Following “The Feast of Afterwinter” we waited a full nine months before doing “As Spring Dawns”. One of the things I try and do with the CTS strips is force myself to draw things that I don’t normally draw. If you look back through them you’ll see that they almost all start with some sort of nature scene. Obviously that sort of imagery is super important to the whole Samurai theme. But also I have a hard time drawing that sort of thing so it’s a good exercise.
The current storyline is a great example of that, today’s page especially. I really never draw animals and so today’s page was extremely hard. I must have drawn the first four panels fifteen or twenty times. I had plenty of great reference for the hawk and the rabbit but simplifying them down into cartoon form was really hard for me. The problem was I wanted them to be simple but not “cartoony”. In my head I was thinking about the sort of effortless lines you see in a sumi-e painting.
I’m really proud of how the whole storyline came out. I think it’s definitely my best work to date. I am already starting to see the mistakes though, like the right arm on the CTS in today’s page. Most importantly I think it just works. It reads well and the pacing on each page is solid. Overall I think this one was a success. I never know going into a CTS strip if I’ll like what I end up with. I guess that’s part of the fun for me.
Last time I shared a CTS drawing by one of my heroes, Stan Sakai. Today I have another one for you. This was drawn for me be Stephen Silver of Kim Possible fame.
I’ve said before that Stephen is probably the single biggest influence on my work and so this piece is a real treasure for me. I keep it right here on my desk in a nice frame. Well it was a nice frame until Tycho threw a plastic frog at my head as hard as he could. It missed and hit the frame shattering the glass in it. He’s a fucking douche bag.
Here are a few detail shots from the new comic.
Like I said before the Rabbit was a huge challenge for me. Making it simple without being a cartoon was a challenge. I tried dozens of different designs before I settled on this one. Essentially it’s just an outline and then I used the shading to give it some volume.
I like the way the Hawk turned out. He was also hard to simplify. For a while I was trying to draw a lot of the feathers but ended up just implying them with the dark brown swatches across his head.
I used very few photoshop tricks with this whole piece. My goal from the beginning was to keep it simple. I did hit this panel with a very slight glow just to give the feeling of warmth coming from the tea house. I really wanted to show the difference between the toasty interior and the snowy cold outside.
So there you go. That’s my “director’s commentary” for the CTS. I’ve gotten a couple mails from people telling me they weren’t fans of the character before but after reading my history of him they appreciate it a lot more. I’m really glad that’s the case even if it’s just for a few of you. For me the CTS is much more than a samurai story. It’s a chance to tell a different kind of stroy, learn new techniques, and just plain get better.
Thanks for indulging us. On Monday we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming.