How did you become an artist?
I have a story for this one, bear with me- One of my earliest memories from childhood was watching The Land Before Time with my dad, and thinking that the animated characters were all actors in suits. I remember asking my dad “Do the people in the dinosaur costumes ever have to go to the bathroom?”, and after laughing for a bit he explained that no, the characters weren’t actors, they were drawings. It BLEW MY LITTLE MIND. “How the heck do they get drawings to MOVE?!” I asked. This led to me becoming obsessed with cartoons- not just watching them, but wanting to make them myself. My very first attempts at animation were made with Neopets sprites that I moved around in Powerpoint to tell little stories. I made music video animatics by drawing on notebook paper, scanning in each frame, and timing them to music in Windows Movie Maker. Eventually my dad sat me down in front of Photoshop and said “go”, and I basically taught myself how to use the entire program by pressing buttons until it did what I wanted.
I got my start in comics by drawing comic strips about my friends and I. Whenever something funny happened, I’d make it into a comic- and I was always passing around my sketchbook at lunch, telling people “Oh man you’re never gonna believe what so-and-so said- It was hilarious! Here, look at the comic I drew about it!” Eventually my love of manga and anime made me want to branch out into doing longer stories, and I started coming up with original characters and daydreaming about the kinds of stories I could tell with them.
I got my undergrad in animation from Savannah College of Art and Design. I always loved animated movies and wanted to do story work in film or TV, but got to take a few classes in SCAD’s sequential art department while working on my storyboarding minor. As much as I loved animation, I was always drawn to making comics, and my friends joked that I drew more comics than the actual comics students! I started my first webcomic around the time I started at SCAD, and ran it for about 3 years before shelving it. After I graduated, I kept making comics in my free time, and started my current project, Castoff, about a year after I graduated. The comic’s been running for 6 years now, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!
Where do you get inspiration?
I get inspiration from all sorts of places! Animation and video games are two of my biggest go-tos. Zelda games and JRPGs made me fall in love with fantasy at an early age. I watched a ton of anime in middle and high school, and my favorite shows from back then influence my art and writing to this day (Fullmetal Alchemist being one of my top favorites). The World Ends with You was one of my biggest art inspirations in high school, making me fall in love with bold lineart and interesting shapes in character design.
Ironically, as much as I love making comics, I don’t actually read that many- with the exception of webcomics! There’s a treasure trove of indie comic artists out there, making gorgeous art and amazing narratives just for the love of creating, and the diversity of stories and characters and worlds is really remarkable. I love reading other comics and thinking “That looks amazing- how can I do that in my own art?” and learning and growing as an artist because of it.
What’s your hardware setup?
My current computer is a Surface Book 2 laptop with a dock that lets me hook up external monitors and devices. I have an older model Cintiq monitor that I use for almost all of my comic and illustration work- as well as an iPad Pro I use for sketching when I’m on the go or don’t feel like being at my desk.
What do you like best about Clip Studio Paint?
More than anything, I love how much time it saves me. I have a really short attention span- most of the time, if I can’t finish a drawing in one sitting, it will go unfinished forever. By the time I’m halfway done with a piece I’m already itching to draw something new. So the nice thing about CSP is that it really lets me rev up my drawing speed! I always get excited when I figure out a new tool or shortcut and can think to myself “Yes… this will save me so many hours. Yes!!!”
To give a few examples- I’m constantly experimenting and making custom brushes for my comics. Why draw 1000 books in a dense library background when you could draw a few book shapes and make a custom brush that will draw them for you? Also, coloring got way faster once I switched to CSP- when I did comics in Photoshop, coloring was a nightmare, because their tools just… weren’t suited for comics. I used to have to make a selection, expand the selection, and fill. Repeat for every single color in your picture. Now I can just use the fill bucket and it goes SO much faster.
How long does it take you to make a single illustration?
I feel like everyone answers this question the same way but it really does depend on complexity, haha! Simple character illustrations can be as quick as an hour or less, meanwhile more detailed and complex illustrations can take me 12+ hours to finish. My average for comic pages is about 6-8 hours per page, depending on the amount of detail. Since I have to crank out pages pretty quickly, lots of CSP’s features have really helped to streamline my process and shave hours off my work time. I’m eternally grateful for that!!
Would you consider Clip Studio Paint an industry tool?
For illustration and comics, absolutely! At this point using any other software feels like a struggle. It was the first program I used that really felt like it was MEANT for comics, rather than just being an art program that can be used for comics. Does that make sense? Like I said, I used to use Photoshop for everything, and I really had to bend over backwards to do things like panel borders. Whereas in CSP it’s an easy function that’s just built right in. It’s so much easier and streamlined! I never want to use anything else, honestly.
Would you like to promote some recent project?
Absolutely! My webcomic Castoff is free to read and updates 2x/week on https://castoff-comic.com/
You can buy prints of my work, as well as stickers, keychains, etc. on my online shop! https://thestarfishface.com/
And I stream art on Twitch every Wednesday at 5pm CST! https://twitch.tv/thestarfishface
Where can we follow your work?
I’m @TheStarfishface pretty much everywhere!
*** Star is doing a #Giveaway with us! Reach her post on Instagram, follow her, follow @graphixly and leave a comment. Winners of Clip Studio Paint Pro will be announced on May 24, good luck! ***