Book One, Continued

I have a few more illustrations for Book One here, and once again, I am putting the new stuff up front, followed by the full book so far. This will pretty much take us to the end of this fairly static (artwise) portion of the book. Starting with the next post, there will be a variety of different perspectives, which – while all still rendered in the same pencils-ink-watercolor format – I hope will bring in new palettes and very different looks. Which hopefully everyone will not hate. I’ve been feeling inspired, and I’m excited to get to work on taking these new ideas beyond the very rough sketches they are now.

At the end of the post, there is a little homage portrait of RBStalin, in which I tried to bring together lynxes, Stalin, rainbows, and Russian icons.

Lastly, welcome new readers! There have been a lot of you these last few days. Danger Room is indeed mighty in certain circles.

Your political aims will be different in different wars. In theory, your military aim is to destroy the enemy’s fighting forces, to make it so they cannot fight back, to occupy his country, and to break his will so he is forced to make a peace with you on your terms. The size and importance of your political aim will determine how much effort you put in, and how far you will go to achieve that aim. In reality, there can be lesser outcomes. You may not always be aiming for your enemy’s total destruction. You might be trying to scare him, or make him doubt, or interrupt an alliance. You may make victory seem so improbable to him that he gives in, for example, or present much too high a cost. Boar?

-What do you mean when you say ‘too high a cost?’

Excellent question, Boar. Cost does not only mean money. You make a war cost the enemy by invading, and destroying his territory, by making him – his people – suffer, by wearing him down. The minimum aim in war is pure self-defense, when you are looking for nothing save to withstand an enemy’s attack. In this case, you want very much to wear the enemy down, to make him expend his efforts and resources for little or no gain, until he is tired, spent, loses the will to attack.

Defense is stronger than offense in war. We will discuss this idea more later, so remember that. Remember also that defense is not purely passive. Even if your sole aim is defensive, you take any opportunity you have to inflict damage on your enemy.

The only effective force in war is combat. Yes, Badger?

-Combat means fighting, right?

Essentially, yes, combat means the use of your fighting forces in engagements with the enemy. However, it is not effective only in action. Just the threat of combat can be effective in the right circumstances. You choose to enter combat because you believe you will win. If combat is not met, it is because it is assumed which side will win.

While you may not always meet your enemy in combat, and even if you do you may not seek to destroy him, that is always the highest goal, destruction of the enemy’s armed forces is the standard against which other aims of war are measured.

———

———

Guten Morgen, Class! For our first lesson, we will talk about what war is, why we go to war, what we get from war, what some of its primary characteristics are, and a little of what it takes to be successful in war.

War is the use of force – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘force’ mean?

Violence, threat of violence, physical advance on territory, etc. – use of force to make the enemy do our will, to make him do what we want him to do. The aim is to disarm the enemy, to – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘disarm’ mean?

It is to make it so he cannot strike back at us. In war, you place your effort against the enemy’s resistance – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘resistance’ mean?

His resistance is both the men and resources he has – please save your questions! – and how much he wants to resist. War does not just happen out of nowhere, and it does not happen on a perfect chessboard. Your resources will nearly always be spread out, trees and mountains and rivers in your way. Even if you want to, you will not likely be able to use all of your resources at once….Yes, Otter?

-What are ‘resources?’

Your resources are made up of your fighting forces – your men – and the country, the land and the people and things on it. In war, the result is never final. Things can always change. And things are different in theory than they are in reality. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘theory’ mean?

Ideas. When you are thinking about it, imagining it, as opposed to doing it. If you think that every time you strike your enemy, they would strike back a little stronger, and that would keep happening until you were striking as hard and with as much as you possibly could, then the logical thing to do would be to just hit as hard as you can the first time, and put an end to it quickly. But in real life, it’s not that simple. You have physical restrictions, in where your forces are, in what the land is like – mountains or rivers or forests might be in your way.

Chance also plays a crucial role. Things happen that you don’t expect. The weather changes. An ally switches sides, or decides to stay neutral. With the best planning in the world, you will still always be at the mercy of chance. It is unavoidable in war. You are always gambling to some degree.

You also have limits based on what the point of the war is. Your government decides this, your King or President or Congress or Parliament. This political goal will determine what your military goal is, and how much effort it is worth. You must never forget this part, because war is just a continuation of policy. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘policy’ mean?

Policy is what your government believes, its goals and ideas. Sometimes it can get what it wants by negotiation, discussion, trade. Sometimes it can’t, and then it might decide to go to war to get it. War can have an effect on policy, but policy is always the key influence.

There is one more idea I think will help you understand what war is, before we move on to other factors: there are three main elements that work together in different ratios: 1) emotion, or passion – the feelings of violence or enmity, which belong to the people; 2) the realm of chance and probability, which belongs to the commander and his forces, and where there is room for creativity; and 3) the subordination of all to policy, which belongs to the government and which allows the actions of war to be ruled by reason. Different parts of this trinity will be stronger at different times, but you cannot understand – or even discuss – war without understanding the roles that all three play.

Your political aims will be different in different wars. In theory, your military aim is to destroy the enemy’s fighting forces, to make it so they cannot fight back, to occupy his country, and to break his will so he is forced to make a peace with you on your terms. The size and importance of your political aim will determine how much effort you put in, and how far you will go to achieve that aim. In reality, there can be lesser outcomes. You may not always be aiming for your enemy’s total destruction. You might be trying to scare him, or make him doubt, or interrupt an alliance. You may make victory seem so improbable to him that he gives in, for example, or present much too high a cost. Boar?

-What do you mean when you say ‘too high a cost?’

Excellent question, Boar. Cost does not only mean money. You make a war cost the enemy by invading, and destroying his territory, by making him – his people – suffer, by wearing him down. The minimum aim in war is pure self-defense, when you are looking for nothing save to withstand an enemy’s attack. In this case, you want very much to wear the enemy down, to make him expend his efforts and resources for little or no gain, until he is tired, spent, loses the will to attack.

Defense is stronger than offense in war. We will discuss this idea more later, so remember that. Remember also that defense is not purely passive. Even if your sole aim is defensive, you take any opportunity you have to inflict damage on your enemy.

The only effective force in war is combat. Yes, Badger?

-Combat means fighting, right?

Essentially, yes, combat means the use of your fighting forces in engagements with the enemy. However, it is not effective only in action. Just the threat of combat can be effective in the right circumstances. You choose to enter combat because you believe you will win. If combat is not met, it is because it is assumed which side will win.

While you may not always meet your enemy in combat, and even if you do you may not seek to destroy him, that is always the highest goal, destruction of the enemy’s armed forces is the standard against which other aims of war are measured.

———

RBStalin

Book One Illustrations Updated

I have started working on the text for Book Two. I am not yet sure whether I will wait and post the whole book at once as I did with Book One, or whether I might post it serially. In the meantime, I am continuing with the illustrations for Book One. I am posting the new material first, then underneath that you will see the whole illustrated portion of the book so far.

Ideas. When you are thinking about it, imagining it, as opposed to doing it. If you think that every time you strike your enemy, they would strike back a little stronger, and that would keep happening until you were striking as hard and with as much as you possibly could, then the logical thing to do would be to just hit as hard as you can the first time, and put an end to it quickly. But in real life, it’s not that simple. You have physical restrictions, in where your forces are, in what the land is like – mountains or rivers or forests might be in your way.

Chance also plays a crucial role. Things happen that you don’t expect. The weather changes. An ally switches sides, or decides to stay neutral. With the best planning in the world, you will still always be at the mercy of chance. It is unavoidable in war. You are always gambling to some degree.

You also have limits based on what the point of the war is. Your government decides this, your King or President or Congress or Parliament. This political goal will determine what your military goal is, and how much effort it is worth. You must never forget this part, because war is just a continuation of policy. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘policy’ mean?

Policy is what your government believes, its goals and ideas. Sometimes it can get what it wants by negotiation, discussion, trade. Sometimes it can’t, and then it might decide to go to war to get it. War can have an effect on policy, but policy is always the key influence.

There is one more idea I think will help you understand what war is, before we move on to other factors: there are three main elements that work together in different ratios: 1) emotion, or passion – the feelings of violence or enmity, which belong to the people; 2) the realm of chance and probability, which belongs to the commander and his forces, and where there is room for creativity; and 3) the subordination of all to policy, which belongs to the government and which allows the actions of war to be ruled by reason. Different parts of this trinity will be stronger at different times, but you cannot understand – or even discuss – war without understanding the roles that all three play.

———

Guten Morgen, Class! For our first lesson, we will talk about what war is, why we go to war, what we get from war, what some of its primary characteristics are, and a little of what it takes to be successful in war.

War is the use of force – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘force’ mean?

Violence, threat of violence, physical advance on territory, etc. – use of force to make the enemy do our will, to make him do what we want him to do. The aim is to disarm the enemy, to – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘disarm’ mean?

It is to make it so he cannot strike back at us. In war, you place your effort against the enemy’s resistance – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘resistance’ mean?

His resistance is both the men and resources he has – please save your questions! – and how much he wants to resist. War does not just happen out of nowhere, and it does not happen on a perfect chessboard. Your resources will nearly always be spread out, trees and mountains and rivers in your way. Even if you want to, you will not likely be able to use all of your resources at once….Yes, Otter?

-What are ‘resources?’

Your resources are made up of your fighting forces – your men – and the country, the land and the people and things on it. In war, the result is never final. Things can always change. And things are different in theory than they are in reality. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘theory’ mean?

 

Ideas. When you are thinking about it, imagining it, as opposed to doing it. If you think that every time you strike your enemy, they would strike back a little stronger, and that would keep happening until you were striking as hard and with as much as you possibly could, then the logical thing to do would be to just hit as hard as you can the first time, and put an end to it quickly. But in real life, it’s not that simple. You have physical restrictions, in where your forces are, in what the land is like – mountains or rivers or forests might be in your way.

Chance also plays a crucial role. Things happen that you don’t expect. The weather changes. An ally switches sides, or decides to stay neutral. With the best planning in the world, you will still always be at the mercy of chance. It is unavoidable in war. You are always gambling to some degree.

You also have limits based on what the point of the war is. Your government decides this, your King or President or Congress or Parliament. This political goal will determine what your military goal is, and how much effort it is worth. You must never forget this part, because war is just a continuation of policy. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘policy’ mean?

Policy is what your government believes, its goals and ideas. Sometimes it can get what it wants by negotiation, discussion, trade. Sometimes it can’t, and then it might decide to go to war to get it. War can have an effect on policy, but policy is always the key influence.

There is one more idea I think will help you understand what war is, before we move on to other factors: there are three main elements that work together in different ratios: 1) emotion, or passion – the feelings of violence or enmity, which belong to the people; 2) the realm of chance and probability, which belongs to the commander and his forces, and where there is room for creativity; and 3) the subordination of all to policy, which belongs to the government and which allows the actions of war to be ruled by reason. Different parts of this trinity will be stronger at different times, but you cannot understand – or even discuss – war without understanding the roles that all three play.

Book One: Illustrations Continue

I am not sure how many illustrations I will actually end up using, but for now, I am making all the pictures I want to make. I figure I can worry about the right number of illustrations and how to lay them out with the text when the actual book-making part of the process comes around.

Guten Morgen, Class!

Guten Morgen, Class! For our first lesson, we will talk about what war is, why we go to war, what we get from war, what some of its primary characteristics are, and a little of what it takes to be successful in war.

War is the use of force – Yes, Otter?

Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘force’ mean?

Violence, threat of violence, physical advance on territory, etc. – use of force to make the enemy do our will, to make him do what we want him to do. The aim is to disarm the enemy, to – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘disarm’ mean?

It is to make it so he cannot strike back at us. In war, you place your effort against the enemy’s resistance – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘resistance’ mean?

His resistance is both the men and resources he has – please save your questions! – and how much he wants to resist. War does not just happen out of nowhere, and it does not happen on a perfect chessboard. Your resources will nearly always be spread out, trees and mountains and rivers in your way. Even if you want to, you will not likely be able to use all of your resources at once….Yes, Otter?

-What are ‘resources?’

Your resources are made up of your fighting forces – your men – and the country, the land and the people and things on it. In war, the result is never final. Things can always change. And things are different in theory than they are in reality. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘theory’ mean?

Book One: Illustrations One and Two

Actual layout is a work in progress and the scale is a bit off (the pictures will be larger), but here are the first two images with roughly the text that will accompany them. For Book One, I will try to keep it as visually interesting as possible using different angles and points of view, as well as mixing in close-ups and wide shots, but I am looking forward to working on illustrations for the later books, where my plan for the book will allow for more variety and more visual flights of fancy. One step at time…

Guten Morgen, Class! For our first lesson, we will talk about what war is, why we go to war, what we get from war, what some of its primary characteristics are, and a little of what it takes to be successful in war.

Guten Morgen, Class!

War is the use of force – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘force’ mean?

Violence, threat of violence, physical advance on territory, etc. – use of force to make the enemy do our will, to make him do what we want him to do. The aim is to disarm the enemy, to – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘disarm’ mean?

It is to make it so he cannot strike back at us. In war, you place your effort against the enemy’s resistance – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘resistance’ mean?

Yes, Otter?

His resistance is both the men and resources he has – please save your questions! – and how much he wants to resist. War does not just happen out of nowhere, and it does not happen on a perfect chessboard. Your resources will nearly always be spread out, trees and mountains and rivers in your way. Even if you want to, you will not likely be able to use all of your resources at once….Yes, Otter?

-What are ‘resources?’

———

A little gift in parting, something that made me giggle. I use reference photos when I’m working on the illustrations, to keep consistent and to make sure I am getting the angles right. I will look at a number of pictures of each animal I am drawing from angles as close as possible to the ones I am planning on using. Anyway, you know how sometimes you’ll type something into Google image search and one or two of the results will be totally off in left field? Well, while looking for reference pictures for the boar for one of these illustrations, I came across this:

Not a Boar

Book One: On the Nature of War: Text

This is a draft of Book One. I am still working on the flow ot it. I am also working on the associated images, and will post them in the coming days/weeks. I will likely be editing to the very end, and I am, of course, happy to hear in the comments or via email if there are any quibbles with the text, things cut that you think shouldn’t have been, things misinterpreted, etc. Thanks, as always, for reading, and for the feedback.

Guten Morgen, Class! For our first lesson, we will talk about what war is, why we go to war, what we get from war, what some of its primary characteristics are, and a little of what it takes to be successful in war.

War is the use of force – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘force’ mean?

Violence, threat of violence, physical advance on territory, etc. – use of force to make the enemy do our will, to make him do what we want him to do. The aim is to disarm the enemy, to – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘disarm’ mean?

It is to make it so he cannot strike back at us. In war, you place your effort against the enemy’s resistance – Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘resistance’ mean?

His resistance is both the men and resources he has – please save your questions! – and how much he wants to resist. War does not just happen out of nowhere, and it does not happen on a perfect chessboard. Your resources will nearly always be spread out, trees and mountains and rivers in your way. Even if you want to, you will not likely be able to use all of your resources at once….Yes, Otter?

-What are ‘resources?’

Your resources are made up of your fighting forces – your men – and the country, the land and the people and things on it. In war, the result is never final. Things can always change. And things are different in theory than they are in reality. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘theory’ mean?

Ideas. When you are thinking about it, imagining it, as opposed to doing it. If you think that every time you strike your enemy, they would strike back a little stronger, and that would keep happening until you were striking as hard and with as much as you possibly could, then the logical thing to do would be to just hit as hard as you can the first time, and put an end to it quickly. But in real life, it’s not that simple. You have physical restrictions, in where your forces are, in what the land is like – mountains or rivers or forests might be in your way.

Chance also plays a crucial role. Things happen that you don’t expect. The weather changes. An ally switches sides, or decides to stay neutral. With the best planning in the world, you will still always be at the mercy of chance. It is unavoidable in war. You are always gambling to some degree.

You also have limits based on what the point of the war is. Your government decides this, your King or President or Congress or Parliament. This political goal will determine what your military goal is, and how much effort it is worth. You must never forget this part, because war is just a continuation of policy. Yes, Otter?

-What’s ‘policy’ mean?

Policy is what your government believes, its goals and ideas. Sometimes it can get what it wants by negotiation, discussion, trade. Sometimes it can’t, and then it might decide to go to war to get it. War can have an effect on policy, but policy is always the key influence.

There is one more idea I think will help you understand what war is, before we move on to other factors: there are three main elements that work together in different ratios: 1) emotion, or passion – the feelings of violence or enmity, which belong to the people; 2) the realm of chance and probability, which belongs to the commander and his forces, and where there is room for creativity; and 3) the subordination of all to policy, which belongs to the government and which allows the actions of war to be ruled by reason. Different parts of this trinity will be stronger at different times, but you cannot understand – or even discuss – war without understanding the roles that all three play.

Your political aims will be different in different wars. In theory, your military aim is to destroy the enemy’s fighting forces, to make it so they cannot fight back, to occupy his country, and to break his will so he is forced to make a peace with you on your terms. The size and importance of your political aim will determine how much effort you put in, and how far you will go to achieve that aim. In reality, there can be lesser outcomes. You may not always be aiming for your enemy’s total destruction. You might be trying to scare him, or make him doubt, or interrupt an alliance. You may make victory seem so improbable to him that he gives in, for example, or present much too high a cost. Boar?

-What do you mean when you say ‘too high a cost?’

Excellent question, Boar. Cost does not only mean money. You make a war cost the enemy by invading, and destroying his territory, by making him – his people – suffer, by wearing him down. The minimum aim in war is pure self-defense, when you are looking for nothing save to withstand an enemy’s attack. In this case, you want very much to wear the enemy down, to make him expend his efforts and resources for little or no gain, until he is tired, spent, loses the will to attack.

Defense is stronger than offense in war. We will discuss this idea more later, so remember that. Remember also that defense is not purely passive. Even if your sole aim is defensive, you take any opportunity you have to inflict damage on your enemy.

The only effective force in war is combat. Yes, Badger?

-Combat means fighting, right?

Essentially, yes, combat means the use of your fighting forces in engagements with the enemy. However, it is not effective only in action. Just the threat of combat can be effective in the right circumstances. You choose to enter combat because you believe you will win. If combat is not met, it is because it is assumed which side will win.

While you may not always meet your enemy in combat, and even if you do you may not seek to destroy him, that is always the highest goal, destruction of the enemy’s armed forces is the standard against which other aims of war are measured.

———

I want to talk to you a little about what makes a great commander. True military genius is very, very rare. For someone to be a great commander, he must -

-Ahem.

Yes, Quail?

-He?

Yes, Quail?

-JUST HE?

He or she – is that better?

-Yes, sir.

He or she must be brave in the face of danger.

He – or she – must be smart, very smart, with a mind that can see through the fog, through confusion, right to the truth.

She must make quick decisions.

He must be determined.

He must be able to accept responsibility.

She must be able to deal with the unexpected.

He must be able to inspire his men, even when things get hard.

She must stay cool under immense pressure.

He must have confidence in himself. He must do all the thinking and planning he can, but once he is in war, he must have conviction.

-Sir?

Yes, Otter.

-What’s ‘conviction’ mean?

Belief. Strong belief. He must make a decision, and stick with it, but not be too stubborn to hear others’ ideas.

She must also have imagination. Do you know what that is?

-It’s for make-believe.

Yes, Fox. It’s what helps you to see pictures of things in your mind. A commander must have imagination. She must be able to see the whole theater of war, the armies, the land with rivers and mountains and forests. She must be able to take all the little bits of information and create a map in her mind.

The commander must also be a statesman. In order to bring a war to an end, he must know what its purpose is, why his country decided to fight it. So, he must understand policy.

A person who has all of this is very rare indeed.

———

Some of you probably think danger sounds exciting, but imagine this – go ahead, Class, close your eyes, really picture this: you are walking closer to the battlefield, you can hear the sounds of guns and cannons growing louder. As you get closer, bullets are hitting near you. Cannonballs scream through the air. Where they land, earth and men and trees fly out in all directions. Your bravest friends are scared. Bullets are falling around you like rain. The sounds of guns all around you. One of your friends is hit. People are hurt and bleeding, and metal flies around almost too fast to see. People are dying.

Er…there, there, Bear. Buck up.

Very few people could stay calm, seeing this for the first time – Badger, you can open your eyes now – You will grow used to it, so that you barely notice most of it, but danger does not mean only heroism and glory.

War is physically demanding. It will make you more tired than you’ve ever been. When people are tired, their minds fall under a cloud, and they have a hard time keeping up their efforts.

People also have a hard time keeping up their efforts when things are going very well, because they get complacent – overly satisfied with what they have achieved, Otter. A commander has to work very hard, too, and he gets very tired, too, but he must continue, and he must be strong enough to help all of his men continue, even if they are struggling with feelings of despair or of self-satisfaction.

A good commander will hear no complaining about how hard things are when his army is losing. This is the same as whining, and whining is unacceptable!

———

Intelligence is what you know about the enemy and about his country, however you might learn it.

A commander gets many, many reports, and a lot of them will say different things, more will be false – wrong – and most will be uncertain – you will not know whether they are right or not.

A commander must be confident enough to rely on his own judgment of what is most likely to be true, and confident enough to ignore many of the reports he gets.

———

When you have never been to war, it might look easy. The decisions might seem simple.

When you have been to war, you will know that a lot of little things will go wrong, or will be different from how you planned them, or how you thought they would be. You will be tired, you will be in danger, and your luck will change all the time. You must know friction to overcome it, to – yes, Otter? What is it?

-Sir, what does ‘friction’ mean?

It is when two things come together and make something stick, instead of flow smoothly. Like when you use the brakes on your bicycle, or there is a stone inside your shoe. Yes?

-Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.

Remember this word. This word is important. Right. So…Yes! you must know friction to overcome it, and to plan for it.

The only thing that can ease this friction is combat experience. Habit makes your body stronger, your heart braver, and your mind cooler. Habit gives you the thing that is most precious in all the noise and chaos and fury of war. Does anyone have any idea what that is? Anyone? You have been listening to me describe the characteristics of war, and of those who must command war. What quality do you think habit could lend to soldier and commander alike to help counter the workings of chance and entropy? Otter?

-What does ‘entropy’ mean?

…Chaos. The tendency of order to become disorder. Yes? Boar?

-Calm.

What was that?

-Calm. That’s the thing you need.

Well done, Boar. Yes, habit helps you to remain calm, to not be swayed by the noise, or put off by the chaos, or paralyzed by the danger, or played for a fool by chance.

Training is no replacement for real experience, but it can certainly help, and training which introduces friction and physical exertions and challenges and the play of chance can be of great value once you see combat.

I have introduced you to some of the basic principles and elements of war. In future lessons, we will go into the details of strategy in much greater depth, and I will expect more of you with each passing lesson. Class dismissed.

Letters, Process, Wolverines are Hard to Draw

Work, life, and other art projects have been interfering with my visible progress on this lately, but I am happy to report that I am wrapping up the larger art project that has been taking up a lot of my spare time and things are quieting down at work, so I should be getting back on track. I intend to have a substantive post by the end of the week, but in the meantime, I have a few things to share.

First of all, I met last weekend with my lettering consultant, who helped me think through some ideas about what I want the book title pages to look like. After helping me think through the question of whether I want to keep at least that much of the structure of the original, which: yes. I was of two minds about how I wanted those titles to look, so he is working up drafts of two very different looks, based on absurd notes like “it should feel like it’s from an old-school copy of Grimm’s fairy tales” or “the letters should feel like they are moving forward.” Luckily, we’ve known each other forever, and made art together plenty in the past, so I think he can follow my crazy instructions.

I have also made a few small images, more of those homages to tweeps I did a few posts ago, but this time, I thought it would be fun to post them showing all three main stages of completion: pencils, inks, and color.  Much love to @jasonfritz1 @petulantskeptic, and @jeremyscahill.

Fritz as a fox seemed obvious, because he kind of reminds me of Fantastic Mr. Fox. (In case there is any confusion for some reason, I mean this in the best possible way).

Fantastic Mr. Fritz - Pencils

Fantastic Mr. Fritz - Inks

Fantastic Mr. Fritz - Color

I have been planning on turning petulantskeptic into an otter for some time and it was actually with him in mind that I included an otter in the last post.

Petulant and Skeptical Otter - Pencils

Petulant and Skeptical Otter - Inks

Petulant and Skeptical Otter - Color

During a conversation on Twitter with Scahill a week or two ago, it occurred to me that I should make him a wolverine as a little extra something silly to send to him with his Twitter Fight Club prizes. This idea has sort of tortured me since then, because once I tried, I discovered that I didn’t really know how to draw wolverines and obviously I couldn’t let that stand, so I have drawn about 100 of them since then. I have much improved my wolverine-drawing skills.

Wolverine - Pencils

Wolverine - Inks

Wolverine - Color

Introduction, in Which We Meet the War Tutor

Ich heiße Carl, aber für Sie mein Name ist Herr Clausewitz.

I am Carl, but you will call me Hare Clausewitz.

I will be teaching you about war.

I will not waste time on trifles.

I will not teach you how to shoot your gun.

I will not teach you what tactics to use.

I will not tell you why you go to war, or what to do once the war is done.

There are many who can teach you these things.

What I will teach you, many people cannot teach you.

I will teach you about strategy.

I will teach you what war is for, and what it takes to achieve your end.

I will teach you about vision, about what is important in war, and what is not.

It is likely that none of you will understand me, let alone be that rare creature who can be a great leader of war, but I will do my best to teach you what I know.

An Increase in Scale

As I am working on the text, I have also started the first larger-scale art of this project, and the first image that could end up in the book. It’s a fairly ambitious piece, large, with a lot of small details. I have wiped it clean and started over several times, but I have what I think is a workable rough sketch. This is the first piece I have put up here that is not a finished product, so it will give a very different look at the process.

Full Sketch

And to give a little bit of  a better idea of some of the key parts, since I know this isn’t the best image quality around, here are a couple of closer views.

Tighter Shot

Tighter Shot

The next step is to add detail to everything. The rough figures in front, the rougher figures behind, the trees, the mountainsides, the waterfall, all of it. All of those little Fisher-Price peg person – looking figures (and by the way, how creepy are the contemporary versions of those? Yikes) will be an individually rendered creature. The rough masses of trees near the foreground on either side will have branches and leaves. Once everything has been drawn and detailed, I will ink it, then lastly, paint in the color. The idea at this stage is to establish scales and perspective and the composition of the piece. It will likely change somewhat as I fill in the detail.

Clearly, there is a long way to go on this image. I thought it might be interesting to some to see a piece as it progresses, to get an idea of the whole process (or maybe that’s just my printmaker’s brain). This was a pretty large piece to take on for someone with no free time, but I’ll be working on it whenever I can and post whenever there’s a worthwhile amount of progress. Believe it or not, what is for me the hardest part is done. Once I have a composition, and the rough sketch, the image is in my head, and it’s just a matter of doing the work to put it to paper. I’ll be keeping my pencil sharpener handy through this one.

Lucky for the General She’s So Darn Cute

Fact: the search term that has brought the most people to this site so far is ‘angry badger.’

Funny story (especially for those of you who are Tom Ricks and/or Civil War buffs): several months ago, my good friend and co-worker was a few months pregnant and making lists of potential baby names. One day at work, we were talking about names and I was offering sarcastic suggestions. I happened to be reading a piece on Tom Ricks’ Best Defense about underappreciated American generals, which mentioned General Galusha Pennypacker, so obviously I immediately suggested that as a name, and it kind of stuck. While she and her husband eventually made the decision not to name their daughter General Galusha Pennypacker (hey, to each his own, right?), she and I from that day forward always referred to the baby as ‘The General.’ And still do. Some day, this little girl is going to ask why her crazy aunt made her a multi-colored print of an obscure Civil War General when she was an infant, and we’re going to tell her to blame Tom Ricks.

Anyway, the General showed up a month early, and I have been working 12-14 hours a day for the last two weeks, which combined with commuting time and volunteering time, has seriously cut into my Clausewitz time. I’ve had almost no time in an alert enough state for much reading, analysis, or writing, but I have grabbed a few minutes here and there to sketch. I am sharing here a couple of the more successful hare sketches, and a couple of bonus sketches I made in homage to some of my favorite tweeps/people who have stayed on my case about keeping up with this project. (That’s a good thing). I may try to work in a few more of these as we go along, as there are a few others who deserve the same tribute, and these drawings also provide the opportunity to sketch different critters who could appear in the book.

Haughty Hare

Running Hare

Panda Twins

Gulliver Among the Lilliputians

Thanks for the continuing enthusiasm and support. A lot of people (especially Laurenist and PetulantSkeptic) have been sending me great links, mainly about rabbits or unusual children’s literature projects. I’m thinking I might start saving them up and posting periodic round-ups, so you all can see the very diverse range of items people send my way.

Just for Fun

As much as this project is an intellectual exercise, and a frame for my own thinking about strategy, it is also an art project, and working on it has made me realize both how little art I have been making lately and how much I have missed it.

I have been having a lot of fun playing around with different media, and looking for solutions that will allow me to create a specific look with the limited equipment and materials at my fingertips. While I have already decided on the style for the main illustrations for the book, I have still been experimenting with other materials just for fun.

I got a picture in my head of a chapter title page. (I don’t know if I am even going to use chapter title pages in this book, but I see no reason not to mock some up anyway). The final image I want to get will be a print, specifically a monotype, very simple, graphical, and vertical, and I already have Ant working on the lettering for it. In the meantime, I wanted to get a sort of draft version of it done, which I decided to make using oil pastels. I used to use these a lot, and always enjoyed the very messy, process-oriented, hands on nature of the medium. (I’m a printmaker; in case this wasn’t clear already from my explanations of printmaking, the Ragnarok comic book project, and oh, this entire blog, I am all about process). I haven’t used them in ages, and I had so much fun digging in and hand-blending them, that once I finished the draft for the chapter title page, I made a scratchboard hedgehog, just for fun.

Mock Up for a Chapter Title Page

The scratchboard effect is something you might remember from second grade. You can do it with regular crayons, if you are willing to put in the effort to really bear down with the black crayon over the top, but it is easier to execute with the much softer oil pastels. Basically, you lay down a pattern of colors, then cover it completely with a darker color, usually black. Then, you take a stylus (or a pencil, or a paperclip – anything with a sharp tip) and draw with that, removing the black where you mark and revealing the color beneath. So here is our hedgehog, triumphant, scratchboard-style.

I wouldn’t say that I am avoiding dealing with the text here, but it is a lot of work, and I am awfully busy lately, so I will fess up to sometimes choosing the quicker job of playing with imagery instead of working my way through more text. It’s more instant gratification.

However, I am working on it. I am going through the book front-to-back. I may not keep every chapter, section, etc, but I am trying to be methodical about how I approach it, and keeping it all in outline in that way. Once I have my summaries of everything together, I will decide whether it makes sense for this project to keep everything in the same order, etc. I will definitely post some of my summaries before I get to that stage, as this is where I will really be looking for input: Can you make a case that something I have left out is essential? Or that something I have left in is not? Do you think I am totally misinterpreting something? If so, I will want to hear about it.

As always, thank you for reading.