temporalequinox asked you: Hi! I love your comic and I’ve been working on a vintage inspired story myself for the passed few years now, but I can never find a great source for clothing of the time period my story takes place in. Do you by any chance have an accurate source that you look to for reference?
nosunlightinthecity asked you: I’m wondering where you researched 20’s fashion and style (and language!). My own foray lead me to nothing but cheap flapper costumes, but I’m hoping to be more put-together for this themed museum event. I’d love any nudge in a good direction. Thank you in advance! ———————————————————————————————
Hi, guys! Here are some online places you can find authentic period clothing reference from the past 130 years or so:
Old clothing catalogs. There are a lot of them archived in book form for pretty reasonable prices on Amazon. Scans from these catalog collections are plentiful online too - easy to find with a Google Image search.
Old photographs. There’s no better reference than real actual people wearing real actual clothing. Shorpy is a goldmine. Also, it may or may not be common knowledge, but the US Library of Congress site has a huge online archive of historic photographs. (Obviously, that’s a pretty American-centric source, but I imagine many internet-friendly nations have a rough equivalent.)
Vintage clothing stores. There are quite a few of them with fairly extensive online catalogs - just be careful to look for actual vintage articles of clothing as opposed to vintage style clothing loosely based on history.
Museum collections. The Metropolitan Museum, for instance, has a very large collection of historic clothes and ensembles by historic designers (Vera Maxwell, Coco Chanel, etc) available for perusal on their site (pick Collections>Search collections). There are a number of tumblr blogs out there too, like OMGthatdress, featuring such pieces with search tags that might make it easier to find what you’re after.
I hope that helps. If anyone has other resource recommendations, feel free to share!
Working in red hues on an oldish Cintiq is kind of a nightmare. It always seems to require hours of value and saturation adjustment on a normal display after the fact. Does anyone else have this problem or is just it time put my device out to pasture?
i need to cast a female character for a video. The character has a Cajun accent, so please only try out if you think you can manage that particular accent decently. There is also another female role to try out for, but it’s very minor. This first character is the priority.
What's Mordecai's accent? I've always heard him with a quasi-posh one (given the way he dresses), but it seems equally plausible for him to have a really strong NY accent.
He does have a New York accent…tucked away and simmering precariously beneath the surface. I wouldn’t say he sounds posh exactly, but certainly like someone employing elocution to some extent, enunciating thoroughly and trying to rein in habitual rapidity. He forgets himself sometimes.
Hello :o) I'm sorry to bother you, but I have a nitpick or two about the lyrics in your last page (which is brilliant, by the way); the correct spellings/grammar would be, "c'est pas tout le monde qui peut danser", "toutes les vieilles valses des vieux temps" and "pendant que ta mère est pas là". Technically, "ta mère est pas là" should be "ta mère n'est pas là", but the "n'/ne" negation is often dropped colloquially in dialogue. Thank you for your amazing artwork and stories, keep going :o)
Hi there. Thanks for the kind words and feedback!
You are right in that those are the verses in the more popular recorded variations of the song from the 1940s onward, but it’s a folksong that’s at least a few decades older than that. As with most folksongs, there are as many versions as there are people who sing it. Even the recorded versions from the mid-20th century don’t all agree. They don’t all seem to be entirely grammatically correct either, but, then, Cajun French tends to have its own version of “correct” (which, with my already limited understanding of French grammar, admittedly makes it outlandishly difficult to research and write with any semblance of authenticity…ugh).
I cobbled Nico’s version of the song together from the oldest variations I could find. The older lyrics reference “two step” (deux temps) waltzes, but somewhere along the way, the popularized lyrics apparently morphed it into “old time” (vieux temps) waltzes. ”Two step” actually makes a bit more sense when considering the context of the song, though. Colinda’s suitor is suggesting she dance an immodest dance. In the late 19th/early 20th century when this offshoot of the Calinda/Colinda songs probably emerged, Two-Stepping it to ragtime while the elders scowled disapprovingly was all the rage. If the suitor were inviting Colinda to dance an old-fashioned dance, I’d think it’d be less likely to anger the old ladies, as the lyrics go.
I had fun playing DoA with you guys this afternoon(I didn't stay long because other things came up and I couldn't focus on the game enough to not suck) Man was it crowded though. It was really hard to single out a target because there were so many players! But I at least got a few kills in before I started to fail spectacularly(I'm LadySeraphi in-game)
Oh, yes, I saw you there! Glad you could join us, even if only for a little while. The dev team is quite experienced at the game at this point, so it can be a little daunting jumping in as a new player at first. There’s no reason to feel like you sucked, though. As with any game, you’ll tend to get the hang of it after a try or two, especially after you’ve got an understanding of how to use the different dragons for their strengths. (You might pick the Juggernaut if you’re going to zero in on a target and attack, or the Behemoth if you want to attack multiple targets, or the Lightning dragon if you want to tap the capture points for your team, for instance.)
Anyway, some of our alpha testers are as good or better than us already, which is a promising sign, I think.
We’re holding another Dragons play test tomorrow - Thursday at 10am CST - in case anyone wants to join the party. You can snag the free, open alpha version of the game here.
I was looking at the pictures of the Savoys on your website, and I can't help but getting a vibe from Serafine, reminding me of Lisa Bonet in the 80s movie Angel Heart. Do the Savoys have some African ancestry?
I only just stumbled on Angel Heart this past summer digging around for decent horror fare I hadn’t seen yet. It’s a very dark little gem of a nigh-forgotten film. Not for everyone, certainly, but I enjoyed it. Anyway, to answer your question, yes they have some African, possibly Haitian, ancestry. Because of the circumstances of their upbringing,they aren’t terribly certain of their lineage (though that hasn’t stopped Serafine indulging in a bit of grandiose speculation).
Wait, so, is "Contretemps" happening the night of or the night before Ivy wakes up to find Rocky's lipstick graffiti? (bestwebcomicgreatwritingkthx)
The night of. I’m not sure I did a particularly good job conveying the passage of time there. Perhaps the Contretemps page needs a ‘that evening’ tag or something to clarify. (alsothanksthat’smuchtookind)
Překlady Lackadaisy (originál zde) do češtiny, všichni čtenáři jsou vřele vítáni (◠‿◠✿)
-> For all who did not understand the first part, this is my new blog, dedicated to the czech translation of Lackadaisy-a wonderful comic created by the one and only-Tracy J. Butler and free to read in english here: x Check it out!
Czech translation of Lackadaisy, very kindly provided by elleannor.
I know that you have a real separate job and life and such which you enjoy, so please don't take this as a "make more things!" post, but I thought I'd let you know that if you made a Patreon pledge system I would totally sign up. From what I understand Patrons would only be charged on the months when you post new content, without you having any kind of obligation in terms of the frequency of those posts! I just think you deserve a paycheck every time you finish a page.
A couple of people have mentioned this to me recently. It seems like a potentially viable way for web comic creators to scrape together a living without having to go full-on monastic between the tides of book release and convention revenue. (Here’s the Patreon site - if you’re creating stuff and posting it on the internet, it’s probably worth a look.)
I’m pretty desperate for more time to work on Lackadaisy these days. I don’t think I’d do something like this unless I could reliably update, though…then again, perhaps something like this could help grant me the time to update more often. Maybe. It’s a stretch. Anyway, I’ll do some thinking on it. Thank you for the suggestion (and for very kindly desiring to pay me to make comics)!
well, alright :D,the first bit i was hoping for is some Viktor Vasko lines i want to mess with a friend with, and the other is some mordecai lines, either from pages 27 + 28, or a little something i can write up. which stirs another question… Do you have much access to good female voices? at this point in time, i mean?
Wasn’t sure what Viktor lines to do, but I figured I’d try a Mordecai page. Truth be told, Nico is one of the two Lackadaisy characters I have no idea how to tackle (the other being Wick), so this is my first jab at trying to figure out a voice for him. It might be a little rough.
As for female voices, your best bet is to hold an open audition on Tumblr. That’s what I always do.
Hello, Tracy! I'm looking to start a webcomic, but I find myself completely and utterly at loss when it comes to finding a good place to host it... I initially looked at Godaddy, but their website builder doesn't seem incredibly effective, at least not for webcomics. Do you have any advice?
My web site is a custom built dealy, but I know there are some popular blog templates out there like ComicPress and some popular hosts like Smack Jeeves. There are some tumblr themes designed for web comics available now too. I don’t have hands on experience with any of these things, though, so I can’t really comment on which are most customizable/reputable/secure.
If anyone has suggestions or opinions about web comic host options, please feel free to chime in and reply to this post!
$25 bucks each, first come-first served in terms of whoever sends their refs and paypal to me first. Will open these slots right now and will update if I have time for more. Delivery will be today or tomorrow.
You can email me here with your refs and I’ll get on it: shingworks(at)gmail(dot)com.
Thanks for giving me something to do during an otherwise boring and slightly depressing long weekend.
impromptu commissions [currently full! will reblog later when open again!]
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Thanks so much guys! I am currently full! I will reblog later when open again, and you can look back here to see how I’m progressing if you are one of Those People.
If you want to send in your interest email feel free, I will still be taking them in order so it will be like a waiting list…!
Hello, I wanted to ask whether you allow Lackadaisy translations. Since I would like to translate your comic into czech, making a tumblr page solely for that purpose, with all the content linked to your original work, but would never consider doing it without your approval. Also, your work is absolutely amazing! Have a nice day.
Sure - that’d be amazing. I’d be very grateful if you did. Thank you for asking!
Character design and drawing are tome-sized topics and even if I had all the answers (I don’t - I have a lot to learn), I’m not sure I could communicate them effectively. I’ve gathered some thoughts and ideas here, though, in case they’re helpful.
First, some general things:
- Relax and let some of that anxiety go. This isn’t a hard science. There’s no wrong way, no rigid process you must adhere to, no shoulds or shouldn’ts except those you designate for yourself. This is one of the fun parts of being an artist, really - have a heady good time with it.
- Be patient. A design is something gradually arrived at. It takes time and iteration and revision. You’ll throw a lot of stuff away, and you’ll inevitably get frustrated, but bear in mind the process is both inductive and deductive. Drawing the wrong things is part of the path toward drawing the right thing.
- Learn to draw. It might seem perfunctory to say, but I’m not sure everyone’s on the same page about what this means. Learning to draw isn’t a sort of rote memorization process in which, one by one, you learn a recipe for humans, horses, pokemon, cars, etc. It’s much more about learning to think like an artist, to develop the sort of spacial intelligence that lets you observe and effectively translate to paper, whatever the subject matter. When you’re really learning to draw, you’re learning to draw anything and everything. Observing and sketching trains you to understand dimension, form, gesture, mood, how anatomy works, economy of line; all of the foundational stuff you will also rely on to draw characters from your imagination. Spend some time honing your drawing ability. Hone it with observational sketching. Hone it good.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do this sort of thing better than Claire Wendling. In fact, character designs emerge almost seamlessly from her gestural sketches. It’d be worth looking her up.
- Gather Inspiration like a crazed magpie. What will ultimately be your trademark style and technique is a sort of snowball accumulation of the various things you expose yourself to, learn and draw influence from. To that effect, Google images, tumblr, pinterest and stock photo sites are your friends. When something tingles your artsy senses - a style, a shape, a texture, an appealing palette, a composition, a pose, a cool looking animal, a unique piece of apparel, whatever - grab it. Looking at a lot of material through a creative lens will make you a better artist the same way reading a lot of material makes a better writer. It’ll also devour your hard drive and you will try and fail many times to organize it, but more importantly, it’ll give you a lovely library of ideas and motivational shinies to peruse as you’re conjuring characters.
- Imitation is a powerful learning tool. Probably for many of us, drawing popular cartoon characters was the gateway habit that lured us into the depraved world of character design to begin with. I wouldn’t suggest limiting yourself to one style or neglecting your own inventions to do this, but it’s an effective way to limber up, to get comfortable drawing characters in general, and to glean something from the thought processes of other artists.
- Use references. Don’t leave it all up to guessing. Whether you’re trying to design something with realistic anatomy or something rather profoundly abstracted from reality, it’s helpful in a multitude of ways to look at pictures. When designing characters, you can infer a lot personality from photos, too.
And despite what you might have heard, having eyeballs and using them to look at things doesn’t constitute cheating. There’s no shame in reference material. There’s at least a little shame in unintentional abstractions, though.
Concepts and Approach:
- Break it down. Sometimes you have the look of a character fleshed out in your mind before putting it to paper, but usually not. That doesn’t mean you have to blow your cortical fuses trying conceive multiple diverse designs all at the same time, though. You don’t even have to design the body shape, poses, face, and expressions of a single character all at once. Tackle it a little at a time.
The cartoony, googly eyed style was pre-established for this simple mobile game character, but I still broke it into phases. Start with concepts, filter out what you like until you arrive at a look, experiment with colors, gestures and expressions.
- Start with the general and work toward the specific. Scribbling out scads of little thumbnails and silhouettes to capture an overall character shape is an effective way begin - it’s like jotting down visual notes. When you’re working at a small scale without agonizing over precision and details, there’s no risk of having to toss out a bunch of hard work, so go nuts with it. Give yourself a lot of options.
Here’s are some sample silhouettes from an old cancelled project in which I was tasked with designing some kind of cyber monkey death bot. I scratched out some solid black shapes then refined some of them a step or two further.
- Shapes are language. They come preloaded with all sorts of biological, cultural and personal connotations. They evoke certain things from us too. If you’re ever stuck about where to go with your design, employ a sort of anthroposcopy along these lines - make a visual free association game out of it. It’ll not only tend to result in a distinguished design, but a design that communicates something about the nature of the character.
Think about what you infer from different shapes. What do they remind you of? What personalities or attitudes come to mind? How does the mood of a soft curve differ from that of a sharp angle? With those attributes attached, how could they be used or incorporated into a body or facial feature shape? What happens when you combine shapes in complementary or contrasting ways? How does changing the weight distribution among a set of shapes affect look and feel? Experiment until a concept starts to resonate with the character you have in mind or until you stumble on something you like.
If you don’t have intent, take the opposite approach - draw some shapes and see where they go. (It’s stupid fun.)
- Cohesion and Style. As you move from thumbnails to more refined drawings, you can start extrapolating details from the general form. Look for defining shapes, emergent themes or patterns and tease them out further, repeat them, mirror them, alternate them. Make the character entirely out of boxy shapes, incorporate multiple elements of an architectural style, use rhythmically varying line weights - there are a million ways to do this
Here’s some of the simple shape repetition I’ve used for Lackadaisy characters.
- Expressions - let them emerge from your design. If your various characters have distinguishing features, the expressions they make with those features will distinguish them further. Allow personality to influence expressions too, or vice versa. Often, a bit of both happens as you continue drawing - physiognomy and personality converge somewhere in the middle.
For instance, Viktor’s head is proportioned a little like a big cat. Befitting his personality, his design lets him make rather bestial expressions. Rocky, with his flair for drama, has a bit more cartoon about him. His expressions are more elastic, his cheeks squish and deform and his big eyebrows push the boundaries of his forehead. Mitzi is gentler all around with altogether fewer lines on her face. The combination of her large sleepy eyes and pencil line brow looked a little sad and a little condescending to me when I began working out her design - ultimately those aspects became incorporated into her personality.
I discuss expression drawing in more detail here (click the image for the link):
- Pose rendering is another one of those things for which observational/gesture drawing comes in handy. Even if you’re essentially scribbling stick figures, you can get a handle on natural looking, communicative poses this way. Stick figure poses make excellent guidelines for plotting out full fledged character drawings too.
Look for the line of action. It’ll be easiest to identify in poses with motions, gestures and moods that are immediately decipherable. When you’ve learned to spot it, you can start reverse engineering your own poses around it.
- Additional resources - here are some related things about drawing poses and constructing characters (click the images for the links).
- Tortured rumination about lack of ability/style/progress is a near universal state of creative affairs. Every artist I have known and worked with falls somewhere on a spectrum between frustration in perpetuity and a shade of fierce contrition Arthur Dimmesdale would be proud of. So, next time you find yourself constructing a scourge out of all those crusty acrylic brushes you failed to clean properly, you loathsome, deluded hack, you, at least remember you’re not alone in feeling that way. When it’s not crushing the will to live out of you, the device does have its uses - it keeps you self-critical and locked in working to improve mode. If we were all quite satisfied with our output, I suppose we’d be out of reasons to try harder next time.
When you need some reassurance, compare old work to new. Evolution is gradual and difficult to perceive if you’re narrowed in on the nearest data point, but if you’ve been steadily working on characters for a few months or a year, you’ll likely see a favorable difference between points A and B.
Most of all, don’t dwell on achieving some sort of endgame in which you’re finally there as a character artist. There’s no such place - wherever you are, there is somewhere else. It’s a moving goal post. Your energy will be better spent just enjoying the process…and that much will show in the results.
I have been wanting to assemble a huge post of some of the amazing women artists out there, because it seems like too often they get overlooked when it comes to being honored and recognized. This year, I was incredibly honored to be nominated for a…
Excellent compilation of artists with a lot of wildly divergent styles. Very honored to be included.