest truth is I was so busy making wasabi and taking naked public baths that I didn't get to buy any music! Luckily in Hong Kong I did hear some really cool music - not by a hot Hong Kong band (unfortunately) - but the epic songs written by Rebecca Sugar for Adventure Time!

Adventure Time is an American comedy fantasy animation about the RPG-style adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog. One of the storyboard artists is Rebecca Sugar who also writes many of the songs performed in the series, in particular those sung by Marceline the Vampire Queen (and Marshall Lee her gender bender character in Fiona and Cake). She is basically epic. So here are some of Rebecca's demos accompanied by her concept and storyboard art:

Gummedup / Warmedup

I'm Just Your Problem

Tropical Island
Susan Strong
Marceline's Song

Fiona and Cake

Good Little Girl

And because I love the 'Bad Little Boy' episode (the second Fiona and Cake episode) SOOOOO much here is the final version of Good Little Girl:

I love Fiona. She is blonde and curvy but so not a bimbo (kind of like me...a little bit...maybe...). I hope there are many more Fiona and Cake episodes! She has the potential to be a wonderful role model.

Anyway you can watch all of Rebecca's demos here and enjoy more of her magical world here.

Next week: Bad Veins

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

2013 Prestwick Book Festival

Hi guys, I'm back from Japan! How have you been?

This is just a quick post (whilst I prepare some cool Japanese posts for you) about the 2013 Prestwick Book Festival. Many of the writers of Impossible Spaces - the anthology my short story 'I'd Lock it with a Zipper' will be in - will be reading excerpts from their stories there (as well as other really cool stuff). I won't be there personally but I know everyone at Hic Dragones and Impossible Spaces would love it if you came and supported the event!


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

You Are Tearing Me Apart!

I`m currently in Kanazawa! So here is something silly for you to watch whilst I`m still away!

Okay so you might not know this but I love the film The Room. If you haven't seen it - FIND A WAY TO WATCH IT! It is the best bad movie you will ever see! Every minute is pure gold. Honest. I love it so much I use this as my ringtone for my friend Gina. Don't believe me? Watch the trailer!

Some people love The Room so much they've made music about it! Here are my two favourites:

You're Tearing Me Apart Feat. Lisa (Dubstep Remix) by Microw Jupiter

You Are Tearing Me Apart (Lisa) by Connor Adams
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