HWA anniversary!

Here We Are (HWA) webcomic 3rd anniversary

For those who celebrate it, happy holidays. I don't celebrate Xmas, but enjoy the quiet weeks when everyone else is winding down for the year.

Instead I'm celebrating Here We Are's anniversary! I started posting it Dec 2018, so that makes it 3 years...but I haven't posted in a whole year already, haha (shhh, I'll get there). I haven't drawn any "serious" colour illustrations for this series, so I set out to do that as a form of celebration/commemoration. I quickly regretted it, but I forced myself to keep going.

I present to you, the fake comic cover anniversary edition of this image. Took me a while to figure out what to do with the negative space. Digital illustration of Austin (reading a book) and Jake (playing a handheld console game) hanging out in a corner of Jake's apartment. They're sitting on pillows and a fluffy carpet. The text on the image says 'here we are' and 'dirchansky'.

Historically I'm very bad at using pose reference, but this time I went and used ALL THE REFERENCE. Enjoy this strange walk-through. One day I will learn how to use those 3d models in CSP, but not this time...instead I used these two creepers. They're posable figures, around 6" tall (1/12 scale).

Photo of 2 miniature posable models/figures, posed in a seated position, leaning their backs against some boxes.

I already had Jake's room built in roomstyler, so that became the starting point for the room/lighting reference.

3d render of a room, with a window on the back wall and a shelf on the right side. The flooring is wood plank laminate.

I drew over the pose photo reference, making adjustments where needed. The models have no softness or slack to their joints, extra weird spacing and sockets, so their poses inherently look stiffer.

Digital sketch of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

I took additional photo ref for Austin's hand. It's kind of weird book hold, where the pinky and thumb are holding the book open. I've never formally read this book, but I received training from the author's organization before, haha. It's The Coaching Habit.

I'm not adept at choosing harmonious colours, so I usually select haphazardly (left) and then use a colour layer to adjust (right). In this case I used a light blue layer on top of all the flats at "soft light" layer effect, but other times I've used other layer effects (like multiply) or changed the opacity instead.

Digital screenshot comparison of flat colours. Left shows unaltered selection of colours by artist, right shows modified colours with a blue tint to them.

This results in flats with a bit of a cooler/blue tone to them. The books are Around the Bend, Cook and Cry, and a made up book called Saving Pando, which is on brand for Austin.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with flat colours shown.

Since the flats had a cool tone, I assumed I'd want a warmer highlight and a cooler shadow. More recently, I've been painting the light/shading separately so I have flexibility to futz with the colours whenever I want. Generally I have layers for light, shadow, and then reflected light.

I love high contrast (that's why I mainly work in B/W), but when applied to shading, the result is that sometimes the image (if going for, more naturalistic lighting) can become too harsh. This KIND OF happened here, but trust me, I already dialed back how harsh the lighting was...it was...like a bright turquoise before HAHA.

I applying shades in harsh shapes, then use the blend tool in CSP to taper the colour out, where (seemingly) appropriate. My shadow layers, mostly blue, on layers set to 'multiple'.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with blue shading/shadows shown.

The lighting and reflected light are mostly orange. Yes, I abused layer effects 'colour dodge' and various others.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment, with blue shading/shadows and warm highlights shown.

When I turn the flats back on it turns into this.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

I'm really into DoF and lens blur, so I wanted to apply that to this image. I drew the plants on a separate layer so I could do this. I exported the flat image into Affinity Photo to use their DoF filter and auto-level/colour/contrast. It looks like the colours were changed to be slighty warmer.

I ended up cropping most of the image off (haha) but here's the uncropped version.

Digital drawing of two men hanging out in a corner of an apartment.

Just applied to exhibit one final year IRL at Toronto Comic Arts Festival/TCAF 2022. Applications are open until Feb 7 2022 and there are spots for in-person (Toronto) and/or online. I promised to make some pretty weird comics to make my application more TASTY. Good luck to everyone who applies!

Today's music post: Smokin Out The Window by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic. I'm linking the video because there's a part where Anderson .Paak falls to the ground dramatically (~1:36) and lies there while Bruno Mars takes over, and it is chef's kiss, on top of the cheesy retro fade in/out overlays.