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Window Shopping

On the outside looking in. Essentially a "No.. YOU do it" conversation. Although you can sub in your own dialogue if you'd like. My vote is Ellie stating "But he'll smell me."

More fan art. This time from Matt. Not only the finished version, but I got the process as well. Somehow he's able to accomplish this is three steps. Wish I could.

ellie-upload-sketch ellie-upload-penned ellie-upload


My process, for this particular comic, was as follows:

01 230 Sketch Now, as an artist, and like ANY artist, I don't like showing people my mistakes. The end product should speak for itself. But as ANY normal person, I can see the entertainment value of the creative process. I like seeing other artist are like me, and jack up their own drawings a regular basis. I can still draw my characters out of proportion, or their heads too large, and so on. Just like anyone. This comic wasn't that much of a nightmare, but it was still an arduous process for all the little details. But that, to me, is what breathes all the life into it. These are the four panels for the strip I snapped a pic of with my smart phone, unaltered. They're very raw and not what the end result would be. It's just enough to get me on the computer to finish it. In panel one, Ellie didn't need the rest of her body drawn since I could draw the curve of her waist digitally, and it would by symmetrical, thus copied and flipped horizontally. I decided Quinn's stance would be the same for panel 2, so there was no need to redraw it. Easy to deduce I drew panel 2 before panel one. I do this often. Ellie's neck is very elongated in panel 2 as well. Since 80-90%% of the comic is done digitally, I redraw the characters less and less, reserving all tweaking for Photoshop, (as you'll see in the next image.) As long as her face and body look fine, there's no point in erasing either just to redraw them closer together for the sake of a sketch. Ellie's slightly too large in panel 3, so she'll need to be shrunk'd. I wasn't satisfied with Quinn's expression in the final panel, so I redrew it. The flapping hands will also need some work, as well as giving a bit more space between each girl. When drawing, since I don't traditionally draw out the panels in sequence on one large sheet of paper, it can be hard to gauge how much will fit on one tier. You'll see all this corrected below.

02 230 Panels

I've gotten in the habit of doing the dialogue while also setting the panels (in this case it was more business stenciling.) Doing this at the end of the process (which I used to) can leave me painted in a corner and covering up art I'd rather not with word balloons. It's better to know what you're sacrificing before hand, than spend time drawing and coloring background characters or props, only to slap a bunch of text right over it. Here, any breaks created with spacing will be easily mended since I'm drawing all the official line work right over it.

03 230 Lines Ellie looked at bit too much like she was fanning herself in Panel 4 with her left hand, so this was reworked. Without this being, say, animated, it can be a tricky action to pull off and have the reader interpret it correctly. Ellie: "Oh I'm getting the VAPORS."

04 230 Color

Ok, flat colors are set and we're good to start finalizing. Another thing that once was last, but now first, is the backgrounds. In this instance I have the luxury of reusing the same background for each panel. I can see what areas need to be clear, and what areas of this background image wont matter, and can typically look like they're filled with junk. I'm also adding some DVD's for the foreground (so not EVERYTHING is seen behind glass.) 05 230 Shoe store The backgrounds usually go through a tremendous amount of layers. Gradients, shading, blurs, and glows. This also includes textures I have such as 'rust' 'wood grain' 'granite' and so on. The floor and walls in this image have a very faint layer of rust and granite on top of them (set at 7% opacity I think.) It gives them a little meat, and separation from the smoother coloring of the characters themselves. 06 230 Window Those will make up the forground layers that will be repeated for each panel to give it some depth, and the idea the action is in the foreground, and these two are stuck 'looking on.'

07 230 Layers Set

Here, the only thing left is to color the inner-lines and shade the girls (and word bubbles, but those are more or less absent this time.) 08 230 Shading Another thing that has changed in the last 6 months or so involves the shading. Instead of just dropping a selected area's brightness 20 points, I now use a 7% black-to-opaque gradient. While using black instead of the original color washes it out slightly, it does allow for a more fluid transition into shadow than a sharp divide like before.

09 230 Lettering and Motion Lines

A few motion lines and expletives later, we've got our finished product. I've read in the comments some of you stating you do "archive crawls" and so on. I have no idea how you do that. I can't physically look at a comic I made over a month ago without getting nauseous. I certainly take pride in my art, and I'm proud of each post I make, but true confession time: I can't stand how my old art looks. And old is like... 15+ posts ago. All I see are the flaws. This comic we just walked through..? I love it! I absolutely do. But give me another month, 2 months... I'll hate it. But don't take that as bizarre or self loathing. It's not intended to be. It's the flip side of art evolution (which is a VERY jarring thing when it's your own.) I did one for Alex before, which had some slight changes in appearance. But Ellie... wow. She has dramatically changed. And I'm saying this as someone who hasn't read comics 1-50 in 4 years. And 51-200 since they've been posted. I just recently went through all of them 2 weeks ago. No lie. I couldn't believe how different they look. How BAD they look. That doesn't mean they're BAD in general. They're BAD by today's standards. Now THAT, you can take as bizarre if you'd like. I don't read my old strips. The only time, and I mean ONLY time I dare glance at something I did in the past is to make them a collection of strips on Deviant Art, or to sample the colors of a character I haven't used in a while.

176 thoughts on “Window Shopping

  1. I picture them finishing their slap fight, looking up and seeing Egan staring back at them and narrating what he sees to the other guy. Now that would be embarrassing..

      1. Yes, all young men (and possibly some of the ladies?) in the nearby vicinity are currently applauding and cheering at the spectacle.

        1. She’ll just blackmail Blind Guy with telling Ellie his identity to get him to have sex in the teacher’s lounge.

        2. Lol. I saw your picture, read ‘Cheryl’ and thought ‘maybe she’ll say something in character’ and you did not disappoint.

  2. I thought Ellie would know a bit of the ol’ kung fuey :-( but apparently not, so did she survive all her sisters fights?

    1. Yea, I was expecting more from Ellie than slap fighting. Though a full on hair cutting and drywalled fight might be a bit much in a public setting.

    2. I don’t think this is something Ellie views as a fight, just argument that happens to include hands and the possibility of an easily covered bruise or two.

        1. Upper and Lower Wacker Dr. are Chicago landmarks that have been made famous by appearing in such films as The Blues Brothers and the Dark Knight. I think Mr. Blue was doing a shout out at Dark Knight though I have seen plenty of individual with bad/odd hair color on Wacker so perhaps it’s personal experience he’s talking about. The architecture and design of the Wacker Drives are neat but in reality I prefer not to drive there, not least of which is due to the extreme density of steel and concrete usually makes getting a cell or satellite signal nigh impossible. If you do get a signal for your GPS prepare to be confused, GPS units are not spatially adept and it will alternate placing you on upper or lower randomly which can lead to hilarity when actually trying to use it to get somewhere.

        2. Mr. Blue was indeed referencing both “The Blues Brothers” and “The Dark Knight.” I don’t think that “The Dark Knight” referenced the street as Wacker Drive at all. But, I am wondering if the burning fire truck was on the same street as the cop car that got jumped by the Bluesmobile.

  3. Very nice, reminds me of the old silent movies, more fun when you make up your own dialog lol

    I will also admit to being a dork and looking at the image through a mirror just to figure out the name of the store lol Anyone else do that or just me?

    1. Don’t think you’ll get the store name from that, sadly, unless someone is so very unoriginal as to actually name a business “Home Theater and Audio Solutions.” It would be like going to a grocery store named “Food.”

        1. A restaurant called “Good Food” would be awesome. Much better than bad food.

          If it were heavy metal themed it would be “gud fud” with umlauts. I would totally eat at Güd Füd.” Though to keep people from confusing it with a certain rabbit hunter it may be more marketable to call it “Goöd Foöd.”

          Typical reviews would consist of, “not bad for a two umluat restaurant.”

        2. Actually, that’s the name of a Mexican family owned restaurant. They make damn near everything from scratch man. Tortillas, salsa, guacamole, tamales, etc. They have pepsi products on fountain, sugar coke in the fridge and beer on tap. I’d also have to say that they didn’t make the pepper or salt in the shakers.

        3. Sometimes, but sometimes it backfires. Near where I grew up a restaurant went out of business and some new people bought it and named it “I don’t know” which amused me, but I never ended up around that area when I was going to eat and it went out of business before I tried it.

          I would also totally intend to go to either a grocery store or a restaurant named “Food”. However, if I made it before it went out of business, is another story.

          There is a supermarket chain named “Acme” in northeast Ohio, and I deliberately got one of their loyalty cards and still carry it out of love of Looney Tunes.

        4. Are they still there, because now, I want to drive on Lower Wacker, visit the Picasso, and get an Acme loyalty card.

          As well as visit family and stuff like that.

        5. I was in one of them a couple of months ago and they looked to be doing fine. Akron, OH is where I found them. Website is acmestores.com , but Googling for that showed an acmemarkets.com as well with stores in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersy, & Pennsylvania (if one of those are closer for you). May be others too.

        6. I may have been conceived of and born in New Jersey, but I live in the flyover states now, next to the one that the CDC is considering launching a superbug epidemic.

        7. If that’s not the first shirt you sell from the SS Store, I will not follow up in any way whatsoever!

        8. A “Food inside” shirt would fit with a Thanksgiving Anise, but would “Pills inside” get a picture of Juniper or just a close-up of Cinn’s dead-eyed stare?

        1. If I did, it’s probably because I misread it and went looking for a non luchadore midget who is extraordinarily bad at golf, fishing and ever other normal height sport.

  4. Sub in my own dialogue??? You betcha!

    Ellie: “I see you, Solid Snake! And with no cardboard box to protect you!”

    Quinn: “Hey, I’m just auditioning for a guest shot on ‘Beetle Bailey.’ Do I have the dialogue down?”

    Tag (off camera): “Mom, why do I keep hearing my name as if slapped out over a great distance?”

  5. Yay it’s up :DDDD. Chris, if you can afford it, an old version of Adobe Illustrator could serve to speed up your workflow. I used the Pen tool in the line-drawing of Ellie and I could go on forever about how awesome the Pen tool is lol. Just my two cents.

    Anyways, regarding the comic, I’m half-expecting Eagan and Steven to turn around and notice Quinn and Ellie slapfighting. That would be hilarious XD.

  6. Panel three weirds me out. It’s like Quinn slapped the humanity out of Ellie’s eyes.

    In other news I can’t decide if my next avvy should be Ellie from panel three or four. Decisions decisions…

    1. I don’t know, I feel like in panel 3, Ellie’s eyes seem to say, “Bitch how dare you!?”, which seems like a fair response considering Quinn’s whole bomb-skull-lightning comment which was totally uncalled for by the way because how could she bring that up at a time like this?

        1. See, I was expecting unicode character U+1F4A9 ( or 💩 if WordPress interprets it and your font has the character).

        2. Then you don’t have a font installed to display the Unicode “Pile of Poo” character. Google can show you some reference examples.

  7. Although it makes me skeevy–

    The music from Sir Mix a Lots- Put em on the Glass popped through my head when I read this strip.

      1. Oh I’ve been lurking – just reading the comic, been too busy with work and the holidays and my own projects and blah blah blah to post any comments lately.

  8. …and there’s that O’ logo again. This must be one serious conglomeration. The O’Pad, O’Jack’s, and now whatever this O’ item is….

    1. Nah. But I will say, it wouldn’t be just a coincidence Blind Guy is there fighting the Black Friday mob just for headphones. This was probably something Pumpkin discussed in class.

        1. Is it stalking if the shy guy just happens to notice that the girl shows up somewhere, twice a month at 3:15 p.m. with enough laundry to fill two top loading machines that cost $1.75 each, and uses one dryer and six quarters? And then he pours two liters of cola on his clothes at 2:55 p.m. and gets to the place at 3:10, and uses the machines opposite the two that she uses?

          However, as fate would have it, she got married the day before, and is not honeymooning on the Seine, eating chocolate baguettes and getting ready to visit the Louvre in two days.

      1. Man, he must be getting desperate for running into Ellie now that O’Jacks is shut down and he doesn’t have anyplace to find her. Betting on running into someone in a mall Black Friday shopping is quite the long shot.

  9. Awesome art Matt! Fat cat is huuuuuugggeee ha ha ha. Love it

    Also, if I saw a bunch of hashtags floating around me I’d start slapping too, HA!
    Personally I think ellie could do it, he’s blind, even if he did smell her she can just run. Also “Ellie, I can smell you, I know you’re there.” Is, by all accounts, hilarious.

        1. #ohnoyoudidnt, #dontmakemegetscissors, #drywalld, #bloodynose, #marshmallowhell, #seekingnewroomate

  10. Chris, good use of ironic symbols. Using the pound sign for a slap fight, when the Franc should have been slipped in because of it’s origin with the Keystone Kops era. That or Krazy Katt.

    1. Nah, she’s behind a window where it’s loud outside and hiding from a blind guy, where she put her roommate in front of the window while she’s hiding from a guy who can see. Keeping the fight at low levels enough to be visually obvious without being audibly obvious over the background noise is a good move.

      1. I am going to laugh so hard, I may need to change my undies if a video camera is set up to take pictures of the store window that feeds to a giant wall of video monitors for patrons to evaluate their personal purchases.

        Bonus points, if the slap fight ends up on the video screens in the store across the way in the background.

      1. You have smaller boobies. Smaller targets are harder to hit. But you both are terrible at aiming. The blind guy could have hit them by now.

        1. Yeah, I get moments of filter lack. Usually watching people fight. I tend to make tactical comments that almost never gets heeded. And is usually fairly rude. I apologize … wait… What’s aunt Ellie’s friends name? Quinn, right? Yeah, sorry.

        2. Bwahahaha!

          Andy, I don’t care what anyone else says, that was funny. I’ll pick you up something extra for your stocking. You might want to avoid Lavendar for a bit though. And whoever Not Mine is. And your mom. Maybe your dad too. Possibly your grandparents. S’funny tho’

  11. Ah, isn’t that always the way? Every artist is his own greatest critic, and the last thing they do is usually the best. I know I have a tough time reading my old stuff.

  12. Well, it’s nice to see that their fights have become more…. civilized? Yeah, we’ll go with that.

    Also, Rusche, there needs to be a log-in on the main page so I don’t have to keep going into the forums to do it. Unless there is and I’m as blind as the guy in the last comic…

        1. It’s good to know you’re on top of things! I hope the break was good to you, all things considered.

        2. If by log in you mean insert your email/username infor for your gravvy you should be able to do so whenever you hit reply to a comment. As long as you don’t clear your cookies afterward it remembers your info. At least it does for me.

        3. I have my cookies off, but my browser does remember fields well enough, so what happens to me is the first time I comment it’s blank but I can click the field and choose from dropdown and then the session remembers it.

          I might have session cookies on for this site, I don’t recall because that’s site-by-site for me and nothing gets more than session.

        4. Well, if you were to log into the forum first, you should be able to drop down to the comments section to use the same info without having to fill in the form lines above the comments (name, email, website url, pizza toppings) and then the comment box. It’d be done for you in 30 seconds or less.

          I’m glad that the girls are Christmas shopping by the way, Mr. Blue doesn’t have to find the appropriate configuration of preambled juxtaposed letters to find the avatar to go with the emotion and response, along with the weblink to the page that said icon comes from.

        5. Banena, I think your and my Gravatars are glaring at each other… how fitting, don’t you think?

        6. *Bows low* Much obliged madame, for indulging this one’s humble- if a bit pretentious because he didn’t want to waste a whole ‘fifteen seconds’ to log in- request.

  13. Rusche, good/common reaction with your art. I know a lot of software developers who, once they find something new/better have a very hard time looking at their old code. I’ve heard anywhere from mild regret to apologizing profusely in advance to anyone else who has to go work in it.

    From the stance of someone who does an occasional archive crawl, while your art style advances and I can see how you might be unfond of some of your older work, the story (including the character expressions and body language) has been well done and clearly communicated throughout (as far as I remember without doing an archive crawl specifically trying to hunt down exceptions, which wouldn’t be any fun). I don’t really find it jarring at all, from a reader’s view, to go from any of your old comics to current. In fact I originally bookmarked your first comic as one I wanted to get back to, and even after I caught up I left the bookmark, so every time I visit your comic I tend to go from first to current. I can certainly see you refining your artistic style, but the substance and necessary bits are there from the start.

    1. ^^this.




      Well, I actually have a bit more to say. But I personally feel that the evolution of your own personal style lends credibility to the fleshing out and growth of the characters as an unintended perk. (no pun intended)

      And while you can definitely see differences immediately, I like to think of fine wine, not directly comparing a book to a movie translation, I also think that with the obvious differences we can see that the characters themselves have grown. Not because of the differences, but because of the evolution that your style itself has garnered to give them their own personalities as well through your style. It’s a little gestaltic on the heavy side.

      Me, I hate cookie cutters. But let me explain. If it’s the actual kitchen implement. Love it, when needed. But to mass produce something that may serve only the least common denominator for the group, to me, that’s selling out and doing the least amount possible to get the job somewhere past go without going to jail. I feel that something like that is ethically and morally bankrupt, and well, impersonal.

      You, you are personal. Your art, your story, and your style is personal. And I think that we love you for it. And if I were there, sitting in a bar/pub/B-dubs on your non drawing arm side, I’d give you a 20% punch in that shoulder.

  14. I can relate regarding your feelings about past art, but I think your early comics still retain that unique sense of “your style”. It’s also quite a lot of fun to see the art evolve when you read through the series. You may see bad to good, but I see good to better. If anything, the evolving art style may be one of the things that gives this comic such a good replay value (for lack of a better term lol). You’re not looking at the same drawings several dozen times through each strip. They’re the same people, but how they’re portrayed evolves with their characters. Not a lot of comics can boast that.

  15. Good LORD, you do that for every single comic? It’s amazing, but how do ever you manage 3 updates in a week? That’s once a week comic level, but you triple it. No wonder you have no time to sleep.

  16. I don’t know if you’ll understand what I actually want to ask, but here’s to hoping. I know that you are the author/creator/God of this world, and since you wrote/drew everything, it’s in there somewhere (your head I mean). You’ve also told us a bit about your own personal life, to the extent that, if I recall correctly, you’re somehow in health care, or emergency care (don’t know if doctor, nurse, or otherwise, sorry if I missed that). If you (almost) never refer to old strips/pages, how on earth do you remember details?
    I don’t mean the main arc kind of details, because you know your own story, and you know that arc one went from a to d through b and c, but what if you need to know that, oh I dunno, saw the squirrels on page XX, or you put the exposition that Egan isn’t really attending classes on pages XX to XX and it was then that we learned YY.
    Do you keep a story diary? A wiki?
    I’m curious. I really like your comic, and more importantly, the characters. But I wouldn’t be a good choice for a wiki author, for instance, because my job is not your comic. I do not expect, and am not expected, to remember every little detail about it. I *am* expected to be an expert in my own profession, so I have tremendous recall in it, but not your comic. How do you do that?

    On a not quite non-sequitor, that is why I dislike ‘helpers’ in (your store name goes here). Whether it’s a big box (Walmart, K-mart, Petsmart, whatever) or small, if a person is working there, whether millenial or older, it’s your job for cripes sake. Learn your area, learn the store, learn your product, be an expert in what you do, not the latest viral video. I intensly dislike going into a electonics store, and knowing more about what the saleman is selling than him or her. Egan (in the last page) seemed to know his stuff, and I found myself hoping he wasn’t just trying to scam the blind guy.

    1. I would expect that Eagen does know a fair bit about at least the audio side of electronics since he considers himself a DJ. And I would not be surprised if he is a part time employee at that store with the ulterior motive of using the employee discount to help supply his DJ career. So no, I don’t think he’s scamming blind guy.

    2. It’s all in my head. That or in 3 different spiral books filled with notes. That’s not to say I don’t forget certain things on occasion.

      Also, I would love to have a wiki. Maybe someday. But there’s too much on my plate to work on such a thing.

      1. You know what the cool thing about wiki’s is? They are just like forums. As in ANYONE can post/edit to them. I bet out of your twelve thousand plus readers you could find at least a handful with the time and fanaticism to maintian a wiki for you.

        1. And I would be part of the wiki team if that part was ambiguous, but I don’t have the time to do it solo. If three or four others were interested I would be willing to give it a shot.

        2. Borked is an internet colloquialism meaning “broke” or “broken” inspired by the Swedish Chef, his unusual speech patterns and his catch phrase “bork bork bork.”

        3. I was using it before I ran into it elsewhere due to an unrelated inside joke. I remember walking through a WalMart with a friend and someone, we presumed an employee, had taped a sign over a GameBoy that was out as a test/display model stating “Do not use. GameBoy is borken.”

          We spent the next few years reminding each other to check if things were borken or not before depending on them.

          I doubt that many people saw that sign before someone noticed and fixed it though, so I think Red and I are probably the only ones with that word origin.

          But also I love the Swedish Chef and remember another friend (I think during the 1996 election run-up) frequently stating that he thought running for U.S. President on the platform of only speaking like the Swedish Chef would be a good idea. I generally remember that at least once per presidential election now, and I probably would’ve voted for him in the last few elections too…

      2. I think you have enough active commenters that a wiki would fill itself up in six months time if it were set up and left empty. I’d say it’s more a question of if that would end up increasing your server & network utilization enough that you’d have to pay higher hosting fees or not.

        1. Probably, but I don’t really look around for such things, so not sure. Most of my tech knowledge tends to be work-related, so I have large gaps in the areas that wouldn’t be useful for work.

  17. You put a ridiculous amount of work into this comic and you deserve every single pageview you get.

  18. Well, you’re an Artist, so you are forgiven. Forgiven for the fact the STORY COMES FIRST.

    Your story is great. So don’t worry so much about the art.

    PROOF: In your comic of June 2016, you acknowledge Fans typically buy Derivative Art of characters they know. They don’t buy art for art’s sake. No one is looking for the Mona Lisa.

    Do your very best job on the STORY, and your art can be pretty sloppy and your Fans will still gush. Look at the trashy art that MADE DC and Marvel. No one cared because the STORY ruled.

    My bottom line is please don’t fret if a head is too big or fingers too long. Those things may matter to you, but few fans.

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