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Its been a long time since I updated, as I have 4 different jobs right now, but in between all these jobs I am hitting some conventions!  I just finished off Hamacon in Huntsville, Alabama, and it was fantastic.  Next up:

Louisianime www.louisianime.com/
June 13-15 in Lafayette, Louisiana

Dashcon www.dashcon.org/
July 11-13 in schaumburg, Illinois (near chicago)
Welcome to Night Vale will also be here, in case you needed more incentive

Mechacon www.mechacon.com/
August 1-3 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Beavercreek Popcorn Festival www.beavercreekpopcornfestival…
September 6-7 in Beavercreek, Ohio
(something a little different, this is my hometown's festival)

Anime Weekend Atlanta awa-con.com/
September 26-28 in Atlanta, Georgia

Geek Media Expo geekmediaexpo.com/ (pending)
October 24-26, Nashville, Tennessee

Right now these are the only ones on the schedule, but if you have others you recommend, I'm all ears.  This is a quite busy year though, as in addition to these 6 I've done 8 more through the beginning of the year.  Regardless, I look forward to seeing you all in the future!
Hey all!  Becca (nattosoup.blogspot.com) and I got a table at Ohayocon for 2014.  Its been a VERY long time since I've been to Ohayocon (2006 was the last time?)  Since then, they've changed to a no fanart policy, which hopefully will mean comics and art prints will sell better, but I'm not sure what all other people sell in those situations, and I'd love to hear some advice.  I'll have comics, posters, and prints, and becca will have comics, charms, and original watercolors.  We'll both be selling commissions as well.  

Any advice?
Hey all!  Becca (nattosoup.blogspot.com) and I got a table at Ohayocon for 2014.  Its been a VERY long time since I've been to Ohayocon (2006 was the last time?)  Since then, they've changed to a no fanart policy, which hopefully will mean comics and art prints will sell better, but I'm not sure what all other people sell in those situations, and I'd love to hear some advice.  I'll have comics, posters, and prints, and becca will have comics, charms, and original watercolors.  We'll both be selling commissions as well.  

Any advice?
Wow! At some point when I wasn't looking, not only did I go over 100,000 pageviews, I'm over 110,000! I should do something special for y'all to celebrate! Though it'll have to wait till after SPX. In the meantime, I'm more active on my tumblr, heidiblack.tumblr.com

You are all beautiful and wonderful people!
In two weeks I will be down in New Orleans for Mechacon!  Stop by my table for some prints, posters, bookmarks, a few comics (maybe) and my artbook (but hurry, I only have a few copies left!)  After that, I'll be at SPX and AWA, and Nekocon!  So if you're any of these places, stop by for some delicious art!

I'll also be offering commissions, and since I'm driving I think I can bring my markers!  (colored commissions! wooo!)

Mechacon: mechacon.com/
Anime Weekend Atlanta: awa-con.com/
For the rest of the month of July, I'm offering 15% off prints at my storenvy, heidiblack.storenvy.com/  Simply use the code july15 to get 15% off your whole order!
I've been promoting hardcore my kickstarter, here www.kickstarter.com/projects/8… , but I think I might have been unclear about what it is about.  So here we go:  

Ever wondered how artists get that certain effect in photoshop?  How they handle watercolors so well?  How they know what they're doing with markers?  

As a comic artist and illustrator I have used a variety of media and had to solve many of these problems on my own.  This artbook consolidates much of my knowledge on a variety of media and techniques, adding in useful tips and shortcuts I have gleaned from a BFA in illustration and a MFA in sequential art.

Electric Abyss: The art of Heidi Black is a 100-page artbook featuring full-color illustrations and how-to sections on more than ten different materials and techniques.  

The idea came about after I began teaching - there are a lot of art books out there, but most of them only showcase art.  There are also a number of "how to" books, but so many skip important details, or are meant for hobbyists.  
What makes this book different is the content has been created from my years of experience as a student, teacher, and professional illustrator - questions I've been asked, trends I've encountered, and real-life experience.  It includes things I wanted to know when I was younger - things like how to get watercolors to cooperate, or how to blend in Photoshop.  More importantly, it features questions that YOU ask!

In these sections, detailed step-by-step processes will be included, from the initial image to the final result, and all the tricks and tips in between. Most of the tutorials and techniques come from questions asked on my deviantart, taintedsilence.deviantart.com, my tumblr, heidiblack.tumblr.com, or asked in person throughout my teaching experiences. These sections will be filled out as you, my backers, continue to ask me questions.

The $2000 asked for to fund this project will cover the printing and shipping costs of a full-color, full-bleed artbook, as well as promotional materials and backer rewards.  I hope to be able to print 200 copies to distribute.  Any remaining funds will be used to pay bills as I devote time to the book instead of my regular freelance work, but most of the cost will be put towards the highest quality book I can provide.

Some of the tutorials included are ones I have done that have been featured online by sites such as Copic Marker!

Backer rewards include prints, posters (not pictured), original art, commissions, bookmarks, and comics!

Continued updates of this project will be posted under my tumblr, heidiblack.tumblr.com or my deviantart, taintedsilence.deviantart.com

again, the link is here: www.kickstarter.com/projects/8…
AND WE ARE LIVE!  www.kickstarter.com/projects/8…

There will be a special promo image sent to people who share/reblog this kickstarter project (expect it sometime next week - its even holiday themed!)

If you need more info on the project, feel free to PM me.  I will also have a video live later this week (I hope).  The project goes until december 17th, and I am to have the printed copies shipped out in April.

Also, please ask me questions about my art!  I am featuring a question and answer section in the book, and if I get asked questions often enough I'll make them into tutorials as well.

Additionally, if I surpass the $2000, I will add in more sections to the book, and possibly even more backer rewards for everyone!
Hey all, remember that artbook Ive been tempting you all with?  Well, its happening.  

My instructional artbook kickstarter will be going LIVE later today!  There will be a special bonus wallpaper for people who reblog and promote the kickstarter (though I will love you more if you donate)

Look for it live sometime saturday afternoon (eastern time)
Thanks to an amazing friend, Dealing with Trolls is LIVE! There are still a few formatting issues, but its 90% up! (Though feel free to tell me any bugs you find - especially if you know how to fix them!)

its HERE! --> dealingwithtrolls.smackjeeves.…
I have a very important question for all of you who follow me!  What makes my art appealing to you? Here at AWA I've seen a lot of amazing artists, and if I want to really market myself both as an artist tabling at cons, and as an artist to work for comic companies, I really need to push what makes my art MINE. So what is it that you guys really like about my work?  Alternately, what influenced you guys to start following me?
VOTING IS OPEN!

www.welovefine.com/vote.php?id…
www.welovefine.com/vote.php?id…

Voting is based around a rating system, and you can rate all of the shirts with any number you'd like.  I appreciate every '5' I get though, I hope you like my work well enough that you would desire it to adorn you!
anyone interested in commissioning me or buying some of my art from me (I'll sell my originals, which would honestly be a lot easier considering I'm a full-time grad student...)

AW WHY THE FUCK DO I BOTHER ITS NOT LIKE I GOT MORE THAN THREE COMMISSIONS FROM THE LAST EIGHT TIMES I ASKED.
oh wow.  Tumblr has prettymuch eaten up my life.  It seems to be the only internet site I use anymore.  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN.

Meaning I'm more likely to post there than here.  heidiblack.tumblr.com  <--thats me.
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…

One of my lovely partners-in-crime has started a kickstarter to fund her comic, Star Power.  She describes it as a "bawdy, body-positive erotic comic," and has quite a lot of cool previews up on her kickstarter page, plus a lot of cool incentives!

AND THE BEST PART IS, ITS WRITTEN IN RHYME.

Well, maybe not the best part.  I mean, aren't we all tired of seeing women who are over-surgeried just for the sake of today's "beauty" standards?  Of breast jobs, of butt jobs, of face lifts and tummy tucks?  Well, anyway, I'm ranting.  The long and the short of it is,

GO HERE.
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
www.kickstarter.com/projects/2…
Or so it is often thought.  But it should never be.

(Please note, I'm not necessarily talking about deviantart's critique system, though this certainly applies to it.  I'm talking about all feedback, whether in comments or notes, in person, or on another site.  Deviantart simply has a good format for others to leave feedback to an artist.)


In art school, you tend two get two different types of young artists: people who are infatuated with their work, and people who have no confidence in it at all.  But really, it all boils down to the same thing: as artists, we are incredibly reliant on other people's judgement of our work for our self-esteem.  It sounds a bit stupid, but I don't know that I've talked to any serious business artists who say otherwise (though if you do, please tell me).  Artists often view their work as an extension of themselves, or their soul, poured out on paper.  We seek other people's approval, because in a sense, it means the approval of our own self.  And I think we have a hard time separating that our art is NOT us - it is what we do, and it is often emotional work, but you can like or dislike a piece of art without feeling the same way about the person.  So lets take some time and look at what critiques are and are not, and how to give and receive them.


Critiques are not a personal attack.

When someone critiques your artwork, it should not be a personal attack against you (if they ARE making a personal attack, they are not critiquing.)  A good critique should point out both the things you do well and the things you may need improvement on.  But if someone says "the structure of that arm seems somewhat off, I think when you foreshortened it you should have made the hand bigger," they are not saying "you obviously can't draw arms."  What they are saying is that you may need to revisit the visual language you use to convey foreshortening.  Or if someone says "the skin color you used seems very yellow and draws a lot of attention away from the focus of your piece," they are not saying "you are a failure as a colorist," they are trying to give you help that will improve your work.



Critiques ARE designed to help you as an artist.

The scariest thing about art to me is not necessarily being bad, its never improving.  Stagnation seems liek a silly thing to be afraid of, but a bad artist always has the capacity to improve, where a stagnant artist, an artist who refuses to learn, will never get better.  Nothing will be new or exciting or fresh; its the playing it safe of the art world.  Sure, you may be able to do one thing well, but if your entire career is based upon doing that one thing REALLY well, what happens when that one thing is gone?

Tangent aside, critiques are what keeps us from stagnating as an artist, even if it is only self-critique.  The drive to do better in your own art is important, but so is hearing what your fellow artists have to say.  A good critique should help you pinpoint areas of study that you need work on - and lets be honest, EVERY artist, no matter how good, needs work.  There's always something we can't do, or some way we can be better.  Even if you think you are better than the artists giving you advice, listen to them.  Sometimes they point out things you don't always see in your own work.  You don't have to necessarily CHANGE it, and sometimes other artists ARE wrong.  But the advice of someone who is looking at your work who is not so personally invested is an asset, not a hindrance.

If there was nothing left to critique on someone's work, if there was nothing that person could not draw, and every piece was the perfect expression of what they wanted to convey . . . if there was no room for someone to grow, the journey would be over.  The end point woudl be reached.  There would be no reason to continue as an artist, because nothing new and exciting would ever come from their hands.


Critiques are not absolute truth, and not every professional will agree.

Sure, there will be some things that are fact in critiques - like if you give someone wrong musculature, thats an objective.  Or if your perspective does not follow the laws of perspective, thats also an objective.  But there are also parts of critiques that are subjective.  For example, I received a critique on a work because I used inkwash.  One editor of a publishing company said he disliked the inkwash, that it was hard to reproduce, and that it muddied up my work.  A different editor said she loved the inkwash, that it would look amazing in reproduction, and that helped define things.  So who is right?  Well, like and dislike are subjective terms, so we can throw that part out.  As for reproduction?  That depends on the equipment you use - the way it scans, who scans it, the printers you print it on, and so forth.  So both are right.  And as for whether it muddies or strengthens my work?  Once again, both can be right - there are areas (and I agree) where the inkwash was a bad choice, and it can make everything a grey tone with little distinguishing charateristics.  Other places, the ink was helped define atmospheric perspective, giving a strong sense of depth to a landscape, or really creating a three-dimensional form.

Thats not the only time I've had professionals disagree.  But every artist and editor who looks at your work is bringing a different experience to the table, as well as a different set of skills.  Sometimes your job as an artist is not necessarily to change everything they point out, but just to look critically at your own work, and decide for yourself (and you are allowed to change your mind).



Critiques are not an ass-pat.

I talk with other artists all of the time; I'm surrounded by them on a daily basis.  And what we often notice is that there are some artists who use critiques as a time for circle-jerking - they will all get together, say nice things about each other's work, get some nice compliments, and go away feeling good about themselves and their work.  While it is important in critiques to also receive positive feedback, these circle-jerks and ass-pats are not what critiques are all about.  As pointed out earlier, that kind of attitude will cause you to stagnate - no longer are you looking to improve your art because all your close art friends say its good enough.  But even beyond that, with too much of this ass-pat attitude, you begin to think that anyone outside of your circle is wrong.  You lose your ability to receive constructive feedback, and with it your ability to grow.  Even worse, people involved in these circles tend to have very bad attitudes, and this causes publishers, editors, and other artists not to want to work with them.

I'm not saying that there isn 't a time and place for a feel-good on your art.  We all need those.  There is nothing like someone coming to you and telling you that you did an amazing job, that they love your work, or how it inspires them.  And we all need those moments from time to time.  But it can't happen all the time.  Critiques should be about the good AND the bad.


Critiques should be a welcome thing.

Lets face it, when we complete a work, we're all proud of it.  We all want to post it online or show it off and have everyone tell us how good it is, and we don't want to hear someone say that we messed up something we spent two weeks on.  And yeah, when you hear that "wow, his head is really small," or "these panels really need a background," or "you have the characters speaking out of order," we're ready to punch someone in the face.  After all, we just spent so much time on something, how dare they only notice the bad things and not the good?  But in reality, the mistakes are always going to show up before the good things - like a soundtrack in a movie, you don't notice when things work, when the music is purposefully subtle or exciting  to help strengthen the mood.  But you notice immediately when they play loud obnoxious music during a tender love scene, or forget to add exciting music during an intense battle, or even just if someone hits a wrong note.  The wrong tends to stand out to us far more than the right.

But as I said earlier, critiques are designed to help you.  If your goal as an artist ISN'T to work professionally, then specify that - say that you dont' want critique, or that this is just a hobby for you.  But there are a lot of us who DO intend to use our art in order to pay rent and buy groceries, and so for us not just being good, but improvement is necessary.  AFter all, it IS a competition.  So helpful critiques shoudl be welcome, as they give a basis for improvement, a level you can obtain to help keep your work new and exciting and fresh.  They help keep you in the running for jobs.


Giving critique: be specific.

Saying "I like it." or "I don't like it." to a piece of work is not a critique, its an opinion.  This is not helpful to other artists - your likes and dislikes are irrelevant, unless you're paying them.   Instead, be sure to point out WHY.   You can like something or dislike something because of the style its rendered in, but this is again an opinion.  Or you can dislike a piece becasue the linework on the character is too heavy, the anatomy is wrong, the pose is static, etc.  These are specifics - and the more specific you can be the better.  This gives the artist something they can definitely look to improve.


Giving critique: objective versus subjective

Subjective is a matter of taste, whereas objective is a matter of fact.  Good critiques shoudl focus around the objectives - things liek perspective, anatomy, and other defined things.  When you do have to look to the subjective, such as style, try to describe it in objective terms.  For example, "I don't like anime eyes," is a subjective and an opinion.  Good for you.  But "your work would benefit more if you looked into tryign to combine actual eye structure with your current anime inspirations" is a far more objective critique.  Note how it gives the artist something definite - the actual eye structure.  Likewise, saying "this lineweight is too thick" is still subjective, but saying "this lineweight is thick and pulls the background objects too far into the foreground, flattening out your image" has more objective points to it.  This also helps an artist understand WHY, and therefore can be utilized in future work.


Giving critique: offer positive alternatives

When you give critique, if someone is doing something poorly, giving them reference to pull from and specific ways to help is a good idea.  For example, for anatomy problems, looking at athletic body types and at Andrew Loomis's work is a great suggestion.


Giving critique: look for positives too.

There's some kind of unspoken guideline somewhere that you can find three good thigns about anyone's work, even if its just their perserverance, their heart, and their willingness to try.  Even if that's all you can find, point it out.

Positive critiques are a necessity, for one because they are the 'spoonful of sugar' that helps the medicine of necessary critique go down, but also because it helps you as an artist and a person.  Seeing the bad in someone's art can be easy, but seeing the good can be harder.  But people need to know the good too - they need to know what IS working as much as what isn't.


Receiving critique: listen with an open mind and a closed mouth.

Just because you dont' agree with someone's critique doesn't mean it's time to argue.  Even if you did something on purpose, if its not obvious enough it may not be effective.  Listen to what people have to say, but that doesn't mean you have to follow it.  But critiques are not arguments.

The most important thing though is not to say 'well, thats my style."  Drawing someone's head in their armpit may be your style, but that doesn't mean its not anatomically wrong.


Receiving critique: ask if you don't understand

I know I seem to be contradicting the last one, but arguing and asking are not the same.  If you don't understand why something you did doesn't work, ask.  Hopefully the critiquer will be able to elaborate, so you can avoid doing thigns that don't work well on future works.  If they don't know, maybe its time to ask a different opinion.

In addition, artists sometimes are more able to draw somethign out than to explain with words.  While critiques do help us with our verbal communication skills, lets be honest - we're artist.  We draw as a method of communication.  So if someone can draw what they mean, let them.


Receiving critique:   cry, and move on

I'll admit it, sometimes critiques are painful.  There will be times when other artists rip your work to shreds, and it hurts even more because you know they're right.  So all you want to do is cry.

Well, go for it.  I've cried over critiques.  Other artists cry over critiques.  It is a personal thing sometimes, even if we tell ourselves its not, just becasue of how personal art itself is.  But if you're serious about wanting to make a living from art, then you should be serious about improving.  Even if you have to break it down into one step at a time, you should always look to improve.  And improvement can be a slow and painful process.  But someone who sees your work on a consistent basis will notice the improvements, and should help you keep going.




I'm sure there's much more to say about critiques.  I'm also sure not everyone will agree with me.  This is just what I can say about the subject, and I'm no expert.  But these points have helped me with critique, and while I'm still learning (especially on the keep your mouth shut part), art is a journey.

Edit: Wow, I really appreciate all of this feedback, and I'm glad so many people are finding this helpful, or willing to start dialogue with me on what they disagree with!  I am trying to make a reply to everyone, but it is a lot of writing, and I have a lot of art to do as well!  So I apologize if I don't get to your comment right away, know that I am making my best effort to respond to everyone!
I confess that I usually never check who watches me or who favorites things, I just delete those messages right out of my inbox.  But when someone puts a comment down, I try my best to reply!
if I livestreamed tomorrow (sunday) would anyone watch? maybe late afternoon/evening est?
If you haven't played teh whole game… well, then I guess this doesn't matter.  But I just finished human revolution … and I was so excited until the very end.  Then it was like "really?  REALLY?"  My choices are THAT?  I mean, I guess htey can only have so many endings….. but what would have of course been cool would be to have Adam himself make some kind of statement.  I mean, he's been all over the freaking globe in the game!  You've made friends!  YOu did people favors!  And I tried really REALLY hard not to kill people (except when they made me really REALLY mad).  Heck, I even saved Malik.  And I tried to be an all-around nice guy.  Plus, there's like that whole back story you can find on Jensen, and he's a decently smart guy.  But it just seems liek it would be such a more fulfilling ending to have him be the one to tell the world that everything is changing.  
(And then , of course, it would be great to be able to go back and finish any sidequests I didn't nab earlier.)

I know, I know, its cause technically the game is a prequel…  but I never played the old deus ex games, and honestly, I think it would have worked so much better as a standalone.  There's no need to link it in, really.  Yeah, there might have been some nice little easter eggs for people who played the other games (probably in the ebooks or emails or something).  

That, and the final boss fight was pretty boring, to me.  I mean, sure, I Had the plasma rifle, which kind of owns on everything, but the sneaking around and hacking and finding hidden passageways part of the game was so cool the boss fights (especially that last one) seemed pretty stupid.  And here you are faced with what is essentially the world's greatest supercomputer, and what, you have three turrets, some guards, two robots, and a lady hooked up to a computer who doesn't even fight back?  (I guess the floor is electric too, but I had that anti-electric augment.)  I know I'm no good at FPS's, but I want a boss battle to be a BOSS BATTLE.  Make it total chaos at times.  Give me real ramifications with these ladies I'm turning off the life support for.  

And then those end videos?  (I wound up watching them all, even though my choice was tell the truth).  Yeah, I believe games can be an awesome way to deliver a message - I mean, in the game up until that point you had a great message of what it means to be human, and about social changes and judging people… because it was played out.  Because you were part of it.  Becuase you were a man who was involuntarily changed, but what made you who you were was still fundamentally there.  Because you chose to beat up - or not beat up - a lady who got a social chip because she NEEDED it to keep up in teh business.  But then, these videos of WWII and Africa and all these social injustices?  Didn't need them.  I"m a smart enough human being to understand that you are talking about these kinds of things to begin with.  I don't want to be hit over the head with them at the end.  
Plus, there were a LOT of loose ends.  You found out the news is being controlled by the most advanced AI program ever.  You discover the secret to successful augmentation is in your DNA.  You find out that these companies have been pulling all of the strings, just to keep ahead of each other.  You find out there's a computer thats made of PEOPLE.  And you just … . . forget about all of them?  Take all of these secrets to your death?  What about trying to bring any of these people to justice.  Quitting your job at sarif and getting that AI computer to help you forge a more peaceful way to live?  Bringing people like those scientists you 'saved' to justice (walking throuhg that basement lab with all the people on the beds, moaning?  I was like WTF, I HAVE NO REASON TO SAVE YOU, YOU BASTARD.  Except I have to or the game won't go on.)

I know I have a kakuii dude complex, as my friend says, but I wanted a freakin awesome cutscene.  Give me 10 minutes of "I AM ADAM FUCKING JENSON, THE GUY WHO HAS THE DNA THAT COULD REVOLUTIONIZE THE WORLD."  Make it awesome.  Seriously, make me just crap my pants with the excitement I get from getting to the end alive (a challenge, for me) and give me an uber-hawt dude (man, jensen is sexy).  I mean, even jensen realizing that someone has to step in and fill this void that hydra/Eliza are making, and becoming the next supercomputer, but with a conscience would be a cool end.  Or..... I dunno.  Just, anything better than getting smacked upside the head with stupid "WORLD WAR TWO AND OIL SPILLS ARE BAD DUDE!" at the end.

But I guess thats the way the world works now.  Maybe they wanted you to be disappointed because there's no one like Adam Jensen to save the world we have now.

Well, except maybe George Takei.  

So what do you guys think?  For those of you who even played this game, or even read what I have to say, were you as disappointed as I was?  

…though probably no one will even read this.