As you may have noticed…

… I changed the header!

I had also another version of the header image, but the current one won the poll I did on Twitter…
…is what I was going to say but In the end I went for both 😀

 

Below is a comparison of the alternatives as well as the result of the poll.

Remake of the previous header

Cropping changes the impression of drawings quite a bit, doesn’t it. (As a weird as this one is I rather like it.)

The result of the poll

Here’s also a link to the whole drawing (upright rather than tilted) on Twitter.

From now on

Colors!

Houseplants!

Two new pages are on the site now (line art versions, quality compromised).

Recently I have been thinking how I should work on this project and what is it that makes it stagnate… (More on this on the Finnish site.)

My new strategy is as follows: from now on there will be two different versions of the webcomic. Let’s call them “sketch” (not really) and “final version”.

Cannot quite put it into words though... (Motion? Expressions?)

There’s something here I would like to convey also on the finished version of the pages.

“Sketch”

  • A bit more polished than a storyboard (meaning it won’t be as rough as the drawing above), but still quite quickly drawn
  • Despite not being the final version, it will be easy to read (hopefully)
  • The main function of this version is to enable regular (or frequent) content updates

Final version

  • As it says on the tin
  • Updates will be irregular as hell but, well, there’s always the “sketch” version you can read…

One by one I will replace the sketch pages by the final ones.

… Any thoughts/comments on this?

On webcomic updates (May 2017)

I just dropped by to say I am still working on the webcomic.
However, I’m currently trying to change the way I draw it. (… To change it systematically rather than aimlessly – but at the same time I’d like to avoid changing the look of the comic too radically. We’ll see how well I succeed in this.)

… Because there should be a way (or many alternatives ways) to speed up the process while also improving drawing skills. (Drawing the same way I have drawn until now just won’t do.)

And – as linking to drawings has already become an established practice of a kind for me – here you are:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C_ET4YxXoAMpbe5.jpg
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C-jfW40XcAA5tlg.jpg
(A background character)

On webcomic updates (April 2017)

The updates of the webcomic have been somewhat irregular recently. My apologies for that.
The next pages will (hopefully) be here later this week.

On another note, the site has apparently got a bit prone to crashing because of the content (largish images) and the current hosting plan… I’ll see what I can do about the matter.

Meanwhile, here are a few links to images on my Twitter account:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C8geEgGWAAA5QYP.jpg
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C6s2OoTWkAERNbi.jpg
(The second one is a finished version of the drawing I previously linked to.)

Character introductions – part 2: Murata

Deuteragonist of a kind. Hiura calls her Sasa, just about everyone else calls her Murata, and I’m having hard time trying to decide what to call her myself.

Murata SasaAs for the short description, I’ll go with “diligent”. (This is what people call oversimplifying.)

 

Name

The previous disclaimer applies.

The name is written as follows: 村田沙々
Again, let’s focus on the given name. “Sasa” contains the kanji 沙, meaning sand (in many cases read as “suna”, or “sa”), as well as the kanji repetition mark 々 (a.k.a. kurikaeshi, dounojiten, noma, onaji, or onajiku).

At one point I also considered naming her 砂沙 or 沙砂 (two different kanji, both meaning sand and read as “sa”) but settled on the current version as I wanted to use the repetition mark.

 


So only a really short introduction this time, but I might write an additional post on this character later on.

On webcomic updates

I will be travelling again soon, which means there will also be a change in the updating schedule. Starting from now. (My apologies… ^_^;)

I’m currently working on the pages for the next three weeks; all at once, so it takes somewhat more time than usually. The estimated date of the next update of the webcomic is on Thursday or Saturday this week. (Most likely not on Friday. And in case the pages are not there by Sunday, that probably means I didn’t make it and the webcomic won’t be updated until January. (I’ll try to avoid that scenario though…))

So instead of new pages today, I’ll leave here a link to a drawing of the main cast of the story.

Genre: contemporary fantasy

(Not that it really matters, but this isn’t part of any blog post series. Just an independent entry.)

As I’ve already mentioned on the About page, this webcomic isn’t a representative of any particular genre but a mixture of several ones – the main one being contemporary fantasy. I could have tried to prune it a bit to keep things simple, but I don’t want to pin the story down to any single narrow category. I personally like variety and certain amount of unpredictability in stories, so that’s what I’m aiming for. And I certainly do not want to be restricted by some established conventions just because they are established conventions. (This is not to say I don’t follow any literary rules. I do, but only the ones I agree with.)

In short, I want to write a story I would enjoy reading myself. (Whether that is a good idea considering the size of potential readership is another matter, but hopefully there are at least some people whose taste overlaps with mine.  ^_^;)

20161204_cinnamon_delta-s-is-much

If I write down the genres of ”ΔS”>> and rank them according to their significance in the story, it results in the following kind of list:

“Mainly”: contemporary fantasy
To some extent: mystery, comedy
At times: slice of life
Maaaaybe: romance
Depends on how you look at it: magical realism, whimsical

Save for contemporary fantasy (and magical realism), I do not recommend reading the story as a representative of the genres listed above, since each of them is but a part of the whole.

 

Contemporary fantasy

Let’s focus on this particular genre, as it is the most relevant one here.

Definition

Also known as modern fantasy, contemporary fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy where the following conditions apply:

  1.  Setting:
    – the putative real world (“like reality unless noted”)
    – the present day (approximately, at least)
  2. Fantastical elements exist. However, they are not common knowledge in the world of the story.

NB The above definition is just my take on the subject, mostly based on the information on these three sites.

Why

As in why the genre of this webcomic ended up being contemporary fantasy rather than pure fantasy or something more true to life

To keep it short:

  • I prefer settings resembling the real word over ones that are completely imaginary.
  • The fantasy elements open up more possibilities for the story, as we are playing by rules slightly different from our world. Or to be more precise, the same rules with slight alterations and more exceptions to them. (In the case of ”ΔS”>> anyway. I would also like to highlight the fact that the rules are rules also in this setting – i.e. the genre is not an excuse for making things up on the fly.)
  • The works listed below…

Examples

During the past few years I have come across quite a few interesting works belonging to this genre. (And if we don’t count Harry Potter, all of them are anime…)

Here’s a list of some of them:

  • Cardcaptor Sakura
  • Durarara!!
  • Suzumiya Haruhi no yuuutsu
  • Kamisama Hajimemashita
  • Uchouten Kazoku
  • Zetsuen no Tempest

They are all worth taking a look at by the way, especially the three last ones. They are also quite different from each other (plot, and nature of the fantastical elements, just to mention a few things), demonstrating the pretty much endless possibilities offered by this genre. (… I somehow turned into an advocate of contemporary fantasy while writing this post.)

To sum up: the genre of this webcomic is what it is.

This week

… the webcomic will be updated on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

There will also be a blog post. This time around I’ll write about the genre(s) of ”ΔS”>>. I was going to save this post for later, but being an introduction of a kind, it actually fits quite well here. (And as the plot is currently advancing relatively slowly, I’m increasingly anxious to assure the readers that there is more to the story than what meets the eye. – Though what I really should do is to draw more than two pages a week…)

On an unrelated note, I think I’m gradually getting better at coloring. Still slow, but at least I’ve managed to develop a style I like.

Character introductions – part 1: Hiura

Hiura

Hiura

A.k.a. the so-called main character. I originally intended her to be tomboyish and cool, but somehow she ended up being the way she is now. (I’m glad if someone finds the current version cool, but I’m not so sure if I think that way myself.)

She has such a charming personality though that it pretty much makes up for the aforementioned lack of coolness.

She has such a charming personality though that it pretty much makes up for the aforementioned lack of coolness.

… But you chose that course yourself, too?

… But you chose that course yourself, too?

 

Name

First off, a disclaimer:
I am not claiming to have any deep or extensive knowledge of Japanese language, names, or kanji. I’m just really enthusiastic about them. I have studied the language for several years as a hobby, but I do not consider it a specialty of mine. It’s a hobby.
Feel free to point out any mistakes.

So, back on to the topic.

The name written in kanji

The name written in kanji

Most of the other characters call Hiura by her surname (“Hiura”, that is), but let’s talk about her given name “Ran”. In the earlier stages of this project the whole cast had Finnish names, the main character being named “Kielo” – a word meaning lily of the valley.

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

When I switched to Japanese names I simply translated “Kielo” to the corresponding Japanese word “鈴蘭”, Suzuran. The name remained that way for a relatively long time, during which I almost always called her by a shorter nickname “Ran” in my mind. (The shorter the better, and I like the sound of that word.) Before long I started to prefer the idea that instead of a nickname it was her actual name. Hence I changed the reading to Ran, while maintaining the original kanji. So – as I see it – the word still means lily of the valley, even if the reading became irregular. (Incidentally, I am also quite fond of irregular readings.)

 

Character design

As far as I know, not many characters in manga or other comics have French braids. And I shouldn’t have drawn a character with them either. Especially not the main character… Even if you try to draw them carefully they still end up looking wrong. Or maybe it’s just me and my lack of skill. In any case, it was a mistake.

That said, it’s not like I’m going to change the character design at this point – not even the hairdo. It has already become a plot point of a kind. Not a particularly important one, but a plot point nevertheless.

There are also a few alternative hair styles that often appear in related art but rarely in the webcomic itself.

This is what the character design should have been from the beginning. But on the other hand, if her hair would be constantly loose, there wouldn’t be the gap between braided and loose versions…

This is what the character design should have been from the beginning. But on the other hand, if her hair would be constantly loose, there wouldn’t be the gap between braided and loose versions…

This also happens to be one of the few drawings that I’m content with even after a relatively long time. The Twitter version with text can be found here. And the line art is on Tumblr in case anyone is interested.

The middle-school version of Hiura

The middle-school version of Hiura

She will only make one or two brief appearances in the comic, and only in flashbacks, but I really like drawing her. Both because of the hair style and because of the clothes. And expressions. (She is way more “cool” than the high-school Hiura.)

 

Other notes

  • The monkeys on the pattern of the hoodie in the prologue were cute, weren’t they? They also happened to be quite tedious to draw (I know they don’t look like it), so you most likely won’t be seeing them in the future chapters. But you can always re-read the prologue.
  • The gray textures in Hiura’s hair and eyes in the webcomic are modified versions of a photograph of snow falling horizontally in the wind
  • You may have noticed that her braids are of different lengths. That’s on purpose. Both on my and on her part. Which is not to say there is any deeper meaning or symbolism behind it. (There isn’t.)
A sketch that serves no other purpose here than ending this post.

A sketch that serves no other purpose here than ending this post.

Only a short post this time too

As I previously mentioned, I’m planning to write two series of blog posts. They will be about

  1. characters of this webcomic (introductions of a kind; a bit more detailed than the ones on the “Characters” page)
  2. this project (webcomic) in general; background, motivation etc.

The first topic is quite straightforward. I’ll introduce one character at a time: name, character design and so on – without explaining too much about the role of the character in the story. The second one is, well, actually pretty straightforward too, now that I think about it.

I am going to write these alternately, sometimes a post about a character, sometimes about a certain aspect of the project. You can browse the posts afterwards in order by using tags, if you wish. There is now a tag cloud on the sidebar for that.

Questions, suggestions etc. are welcome.

I recently…

… tried changing the style of my drawings. (Though chances are that no one notices, as the style is constantly changing anyway.) And I’m still in the process of developing it, because I’m not yet quite content with how the drawings look like.

… updated the Characters page. (Meaning there are now a total of three character introductions…) The drawings will be monochrome until I get better at coloring.

I also changed (or rather, “updated”) the header image. You can consider it a demonstration of my current coloring skills. Finishing the drawing in question took me several hours.

***

As a side note of a side note, I’m planning to write at least two series of blog posts around particular topics. I’ll describe them in more detail during next week.

A blog post…

Taiyaki_-_blogi_-_dS_20160721

… as an excuse to upload the above drawing also onto this site.
I don’t really have anything to say about it, though.

And as I haven’t been receiving new ideas regarding topics for blog posts, I’m going to use the one I was suggested earlier during this summer: a photo of the equipment I use for drawing this webcomic.

So here you are:

pencil_-_webcomic_dS_20160822

Joking aside, I’m travelling again – meaning I don’t have light table etc. (which I admittedly should have included in that photo) with me, so the update of the webcomic will be postponed about a week or so. (Please bear with me. ^_^;)

I might write another blog post though, if I come up with a topic good enough. And in case you find reading my blog posts boring and would rather look at pictures, here are a few drawings I recently made while pracing how to draw yukata. I’m still updating this collection at the time of writing this post. There will probably be nine images in total (or more, if those RTs and likes keep increasing).

As always, comments and questions are welcome!

PS. Actually, I have a question. Which one of these would you prefer:
1) somewhat less polished look on the webcomic + more frequent updates, or
2) the way it currently is?
I’m bit on the fence about this myself, so it would be nice to hear other’s opinion too.

On the workflow of the pages of “ΔS”>>

Travelling again. So a blog post instead of webcomic this week. (Please bear with me. ^_^;) In addition I’m finally going to update the Characters page of the website later this week. Look forward to it if you have been annoyed by the “nothing here yet” text.

As some people have suggested me that it could be a good topic for a blog post, I’ll write about the typical workflow of a page of “ΔS”>>. (Only on a general level, though, and focusing on the steps done with computer; otherwise the post would become quite long.)

In short, this post is mostly about flatting (as well as the steps before and after it). It isn’t anything I have come up with by myself, neither is the workflow described below meant to be a tutorial of any kind. (You may regard it as such if you want, but there are other, better tutorials out there. Like this and this one.) This is just a description of how I work.

Without further ado, to the actual blog post:

The general workflow of a page after drawing it

1) Scanning and resizing the page
The original paper size is A4. After scanning it (600 dpi) I change the size to A5.

2) Cleaning up the line drawing; adjusting brightness and levels; lettering

Mode: Grayscale Resolution: 600 dpi Number of layers: Usually one, more while writing text

Mode: Grayscale
Resolution: 600 dpi
Number of layers: Usually one, more while writing text

For lettering I use a font that I made myself. (In the Japanese version, however, I use MS Mincho and occasionally MS Gothic, as well as hand-written text.)

3) Flatting

Mode: RGB Resolution: 300 dpi Number of layers: Usually three (one for colors, one for the line drawings, one for additional lines), sometimes more

Mode: RGB
Resolution: 300 dpi
Number of layers: Usually three (one for colors, one for the line drawings, one for additional lines), sometimes more

The color layer is beneath all the other ones, and the line drawing layer above it is set to “multiply”. It doesn’t really matter what colors are used, as long as they are distinct, since their only function is to make selection of areas easier. (It’s not like I’d ever use that kind of colors for bus interior…)
This step usually takes a lot of time.

4) Colors-only version of the page

Mode: RGB Resolution: 600 dpi Number of layers: One

Mode: RGB
Resolution: 600 dpi
Number of layers: One

5) Adding gray textures

Mode: RGB at first, grayscale at the end Resolution: 600 dpi Number of layers: One initially, several while working, one again at the end

Mode: RGB at first, grayscale at the end
Resolution: 600 dpi
Number of layers: One initially, several while working, one again at the end

Copy-pasting gray textures into the colored surfaces.

6) The final version

Mode: Grayscale Resolution: 600 dpi Number of layers: First two, then one

Mode: Grayscale
Resolution: 600 dpi
Number of layers: First two, then one

Here the line drawing from step 1 is combined with the gray textures from step 4: I start by copying the gray textures layer and placing it beneath the line drawing, after which I set the line drawing layer to multiply. (This is by far the nicest part of the whole working process.) If the page looks ok, I flatten the image into a single layer.

***

Just a random thought that occurred to me a while ago: If there are people who find their way here through search engines, they are most likely looking for something thermodynamics-related information instead of a webcomic that… at this point probably appears to be about falling spider plant plantlets, or something along those lines?  ^_^;  (It isn’t… Or, well, I guess it depends on the way you look at it.)

Screentones (again)

(Though I really should stop calling them screentones before someone gets angry at me for misuse of the term.)

First off, I’m travelling for a while, and since I don’t carry a scanner, light table or graphics tablet with me there will be a longer-than-usual break before the next update of the comic. The following pages will probably be finished and uploaded here by next week’s Sunday (29th of May).

I can, however, write even if I don’t have a scanner at hand, so this time I’ll compose a blog post instead. (Not that I’d think this makes up for the postponed update of the comic.)

grayscale clouds and flowering branches

Flowering brances. Either cherry or apple trees. Not sure. I have taken plenty of photos of both. (I probably should be able to tell them apart by looking at this image, but… Oh well, it doesn’t really matter which ones they are.)

The background of page 5 of the first chapter. Of all the pages I’ve drawn so far, this might be the easiest one to write about. The workflow for it was as follows: (1) designing the layout of the page (already a few years ago); (2) taking lots of photographs of flowering branches and sky (over the years); (3) selecting and cropping a few of the photos (this was somewhat tedious); (4) drawing the page; and (5) adjusting the size, angle and tones of the branches. It took a lot of time to finish the page, but I think it was worth it, as I’m quite content with the final look of the page. (Though it might look a bit odd when placed next to page 6.) Besides, experimenting with different kinds of screentones gray textures is never boring.

This particular file – the background alone – was huge when I was working on it. By huge I mean something close to 100 megabytes. With high resolution, multiple layers and RGB mode, large file size might not be all that surprising, but it did startle me a bit. (I’m quite sure my computer wasn’t too happy about having to deal with an image that large…)

***

Chapter 1, page 6, panel 2

Just a random panel (from chapter 1, page 6). As a filler.

I’m still trying to figure out what to write about in these blog posts. The webcomic is the main content of this site, but in addition to that I’d like to blog something too, every now and then. Technical aspects seem like a relevant subject here, if not interesting, so for now I have settled on them. But variety would be nice too, and I’m open to suggestions: If there is some topic related to this webcomic you would like me to write about (for example some particular part of the working process), let me know. Questions and comments are more than welcome too.

Screentones

So, at this point I have finished and uploaded twelve pages (three of which are either text-only or totally empty, so maybe I shouldn’t actually count them? Well, nine pages) of the story. Not much, admittedly, but more is to come. And who knows, I might also become faster at drawing when I continue this long enough.

Speaking of getting fast, I probably use too much ”screentones” (or rather, gray textures). And because of that, it takes hours to ”color” even a single page. In theory this should not be too difficult a problem to fix, since all it takes is to leave more areas white. But every time I start coloring the page, my hands just won’t stop…   ^_^;

Is it just me or does this page actually look better without any gray textures?

Is it just me or does this page actually look better without any gray textures?