BJJ saved my… Art (???)

Allow me to present you a slightly different take on the overused and classic «BJJ saved my life, bro* !» Motto. (the “bro” is optional, bro).

My first consuming hobby has been drawing, and so, naturally, in my early twenties I tried to get something going on with my art. I did some commissioned work, some fantasy & sci-fi illustrations in the RPG field, and also some bands artworks, but I never managed to get the ball really rolling. This led me to little by little lose faith and motivation, and in consequence to slow down to an almost complete halt my drawing.

Furthermore, the pressure I felt trying« to make it» professionally was taking out all the fun away from the act of drawing. Feeling like each illustration needed to be my defining masterpiece brought too much stress into the process, and always ending up disappointed with the results took its toll. I also realized that I wasn’t able to conjure any real creativity in my art. My main visual influences came from the comics, the medieval fantasy and the sci-fi universes often explored in the role playing and tabletop games, and of course also the metal albums covers, so I tried to inject all of this material into my art, but everything I produced always felt so lame and cringe… It was just the talentless and uninspired regurgitation of the same old warriors and robots, the same old skulls, the same old masked vigilantes…

Does the world really need another Bisley wannabe?

Fast-forward 29 and I had almost abandoned drawing and painting, just barely scribbling on some rare occasions. It was at this time that I encountered Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and as most practitioners, became immediately hooked, I went to training 5 times the first week. It turned into a complete obsession for a few years. Every second of my free time, every conscious thought, was dedicated to this burning new passion. The addiction finally dialed down a bit during my brown belt days, after about 8 years of intense practice. I now consider my relation to BJJ to be a healthy one : I train 2–3 times a week, teach some classes, and still love to compete a few times a year.

GOATest flyer of all time.

It’s when I became in charge of organizing the monthly open mats at my BJJ club in Paris a few years back that those crazy NYHC flyers I saw in fanzines in my late teens crept up to my mind ! Something clicked right away : wouldn’t it be fun to do some cool flyers for those open mats by mixing those passions of mine ? Maybe I could transpose this punk-HxC-metal energy I loved so much into the BJJ realm ! It seemed fresh and new, and at the time I had never seen such a combination.

High with excitement, I started drawing again with a first obsessive image : Kaneda from Akira in its classic iconic pose, but wearing in a BJJ GI !


Next came the Flying Khabibs :

Never mind the old IG handle

And after that, the They Live BJJ mashup:

This ended up as a sold out serigraph, and as my BJJ club’s shirt

I since did a lot of other BJJ related artworks and mini-comics, and the ideas started to flow non-stop, so much that I couldn’t even keep up, and in the end I wasn’t able to draw all of them. When COVID hit, I found myself with a lot of free time, and decided to produce a risograph collection of the BJJ comics and illustrations I had done, I also produced a free .pdf zine about stretching amongst other things.


It came to me after a while that I was able to tap into this new creative flow almost at will, and not only for my BJJ related illustrations, but for any other project. I am now almost burdened with so many ideas for comics and illustrations that I will never be able to draw them all in my remaining lifetime.

Another crucial thing I learned from practicing BJJ that I was able to incorporate into my drawing came from competing. I competed a lot since white belt, and after a few years of frustrating losses and fulfilling wins, I realized that the mindset one has to embrace to be able to overcome losing also translates very well for any creative endeavor.

The fear of messing up an illustration even before starting it petrified me. I would often redraw them countless times at the first sight of a mistake because I felt that I needed to produce my Mona Lisa tight here and now, with each new illustration. So, I started again and again from scratch at the first little minor inconvenience, hoping to produce a better version with each new iteration. Instead, came loss of interest and excitement for the subject, which of course led to worst results further down the line… Down until a final illustration was painfully excreted, devoid of any spontaneity, leaving me frustrated and discouraged.

When you compete in BJJ, especially if you’re not a professional, you’re soon slapped in the face with the realization that you are bound to lose at some point. It’s just part of the game. Me, I quickly realized and internalized that I wasn’t going to be the next BJ Penn, let alone a world champion. Even when training 5 times a week, I was still just a hobbyist comparing to others, and I’m at peace with that. Still, this hasn’t prevented me from having some great performances, some of which I am very proud of… Sometimes scoring some surprising upsets, and some even being losses where I gave it all, took no shortcuts, and searched for no excuses afterwards for once.

When shit happens in a BJJ match, the important thing is to not give up. Due to the nature of the rules of this martial art, even if you’re being steamrolled 30-0, the hope of catching the opponent with a submission to end up the winner always remain. It’s crucial to stay calm, assess the present situation, and find ways to improve it. At one point I came to the realization that the same goes for drawing : an ink stain, an error in anatomy or perspective… You can’t just take the easy way out and discard the illustration. You have to work with the reality of the situation and have got to find a way to make it work !

Instead of trying to be the best amongst others, I understand now I have to focus on being the best I can be. Even if this match I just lost isn’t my greatest performance, I can still use it as a learning tool for the next one. Same goes for my art production : this particular illustration I’m working on may not be perfect, but I now realize it’s just a step for the next one. My Mona Lisa is still waiting patiently for me somewhere down the line. By applying this mentality I learned thanks to BJJ competition to my art, I am now able to look past the imperfections of the situation and focus on finishing it. Done is better than perfect, always, and there will be another one after that, and another one after…

Thinking back, it really feels to me that BJJ unlocked something in my mind regarding creativity. The tap is now open, and I am able to drink from this source at will for my art. I wouldn’t be where I am right now with my creativity without BJJ, so…

BJJ did save my art… Bro !

For those interested in reading more about the creativity process, you’ll find more blog posts about it : here and here.

“Oss” as we say in this business of ours of breaking joints and choking people!

The Pretentious Poser (me) Presents to the Philistine Pleb (you) a great album you won’t find on any streaming service: Demonspeed’s “Kill, Kill, Kill”.

This one is a very particular and unique record, from a very particular and unique band.

Demonspeed only existed for a relatively short period of time around the turn of the century, and all their song are compiled and featured in their only full length album “Kill, Kill, Kill” released in 2002.

Before that, they had also released a 7 songs album called “Swing Is Hell” in 1997, whose title fits particularly well their unique sound.

Let’s put it simply, Demonspeed plays a weird mixture of metal and swing, with vocals performed in a typical Las Vegas Paul Anka crooner style… while the lyrics are about serial killer stuff… And… As weird as it may appear at first sight, It just fucking works! It sounds like tuxedos and martinis at a Slayer show.

The music is unique, and the almost parodic crooner voice rolls smoothly over some swing/metal riffs rocking upon either jazzy beats or blasting double pedals, depending on the times. The songs are pretty catchy, and you after a few listens you might find yourself humming “John Wayne Gacy killed 33 children, I wish that I could so the same…” Wait what???? Yep, those are the first lyrics from the song called “Pogo”, which is the first song of Swing Is Hell… Hell of a way to make a first impression!

The song “Zodiac” (about… Well… the Zodiac killer of course) starts off with an a cappella intro which evolves further down the line into a fast-paced melodic part that could easily fit in any melodic punk/skate core band:

Other titles include: “Hunting Humans”, “Fifth Of Satan”, “Hand Of Glory”, “Green River”… And “Michael Landon’s Ghost” (???), and the album ends with 2 covers: “Movin’ on up” from the TV show “The Jefferson’s” and a very fun The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah“:

Contrasting with the gloom and dark subject of the lyrics, the music manages to be quite fun and catchy, and the different elements of the formula work really really well together, strangely bringing a kind of weird humor to the table, allowing the band to avoid falling into a cheesy corny territory. The mixture is, simply put, perfect.

The equilibrium this band found is impressive, as it could have been easily ruined by a slightest difference in the dosage: too much metal, or shitty lyrics, or a bad singer… But no. This band created a very unique thing, produced one album, and then disappeared…

One might think that this is for the best, after all, how far could they have pushed this concept without evolving? And, for this particular band, who created this very particular formula, maybe any evolution, any change, would have broken the fragile equilibrium discussed earlier. So, what was there left to do, the exact same album a second time? Would it have been good? Interesting? Maybe… But would it have been better?

One of the band member was Sal Villanueva, who emerged from the NYHC scene, played in several more “classical” bands, and ended up working on the production of a lot of albums. As a fun note, the “Swing Is Hell” 7 song album artwork featured a copy of his driving incident records… And apparently the man drives like a wild raccoon!

You might have guessed it, I love this album, the music is incredible, very well thought and executed, and the singer lyricist rises to the challenge and does a wonderful job of bringing it to the next level. My only complaint would be that the artwork for “Kill, Kill, Kill” feels a bit uninspired and bland comparing to the delicious insanity that awaits the listener inside.

Demonspeed‘s records and music, and in fact any information at all, are very hard to find. They are also not present of the habitual streaming services, for the physical productions, you will have to try your luck on Discogs where some are listed for sale. As for mp3 versions, you can find it quite easily on Soulseek. Gladly, as of now, their whole album can be listened on YouTube here’s the link for the whole playlist:

A theory: Acid Bath’s song “Scream Of the Butterfly” was inspired by a Grant Morrison character in Doom Patrol (+bonus stuff).

From the damp, wet bayous of Louisiana emerged the legendary sludge/doom metal band Acid Bath. Their frontman, Dax Riggs alternated between haunting witches screams and beautiful clear singing parts, which combined to the filthy sound of the melancholic guitar riffs contributed to this band’s unique sound, think a demon possessed David Bowie mixed with bluesy black metal, maybe?

His lyrical style is an ethereal collage of troubling images, a dark and beautiful macabre poetry evoking serial killers sniffing weird stuff, overdoses and mystical ramblings, and the ghost of Hitler on the radio… Or as he calls it himself : “murder ballads”.

The label choose (against the band’s will*) to use real art from serial killer John Wayne Gacy, aka Pogo The Clown.

*Edit : apparently this is up for debate, you can read the different opinions on the Reddit post here.

Back to our regular program: In Acid Bath‘s first album “When The Kite String Pops“, there is a beautiful ballad indeed, the eerie “The Scream Of The Butterfly“:

So what does this have to do with comics? Hang on, we’re setting the stage, we’re getting there!

So first, let’s establish Dax Riggs‘ love for comics. As he states in this interview, titled “Music Matters: Comic book fantasy inspires Dax Riggs “:

“Superheroes, comic books and the idea of multiple dimensions, alternate earths, that’s all the stuff I love to think about,” he said. “It makes me happy to think about magical things.”

And he was onto the good stuff:

“I was very moved by Alan Moore and Watchmen,” he said before confessing to ownership of every work the English writer has ever published.

Before “Watchmen” was repackaged as a graphic novel in 1987 and named one of Time’s 100 Best English language novels, Riggs bought all 12 issues in the miniseries as they were originally released, off the rack.

Surrounded by his favorite comics of the ’80s, his collection grew to include titles such as “Miracleman,” “Sandman” and Frank Miller fan favorites like “Ronin” and “The Dark Knight Returns.”

So he was onto Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman… I think it’s safe to assume that he was also onto Grant Morrison then… But for now, let’s first see if those comic’s influences showed up in his work indeed…

On the same album, the song Jezebel contains the line “Our Superman found dead in a telephone booth…” (What a chilling thought by the way…)

After Acid Bath‘s bassist Audie Pitre died in a tragic car accident caused by a drunk driver, the remaining members formed a slower more melodic band: Agents Of Oblivion, and this is the album cover:

Recognize the art?

The artwork is the Hand Of Glory, lifted from Mike Mignola‘s Hellboy story “Box Full Of Evil”:

This isn’t the only time Dax Riggs used Mike Mignola‘s art, he produced several stickers lifted from his artwork, like this one for example:

Ok, we have established that Dax Riggs was indeed injecting his love of comics into his lyrics. Back to Grant Morrison, this story called “The Butterfly Collector” was published in 1989:

It features the character Red Jack, who calls himself God and has a collection of pinned butterflies from which he arbours his power:

The butterfly’s suffering fuels Red Jack‘s powers:

In his palace, the background music consists of:

Sounds Familiar?

Acid Bath‘s song “The Scream Of The Butterfly” was released in 1994, it features the lyrics:

“She smiles like a child with flowers in her hair
With blood on her hands into the sun she stares
She feels it die, I heard her cry like the scream of the butterfly

I rest my case.

Since the writing of this article, it has been brought to my attention that the sentence appears in The Doors‘ song “When The Music is over“:

Before I sink Into the big sleep
I want to hear I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly

Which was inspired by a 1966 movie:

So who influenced who? Did the movie influence Morrison (Jim)‘s lyrics, who in turn influenced the comic’s writer Morrison (Grant)‘s who by a strange coincidence shares his last name, who then in turn influenced Dax‘s lyrics?

Bonus stuff : the lyrics from Scream Of The Butterfly also contain the following lines:

Rabbit howls like something old
As we twitch to her lullaby

Which were inspired by the book When Rabbit Howls, written by a recovering abused schizophrenic person as part of her therapy:

And that’s where it gets weird… Because Grant Morrison cited this book as an inspiration for the character Crazy Jane… From Doom Patrol, as documented here:

The bulk of these decisions, both positive and negative, have their roots in a common origin—the source that Morrison cites in Doom Patrol #20 as their inspiration for Crazy Jane, When Rabbit Howls, which Morrison describes, in language that prefigures their objectification of Jane, as “a peek at what reality looks like from the other side.”.

In the same song, you can also find the following lyrics:

“We dropped some acid, killed our parents
Then we hit the road”

Which feels very similar to the line on Sonic Youth‘s 1990 “Goo” cover art by Pettibon:

I also suspect that their song “The Blue” was inspired by a story from Alan Moore‘s mind-blowing incredible run on Swamp Thing : “The Nukeface papers“:

The story features a strange man who wanders around after an incident in a nuclear facility, he goes on rambling drinking some weird stuff, and ends up offering it to a homeless guy in the woods.

The results are quite problematic for the poor fellow… The unsuspecting man ends up slowly dying, and his last words are:

“The Blue”

By the way, his run also features a story called “By Demons Driven!” published in 1984…

Now where did I already saw this sentence again?

Oh that’s right! But that’s another story…

In Peter Bagge‘s “Hate” comic, this is what you can find in issue n°8, published in the spring of 1992:

Acid Bath‘s second and last album Paegan Terrorism Tactics which was released in 1996, opens up with the “Paegan Love Song”:

Which features the famous line:

“You scream, I scream
Everybody screams for morphine”

Now it’s true that the live “I scream, You scream, We all scream for Ice Cream” is pretty well known in American culture , but maybe Dax‘s influence comes from the comic, as the concept feels very similar.

In conlusion: I really encourage everyone to give a listen Acid Bath, they are one of my favorite bands, and their legendary statue is not usurped.

This time the label used some art from Jack Kevorkian aka Dr.Death

They only released two albums : “When The Kite String Pops” and “Paegan Terrorism Tactics“. Even if you’re not into metal, they got some more beautiful ballads apart from “Scream Of The Butterfly” that everyone can get into:

You can also try Agents Of Oblivion‘s only album, it’s more rock than metal, and thus more accessible (and also contains a really cool rocky cover of Dead Girl !):

After that, Dax Riggs went solo, leaving behind the metal genre. His beautiful voice can be heard on several albums, my personal favorite album being “We Sing Of Only Blood And Love” (which is true, isn’t it? We do…):

If you like his stuff, there are also some really cool unreleased demo songs (“Riding The Wormhole” for example) floating around that you can find using Soulseek.

You can also find his DIY poetry mini book “Shitting The Cold Deathhere.

Regarding the comics mentioned in this article, here is some good stuff:

Alan Moore : Apart from his more widely known works such as V For Vendetta, Watchmen, I particularly recommend his Swamp Thing and Miracleman runs.

Neil Gaiman : Sandman and Books Of Magics.

Grant Morrison : The Invisibles, The Filth and his Doom Patrol run.

Mike Mignola : Hellboy and his Alien story.

Frank Miller : Batman : The Dark Knight Returns, the firsts Sin City and Hard-Boiled.

Peter Bagge : Hate, Sweatshop (in which you’ll find a delightful roast of Neil Gaiman by the way in issue 5) and his Spiderman story.

Oh, and that Pettibon illustration? I did a BJJ 10th Planet crossover illustration reference by the way:

Now how’s that for niche!

Crap… I ended up talking BJJ again, we do are an annoying kind… that’s more than enough, no one is reading all that, peace out!

All in from the get go.

Some of my favorite comics, and artists, came from the legendary 2000 AD publisher. Their adult-no compromise-punk fueled energy was so different from the stories and concepts proposed at the time by the other major publishers such as Marvel, DC…

Turns out 2000 AD is running a regular art competition based on their characters, and apart from the exposure, the winner can also get published (and win some money).

Long story short, as I have been surfing since my teens, I always loved the Chopper character from the Judge Dredd universe, and though about making an illustration I could send them once the “Chopper” theme would pop-up (which I’m sure it will… Hopefully… Some day… Maybe… Fingers crossed!).

I wanted to do an ambitious illustration, Chopper would be blasting through Mega City One‘s skies riding an old vintage sky surfboard of my creation, which would allow me to play with some collage for the motor and the stickers on the board.

Marlon Shakespeare aka Chopper

In order to capture surfing’s raw kinetic energy, I based my illustration on an iconic picture of punk surf hero Christian Fletcher, and I wanted the surfer’s dynamic pose to contrast from the dystopian city’s monolithic stillness. In order to be able to have a large enough image, the format would have to be A3.

Christian Fletcher

As I never drew such a wide city landscape, and at such a big size (for me) I wanted first to do a sketch to test some things… And here is where I messed up!

See, I drew the character, the board, some thing turned out pretty good, and some other didn’t, but in general I was kinda satisfied. I then started to delve into the unknown: the city blocks of the background. I was liking the results, so I kept adding and adding, pushing the illustration further, day after day, up to the place where it was constantly switching in my mind between a “sketch” and a “maybe final illustration”. But I was fooling myself. I was only considering this illustration as a sketch in order to feel “safe” in case I messed up something, I was giving myself a false sense of security because I was afraid of the result I might not be able to achieve.

First “Sketch”

Once I “finished” this sketch, I realized the “security” effect I felt while drawing had backfired: I was now feeling more afraid to go for the finished piece than before doing the sketch version: Would I be able to achieve the same results in the parts I liked? And would I be able to improve those I didn’t? I slowly realized my mistake: If only I had gone all in from the get go, I would have been left with only one version, containing the best results possible for every parts: those I liked and those I liked less. Because not having a second version I wouldn’t have to compare each part against a “competitor”.

Final illustration

Now every part of the piece had 2 versions, every bit was competing against itself in a different version. If I had gone with the mentality of producing the finished piece from the first try, the parts I did right would have been the same, and I would have been investing more into the parts I liked less, instead of relaying on my safety net “Doesn’t matter if I mess up this part, It’s just the sketch!”. Hell, I could even have “corrected” the parts I liked less, using some paste-ups or white outs for example.

First “sketch”
Final illustration

Specifically speaking, analyzing the 2 pieces side by side, I think I managed to upgrade his right hand, which was a bit weird, his kneecaps are also better. I also wanted the board to be full of stickers. The background city blocks are more tight in the finished version, the propulsion is also cooler on the second version. But the price I had to pay was the essential part: Chopper’s expression and character… I really like more his face, hair and body position in the first version… And it’s the central part of the piece, so I’m not sure it was such a great trade. I ended up pasting a new version in order to try to correct this.

1st GO : Good!
Final piece: Meh…
Paste-up: Better…

Let this be a lesson to me: no more safety nets, the trade-of isn’t worth it. Sure you still have to sketch, but do not push the sketch too far, it has to remain a “sketch”.

It’s a bit hard mentally to invest so much time and effort into something and not being 100% satisfied with the result, but for now let’s value the lesson learned, and as always, I have to keep in mind that this was not my final drawing. This is not my definitive illustration, the next ones will be better, one after the other!

April’s fool bonus:

As I was coloring the final piece, I remember at one point I wanted to do false comics covers with some concepts I have, so I did a vector version of the Chopper logo, I started playing with it, and then I realized we were the 1st of April, so I said to myself: Why the hell not?

I got some people with it!

Blitzpainting : how and why?

As many illustrators using “traditional” media, I feel that my finished artwork loses a lot of the initial movement and energy that was contained in the initial sketches…

“The eternal battle between controlled tightness and raw energy”

Postulate: Whatever is gained in tightness is forever lost in raw energy. Which we can translate to:


(T : Tightness – E : Energy)

As you go through several tightening steps between the initial sketch to the final piece, using a light table for example, I feel that whatever is gained in “tightening” is lost in counterpart in movement and energy. The cause might be that when producing the final art, one is very concentrated in not making any mistakes, and thus one does not allow the hand to move freely across the canvas. Each line feels more controlled and loses its wild energy.

Some examples:

Each steps brings more “tightness” and control, but loses some energy doing so…
From initial sketch to a more advanced step, you can already notice a decrease in the intensity of the emotions.
Once again, the rough sketch conveys more expressiveness than the finished inked art.
I thing you get it so I’ll stop now.

I found several tips in how to try to fight this phenomenon, but now I want to talk about a particular exercise that I found very helpful for keeping that free initial energy: Blitzpainting.

The concept is simple, you start drawing, no preparation, no previous sketches, no constructions lines, and you produce a finished piece of artwork with this piece, in the course of a few hours (2 or 3).

The most important thing it teaches you it to work around you mistakes, in other words FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT WORK! If you make a mistake, do not start over: draw on top, blacken the zone, paint on top, throw a splatter… Those unexpected moments, “accidents” you might call them,might end up creating some interesting results!

I started to think about during my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice: when you are rolling or competing, if you end up in a bad spot, you cannot just stop and start over! You have to keep on and try to find a way to improve the situation, and try at least to finish in a better spot. This mentality transferred to drawing/painting as been very liberating and has helped me a lot!

Now, onto the concrete stuff! As I am self taught, mainly through analyzing (meaning “drooling over”) the painting styles of Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Bill Sienkiewicz, John Mueller, Dave McKean… the techniques I am using might not be the academic ones, but they are the one I understand, love, and use.

Those paintings are 20 by 15 cm, using acrylic paint.

A quick note here : there is a real difference between the cheap low quality paint and the high quality ones. The later have much more pigment, and thus a much more covering power. This is particularly important as the use of thick layers will be used for effect. If the paint isn’t opaque enough you will have to make many layers, and as you cannot replicate exactly each stroke, it may give a blurry effect on some parts. You can always dilute the paint with some water, but it’s much more hard to thicken it (you have to use some special products, which change the intensity of the color depending on the mix…). This is especially through for light colors like yellow.

Here are some process shots of a blitzpainting I did of Mark Hunt elbowing Bigfoot Silva in the face (sorry Bigfoot, but this picture is too dope!):

1- The reference picture

I believe the correct sound effect in a comic would be “SPRLOUNTCHK!

2- The canvas

Pro-tip for the masking tape, before applying it on the paper, glue it a few times to your jeans first in order to diminish its gluing power, or it might rip up the paper when taking it out.

I also realized it’s been a while I haven’t sketched with a pencil, I don’t know why exactly, but it also helps to “jump” directly into the final processing stage.

3- The line art

As I free handed the line art, you can already see some differences in Bigfoot’s lower body, also the framing isn’t the same as the picture… Instead of redoing it, I’ll just go along with this.

4- Establishing some values

I quickly lay some diluted paint. I use a mix of black and blue paint in order to establish some shadows, it’s done very loosely.

5- The under layer

Now I mix some brown/red/magenta/purple depending on the mood and I drop a layer on the whole painting, this will allow to have a common base which will serve to unify the whole thing. I also throw some splatters with an old toothbrush, this creates some texture while being very fun!

6 – Some thicker layers

This is the really fun part where you can start to see how the finished piece will look. The thicker parts are used to “block”texture underneath. The imperfections of the strokes create interesting textures already. You can also re-add some color splatters at every stage to give it a more wild and dynamic look.

7- Almost there…

Adding details, giving more attention to the important parts : heads, hands… Using some blue mixed with the skin tone for the transition shadows can give some cool effects.

8- “Et Voilà”!

I finished the background, used some non-diluted red for the blood, a bit more details here and there… At this stage it’s been between 2 to 3 hours non stop, I’m starting to worry that each new stroke might damage more the piece than improving it, so it’s a good time to stop.

9- The final canvas without the masking tape

At this stage it’s very important to take out the masking tape very carefully!

10- The final artwork with some digital adjustments for the colors

Final thoughts:

It’s far from perfect, but that was part of the deal, I feel that for a “finished” piece done in under 3 hours the results are good. I could always come back to it if I wanted to polish it more anyway.

I should have laid a thicker black background in order to have the cool red blood splurting out of Bigfoot’s face stand out more.

I now have to find a way to translate this to my pure black and white artwork which I feel is very “controlled” and lacks energy.

One thing that I did for this particular piece was announcing it live on my Instagram stories beforehand, and then I posted a picture live of each step live. This had the effect of forcing me to finish it, and to not pussy out of this. I will surely redo this because I felt the added “pressure” forced me to try to give my best. I’m thinking maybe doing some live paintings soon. If you want to follow live the next ones you can head to my Instagram and give me follow.

Some other blitzpaintings:

Garry Tonon the Lionkiller at One FC

Phil Edwards painting
process shot of the splattering stage!

Well that’s it! Hope you liked it! I really encourage you to try this, especially the “live” part on Instagram (or Facebook, Youtube…). Don’t hesitate to let me know how it worked for you, and share your tips!


What I learned self-making a 48 pages risograph printed BJJ art book

One of my quarantine project has been to self make a risograph book compiling my best BJJ themed illustrations and mini-comics:

It was a long, complicated path, and I made a lot of wrong turns… Here is what I learned from all this:

Plan, plan, plan! Plan ahead all the boring details, and then… plan some more!

This might sound stupidly evident for people who have already done this kind of stuff, but for me it was my first time doing something like this, and as always, being the stupid stubborn sunavabitch I am, I had to learn it all the hard way…

What happened was that once I decided that I was going to go ahead and do this project, I just wanted (of course) to jump right away on the more exciting stuff: editing and coloring the images.
I thought that I would sort out the technical aspect of the construction of the book while going along… Boy was I wrong… In the end I spent a lot time redoing stuff I had already done… Several times… And it sometimes really took a toll on my motivation.

Here are some concrete examples of my errors:

1) Format, margins, full bleeds…

I knew I wanted to do it in a A5 format, I read the specifications on the printer’s website so I made the cut guides on my GIMP files and thought “OK I got it, I’ll just adjust everything once all is finished!”.

Problem: Well turns out this just doesn’t work… My bleed and Cut margins were a bit off… Not by much, but it still managed to make a mess of all the work I had already done. For the full bleed images, even a small change can really have big consequences if your image had already been adjusted to fit in tightly (the original images were not made with any format in mind, so it was sometimes difficult to make them work in the A5 format).

Solution: I should have communicated earlier with the printer provider, downloaded the specific templates for my project, and work from here.

Also, if you do full bleed illustrations, overextend the illustration on the sides in the drawing stage, because the print & cut margins can sum up to 1cm on each side, so if you didn’t plan it right, you might be obligated to take out some details near the borders, or even redo the whole illustration…

Difference between my guides and the printer’s guides.

Here is another example from my DIY Bootleg A6 Mini-comics Collection:

I self printed the interior pages on one side, and had the color cover painted at a printer… What I didn’t knew (because again… I didn’t ask…) is that the cover files would have a blank 3mm margin, so that the image would be resized automatically, thankfully I made some tests before launching the printing:

In the first test prints, the cut guides ended up showing.
Normally the cut should be right along the letters in the upper left corner.
I reworked the file, but again… Made a mistake and didn’t realized it…

2) Colors

I wanted to color my black in white pieces using 2 colors: a dark blue, and red, and using the values of those for all kinds of effect. So, I just simply used a layer for each color and thought “I’ll convert just them in grey values for the printer afterwards!“.

Working with red values…

Problem: The risograph printing process works like this: Each color will be processed from a black and white image: The darker the area, the more color will be projected there. A full black square will be printed like a red square for example. But if you just take out the color of a 100% red area, it doesn’t convert to 100% black… It will be something like a 60% grey value. The result will be a pink area instead of a red one on the printed page.

Once you got all kinds of gradients interlaced with plain colors on a flattened layer, it’s very difficult to adjust the individual values of specific zones.

The different layers.

Solution: take time to think about the specific printing process your going to use. Talk with the printer, he can direct you to resources and information.

Take one illustration, the more complex one, and do a test run from A to Z in order to obtain a mock-up version of the final file for the printer, and send it to them so that they can confirm you if this would turn out fine

3) The book construction

The construction of the book and pages order… Oh boy…

I had a vague plan and thought “I’ll just assemble that as I’m progressing…“. Also, some illustrations needed 3 colors : Blue, Red and Yellow in order to work, so as a A3 print page is made of 4 images, I had to think which ones would be colored in 3 colors.

One of the 3 colors illustration.

Problem: It means that I couldn’t have 2 different 3 colors images back to back if I only did one A3 page in 3 colors. So that messed up with the order of the pages, and as there are some mini-comics that go on on several pages, this was especially problematic…

This plus the fact that recto-verso is a bitch when you assemble 4 individual images per page (8 per sheet, recto-verso), this plus the 3 colors problem…

One of the 3 colors pages with the layers.

Oh, and my dumb-ass also thought that the pages would be constructed with the A3 pages cut in half in 2 horizontal A4 pages, each containing 2 A5 illustrations. So I thought that each horizontal A4 page would have to be folded in 2 to be assembled (think standard monthly comic page construction).

A4 pages folded in half and stapled in my first DIY test version.

So by the powers of all this combined, I made a looooooot of mistakes, I re-did everything a lot of times, and then I ended up redoing the same mistakes again, and redoing everything… I navigated the perilous waters of stupidity and insanity for a long period… In the end I had to make small mock-ups versions of the book in order to be sure I wasn’t doing any errors…

My mini mock ups versions, so are 4cm tall at max, you can see the colors information on the bottom, to help with the 3 colors pages construction.

Solution: once again… Communicate with the printer. Because of the number of pages (48), the printer informed me that this project couldn’t be constructed by just folding horizontal A4 pages folded in half. Each page would have to be individually cut and glued back… This means I spent a lot of time trying to figure something out… That didn’t needed to be figured out in the first place!

Should I have known this beforehand it would have saved me a lot of time and sanity…

I also highly recommend to make black & white cheap mock-up versions of the final product just to see how the pages will work together!

Make a folder with all the individual pages (if your book doesn’t have page numbers like mine, put the image on one layer, and one another layer the page number) and work from here as early as possible a small mock-up version.

Then, once you’ll receive the printer templates, you’ll be able to reconstruct the book from here. And then only work on the final versions!

This will save you a looooot of time, I guarantee it.

So, in conclusion:

-PLAN AHEAD all the boring technical details before jumping of the “fun” part!

TALK TO THE PRINTER as early as possible! Retrieve his technical specifications, his templates, ask him questions along the way! He can direct you to a lot of resources and information!

MAKE DIY MOCK-UP VERSIONS OF THE FINISHED PRODUCT! It will not only help with the book construction, but also for the motivation!
Working on something like this takes a lot of time, and you can sometimes lose the motivation. Having a mock-up version available you can go back to really does wonders! Flip through it, feel it, imagine the final book, it really helps staying focused.

Some more random advice:

-If you plan on doing full bleed illustrations, really extend the illustration way beyond the intended margin! You’ll thank me later.

-When sketching and drawing the individual comic panels, make a sketch mock-up including the word balloons with the text in it! Sometimes I draw a cool picture, and later struggle to insert the text because I didn’t planned where I would fit it exactly before.

-Check out Ed Piskor‘s and Jim Rugg‘s CARTOONIST KAYFABE Youtube Channel, it is a golden mine of technical advices, every illustrator/cartoonist should watch those religiously!

Cartoonist Kayfabe Youtube Channel

Well that’s it! Hope it helps someone to make less mistakes than I did!

How to create your own font with GIMP and GLYPHR STUDIO ONLINE

One my weak points has always been the lettering, I mean sometimes in my everyday life I can’t even read back what I wrote…

As I’m currently making comics and that I don’t want to use a preexisting font, I decided to create my own, based on my handwriting.

Sure there are already some websites that propose something like that, but I found those not to be very practical : the number of characters is limited, or you got to pay to download your font, or you got to print a page, than scan it…

Anyway, thanks to a friend I found a very easy way to create a font using GIMP and the free version of GLYPHR STUDIO ONLINE:

1 – Preparing the letters and symbols in Gimp:

First I drew all the letters and symbols I needed and scanned them in Gimp using a grayscale 600 dpi resolution:

I then played with the Levels in the Colors Menu in order to clean a bit the image:

Using the Crop To Selection function in the Image Menu, I then selected the first letter:

This is were you can work a bit on the letter with the Pencil Tool in order to fill the little white parts, you can work on the contour or rotate it if needed (you can also work on the letters later in the Glyphr Studio, but I felt more comfortable doing it here at this stage):

By the way, you don’t have to worry about the size of the canvas or anything.

Using the Select By Color in the Select Menu, I then click on a black part of the letter so that the shape of the letter becomes the selection:

Then in the Path Section:

I click on Selection to path:

Here is the result:

Then I right click on the “A” and choose Export Path:

Here GIMP will export the shape as .svg file, but doing so the file created lacks the “.svg” sufix… It’s weird and I don’t know why… So you end up with something like this:

In order to solve this you just have to rename the file manually and add the .svg suffix:

And then you redo all of this for each of the letters and symbols and you end up with something like this:

2 – Creating the font with Glyphr Studio Online:

Now, we head up to the Glyphr Studio Online:

Here we click on New, write the name of the font, and click on Start a new font from scratch:

We arrive here:

We click ont the “9” in the top left corner, which is the Navigate Menu:

We then choose Import SVG:

Here on the left part of the screen you click on the letter you want to import, and then you drag and drop your corresponding .svg file on the part in the right and click on the blue button Import SVG just below:

You can then adjust the size of the letter, modify it if needed (I’ll let you play with that). You then repeat this for all the other letters and symbols, one by one, and you end up with this:

Once you have uploaded all your letters and symbols, you can save the file so that you can re-upload it later and work on it if needed, the file will be a .txt format:

At any point you can head-up to the Navigate Menu and click on the Test Drive Section:

Here you can test your font:

All is left is to export and download your font in the .otf format in the Navigate Menu:

In order to install the font you just created, you copy the .otf file you just downloaded in the WINDOWS/FONTS directory:

This is just scratching the surface, there are a lot more options, but this will allow you to create your first font pretty easily.

This font is being used in my 2 current (may of 2020) projects:

First, the risograph collection of my best BJJ themed illustrations and comics:

And also, my current ongoing quarantime comic, The Crucial Corona Chronicles:

You can read it here (click on the image):

CMY color decomposition for printing with GIMP

I am currently (may of 2020) in the process of self publishing the collection of my best BJJ themed illustrations and comics:

This project is going to be printed in risograph colors, so I needed to convert some of my illustrations in 3 different layers for the 3 colors: Yellow, Magenta and Cyan for the printer.

Note : I didn’t use a Black layer (the K in CMYK) for this.

Searching online I found that the CMY decompose function in Gimp doesn’t seem to work correctly, so I had to come up with a really simple trick in order to achieve the results I wanted.

Here’s the acrylic painting that is being used for this project, it’s a take on the iconic LOBO’s Back! comic cover (click here to see the original) with a BJJ twist:

So, in order to prepare the image for risograph printing, I’m going to use the Decompose function in the Colors Menu >> Components >> Decompose:

Next, I am going to choose RGB and Decompose to layers :

The result is a new image with 3 layers:

Here are the 3 layers put side to side just so you can see the result (in reality they are on top of each other):

GIMP has given those layers the RGB colors automatically:

The one on the left has been called RED
The one in the middle is called GREEN
The one to the right is called BLUE

Now, to understand how the color printing works, the darker the area, the more color will be applied, and then by superposition the initial colors will appear in the printing, but… As you can see, if we use those layers like that it doesn’t work: the painting’s background is orange, so there should be a lot or yellow and some red, but here it’s the blue layer that is the darker one…

The trick is to simply rename the layers like this:

The BLUE layer will be used for the YELLOW ink
The GREEN layer will be used for the MAGENTA ink
The RED layer will be used for the CYAN ink

I just sent those layers to the risograph printer for the test prints of my projects, and here is the result:

The colors aren’t exactly the same because : 1 – it’s risograph, and 2 – I just used standard Yellow, Red and Blue inks instead of searching for Magenta and Cyan ones, I suppose if I did so the result would be better. But here you go, easy CMY color decomposition using the RGB function and simply renaming the layers.