Brooms - the Perfect Weapon
March 6, 2010 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Ben Driscoll, the cartoonist behind Daisy Owl, made a timelapse video of the creation of this comic.
posted by Navelgazer (32 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

One minor question, why does the artist flip the image over sometimes?
posted by rebent at 1:36 PM on March 6, 2010

better at drawing arcs one way?
posted by TheJoven at 1:38 PM on March 6, 2010

One minor question, why does the artist flip the image over sometimes?

For a fresh perspective. The way a traditional artist might hold a drawing up to a mirror. It breaks the familiarity you have with what you're drawing, especially if you've been working on it for hours.
posted by fire&wings at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love the decision near the end of the video in Panel 4 where he breaks the line of dialogue into two chunks and offsets them to emphasize Steve'd recoil from the broom. Little details like that are what I love about timelapsing art.
posted by Decimask at 1:58 PM on March 6, 2010

> For a fresh perspective.

This, or I usually pin or tape it to a wall and stand back for a while. It's the only way I can see that something's not right.
posted by Decimask at 2:00 PM on March 6, 2010

I was psyched about this until I realized it was a "web comic".. it's kind of cheap how he can drag a character out of the way and finish drawing it, and then drag it back into place. Also cheap how he can flip the image to draw it easier. Watterson would draw circles around this guy. C'mon, I dare you to use paper and a pencil! Cheap.
posted by ReeMonster at 3:33 PM on March 6, 2010

Watterson would draw circles around this guy.

Yeah! Because it's totally fair to compare a cartoonist you know nothing about to one who works in a totally different medium.
posted by Corduroy at 3:50 PM on March 6, 2010

ReeMonster is right. Using Photoshop -- or, honestly, any advanced technology -- to create works of art is cheap. After all, using Photoshop takes no mastery of linework or composition, no understanding of form and dimensionality, no talent or desire to create living worlds upon the page. The computer does everything for the "artist".

ReeMonster humbly suggests we return to the art materials wielded by our forebears. The legendary materials used by REAL artists when spirits were brave and the stakes were high. Materials like paper and pencils; pens and watercolors.

That's fine. It's a good start, friends. However, I advocate going back further. I want us to go back to a time when we possessed only sand, water, and our NOSES. I charge you all with these questions: What is more elemental? What is less cheap?
posted by Kikkoman at 4:11 PM on March 6, 2010 [6 favorites]

(here the music reaches a crescendo, and then the masses reading mefi burst out into applause. Or a cricket chirps.)

ReeMonster's argument strikes me similar to, "The Beatles' art is much cheaper that Beethoven's because the Beatles had a recording studio and multi-tracking; Beethoven just had the music in his head and a quill and paper."

The medium is of little consequence; the meat is what gets through the viewers' senses and filters, and how it affects their brains.
posted by not_on_display at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2010

it's kind of cheap how he can drag a character out of the way and finish drawing it, and then drag it back into place. Also cheap how he can flip the image to draw it easier.

Who gives a shit how he does his work? Why does this matter at all? Do you also hate drum machines and guitar effects pedals? It's so cheap how you don't have to have a vintage Vox amp to get the same sound. Amateur musicians should have to seek out and pay through the nose for the REAL gear if they want to produce anything.

Watterson would draw circles around this guy.

Again, so what? You seem to equate technical skill with the ability to enjoy things. People like you piss me off—if something that someone makes doesn't meet some arbitrary technical standard compared to something else, it's crap. What have you done to declare such standards of quality?
posted by secret about box at 4:43 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, that was extra-snotty. I should've said "attitudes like this piss me off" instead, I think.
posted by secret about box at 4:45 PM on March 6, 2010

What you all don't realize is that he just typed in "Bear Owl space diner" and the computer did all the rest for him.
posted by Nedroid at 5:08 PM on March 6, 2010 [7 favorites]

Watterson would draw circles around this guy.

Flagged for flagrant asshattery. I was actually really impressed with how much work was involved. I haven't really watched any other web comic artists work but I kind of assumed there would be a lot more use of pre-drawn elements and such. Seems like an awful lot of work for a several-times-a-week comic that's not your primary income source.
posted by signalnine at 5:20 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I do a MWF webcomic (full color!) and there is a lot of work to it. One thing I recently did was switch from doing everything on the computer to doing everything in pencil first, then ink with a sharpie, scan and color. I find that whatever I draw retains a certain character that I don't get when I do everything on the computer.

Seems like an awful lot of work for a several-times-a-week comic that's not your primary income source

Ultimately, You're making a bit of art 3 days out of the week, but I wouldn't call it "work" because I find the act of drawing/coloring to be very relaxing.
posted by hellojed at 5:40 PM on March 6, 2010

I like the part where he draws the comic.
posted by cmoj at 5:44 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been a fan for a while, but this now gives me fantastic perspective on the process that I can use to help my children understand that good art, art you can be proud of, takes time to create and involves a lot of false starts, even if it is "only" a comic.

and now I will stop thinking grumpy thoughts because he doesn't draw a new comic every day as I wish he did
posted by davejay at 5:46 PM on March 6, 2010

Also: who here wishes they could see the same thing, but of a Chris Ware comic?
posted by davejay at 5:46 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh, and you realize that the likes of Caravaggio and Titian projected, right? And the first cave men to draw on walls may have been drawing the spots in front of their sensory deprived eyes.

Cheap. Please. Placing arbitrary limitations on the "correct way" to do something is cheap for my money. This uninformed, petty attitude is certainly a dime a dozen.
posted by cmoj at 5:49 PM on March 6, 2010

That was great, it still has a nice organic feel to it even though it's drawn directly in the computer - could use some varying line weight but that's just my taste.

I figured it took him about 2 hours to draw the thing, add on some writing time and panic time for when the ideas aren't coming and that adds up to a whole lot of time per cartoon. Hats off to him.
posted by Scott H at 5:49 PM on March 6, 2010

I think you're giving me a hard time for stating my opinion. If you disagree that's fine and I never said that I felt the art was bad or the comic wasn't good. All I meant was this: if I were to see a great paper/pencil comic artist draw a strip, I would feel inspired and interested; watching how they take the time to compose the panel before inking, building the panel from the foundation out, etc. If there is a mistake, an actual change and MORE drawing must be done. Trial and error takes way more time when new drawing is always required. Much like the way digital photography has created hordes of trial-and-error photographers (myself included. Not knocking it just saying.) In the Daisy Owl video, if the head is in the wrong place he copies the whole head and just rotates it. If a vehicle isn't where he wants it to be, he copies THAT and drags it. So that bums me out. I'm entitled to feel that way!
posted by ReeMonster at 6:48 PM on March 6, 2010

Yes you are, but what's cheap about that? You clearly attached a pejorative meaning here.
posted by cmoj at 7:25 PM on March 6, 2010

I love Daisy Owl. That's all. I got a print (Steve with a bowl of cereal) that I keep meaning to frame for my one-year-old's room.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:46 PM on March 6, 2010

ReeMonster - What exactly do you think the whole "draw in pencil and ink in later" thing was about if not doing more or less what was done here, i.e. test an idea, tinker with it, alter it, and eventually produce something you're satisfied with? I recall Bill Watterson himself explicitly mentioning drawing things lightly in pencil and changing it around if he didn't like how it was turning out.

Sure, it took longer, but how was it substantially different from this in nature? I mean, are authors who use word processors all cheating because they don't have to erase, cross things out, and end up with scribble-covered messes when they revise?
posted by Scattercat at 9:50 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can do a lot of this with a traditional light-table, I think.
is pretty good, but: The comics are made 100% in Adobe Photoshop with a Wacom tablet. No, I don't sketch them on paper first. All digital., so ... ?
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:12 AM on March 7, 2010

I think he has done a really good job, I enjoyed it. Well done
posted by stevew1987 at 4:19 AM on March 7, 2010

Doesn't seem like a comic you'd look at and say, "Wow! How'd he do that???" It might be a good comic (I've never read it), but there's not really a lot going on as far as the art goes. Very simple characters, no attention to line weight, one very simple background, no interesting "camera" angles, no color, basic shading, blah blah blah. Again, not saying this somehow makes it a bad comic. I mean, I'm a big fan of XKCD and Pictures for Sad Children, but I don't really wonder how those are done.

If the main event of a post is going to be the making of, I would expect something a little more artistically advanced, like Dresden Codak or even Three Panel Soul. Or Calvin and Hobbes.

And it has nothing to do with the technology used. You are either concerned with learning the mastery of your technique, or you make little doodles. Both can tell a story just fine, but if I want to learn something myself, I'm much more interested in the former.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:47 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like that he originally had the broom going "bristle." The onomatopoeia in Daisy Owl is always hilarious.
posted by Toothless Willy at 8:58 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

All the stuff I wrote above aside, I want to say I really enjoy time lapse videos of other artists working. They're inspirational and fun. You can watch the other artist 'think' their way through a compositional problem in near realtime and contrast their solution with how you might approach the same situation.

Contrast Octopus Pie's excellent time lapse video with Ben Driscoll's effort, for example. Meredith Gran makes use of slightly different software (Manga Studio -- which has the best pens of any drawing software I've ever used!) but follows the same process of constructing the skeleton of the page, sketching, inking, rearranging, etc.

(Bonus self-link: Here's one of my early experiments with the form: The Altodiluvian Age.)
posted by Kikkoman at 9:43 AM on March 7, 2010

Recently, one of my friends said that they'd started using Manga Studio for their work and were loving it. I've been vaguely meaning to check that program out for a few years, as it'd be nice to have an alternative to Illustrator.

So I asked her what specifically she was finding awesome about Manga Studio.

And she reminded me that she's been using traditional media for the bulk of her work up until very recently - she's done color with Photoshop, but she's been following the time-tested route of pencilling, then inking, for the ten-year run of "Ozy and Millie", and working directly in the computer was giving her a new freedom to experiment.

Which mostly boils down to "oh wow that's a really well-drawn head but it's 20% too big, let me fix that!". Sure, she could redraw it. But she doesn't have to. And after twelve years of traditional pencil and ink, she's pretty happy with this.

Another friend of mine recently posted a time-lapse of his comic process, complete with commentary over it. I was stunned to see that he uses a pose library for part of his work; I never would have guessed it from how fluid his final strips are.

Me, I've been working on and off on a comic book [NSFW] as well. The first chapter was all drawn on paper, scanned, and finished in Illustrator. But in the time between starting chapter 1 and starting chapter 2, I've finally become comfortable with working directly in AI, and it's really tempting nowadays to just take my page thumbnail sketches, throw those into AI, and start drawing; the main thing that stops me is that I haven't found a way to get the lettering to be as supple and fluid when it's in the computer as when I do it by hand.

Using the computer to draw makes some parts of the process a lot more fluid and malleable. A good artist is going to rely on that… and use that extra fluidity of experimentation to produce quality work a lot more quickly, even to do stuff far beyond what they'd do otherwise. I mean, I admire Winsor McCay, but there's no way in hell I could make myself sit down and knock out a detailed cityscape the way he did… but by using all the "cheating" that Illustrator lets me do, I can do my own insane cityscapes with ease and grace.

and I should get back to work on Absinthe… including doing a timelapse video of the Illustrator part of the process.
posted by egypturnash at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

He's done it again by the way. With colour this time!
posted by Lorc at 10:43 AM on March 11, 2010

I think this is the first color strip Driscoll has ever done. IMHO, it's a bad design move to leave your two main characters as white as sheets, but then again I don't have an awesome webcoic.

(I thought he'd done a one-shot showing Mr. Owl with blue eyes, but I guess that was fan art.)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:37 PM on March 11, 2010

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