Posts in "The Middle Age" Category

Kickstarter update!

The Middle Age watercolor cover

TMA V2 thumbnails

The production of the The Middle Age Volume Two is going really well. I expect to receive a hardcover proof of the second book in the next week or so. I’ll be sure to share an unboxing! 🙂

On the digital side, PDFs links will be going out this weekend – keep an eye out for those!

The only snag in production was that I found myself with one blank page in the book and I wasn’t sure how to fill it. My first idea was to include a bit of shop talk looking at how I name characters.

But that’s not visual enough so I consolidated two other pages and freed up a double-page spread where I’m now sharing the sketches and preliminary art for the book’s cover. (Anyone interested in the character-naming piece – how Quimp, Maledicta, Phosphene, and Melvwyn got their names – I posted that over on Patreon).

More Loot! And Sticker Mule!

The production of the other loot is going well. I’m using the same t-shirt manufacturer as before. I love their work and how comfy the shirts are. 🙂

Sticker mockup
Sticker mockup
As for the stickers, I’m using Sticker Mule. I’ve used them for years and I can’t say enough good things about them – they made the beautiful buttons and stickers for the first Kickstarter campaign. One of Sticker Mule’s reps reached out to me and asked me to help get the word out and I’m happy to do it – and they even kindly offered me a store credit as thanks for my help which I’ll use to make more loot! Here’s a link to their laptop stickers, which look great.

Kickstarter Unionizes

In other news, Kickstarter’s employees voted to unionize this week. A number of my readers – many who supported the first campaign – reached out and let me know that they didn’t feel right supporting the second campaign as long as Kickstarter was enmeshed in the anti-union controversy. I totally appreciate that. I was unaware of the controversy when I launched the second campaign. (One of the downsides of having my head in The Middle Age 24/7 is that I feel perpetually oblivious to current events).

I’m excited to see that the employees’ voices were heard and that the issue can be put behind them. I also hope this bodes well for other tech companies in the U.S.

Thank you all again for your amazing support!

Look for digital rewards this weekend!

— Steve

Video: New Book, a Kickstarter Update, and a signing on August 17!

I apologize for my tongue-tied rambling in the video! 😀

A new TMA book is now available!

Just this week, the new book, The Middle Age – Sword Troubles, became available from Amazon! This large 7.5×9.25-inch, full-color edition collects the first 101 episodes of The Middle Age. It’s essentially a paperback version of the Kickstarted hardcover. I’m really excited to be able to reach a whole new audience with this edition. You can pick up a copy (or leave a review if you already have the hardcover), here:

The last Kickstarter packages are on their way!

It took me eight months to ship out all those packages! I can’t thank you enough for the kind reactions to the book! And look for the Kickstarter for Volume 2 in the fall! If you want to be reminded when the new Kickstarter goes live, and maybe grab some of the limited, early-bird offers, you can sign up for my e-mail updates here:

ACME Comic Creator Con

And… an upcoming appearance!

A week from today, I’ll be a guest at the ACME SUPERSTORE in Longwood, Florida. They’re calling the event the ACME Comic Creator Con and I’ll be signing and sketching all day alongside some great cartoonists, writers, and artists. The event will run from 10am-4pm on Saturday, August 17, 2019. You can get directions and learn more here: I hope to see you there!

Thanks again!

— Steve

BTW: The Amazon links on this page are affiliate links.

How to turn illustrations and comics into Facebook 3D Photos

Creating a 3D photo

The process is super simple.

You need two equal-sized files.

Facebook 3D Photo depth files

The first file is your art.

The second file is a “Depth Map” or “bump map” which tells Facebook which parts of your image should pop forward and which parts should recede. Lighter areas appear closer and darker areas appear further back. This can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like.

The two files need to have similar names with the Depth Map including the suffix “_depth” in its file name. (That underscore is important).

Facebook 3D Photo depth files

You upload both files to Facebook at the same time and that’s it. Facebook does the rest.

Creating a 3D photo

Sir Quimp 3D Facebook gif

I’ve posted a bunch of tips and tricks and made the layered Photoshop file for this project available to all my patrons on Patreon here:

– Steve

Process for The Middle Age webcomic – for Webtoons, Tapas & GoComics

Here’s a look at my process for the latest episode of The Middle Age. I draw and color the comic on an iPad Pro using the Procreate app. This was a fun episode to plan for each platform.

In the image below you can see:

  1. The original rough sketch
  2. Tighter ‘Pencils’
  3. ‘Inks’
  4. Color flats
  5. Initial coloring
  6. Final colors and word balloons

Episode 123 process

Below is a the final episode as seen on the The Middle Age web site and social media (A larger version is available to my Patreon supporters here). As you can see in the process image above, there was a lot of extra drawing done at the tops of panels one and two. I was happy with those bits, but in the end, I didn’t feel like the page needed all that and it didn’t really help the storytelling – so I left it out.

You're going to love it!

And here’s a look at the horizontal version seen on In panel two, our hero extends out of the panel to the right. This was designed to fit like a puzzle piece into panel three in the horizontal version of the strip below. I also had to make sure the word balloons were created on separate layers so I could reconfigure them for each layout. And the background in panel three needed to be moved around for each format as well.

Episode 123 horizontal version

And here’s the vertical version which I upload to Webtoon and Tapas. You can see I needed to really adjust the layout of the wide third panel for the vertical format. I made extra room by placing Maledicta’s word balloon by itself below the art. It seems to suit the scrolling format.

Episode 123 vertical version

So much work for a single episode but I’m really happy with how it turned out across the various platforms.

— Steve

You can read The Middle Age webcomic on my site here
You can see higher-resolution episodes, more behind-the-scenes art, and more shop talk by becoming a Patreon supporter here.

Webcomics: One more look at multiple formats

Following up on what I wrote in Webcomic Formatting: Can I future-proof my webcomics?, and again here, here’s a look at the various formats I created for the latest episode of The Middle Age.

To prepare for the reformatting of this week’s episode (number 116), I drew each dragon and the inset panel on their own layers. I’m drawing on an iPad Pro using the Procreate app. Lettering is added later in Photoshop.

Webcomics: One more look at multiple formats

You can see the live versions of the various formats here:

— Steve

Starting year three of The Middle Age…

Pages of The Middle Age

Today, The Middle Age turns two years old. So much has happened…

  • Ninety-eight episodes – even through two hurricanes!
  • An Eisner Award nomination for “Best Webcomic”!
  • Three Ringo Awards nominations – two for “Best Webcomic” and one for “Best Cartoonist”!
  • The Middle Age was picked up by GoComics, showing our hero’s adventures alongside my favorite comic strips including Calvin and Hobbes, Cul de Sac, Peanuts, and Garfield.
  • There are now three small, softcover collections of the individual chapters!
  • The Middle Age now has more than 3,000 subscribers across GoComics, Webtoon and Tapas.
  • There are now sixty supporters on Patreon – and we’re getting ever closer to increasing the strip’s frequency to two days a week!

Not bad for a silly comic strip about an older knight, a sarcastic sword, and two baby dragons.

So what’s the plan for year three?

The Middle Age on Patreon100 Supporters on Patreon!
This is my current obsession! If I can reach 100 supporters on Patreon, The Middle Age will double to two episodes per week. This is the next big step for the strip and if we can reach this goal, it will mean twice as much story, twice as many opportunities to find new readers, and much more frequent print collections! To that end…

The FumblesmithNew stories set in the world of The Middle Age!
Starting today, to give readers even more reason to become Patreon supporters, I’m uploading exclusive-to-Patreon comic features – most of which will be set in the world of The Middle Age. These stories aren’t part of the main Sir Quimp storyline but will help flesh out the universe and give me a way to play in the world without slowing our hero down. The first one, “The Fumblesmith of Gaffe” starts today. Upcoming features will look at the cultures of dragons, the 12th War, the magic of sandwiches (nibblemancy), and Fadoodle and Fleak, Agents of the Department of Cosmological Chicanery and Metaphysical What-Have-You.

Volume One KickstarterA hardcover collection of the first three chapters!
Next week, I’ll be launching a Kickstarter to collect the first three chapters in a single hardback volume! I’m super-excited for the new format because it will show the work at a much larger size than the individual, single-chapter softcover editions! And there will be t-shirts, a new enamel pin, and other cool loot. Stay tuned.

Thanks to everyone who liked, shared, retweeted, commented, backed, shopped and/or became patrons of The Middle Age during the first two years. I’ll keep working to make silly comics worthy of your kind support.

— Steve

Webcomics: Another look at multiple formats

Episode 83 featured image

Following up on what I wrote in Webcomic Formatting: Can I future-proof my webcomics?, here’s a look at the various formats I prepare for each new episode of The Middle Age.

This week’s episode (number 83) was a little more challenging because the third panel is very horizontal which doesn’t work very well on vertical, scrolling sites like Webtoon and Tapas. For those services, I reconfigured the panel, stacking the elements and placed the word balloon below the figures.

You can click the image below to see a larger version.

Webcomics: Another look at multiple formats

You can see the live versions of the various formats here:

— Steve

Cartooning: Six Tips for Working with Procreate

The Middle Age watercolor cover

I draw my Eisner- and Ringo-nominated webcomic The Middle Age using the Procreate app on an iPad Pro. I’ve worked this way for nearly two years and during that time, I’ve stumbled on to some pretty good tips and tricks. Here are a few I use all the time. (Updated January 21, 2019, with two bonus tips!)

General warning: These tips are geared to professional and aspiring professional cartoonists and these tips assume you’re at least a little familiar with the Procreate app basics like copying and pasting, sharing files via Dropbox, and exporting a video of your file. No matter what your skill level, I recommend going to the App Store and downloading the Procreate manual to your iPad. That ebook does an amazing job of guiding you step-by-step through the basics and all the latest features.

TIP 1: Don’t start in Procreate!

My template for The Middle Age
My template for The Middle Age
When you start your comic strip, create your template on your desktop computer. I usually use Illustrator and Photoshop – and import the template into Procreate (via Dropbox). This offers a lot of opportunities to mark off crops, and bleeds and the live area. You can also create perfectly geometric panel borders (something Procreate isn’t good at). I also use this opportunity to import a graph-paper-like grid which comes in real handy. Since you’ll likely be lettering in Photoshop and bouncing back and forth with your desktop, having a properly sized template helps a lot.

TIP 2: Instant bluelines!

White and Blue Layers
White and Blue Layers
Back in ye olden times of pencil and paper, we cartoonists used blue pencil for sketching and roughing out our drawings. This helped with photographing and later scanning original art. While those reasons don’t apply when working digitally, the approach is still still amazingly handy. To do this, create two Procreate layers: One layer should be filled with blue and have a layer effect of ‘COLOR” and the second layer should be filled with white with an opacity of ~80%. Drag these layers above any art to instantly turn everything below them to bluelines.

TIP 3: You have a surprise backup!

If you accidentally delete a sketch, pencil or reference layer, simply export a video of your project and scrub through the video until you find the lost image. This has saved my butt more than a few times. And knowing I have this safety net makes me feel a little better when working quickly.

TIP 4: For transformations, take baby steps, or better yet, use Photoshop!

Procreate is really good at flipping and flopping art horizontally and vertically. Pretty much every other transformation (rotation, scaling, skewing) is rough compared to Photoshop. A 90-degree rotation in Photoshop is pixel-perfect, the same rotation in Procreate turns your perfect pixels to mush. If you must transform something in Procreate – such as scaling and rotating, do them as separate, baby steps. Don’t combine two transformations. Scale then deselect. Rotate then deselect. BTW: Procreate is constantly improving and the next software update may make this tip obsolete. Fingers crossed!

TIP 5: Don’t copy art directly from Dropbox – save it to Photos first!

If you copy a perfectly-sized PNG or JPG in Dropbox and paste it into Procreate, some slight transformation happens – it’s usually a little too small. To avoid the distortion, save the PNG or JPG to the Photos app. Then open the Photos app and copy the file from there. Every pixel will line up perfectly.

TIP 6: Clear off your iPad from time to time!

Selecting multiple files in the gallery view
You can select multiple files in the gallery view
Procreate files are big and having too many of them on your iPad can slow down the app and make the pen laggy. I recommend copying files to your desktop computer with Airdrop – it’s much faster than Dropbox. From the gallery view, you can select multiple files (with the right-swipe) at the same time and Airdrop a bunch at a time.

BONUS TIP 7: Steve’s Procreate brush!

Steve's Procreate brush on PatreonI’ve customized my own Procreate brush and made it available for download for free here on my Patreon page. 🙂

BONUS TIP 8: Get a drawing glove!

I use the Huion Artist drawing glove – which is less than $10 at Amazon. It lets your drawing hand glide across the glass. I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s a link if you want to get one… Huion Artist Glove for Drawing Tablet (1 Unit of Free Size, Good for Right Hand or Left Hand) – Cura CR-01

I hope you find one or two of these tips useful.

— Steve @theSteveConley

If you found this post helpful and would like to see more like them, please consider supporting me and my webcomic The Middle Age on Patreon.