Observation Post 42

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TECHNICAL STUFF - Here we discuss what stuff we used to create sets and props.

Figures- cast of characters

My husband and I decided that we wanted to have a cast of characters that were basically all similar instead of going for the more mixed cast like on some strips.  We chose the Stikfa toys for their flexibility and general uniformity of size so that sets would be easier to manage.  They also allowed for a certain amount of expressiveness much like the old wooden art model figures.  Several other comic strip artists have successfully used them and we were impressed with the work they have put out.

We have had one unforeseen problem with he Stikfas.   Not all Stikfas seem to be made of good plastic material.   I have had about 15 of them break in multiple points at the vital joint areas while doing the initial assembly.  And honestly, I wasn’t being rough with them.  They are kinda expensive.  This unforeseen problem might be something for others to consider before investing too much money in purchasing the Stikfas.  We have already started our set designs based around their size, so we are kinda stuck with them for the time being.  Perhaps we shall be able to find enough good ones to fill our cast.  The ziploc bag full of spare parts are growing due to this problem.

My advice would be to look into using another set of figures.  Perhaps the old wooden art figures would be good, but I have no idea if those would stand up under their own weight.

And for our Marketing Office department we selected the blocked headed Cube people.  Once again, they are kinda spendy, but they came with lots of cool little props that can be expanded upon with some imagination, so if you plan to do Office or Business humor, these guys might be your best bet.  While doing photos of these scenes, I felt like I was stepping into the realm of Dilburt, and having a few flashbacks into some of my own work experiences.

Karl X
chairs X
barrel and firepit X

Sets - places of action

Foam core and sections of 1 inch deep foam are good for basic set foundations and walls.  A table in a location where cats, dogs, children, and careless roommates or spouses cannot cause havoc are vital to doing a project like this.   We often have to stop a scene in the middle of an idea, so the need to keep things “as they are” is important.

Good lighting is also important as well a reasonable camera that can take lots of picture that are clear.  You’ll want a digital camera that you can take lots of shot with and be able to throw away the shots you don’t like.  And you will have shots you don’t like.

Props - stuff for our characters to work with

My husband and I are constantly on the look out for cool small items for our sets.  We look at craft stores and antiques shops.   Years ago the miniature doll house making was a big fad at the Old Ben Franklin craft stores and they would have tons of small items.  Now, those items seem to be scare from our area of the country.  This means that we have to make some of the props that we want.  My husband has ingeniously used old bullet shells and beads to make mugs and candelabras.  Now I just gotta make the time to make the actual candle sticks!

To the right I have posted some of the furniture, paper boxes, fire pit, wooden door with archway that Jeremy has constructed from scratch.  Items such as the barrels were purchased and painted appropriately.

To see how these items are utilized in another comic, click the link below.

Go to
boxes X

Drawing tools

doorway X
Table X
Set of props X

As a fine artist it was hard for me to learn how to draw the same object or person over and over.  My artistic projects centered on creating something once and only once.  So in order to do the Order of the Red Cross, I had to learn how to draw the same things over and over and try and visualize how to draw stuff out of my head.  Not easy for a person who was used to drawing from real life or photos.  So I found some tools to help with the process, and I thought I would share what I use so that other hopeful artists such as myself can have a shot at creating something worth sharing.  The photo below shows the primary drawing tools I use, and then I scan the inked final image for colorization in the computer by my husband.

drawing tools

The plastic humanoid figures are wonderful for helping in getting body proportions correct and in the right position.  These figures are much better than the traditional wooden art figures.  I recommend them.  They are just as expensive as the wooden figures but they are more natural and better for positioning.  They are a Japanese product and my husband and I have no idea how one could purchase them directly from the maker, so one has to go to Ebay to find these.

Jagdgeschwader I has been a more difficult project in that it is based upon real people and events, and it is my endeavor to keep it realistic and yet tell the story based upon information from published historical data as well as information obtained from other sources.  So often I will see movies about the era where everyone is wearing the same uniform as the hero and it was not like that.  Uniforms during World War I were not....uniform.  They all carried the flavors of the particular branches of services they represented as well as the location from which a unit was based out of.  I have managed to amass a reasonable WWI aviation library that I am still growing and I was lucky enough to receive a very special book from my Mother as a gift.  It contains many color photos of the uniforms that were worn during the era and the author states that he only documented items from one or two museums and has not covered all of them.  The book is huge and has already come in great service when selecting colors for hat bands and coats.

I have also noticed that these drawings are more intensely detailed and I often have a different vision of how things should look than my husband, who is doing the coloring.  I have colored several drawings to try and share with him how I see the lighting and color, which is vital to set the mood of the story.

Tech 400 Pencil version of panel 012
Tech 400 012 J_color
Tech 400 014 J_color
Tech 400 Pencil version of panel 014

Just notice how they are both based upon the same line drawing, but each take on different qualities and moods.  And this was an attempt on my part to make sure that the Photoshop rendering looked as much like my vision as possible.  I think this is a good example of two people being present for the same event and yet seeing things not exactly the same.  I think history has been very much painted in the same way.  It is not so factual as we would like it.  It is colored with personal perceptions.

I am seriously considering coloring the entire series by hand.  I think it may add to the feeling of era.  I have seriously thought this through since my colorist hates coloring them because I am so picky.  I also have Farren Robinson’s artwork to consider as well.  Her drawings of the WWI era are so characteristic of the time period that I think changes the medium would enhance the appeal and realism of the story being told.  I just hope I can get a studio or just a home where I have enough room to work.


Farren Robinson is an artist, poet, and historian living in Norfolk England.  She has also done vast research on William Halse Rivers Rivers, a pioneer of psychological treatment for soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

[Landsknechts gone Wild] [Cast of Characters] [Order of the Red Cross] [Jagdgeschwader I] [Re-enactment Humor] [Technical Stuff] [Wendells Cubical Wall] [Portfolio]

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