CSP Featured Artist: Emma Vieceli
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How did you become an artist?
I love telling stories and I always have. I used to draw characters or write stories all the time as a child. They will have been awful, I'm sure, but I loved it! Oddly, despite reading comics from an early age, I didn't think to put the two together and actually try drawing my own stories into comics until university! When I met a group of friends who formed the comic circle (and later publisher) Sweatdrop, here in the UK, it all clicked into place and I started making my first independent comic; Dragon Heir. Once I started, I really got the bug for it, but I certainly never imagined it becoming a full time job as it has...that wouldn't happen until 2017, when I embarked on my first contracted graphic novel; Manga Shakespeare: Hamlet. From then on I've tried to tell stories across a wide range of genres and demographics. Sometimes I draw, sometimes I write...and sometimes I get to do both. ^_^
I think we're always learning and evolving, and I certainly hope I never lose that part of me that wants to get better. I feel incredibly lucky to have the job I have. Spies, superheroes, vampires, lovers, dragons...I get to tell so many stories through this wonderful visual medium and it's a privilege.
Where do you get inspiration?
Inspiration is literally everywhere we look. It's just knowing how to translate it that gets hard, I think. In terms of more specific comic inspiration: I can't not mention Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma 1/2. While I'd been deep into comics before I found her work, it was Ranma that first switched me from wanting to read comics to thinking 'maybe I want to try drawing one'. Japanese creators like Takahashi and Clamp showed me what could be done with ink and a page in a way I'd not seen before, and it changed my view entirely on what comic storytelling could be. Before Ranma I was reading a lot of Bonnelli's Dylan Dog, Marvel's X-Men, Asterix...even Garfield and Orson's Farm. Style and origin didn't matter to me so much. If I cared about the characters, I'd read it. So I think my own style turned out as a fun blend.
These days I find that video games inspire me massively too, especially when it comes to character design. And of course fellow creatives' output is hugely inspiring. We're lucky to now be surrounded by the kind of visual feasts that were surprisingly hard (or expensive) to find when I was growing up. We're bombarded by inspiration every day...it's almost more of a challenge not to become blase about it, I think!
What’s your hardware setup?
I use a Wacom Cintiq Pro 24. And Clip Studio Paint, of course. I've been a loyal Wacom and CSP user since I first tried digital art back in 2016. Back then Clip Studio was going by the name Manga Studio, of course, but I've stayed with it through iterations and evolutions, and preached to so many friends and peers about how wonderful a tool it is. I always use the Clip Studio TABMATE - which I find a huge help.
What do you like best about Clip Studio Paint?
It's hard to pick out my favourite elements, but if I had to choose a few....
I'm an old-fashioned sort. What I do on the screen will always be a digital version of what I'd do on paper. Clip Studio allows me to take analogue techniques and emulate them...but in a much more efficient way than using paper and ink. With that in mind, a perfect example of this is the Perspective Ruler tool. It's just genius. By placing vanishing points, CSP fills out the grid so that I can only draw in that perspective ruler on a given layer. This is so much faster than manually drawing out an entire grid to work in. It saves huge amounts of time.
I'd also say that I'm a huge stationary nerd. And CSP is a virtual stationary haven! So many different nibs, tones, brushes....all available to download so easily. It's always evolving, and there's always something new to try. That makes it very exciting!
Lastly - the close gap tool. Especially when using it with screen tone. I simply couldn't cope without it now. Utterly spoilt by it ^_^
How long does it take you to make a single illustration?
A very tricky question for me, as I rarely do stand alone illustrations. When I do, I'd say maybe anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, If I do venture into colours (when I'm working on comics I focus on pencils and inks and work with colourists) they tend to largely be cell-shade+, not fully painted images...so they're a little faster than some styles might be.
For a standard comic page, I can generally do layouts in one to two hours, and inks in about six to eight. Though, if it's a particularly complicated page it can take a couple of days. Comic pages are incredibly varied in how much detail they may contain and how tricky they may be, so there's no clear answer. Often it comes down to deadline more...I make the work fit the deadline, even if that means cutting a few corners. Completing on time is the most important thing in my job.
How has Clip Studio Paint improved your workflow?
Drastically! Once upon a time I would maybe ink a little faster on paper, I'll be honest. Without my finger on the 'delete' button, I could let more slide when drawing a page, for instance. When I'm drawing digitally, the tendency is more to keep trying lines until I'm happy, so that element is a bit slower. However I then used to have to erase pencils, scan in pages, clean them up and then maybe start digitally toning/shading on other software before I could export files for publishers. CSP means my overall process is SO much faster. No cleanup needed, no scanning. I can drop in tones, highlight areas and throw effect at them, put my own text bubbles onto pages to act as a guideline for my letterers. The overall workflow is so much cleaner and faster.
Would you like to promote some recent projects?
My biggest work recently was writing the Life is Strange comic series for titan comics. We just came to the end of the series after a three-year run, which was very special to me. I am also just about to finish uploading BREAKS, a long-running web series that I co-write with Malin Ryden and then translate into comics entirely on Clip Studio Paint (pencils, inks, tones, lettering). It's a story that's been with us and the readers for so long, so finishing it now is a real mixed bag of emotions! It's been going for about nine years, so there's a lot of it to read if you want to catch up. ^_^
Where can we follow your work?
You can find me at emmavieceli.com - and there should be links there to my various online homes. The usual array of Twitter/Facebook/Instagram (all as Emmavieceli) and more recently Mastodon too! https://mastodon.art/@Emmavieceli
*** Emma is doing a #Giveaway with us! Reach her post on Instagram, follow her, @graphixly and leave a comment. Winners of Clip Studio Paint Pro will be announced on December 6, good luck! ***