l Devil's Cake Store
l Watch Me
Q and A with Angi Mauri: A Rising Star in the Comic World.
By Katherine Touff
For aspiring artists, especially those who don't have the money or opportunity to receive formal training, the advice of working artist can be invaluable. Mauri sat down with me to share some tricks of her trade as well as a sneak peak into her successful web comic, Devils Cake, which she has been posting online for the past 2 years at [link]
TOUFF: What are some of the most common questions you get asked by aspiring artists?
MAURI: What tools I use. What's funny it seems they think the tools you use are what make an artist 'good' but this seems untrue. Tools don't matter, technique seems to be the key.
TOUFF: So it doesn't matter what type of pencil you use.
MAURI: Yep. It's how you use it. Artists will have to find the tools that work best for them depending on how they like to do their work. For example I like to use these micron pens that have this sort of felt tip and the ink is just fed into them where-as my friend prefers to use a quill pen that you dip in ink, she loves those and another friend uses a brush.
TOUFF: So you're suggesting they experiment?
MAURI: Yes. Find something that suites your artwork.
TOUFF: Any other common questions?
MAURI: It's mostly just about the tools but many will ask me what computer programs I use for my comic when I do the tones, the black and white. Manga Studio is what I use for that. It's kind of a new program and it's really handy.
TOUFF: Any other computer programs you recommend they use?
TOUFF: I hear that's a pretty hard program.
MAURI: I just played around with it in high school and got one of those Photoshop-Wow books and I was pretty well off for that, even before taking official classes in college.
TOUFF: How did you become interested in comic books and graphic novels?
MAURI: I got into comic books through my first boyfriend in grade school because he liked them and I would check out his collection. And I said "wow, the artwork is really amazing and the stories are really interesting".
TOUFF: So is that when you became interested in art?
MAURI: yeah, well I've been drawing since I was little and I knew I wanted to be an artist, I just couldn't figure out what kind I wanted to be.
TOUFF: I see that Anime has been a huge influence on your work. What other styles or periods of art interest you?
MAURI: I like classic comic book styles and Art Nouveau like Alfonse Mucha. I love Leonardo De Vinci too, and a current artist that I am interested in is Amano. Amano has been the main concept artist for Square Enix, which does the Final Fantasy video games, since he was 15! He's become a pretty famous illustrator now and artist too.
TOUFF: What is your favorite graphic novel?
MAURI: I guess I'd have to say Blade of the Immortal. I've been collecting it longest and like it no matter what.
TOUFF: Tell me about Devil's Cake? What inspired you to write this story?
MAURI: Devils Cake is one of my stories that I have now turned into a web comic and I post new pages twice a week. The story came into being when I was having a conversation with a friend about why we couldn't get boyfriends and just on the spur of the moment I said maybe there's a person behind it.
TOUFF: Introduce us to the characters a bit.
MAURI: The main character Kea is a bookworm. She's very studious and works hard to make her family proud. So she strives for that and that is her flaw, she works too hard. The story starts off with her, she just wants to have a relationship and just can't seem to get it to work.
TOUFF: Tell us about Zoshi without giving too much away?
MAURI: Zoshi is from paranormal roots and has the ability to torture these boys who try to be suitors for Kea, he sort of chases them away. So, Kea is baffled by these boys who leave her or never talk to her again or she never sees them again. He can manipulate dreams, he can create illusions, he can disappear at will, and he also has amazing martial art skills and hiding skills.
TOUFF: Zoshi sounds like a particularly tricky and troublesome character. Is he based on someone you know?
MAURI: I drew from myself for Zoshi, from my mischievous nature. He does things I wish I could do but don't for obvious reasons and because, well, I'm a nice person.
TOUFF: Are any of the other characters based on people you know?
MAURI: Kea is based on a friend of mine with overtones of what we were when we were young and more conservative. Making fun of that basically
TOUFF: What other projects are you working on?
MAURI: I've been doing a lot of freelance work. Which involves doing art projects for clients.
TOUFF: Take me step by step through making a comic.
MAURI: For the comic there is an overall outline for the story arch but when I'm beginning a new chapter I have to do a general outline of how the story is going to play out in that chapter.
Then the outline goes into thumbnail form where I do a rough layout of what the pages are going to look like, thumbnails are a way of roughing out an idea before you actually get into the full finished piece of the work. It especially helps when you're working with a client, then they can say "oh, maybe a little more like this or like that" it's a quick easy way of visualizing the idea.
After thumbnails it goes to pencils, you do the final artwork. Then you move on to the inks. What I like to do is the pencils on one side of bristol board then I flip it on a light table and then do the inks. This way I can catch any mistakes or strange parts in the proportions so the artwork is more appealing and clean and nice.
Finally, I'll scan the inks into Manga Studio and flip the image. I have premade proportions for the size of the page. Then I do the tones and the frames of the panels and text and finish it up so it's a digital file that I can print or post on the Internet or whatever.
TOUFF: Do you color your images?
MAURI: For official artwork, yes. When coloring I prefer to use Photoshop, Sai, Open Canvas, or Painter. It's mostly digital what I do, but I try really hard to make it look traditional, which means 'by hand'.
TOUFF: Why do you prefer digital coloring?
MAURI: It's cleaner and more mobile and less expensive. Once you spend the money on the software and a Wacom tablet you are pretty well off because the tablets last forever it is far cheaper. The Wacom tablets are the most wonderful investment you could ever make. They live forever.
TOUFF: Has putting your comic on the web improved the types of commissions you get?
MAURI: Yes it has improved my visibility on the market and kids will come by and want me to do commissions of their characters so there is a good pool for commission work.
TOUFF: Do you practice every day?
MAURI: Yes I try to practice every day. I heard once from a musician that if he didn't practice every day he could feel that he wasn't as sharp as he could have been so I try to practice every day. I keep on top of things by critiquing with friends. We swap art back and forth and tell each other what's wrong with it and also, I'm planning on joining the Art Student's League to keep my skills sharp.
TOUFF: Is there any other advice you have for aspiring artists?
MAURI: Don't be afraid to change and don't be afraid to fix things in your work. Don't be too proud to be able to take a critique. Critique and fixing flaws in the image from that is the fastest way to improve.
CSS made by `TwiggyTeeluck
Background image by *AF-studios
Brushes by ~SummerAIR