Free Comic Book Day: Why It Matters & Why You Should Go

free comic book day

Free Comic Book Day. Record Store Day. Apple Store camp-out sessions. Harry Potter book release parties. What do all of these things have in common?

First and foremost… it’s about fandom

These are all events that cater to the truest of the true fans. If you care deeply about music, Record Store Day might as well be your national holiday. I showed up at Record Store Day to find a giant line snaking around the corner. Normally, I would turn tail and run at the sight of any line longer than four people, but I happily slid into the queue and started chatting up the people in front of me. (And I don’t like people.) I ended up spending four hours inside the store and went home with a huge stack of vinyl. It was a spectacular day, and it felt like everyone I saw inside the store was just as high on their own music fandom. (Of course, this was at Amoeba Records in the Upper Haight in San Francisco, so it could have been more than just fandom.)

It’s also about *new* fans

These events aren’t just for I-knew-them-before-they-were-famous fans. The rising popularity of these events (just like Comic Cons and cosplay) signal a new breed of fan. People who got hooked on TV’s The Walking Dead finally find out that it was a comic book all along. This day is for them. Middle-school-aged kids whose teachers assigned them to read Art Spiegelman’s Maus (to teach them about the Holocaust) are probably itching to uncover similar graphic novel gems. Free Comic Book Day is perfect for them. Hey, sullen teenager who is inexorably drawn to Anonymous masks — did you know that V for Vendetta was a graphic novel? There’s more to that revolutionary story — come on in and check it out.

It’s about economic choices

You aren’t necessarily going to Free Comic Book Day for the free comic book; you’re going as a show of solidarity to the people who sell them. If you examine the origins of Free Comic Book Day, it’s easy to see that it’s an idea in service to retailers. More to the point, it’s become a way to combat our increasingly direct-to-door Internet purchases that we all know are slowly killing local businesses. Events like Free Comic Book Day let us think globally and actually shop locally (at least for one day). We feel a little more noble when we support these mom-and-pop stores that do more more than just sell comic books. They’re a gathering place for people of all ages to play games, share stories, and make friends. We should all support that.

It’s about (non)judgement

It’s also a way to physically participate in real-world community. Safely. Are you a hardcore Brony but afraid to demonstrate your love of Applejack at the office? Are you unable to stop recommending The Watchmen whenever someone talks about the most recent Great American Novel-to-movie adaptation? Do you find yourself having to defend the copious amount of art on your walls that contain images of anime sword wielders? There is next-to-zero judgment going on at your local comic book store, so spread your wings like Warren Worthington III and fly.

Most of all: It’s about art

All of these one-day novel cultural events like Free Comic Book Day are ultimately about art and design. Harry Potter fans don’t just love the books for the words on the page. They love them for the fantabulous images those words conjure up in their minds. And, yes, Apple fanbois genuinely swoon for the artistry that went into making those undeniably beautiful phones. In that same spirit, comic book fans love nothing more than being surrounded by a roomful of meticulously crafted works of art that tell amazing stories and fire their imaginations.

So think of Free Comic Book Day — this Saturday, May 7th — as not just a way to get something for nothing. It’s a way for you to support real artists who pour their passion for drawing into their art every single day. Think of it as an art gallery opening for fans of pop culture. It’s the largest art gallery in the world that’s closest to your home where you’re encouraged to purchase and take home the art they’re displaying. Sometimes for just a few bucks.

A few of our favorite comic book artists

No self-respecting comic book fan would point you to a comic book store without recommending a few of their favorites. If you do attend Free Comic Book Day, please consider looking up art by some of our favorite artists. These are people we’ve worked with on commissions, people we admire, and people who deserve all the accolades given to them.

Phil Noto Disney Marvel

Phil Noto (@philnoto) draws some of the most amazing comics, including the just released Star Wars: Poe Dameron #2, which comes out today. We strongly suggest picking that one up this Saturday. Seriously. You’re going to want that.

 

skottie young drawing

Skottie Young (@skottieyoung) draws amazing and fun and sometimes demented things like Rocket Raccoon. Check out his latest release, I Hate Fairyland #1, the story of a six year old girl who’s been stuck in the magical world of Fairyland for thirty years and will hack and slash her way through anything to find her way back home. It’s heartwarming.

 

matt fletcher

Matt Fletcher (@fletcher720) has drawn some amazing things for us at events, but he also works on paper in pen and ink and watercolor. You can buy some of these very cool prints at his online store.

 

ken lashley spiderman joker batman superman

A deservedly popular and influential DC and Marvel illustrator, Ken Lashley (@ledkilla) is currently working on the Uncanny X-Men.

 

ratchet and clank art

Greg Baldwin (@creaturebox) is a master at creating mind-boggling creatures, most notably for the Ratchet & Clank video game series. He and Dave Guertin also served as lead visual designers for the R&C movie. Just in time for the movie — a new Ratchet & Clank game for the PS4 that’s getting rave reviews.

Classic Movie Posters Featuring Captain America & Avengers

Avengers Art

Phew. Comic book fans can rejoice. Captain America: Civil War is getting a much better reception (92% on Rotten Tomatoes) than the recent Batman vs. Superman movie (a dismal 28%). Whether you’re on Team Marvel or Team DC, the continued success of superhero movies as their own colossal genre means they’ll just keep making them. As they make them, they need art for their movie posters.

If you’re a fan of movie poster art, you should probably check out Alternative Movie Posters, a site that collects all kinds of fan art created in worship of movies. As you might imagine, some of their strongest showings of art are around science fiction, fantasy, and movies that originally came out of comic books. There’s quite a nice collection of Avengers movie poster art on the site that includes one of our favorite artists, Paul Shipper. They feature the Avengers poster he made for Comic Con.

Paul is known for his photorealistic movie posters, and the release of the new Captain America movie made us nostalgic for the time he drew that poster. What was particularly great about the poster (aside from how lovely the art is) was that he made it on the first generation of our SketchBook mobile app.  That means he drew this on a first generation iPad without a pressure-sensitive stylus in SketchBook version 2.1. Impressive stuff.

Hulk Thor Ironman Captain America Black Widow Hawkeye

In celebration of the release of Captain America Civil War, we thought it’d be nice to rewind the clock and give it another look. Here’s some in-progress shots, along with Paul’s original thoughts on the piece:

Drawing the Avengers

“The illustration came together really well. Originally just for mock up purposes… I use the app to create comprehensives for my clients mostly, its a fast way of sketching and coloring and playing for me to get the look I am after for each project.”

How to Draw the Hulk

“In the case of the Avengers piece, the organizer loved the mock-up so much he decided to make it into posters for the show! He just fell in love with my iPad version, and it never made it to the drawing board… they ran with the SketchBook Pro artwork. Which just shows you how great the work can be straight from the app!”

Drawing the Avengers

“The Avengers piece has since proven to be very popular with fans of my work… which made me splash out and get a new iPad so I can work at higher res.”

Enjoy More Paul

Follow Paul to see more of his amazing movie posters (from Buckaroo Banzai to Star Wars) over on Twitter and Instagram. Or go check out his personal site. Or, watch this nice collection of some of his sketches:

 

Free Brush Set: Shaun Mullen’s Environmental Textures

Free brush set of the week

We’ve been giving away free brushes every week in the past month, and we’re going to keep on doing it. Don’t even think about trying to stop us. This time around, we wanted to showcase a custom brush set by one of our favorite artists, Shaun Mullen.

Shaun creates a lot of art on his iPad, and he’s a master at imagining massive landscapes on planets that look like they’re either crumbling into destruction or just emerging into creation. With strong color chops and a real painterly style, Shaun creates luscious environments with lone wanderers who seem like they’re just as enraptured by their surroundings as the viewer. It’s beautiful work, and we’re lucky to have him share a set of custom brushes that he uses to create artwork like this:

Shaun Mullen illustration

A collection of some our favorite epic environments from Shaun’s DeviantArt page.

Download the free set

These brushes are geared toward creating the details of these epic environments. Try the tufts of grass. You can scatter them around in different colors and shades. Build rock formations with brushes that change their orientation each time you click. Use other brushes to quickly draw mountains and the misty cloud formations that surround them. Add some painterly effects to your drawing with included smudge brushes. Or customize these brushes to fit your own style. Download Mullen Environmental Textures and install it by double clicking on the .skbrushes file. (Need help? Read this.)

Not a SketchBook Pro member?

If you haven’t tried SketchBook Pro, you can always download a free trial and unlock Pro membership for 15 days.

More from Shaun

As you can see, Shaun is good at creating hazy, misty skies. He’s just as good at creating smoke. Awhile back, we asked him to create a tutorial around his smoke skills. Check out his SketchBook Pro Smoke Tutorial if you need a primer on making dreamy smoke curls.

Sketch to Polish: Drawing with Wacom Intuos Pro

drawing with intuos devices

Do you draw on a tablet or draw on a screen? We get a lot of questions from users at events, on our regular Twitch broadcasts, and on our Facebook Page from people who are trying to figure out which type of device they should be drawing on. Many people start drawing digitally with whatever they have at hand — an iPhone, an iPad, a computer mouse —  but they gradually try new options until they find the right combination of digital “pen and paper” that works best for them. If you’re still trying to decide between drawing on a desktop tablet or a glass screen, you’ll be happy to know that both work great.

Lately, we’ve been giving the Wacom Intuos Pro a test run, and we’ve been recording what we make. It’s our way of showing some of the differences between the two types of drawing environments. We just finished our third video in the series, Wacom and SketchBook: Sketch to Polish. If you haven’t seen any of the other two and are considering buying this kind of device, take a look and see how they work with SketchBook:

  • Part 1: Under Pressure explores your pressure sensitivity options using an Intuos Pro. Some brushes in SketchBook are built to be pressure sensitive when a device like the Intuos Pro is connected, but some default brushes — like the ballpoint pen — don’t show any pressure sensitivity. They’re made to mimic real-life drawing tools that may not really have pressure sensitivity in real life. But if you use an Intuos Pro and want to add pressure sensitivity to any brush it’s easy to do. This video shows you how we changed a few brushes to take advantage of that sensitivity everywhere.
  • Part 2: Press the Button shows you how you can customize the Express Keys — the buttons on the sides of your tablet and pen — to be a shortcut for anything you prefer. We also show you how we like to do it. These keys are unbelievably handy. You should definitely try out a few different options if you’ve never used one of these before. You’re going to save yourself tons of time.

And today we have the last video in our three-part series. In Sketch to Polish we take you from the beginning of a sketch, to laying down our line art, all the way through to coloring.

Want to try it out yourself?

Download a copy of the high res line drawing, pop it into SketchBook, and work your way through your own version of this lovely lady. Here’s how we did it, sped up:

GIF drawing sketchbook

 

#WIPWednesday: Live Featured on Twitch

wipwednesday community sketchingWe hope you enjoyed our first episode of WIPWednesday over on Twitch. We loved having you! It’s Wednesday again, so we’re back on air at 9 a.m. PDT with a whole new group of half-finished featured art from the community.

If you didn’t know, WIPWednesday is a SketchBook tradition dating back to ancient times — nearly three years ago. We started off by asking our followers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to share what they’re working on. Over at the DeviantArt SketchBook group we took it one step further by featuring a few entries from the group every week. And now, we’re doing it live on Twitch!

Last week I explained how your art can be featured on Work-In-Progress Wednesdays. There’s three simple steps:

1. Sign up for DeviantArt. Join our official group.

2. Submit your SketchBook-made WIPs, sketches, and in-progress shots to our SketchBook group.

3. Check out my mini video tutorial on how to do that here.

Watch live video from autodesksketchbook on twitch.tv
 

Here’s a teaser of our featured art for this week:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.24.42 AM

 

Did you already miss the live stream? Bummer. You can find the recording here. Look in the Past Broadcasts tab.

Be sure to follow us on Twitch and click the little checkbox for notifications. Then you’ll always know when we’re live!

 

Gluten Free FAQ

 

How do I get featured in WIPWednesday?

First, sign up for DeviantArt and join our group! It’s free and super fun. Second, upload your sketches, WIPs, and progress shots made with Autodesk SketchBook to the main gallery! (Autodesk SketchBook art only — and keep it clean for all ages, kids!)

Why do I have to use SketchBook?

Our DeviantArt group’s purpose is to collect and celebrate SketchBook art. I hope you can understand it wouldn’t make sense to add other artwork. But maybe you use a combination of tools that include SketchBook. If so, you’re welcome to upload!

I submitted something but I don’t see it.  😭

Our selections for WIP art is picked in advance, so you might turn up in the future way after your original post. Also choices are picked at random, and not everyone will be chosen. Keep submitting different art all the time, and you might get lucky!

I want to marry SketchBook!

That’s not a question and you can’t marry an application. I’m very sorry. 😭💔

 

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Free Brush Set of the Week: Skullz

skull brush free set

Do you have trouble drawing skulls? We might have something just for you. It’s time for another free brush set for SketchBook Pro users (There’s a new one every week).

You can make a brush out of just about anything. You can tweak an existing brush until it has a stroke that you love. But brushes don’t just have to look like paintbrushes. You can take a piece of something you’ve drawn or upload an image and make that into something like a stamp. If you needed to add a zillion scales on a fish you certainly wouldn’t want to draw all of them by hand, so you make a brush and use that to paint on a pattern.

For this week’s brush set, we asked our fearless colleague Kyle Runciman to come up with something neat. And he got a little creepy on us. Skulls. Or, as we decided to call the set, “Skullz.” They’re pretty useful even if you’re not into the grotesque — and very easy to pop into SketchBook Pro and try out. Just download the Skullz Brush Set and double click on the .skbrushes file that ends up on your computer. The latest version of SketchBook Pro will open and install it. (If you use an older version of SketchBook, you’ll need to access a menu option.)

These are very nice skulls, and they work great as background elements for all kinds of images. They also work as a starting point for a naturalistic drawing, as Kyle so ably demonstrates in this video on the SketchBook Pro YouTube channel. Nice elephant, Kyle!

Tips for making your own brush icons

You can take things you’ve drawn and make them into brushes just like we did with these skulls. In fact, give it a try! Once you do, you may want to make custom icons. A few quick tips to consider when making your own icons:

  • Make your images or selections square. If you choose an aspect ratio that isn’t 1:1, your icon will stretch. Not good.
  • Have your image be transparent. While it’s not completely necessary to do it this way, it will look a lot better — and more uniform — in your toolset.
  • The higher the resolution, the better. Your image needs to be at least 80×80 pixels. Too small will be too blurry.

Twitch Livestream: Total Request Live

It’s Friday. So you know what that means?

Total request Live on Twitch! Tune in at 1 p.m. PDT to watch Renée draw for your pleasure. Last week one of our faithful viewers requested fan art from the Riot Games hit title League Of Legends.

Which Champion will she choose to draw? Nobody knows. You’ll have to watch and see!

Watch live video from autodesksketchbook on www.twitch.tv
 

Like what you see? Never miss a broadcast by subscribing to our channel. We’ll have tutorials, artist features, live drawing, and maybe even a little bit of video game playing.

FOLLOWUS-TWITCH
 

SketchBook Pro Update: Introducing Radial Symmetry

sketchbook draw with radial symmetry tool

We are pleased to announce the latest update for our desktop versions of Autodesk SketchBook. What’s in this update? A few major features: Radial Symmetry, Custom Brush Icons, and access to the System Color Editor on the Mac version.

Radial Symmetry

Pro members will see a new icon in the Symmetry menu. Radial Symmetry allows you to sketch and paint while mirroring your work in up to 16 sectors simultaneously. This is a powerful tool for sketching symmetrical patterned objects like flowers, wheels, propellers, or mandalas. The main image on this blog post (above) was quickly made using the Radial Symmetry tool. If you draw circular and symmetrical objects, this is going to save you a ton of time.

Custom Brush Icons

Making and sharing custom brushes and brush sets is incredibly handy. If you’re a Pro user and have already built up an extensive library of brushes, you may have found that you’ve been running out of unique brush icons to identify your brushes. We’ve added the ability for you to import images and label your brushes however you choose. The brush customization possibilities really are endless. We’ve been using this feature in the past few weeks (before it was live for everyone) to share Free Custom Brush Sets — and now you can, too. If you want to add a custom icon to represent a brush, in the Brush Properties menu click on the icon and look for the Import option (see image to the right). You can use the texture it creates to represent your brush, but we really love the professional look of a unique brush with custom icons for each brush.

how to add a custom brush icon

System Color Editor (Mac)

You asked, we listened! Some of our users weren’t happy with every improvement we made in our last release. In particular, some people just couldn’t let go of the old color editor. We know it can be hard to make a change so we’ve added an option in Preferences that lets you revert back to the System Color Editor. This allows you to use the color picker in the same way you were used to all along. This is available for all users (not just Pro).

Radial Symmetry in Action

Our own Kyle Runciman created this video to show how he uses Radial Symmetry to design wheels and create custom brushes. It’s a brand-new feature, so it’s always instructive to see how someone else does it. We hope you find this new tool as neat and useful as we do.

A Free Brush Set Made Using Radial Symmetry

We posted these custom wheel brushes a few weeks ago as sort of a teaser of what’s possible with Radial Symmetry. If you haven’t already grabbed this set, click here to download.  Getting these brushes into SketchBook couldn’t be any easier. Simply double click on the .skbrushes file and the brush set will be directly imported into your SketchBook Brush Library.

free wheel brush set

As always, we’re very excited to see what you come up with these tools. Have fun!

#WIPWednesday Live on Twitch: Showing Off Work in Progress

wipwednesdayWIPWednesday is a SketchBook tradition dating back to ancient times — nearly three years ago. We started off by asking our followers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to share what they’re working on. Over at the DeviantArt SketchBook group we took it one step further by featuring a few entries from the group every week. It’s been a success, but now we’re ready to take it one step further. Let’s do this live with you on Twitch!

Watch live video from autodesksketchbook on twitch.tv
 

At 9 a.m. PST on April 20th this player will be live! As your faithful Community Manager, I’ll be talking about this week’s picks for WIPWednesday. After I’m done I’ll move on to sketching something for your entertainment. Here’s a teaser, below:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 8.23.40 AM

Did you already miss the live stream? Bummer. You can find the recording here. Look in the Past Broadcasts tab.

Be sure to follow us on Twitch and click the little checkbox for notifications. Then you’ll always know when we’re live!

 

Super Fun High Fiber FAQ

 

How do I get featured in WIPWednesday?

First, sign up for DeviantArt and join our group! It’s free and super fun. Second, upload your sketches, WIPs, and progress shots made with Autodesk SketchBook to the main gallery! (Autodesk SketchBook art only — and keep it clean for all ages, kids!)

Why do I have to use SketchBook?

Our DeviantArt group’s purpose is to collect and celebrate SketchBook art. I hope you can understand it wouldn’t make sense to add other artwork. But maybe you use a combination of tools that include SketchBook. If so, you’re welcome to upload!

I submitted something but I don’t see it.  😭

Our selections for WIP art is picked in advance, so you might turn up in the future way after your original post. Also choices are picked at random, and not everyone will be chosen. Keep submitting different art all the time, and you might get lucky!

I love SketchBook!

That’s not a question but SKETCHBOOK LOVES YOU TOOOOOOO 💕

 

FOLLOWUS-TWITCH

Tutorial: Traditional Watercolor Painting Done Digitally

painting GIF

Are you a watercolor painter who has always wanted to paint digitally but haven’t been able to make the leap? If so, we have a great tutorial for you.

Our intern Mohammad is a talented artist who has been hunkered down in SketchBook Pro making things. He’s been learning every tiny detail of the app (of course), but he’s also been creating a lot of great art. We asked him to share some of his expertise by making tutorials that focus on his particular strengths. These tutorials are great examples of how a traditional artist approaches creating in our app. Whether you create art like Mohammad does or something wildly different, we think you’ll learn a few things about his process that might just change how you set up your own workflow.

You can download the Expressive Digital Painting PDF tutorial and check it out how he created this Expressive River Painting your leisure, but we wanted to provide a few extra details on what we really like about Mohammad’s process.

The big takeaway: Use a textured background 

If you’re shooting for the look of traditional watercolor start with a background that looks like textured paper. Mohammad had a great idea — go grab an image specifically made to be a canvas background. We found one on Creative Market, but you can find tons of images online like this for free. However, keep in mind that you want your background image to be at least as large as the image you’re creating. Mohammad started with a 3300 x 2550 size canvas with 300 pixels/inch resolution, which will allow him to publish or print this just about anywhere. Three important details that Mohammad points out that are worth considering adding to your workflow:

  1. Multiply mode: He used the Multiply blending mode so that his drawing would look as if it was being applied to watercolor paper.
  2. Texture on top: He made sure this texture layer was always the first layer.
  3. Start strong, lower opacity later: Start with your textured paper fairly strong in its opacity. You can always tone down the effect of your textured paper later by lowering the opacity.

Of course, keep in mind that using blending modes like this and messing with the opacity of a “paper layer” will affect your colors. To compensate for that, Mohammad toggled off the texture at certain points like when he was laying down paint to establish his background. This helped him get the proper tones. At the end of his painting, after he had added all of his highlights, he used a Color Dodge blending mode on some details. This really made the highlights on the rocks and river pop out. The final result is lovely and has a traditional look but also a bit of a digital feel. Nicely done, Mohammad! It’s a great introduction to traditional watercolor style painting in SketchBook.

Lucky for us, Mohammad recorded his work so you can see exactly how he does it. Watch him in action on the SketchBook Pro YouTube channel.

Download Mohammad’s brush set

As an added bonus, Mohammad created a special brush set for this tutorial. He started with a set that he admired on DeviantArt (made by SirCassie), altered many of the details to fit his own style of drawing, and added some extra brushes for smudging and other details. After he was done with this tutorial, he exported his customized set as a .skbrushes file. We thought it was so good we made it the Free Brush Set of the Week. Go download it and install it in SketchBook Pro to use in your own watercolor adventures. Of course, you can always alter it to your liking and even export your set and share it yourself. Sometimes sharing your brush set can be a great complement to sharing your art.