Crafting Artwork

Everything starts with an idea.

Sometimes that idea is simple; just look at the light-bulb, or the wheel! However, while an idea might be simple in nature it might be difficult to execute and make it into more than just a scribble on paper. Find the full process of how I do artwork here, both in the form of video and images.

Where do ZuW’s ideas come from?

9 times out of 10 my ideas stem from dreams I had as a child (Specimen G-13 and Jinimaru), or from more recent stages in my life (Subject 218), as for the remaining 1 of the 10? They can be inspired by other media (like Losing Speed), or from a lack thereof for certain topics (such as Donisaur).

Okay, so how does it start?

Once I have made some notes on a scrap bit of paper, or sometimes an entire sheet of fresh paper, I begin typing the notes up into a word document on the computer if it is for a written project. If it is just for a picture, I simply refine the doodle on the same bit of paper into a more definable sketch. I’ll kick things off with how I do the artwork.

How the artwork is developed

All artwork is drawn by hand with a pencil before it is inked in pen. Sometimes the entire picture is coloured in marker pens, but most images are coloured digitally on the computer after being scanned in. I’ll show a quick image below of how the digital artwork is done.

Once on the computer, the image is then split into two layers; line-work and colour layer. This allows my pictures to keep a nice bold outline. After flat colours are applied, I then add shading in the form of shadows, before adding the highlights. Once all shading is applied I then do any last-minute touch-ups to the image, such as adding effects such as thought bubbles or emotes. Many techniques shown in the videos can also be applied to Photography Editing projects; working in layers and using different overlay options in Photoshop can help you achieve a wide variety of effects.

This process happens for all images, even those that are drawn entirely on a computer. A single image, like the above, can take up to 5 hours from start to finish of constant work. Images with backgrounds take a lot longer, and can either be drawn in the same method shown above, or be painted by hand before being scanned in and polished. Traditional art is something I have trained in for over 20 years, and I’m proud to say I can do relatively fast; colouring the above image digitally take 4x longer for me to do than if I coloured it with markers. So, why bother doing digital? I just like the sharper colours, unhindered by fading and the gritty grains from paper that I often get with my traditional work. Still, I prefer doing things the classic way with pencils, pens and paints. I’ll use digital when commissioned, or for a specific style; my comic work is best suited to the digital colours that pop right off the pages, so I’ll always use the computer there for example.

Full Digital Process

Part 1


Part 2


Full Traditional Process

Example of costume artwork drawn using Marker Pens

I started making time lapses to make my videos shorter, but the process of doing things traditionally is faster anyway, and using a few handy tricks I can make that process even faster.

Not all artwork is done on a tiny sheet of A4 paper; some of it is painted on huge canvasses! These paintings can be finished within a few hours, ready to be photographed for prints and use in my book projects. The paintings are then left to dry before being put up for sale on my social media. Paintings and all other forms of visual art can be commissioned, providing any slots are available. For more information on commissions please see the FAQ.

Paintings are done using the wet-on-wet technique, oil paints used on a wet canvas, made famous by inspirational wonder Bob Ross. I paint entirely from imagination when it comes to my landscapes, which are all based on my Jinimaru Dream World and are even used in the same book project. I am capable of doing character art this way, but much prefer to exclusively use oil paints to do my landscapes.


Full Oil Painting Process

For the written work: things take a lot longer. Once the notes are typed up the document is saved as the plot synopsis. This document is saved a second time, where I will then make changes to it and begin flushing out the plot with dialogue, descriptions, scene transitions and other written examples until it becomes what is known as the first draft.
Now that you know some of that jargon, onto the publishing process itself.


The Publishing Process

First the book is written as a concept, this is when a brief plot is written out and can often be found as the “Book Summary” later in development. Once the brief is written it then enters what is known as the “first draft”, at this point all the plot is fleshed out, dialogue and basic description is written, and it is then put to one side for a few days. I return to the first draft after a few days to look it over with fresh eyes, at which point I then begin to make revisions. Many of the books lay in this process for many years, and some still are stuck in “first-draft limbo”.
If a book is fortunate enough to finally meet my liking, it then exits the first-draft and is handed over to my proof-readers; they read the first-draft, correcting any spelling or grammar mistakes I might have overlooked in my own revisions, before handing it back to me for approval. This process of back-and-fourth editing can put the book through various drafts before it leaves the proofing stage.

Once proofing is done, then it gets its artwork drawn and inserted into the relevant pages, before uploading to my Printers/Distributors. At this point I design and construct the cover artwork. Once I finish this stage, I order a proof-copy of the printed versions, examine them page-by-page for any printing errors or loss of quality, and hand it to one of my proof-readers for their second opinion. If both of us agree the print copy is suitable, I then give my Printer/Distributor my permission to distribute the book, and then order myself copies to sell at conventions. EPUBs skip the stages beyond ordering a proof copy, as I simply have to preview the EPUB on my phone, tablet and E-Reader. I do still ask for a second-opinion from my proof-reader when I convert the book into EPUB.

The differences between EPUB and Print

An EPUB is convenient since it can be downloaded anytime, anywhere in the world, onto your smartphone, tablet or E-Reader. Because EPUBs don’t require a printer, they can be sold for a far cheaper price. However, if you have no internet connection, or not enough room on your device to download the book, a printed copy can save the day.
Physical books cost more, but make nice gifts for people who you know love reading, and if your devices run out of power a print can be a welcome relief for a potentially boring journey. Sometimes, you just can’t beat a physical book!

Remember: Printed books prior to June 2020 are sold on LuLu and can be found on the iBook store, Barnes & Noble, and more. All books are available in either physical print format, or as an EPUB (E-Publication) for reading on tablets, phones or E-Readers. After June 2020 all new physical and EPUB books will start appearing exclusively on Amazon.

How Comics are Developed

This is best explained over on the Subject 218 page, which is the exclusive Comic Project for the site at this time.
Unlike the written projects which are distributed across the web, the Subject 218 Comic can only be found either at Comic Conventions or on the Kindle store via Amazon.

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