I want to share my new creative project with you all, which would be the 4th coloring book in my series of random pretty manga girls.
I had this idea for a couple of years on my mind, and only this year I became brave enough to pull it out and do something with that. Which is to make a series of drawings inspired by Russian traditional outfits, fairy-tales, and mythology. I really love everything pagan and Slavic but I want to avoid cliches or try and play around with them. I was afraid my skills were not good enough to make justice and to represent these things in a beautiful way. Anything we create always looks so much better inside our heads than it does on paper.
Anyway, I’d spent this summer gathering these artworks together and trying my best to make justice to the culture of my country. Here are some drawing examples:
This summer goes extremely well. I have a good time enjoying the fresh air and freshly picked berries in the woods at our summer cottage, as I had taken much-needed vacations from the “real job”. I’m trying to make at least something creative every day. My art always has this therapeutic effect and has been a huge stress relief for me.
Meanwhile, I’m almost done drawing all the pages of chapter 0 from my manga-project I am really passionate about. I am aiming for an autumn launch. But I’m going to have my time and if it takes me longer, I won’t stress out because of that.
Also, I’m toying with the idea of creating another coloring book. I have some thematic drawings in process, but I’m not going to reveal the theme or the title just yet. I need to be sure I would be able to finish all of them and that I’d be able to produce good quality drawings before I announce anything. If this won’t work out the way I anticipate then I would push this idea aside. Hopefully, that wouldn’t happen and I’d go as I planned. We’ll see.
And the last but not least, I’m still trying to figure out how to write fiction. I know, I know. You probably are rolling your eyes up, my English-speaking friends out there. Just bear with me for my cringy grammar and awkward word usage. I am in the process of learning. And, I just can’t shut up these stories flowing in my head. They need a way out, or my head is going to explode one day if I won’t let them out.
My graphic novel “Videira” has come to its conclusion. I can not believe I’ve finished it. Yesterday on 31, March 2019. Holly crap! It’s been 8 years. 10 chapters. 266 manga pages.
Well, I didn`t draw only this comics exclusively (or graphic novel or manga, whatever you call it). But it still was so much more time than I had initially expected. I remember how I started to write dialogues for the first chapter in my Totoro notebook while I was sitting in the University’s library when I came late for class and the teacher didn`t let me in. LOL. That notebook is very precious to me as I had bought it in Ghibli shop in Kyoto, which the whole another story for another time.
It’s been so long since I’d started to draw the first chapter in 2011. There were a few times when I wanted to drop it or give up on this story entirely but I am so glad that I didn’t.
Firstly, I wanted to have it traditionally published and when I pitched it to only one publisher which existed on the Russian market back in the day. I got a rejection, which drove me into half a year of depression. I shelved this project and began working on other projects. But I was lucky enough to have my manga-drawing buddies and dedicated readers who supported me and genuinely liked this manga. I will be forever grateful to them for being such great support for me and my characters, with kind encouraging words and beautiful fan arts of my characters from Videira. Could you actually imagine that? Such wonderful artists draw portraits of my manga-babies and they were amazing.
I am happy that I have found the strength to continue drawing for myself, even if I knew it would lead to nowhere in terms of desirable career, but it meant so much to me. Regardless of everything going on in my life and the daily job, I was able to finish this story because of only love to my characters and their journey, because of my few but so precious readers out there, waiting for every chapter and cheering me up along the way. I made it for myself, just to know that I can, that I am capable of finishing something bigger than one-shot story. By the way, all one-shots I drew during my university years when I had half a day free time it was easier than with 8 hours a day job + 3 hours to get there and back. +)
“Videira” was the easiest, loveliest and the lightest of all my stories. I don’t know if it transfers to the page or not but it certainly feels like it. Maria, the main character, is such a positive and cheerful girl, even when she cries. I had a lot of fun with this story as well as a lot of troubles, for example, I had no clue how to draw the freacking crocodiles, but I did it anyway. This manga came from a pure place of joy. I am still sitting here and rereading my readers’ comments and smiling from ear to ear because they liked it and crying at the same time because of how much it meant to me.
I’ve learned a lot. If I were doing it now I would have done many things differently. Especially in regards to the representation of other cultures and people with perspectives different from mine. When I came up with the story idea and started drawing it, I was barely more than a child, I didn’t even consider the possibility of such things. Now, as I am a grown-up person, I see all my mistakes, but it is kinda late to go back and fix everything. I’ll try to avoid the same mistakes in my future works. Hopefully, this experience would help me to become a better author and a better artist.
Even though it’s a little bit sad to say good-bye to these characters whom I had spent that much time with, I am glad to have it finished. And more than anything, I am grateful to the people, my wonderful drawing-buddies, whom I met thanks to this manga. ^_^
One gigantic problem I have with my writing, which gives me a massive headache, is POV switching. I am not a fan of the 1st person POV. I might sometimes enjoy reading it, but writing it doesn’t work for me at all. It gives me the creeps. Meanwhile, most of my favorite books have multiple 3rd person POVs and switching them like crazy. But those done by masters. Not me, making baby steps in writing, and trying to write my story using a foreign language (which is kinda hard on its own).
For drafting, I use YWriter program which is small and light and has a very simple clean interface – exactly what I need. I tried scrivener, and I was so overwhelmed by how many features are in there I couldn’t use it. These features might be very useful, but I find them rather distracting.
So I use the simplest writing program I managed to find. And the most important thing which it does: allows you to create chapters and the scenes within chapters and move them around however you wish. One of the cool additional features – it allows you to “export outline” – basically what it does is exporting only chapters’ and scences within chapters’ headings.
The story, which I`m working on (not very intensively working at the actual writing at this moment, but constantly doing it now and then) is the one which I came up with the idea of when I was 11 years old. It was quite a long time ago. And since then I have this waste world and lots lots lots of characters living in my head. I managed to cut a huge chunk of the cast out, but there are still a lot of them and everyone has their own stuff going on. One of the trickiest parts for me is to keep POVs sustainable.
I knew I might have trouble with my large cast, but what I beheld when I exported my “outline” (chapters and scenes’ headings) and color-coded them in regard to POV… well, it had punched me in the gut. Just look, how freaking random it is. [on the right] I removed the titles, but I guess the idea is clear. Every POV character in particular scene has their own color. It is only the first part of the beginning and I already have 8 POVs. One of my main leads is not even presented yet. And I don`t know what am I supposed to do with that? Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Am I making a disservice to my beloved story by using so many POVs? Or is it what I need?
The important thing is to make POVs of different persons sound different. I get it. But I doubt it is humanly possible for me to make all of them distinct and different from each other when there are 8 main characters POVs and about 7 additional throughout the whole story. Some of them have more vivid personalities and distinct voices, but most of them do not. It’s something to work on. In my case, it might mean to cut down the number of POV characters.
From the other hand, I am a fan of being able to see the larger scope. Maybe this is why I do not like 1st person’s POV. I want an ability to see from the bigger lens. More “cinematic” 3rd person is my POV of choice.
3) You should make breaks between POV switches clear, whether it a chapter break, paragraph break or including a little bit of omniscient 3rd person narrator in between and try not to confuse the reader with it, which is another struggle for me. Its all clear for me of course. But would it be clear for another person? Probably not.
I already had been told by beta-reader, that my narration jumps between different characters’ perspectives and also I was told I should better rewrite it from one person’s POV (it was another story where I had much fewer characters then I do here: 3 or 4).
I inclined to disagree as “jumping between people’s heads” was exactly what I wanted to do, I’d just failed to present it correctly. As I mentioned above, all my favorite stories juggling multiple POVs and I want to learn to do the same. So let’s keep learning.
I`ll just leave it here as a small reminder to myself and a warning.
Have you ever noticed how the walk in the park or forest boosts your creativity and makes new shiny ideas flow in an unstoppable stream? Let’s talk about why.
I personally had this feeling for so long and I supposed it was because nature, especially wild nature, helps us distress and relax but recently I’ve stumbled upon a scientific explanation of this phenomenon.
photos of Siberian woods from my personal Instagram
What do scientists say
It happens because our brain forced to make so many decisions always occupied with hundreds of different tasks in everyday life, gets into the state of mind-wandering when all the distractions such as smartphones and computers are eliminated, which is natural and healthy for our brain. The problem is not only in how addicted to our gadgets we are, but it is deeper in cognitive. Our attention switches too often when we work, checking e-mails, thinking about what to buy, what to cook, choosing what to read and watch, and the most when we use the internet, with lots of pop-up messages, notifications, links, banners. Our brain multitasks while using gadgets the most. I was surprised to know that every link in text on a website we browse, makes our brain to decide whether we should go check this link or not, even if we do not consciously think about that. Our brain forced to switch its attention very quickly and often which provokes our short-time memory to be overloaded and our long-term memory doesn’t even get a chance to store information we consume. Constant brain activity makes us tired, absent-minded and lost, unfocused which influences directly on our productivity. Our mind is simply too busy trying to solve thousands of tasks a day, consuming loads of information, not all of which is quite useful. There is no room for new incoming ideas in such state of mind.
I am not a scientist and I do not know how to properly explain these things (for the better explanation you can read the book “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload” by Daniel J. Levitin or something similar to that. I haven`t finished this book yet, but I am in the process). My point is when you are in nature, wandering in a wild or sitting by the shore, your mind starts to “wander” without focusing on a particular task (or daydream), your body and your brain refreshes and recharges from the natural surroundings, not to mention fresh air and physical activity from walking, which is beneficial to our health on its own. Such state of mind is natural and healthy for our brain.
To me, it happens very often, that all my story ideas or drawing ideas even, come to me when I am out of town in the countryside. I am lucky enough that my family owns a summer cottage in the woods close to Lake Baikal’s shore, where even now in 2019 the phone’s connection is beyond the coverage. I can catch 4G internet only in a certain spot on the veranda. Not indoors, not in the garden not in the woods. Unfortunately, I can only live there in summer weekend but it is enough to recharge and get inspired and motivated.
my drawings from the summer garden
When I don`t have an opportunity to be out of town and beyond the coverage it is very helpful to simply walk in the park or beautiful alley without(!) headphones in my ears. Which, I am very guilty of using a lot. I`ve found out about this topic which turns out to be very interesting, from youtube chanal by Anastacia Kay (user funastacia – channel is in Russian), where she talks a lot about concentration, cognitive, and bad effects of multitasking (when you try to do many things at once and have nothing done at the end. It happens because our brain functions much more productive when it focuses on one task only, for a longer period of time).
Check up the video, which I filmed in the summer of 2018 and made into a short clip
This kind of landscapes with a beautiful view and fresh air help me to relax and recharge the most. Now in cold winter time, I can only look at my videos and dream of being there soon, in a few months.
Another side of inspiration
For us creatives, the brain is the most important instrument, so let’s keep it clear and operating on its best capacity. There are plenty of useful pieces of advice on the internet “how to eliminate and reduce distractions”. I`m going to try to implement some of them and see if there will be any effect. Maybe I`ll share my experience next time.
For now, I know the trick with nature-recharging works for sure.
I also wanted to mention that you can get inspiration from a lot of different resources, but it might be tricky. For visual artists and writers both, for example, gaining inspiration from movie or book may unconsciously force us to create something similar to what we absolutely loved (draw a costume from the movie without even remembering it, or imitate a voice of the favorite writer). In this case, gaining inspiration from music and nature are much “safer” and organic.
That’s all I wanted to say for today. Go for a walk, let your brain wander for a bit and get some inspiration!~
Let`s take my manga Videira as an example – I am experimenting with the tools I use for drawing it until now.
I have used a variety of papers and pens. Let`s move straight to it:
1) A3 paper, gel pen, black markers, roting isographs
first chapter was drawn on A3 paper – it was the largest size I`ve ever used for drawing manga.
I have drawn my manga with pencil and inked using simple black gel pen + Roting isograph 0.1 for thinnest lines + Roting isograph 1.0 and random black markers from the nearest shops.
I couldn`t find neither isograps or ink for them in my town, so I had to buy them online and wait for a couple of weeks until they arrive.
I liked using isograps but it was a little bit of inconvenient to fill them with ink and I usually ended up covered with ink from top to toe as well as my bathroom where I was doing it XD
After having a kernel of 0.1 isograph broken I had to buy it online again, and wait for two weeks until it arrives… agrh! No matter how much I enjoyed using it, this was way too inconvenient considering the fact I had to constantly fill it with ink and I didn`t have any of the accessories in my town.
After receiving and replacing the kernel of 0.1 isograph, I had broken 1.0`s (thick line-making) isograph corps. And I was done here.
By the way, about the paper size – It was great to have an ability to depict the smallest details, besides, after scanning the page looked very neat and pretty, but here I had another issue – the scanning XD I had A4 scanner which is 1/2 size of A3 pages I was drawing at. I had to scan every frame separately and after that, combine them in Photoshop. Oh my! It was a disaster! But the result was very good. I actually can proud of the quality of pages of the first Videira chapter. But it still was not very practical and took a very long time, so I was looking for other materials
2) B4 paper, Ink, dip pen holder, g-pen, maru-pen
During the second chapter I have switched to B4 – this is standard Japanese format for manga pages, a little bit bigger than A4 and a little bit smaller than A3. Love this format! I have bought (online as well as I can not even dream of such paper to appear in my town…) wood dip pen holder G-pen, Maru-pen, and some others, along with B4 paper, Black Pilot and black Deleter ink and a couple of Chinese cheap ink bottles – black and white.
I had so much fun using these materials, imagining me like the true manga artist XD As I had never experienced ink and g-pen I was so new and exciting but it took soooo long to make a single page. The line was much better it was alive and curvy. However, I still had scan-making issues as B4 pages were still bigger than my scanner and I still had to combine separate frames into one-page after scanning.
I did draw 2nd and 1/2 of the 4th chapter ( as I had drawn 4th chapter before the 3rd) using ink and B4 paper.
3) A4 paper, sakura pigma micron multiliners
But I have continued experimenting and the 3rd chapter was done in A4 format (paper size keeps going down and down lol). Meanwhile, I have discovered a new material – multiliners! And they were great they are such a life-savers. Love them. I personally prefer Sakura Pigma Micron Multiliners (I have tried some other brands as well as copic multiliner which btw did very good as well but Sakura pigma micron have stolen my heart) I am still using them and a random simple black marker to cover large black spaces.
Nowadays I am still experimenting with Videira looking the best possible materials which would provide both joy from the process and the result with good
balanced speed and quality. I`m trying to draw some pages digitally in the 7th chapter, it is easier in some way – because I don`t have to clean the scan from dots and scratches but I am not quite satisfied with the line itself – digital lining is hard for me but I am working on it.
Hope it was useful information, every material has its own advantages and disadvantages: just try them all, and decide what is better for you, but never use the lack of some material as an excuse for not drawing – I have tried a lot, and one conclusion I could make:
it is your story and your art – what really matters, no matter if you use super expensive Japanese ink, B-4 paper designed especially for manga or cheapest A4 paper for office technique and simple gel pen+ black marker from the newspaper kiosk.
The story of “Videira” started back in 2008 when I firstly came up with the idea of the plot and characters. The inspiration for this story was the book which I was in love with since childhood – “La Jangada” by Jules Verne. “La Jangada” is about a group of people`s adventures in the selva (jungle) of Amazon river in Brazil as they are swimming down the river on a big raft (Jangada). One of my characters – Benito uses the name of one of the main characters of “La Jangada” – Benito – who was my favorite character there (but Benito in my manga is not my favorite char as you could have guessed).
So, inspired by the story about the jungle in the 19th century Brazil – I got the idea of my own story I wanted to add a little bit of fan into it with the gender-bender trick: this is how my story came up to life.
I wish I could visit jungle one day and see all the tropical beauty with my own eyes but as far as I haven`t any chance to experience it, for now, I spent a lot of time watching documentary movies about selva nature, flora and fauna and looking for the pictures depicting jungle. I find the idea of traveling down the river on a huge raft fascinating, Maria (my main Character) and Benito (her childhood friend and fiance) had this dream since they were kids but here Hulio (Julio lol XD) shows up and screws everything up for everybody including himself. His name, as I used to joke, was my main motivation to draw this story because in my native language his name sounds inappropriate: almost like “the bad word” giving high rating to movies if it is used there =D and I had a lot of fan receiving feedback about his name and how it matches his personality =D
*** The title.
Firstly I wanted to entitle my manga “Maria” or “Just Maria” which are both were not suitable.
And then I stopped with the title”Grapes vine” which was personating with me and my story as my main characters families have a joint business of growing grape and making wine in the south of Brazil. Wanting to add a little bit more of colorist into the title I used the translator to translate it into Portuguese this is how I got my final version of the title “Videira”, which is basically grapes vine in Portuguese and I completely have fallen in love with this word. I made it not only my working title but a surname of the main heroine as well. My working title has stuck to my story and now I can not imagine my story without this title.
In 2008 I got a raw idea of the plot and first sketches of main characters. I have drawn 4 pages with the graphic pencil (by the way, one frame from those pages was included into a new version – the happy Maria`s face, when she greets Benito in the first chapter – which I still like :3 )
Then I put it into a drawer for a while and I was drawing other stuff.
In 2011 I was lightened up with the idea of drawing a single tankobon (standalone book) and I thought Videira would be the best choice to serve this purpose. I thought I could finish it in a year or two… lol. I was young and naive. =D
I have finished chapter 1 in 2011 and drawn chapter 2 but the second chapter was completed with final editing in 2012.
After that I took a break… sort of. Very slowly chapter by chapter I moving forward but I have no intention to give up.
I am still working on it. Currently, I am in the seventh chapter, my story faced with the huge plot changes and character’s personality change, as I was brainstorming my ideas a lot. It has finally turned out to be something which I like better than the original version. Maybe, because when I made this story up in my mind I was a kid and didn`t understand some special aspects of the story itself.
Once upon the March of 2017 I was sitting home with the heavy cold caught. I was very sick and couldn’t do anything useful, so I was entertaining myself with YouTube watching. Before this I had been watching only speed paints or drawing tutorials or music videos, bus this time I have accidentally stumbled upon authortube channels and they blew up my mind in a good way. This is how I have discovered the world of self-publishing and indie authors. I mean I knew this things exist, but I’ve never got into the depth of it.
The first channel which has impressed me a lot was The creative Penn by Joanna Penn – she is gorgeous really admire this women she has series of podcasts/videos which are aimed at helping people with their indie author career and dealing with self-doubt and so on. Her channel has lots lots of useful advises and tips on self-publishing and living creative life and writing. I`ve found there an interview with coloring book author which motivated me to try.
The second channel which helped me to start moving forward is Bruce Jones’s channel. Where I’ve found something very interesting about coloring books self-publishing with the Createspace.
Thanks to these two YouTube channels I have decided to give it a try to make my own coloring book. Also, I need to mention that I am not an English-speaking person – it is difficult for me to understand accents or when the sound is not clear enough, but I have no difficulties understanding these persons’ speeches, which is great. This is how I live in the small Siberian town got the possibility to self-publish two coloring books with the Amazon Create Space. Could I imagine that this thing is actually really possible before? No, I couldn’t. In fact, I have a very time-consuming daily job and it is not over after I leave the office, I have to take my working laptop with me and continue working from home… In the normal condition, I would hardly allow myself to spend so many time on youtube, but when I was ill and sitting at home for the whole month I think I have used this time wisely for self-education sort of. ^_^
After all, this happened, I have discovered many more interesting and inspiring youtube channels which I’d recommend to watch people who want to get inspired or motivated or have fun because the ladies I`m going to talk about are have very bright personalities. here they are:
ShaelinWrites very informative channel hosted by the lovely girl studying creative writing course at the University.
Positive and pretty channel by the author and English teacher Kim Chance which I find again very useful as she sometimes explains English language rules and gives story-telling advises.
My mangaka life is very funny inspiring and helpful channel by manga-artist watching which I enjoy a lot.
Happy D. Artist channel is hosted by the talented artist given up on her office job and living artist dream life drawing her paintings. I am not a fan of oil-paintings but she has a lot of important information to share with artists and both drawing and being self-employed tips.
And the last link I want to share here is This video by Texan in Tokyo. That whole channel is not dedicated to being an author or creator, and unfortunately, it is not active anymore…but this video helped me a lot to understand the CreateSpace publishing process.
Here is all I`ve got for today. I am very thankful to all the above-mentioned people for sharing their knowledge with the World. Some of them inspire and motivate to take actions in your creative journey, some of them give tips, tricks and advises to make this journey easy and all of them bring a lot of positivity. And, probably no one of them have an idea that some russian girl on the opposite side of the globe making her books taking their advice into consideration =D
2. Write down the dialogs in balloons or elsewhere
3. Storyboarding issue
5. don`t start several projects at the same time
1) Page size and resolution
When I was going to draw my first one-shot manga I have seen somewhere page size of 500×800 px required to upload … so, I have made pages exactly of that size! Originally. oh my! They are so small. It goes without saying that I couldn`t print them. Of course, they are even too small to see them clearly on some devices.
and I am not sure about resolution it was either 96 or 200 px. my other comics were a little bit bigger in size but also with low resolution.
2) Write down dialogues in the balloons of storyboard or somewhere else
I should have written them down for the god`s sake. Firstly, when I started to make comics, I didn`t write down the text, which was supposed to be told by characters – I just had the balloons left empty for some unknown reason relying on my memory. Why did I do that? No idea. Later on, when it came up to filling the balloons I was sitting and guessing what were they supposed to say, staring at empty text bubbles. I mean of course I couldn`t forget general meaning but the key point is the first phrases coming up to my mind are usually more natural and funnier (as I am trying to add a little bit of humor into my manga) after that I started to write down the dialogues as soon as possible after they appear in my head – sometimes I do it in storyboards, sometimes in notebooks not to forget.
3. Storyboarding issues
When I just have started I wish I knew what storyboard is. It would make everything much easier but I didn`t make them. Then I started to draw them with graphic pencil, but slowly, I have realized that pencil which I use with the light pressure may disappear from the paper as time flows by or become almost invisible. So, I started to use a pen for drawing storyboards before actual pages. It helps a lot – to decide how the figures and text would be better placed on the page before the actual drawing not to remake it when it’s too late.
I have never made outline or write down or even think over the whole plot before starting to draw. – I still don`t do. I usually happen to have the bright spark of the idea when I know how exactly should my story begin and end. What the hell is going on in the middle? who cares! I want to draw because I am so excited about the characters and the idea itself. and I did draw the beginning and the end and only after that, I figured out what should be in the middle that could lead from beginning to a particular end. It is so wrong =D but I couldn`t help it. No, I think that making the proper outline having climax and chain of Interconnected events logically leading to it is better than “I love the start and the end so much but what to draw in the middle? Whatever! I must have something in there after all”. I have to work on this issue.
5. Several projects at the same time
And the last, the most obvious, not to start several projects at the same time, not for me back then =D I got so easily distracted by my ideas. And I want to draw them all at the same time. But it makes my slow drawing process even slower. Now I have to limit myself. On the sake of finishing at least one, it is better to have one finished story them bunch of them started and no result at all.