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Good afternoon everypony, and welcome back to yet another Poniverse Q&A!  Today we are joined by none other than the lovely SorcerusHorserus, fandom/comic artist on DeviantArt and the creator of one of the longest running MLP fan comics, Dash Academy!

 

Trust me, when I say long running, I mean LONG running!  SorcerusHorserus has been working on Dash Academy since 2011, can you believe that?!  In addition, she's produced other comics, like Red Sorena, digital paintings, tutorials for aspiring artists, and has even dabbled in fan fiction.  Needless to say, she's a very accomplished artist and we couldn't be happier to have her here with us today.  Without further ado, let's begin; ask away everypony, ask to your heart's content (though I cannot guarantee that SH will be able to answer every question presented to her, particularly if they are spoilerish regarding her work or inappropriate).

 

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sig-4619587.frozen_treats_by_sorcerushor

 

So, to start things off I'll ask a question on behalf of one of your fans who sadly could not join us, Giorgia Barbieri, who's off in far away Italy (and I'm sure this is a question that a lot of fans are wondering too).  How did you come up with Dash Academy?  Why these characters in this setting at this time, both canon, G1, fanon, and OC?

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Hi SorcerusHorserus! First of all, I'd like to say that I love your work, Dash Academy is one of my favorite webcomics, and your tutorials have been super helpful. :D

 

My question is, when you're working on the comics, what's your favorite and your least favorite part of the process? (like brainstorming it, sketching it, and so on)

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How did you come up with Dash Academy?

Originally it wasn't going to have a serious story. It was going to be a collection of goofy gags and Dash and Gilda antics (along the lines of the first strip). A couple comics in, I saw the potential for a plot-driven story. I wasn't sure what that plot was at first. An early story idea involved Dash and Gilda uncovering a criminal conspiracy involving mobsters at their school. Ultimately, I went with a plot that was more relatable.

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Hey, SH, how long -- on average -- does it take you to complete a single picture -- paint and all?

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Hi SorcerusHorserus. I just finished reading Dash Academy front-to-back, and I must say I'm impressed with it ;)

 

Do you make your comic pages knowing exactly how the rest of the story is going to go, or are you often uncertain about how the rest of each chapter will pan out?

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Imma give the obvious Brony questions: Best pony?

 

Granted I might be asking one with an obvious answer here. D:

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I will ask my favorite question to ask in these kind of things, what is your favorite color?

Also do you have a favorite pony?

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How did you come up with Dash Academy?

Originally it wasn't going to have a serious story. It was going to be a collection of goofy gags and Dash and Gilda antics (along the lines of the first strip). A couple comics in, I saw the potential for a plot-driven story. I wasn't sure what that plot was at first. An early story idea involved Dash and Gilda uncovering a criminal conspiracy involving mobsters at their school. Ultimately, I went with a plot that was more relatable.

 

Very cool, always fun to hear how long-running projects like this in the fandom were initially conceived.

 

OK, next question: what in particular do you like about pegasi?  You clearly seem to work with them considerably more than the other two races of ponies, so what made you fixate on them?  Is it their culture, aesthetic look, or just so happened to be that some of your favorite characters were pegasi?

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Curious to know, @SorcerusHorserus;
Dat name tho. xD
How'd you come up with it?

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Why these characters in this setting at this time, both canon, G1, fanon, and OC?

A couple of my favorite early episodes were "Griffon the Brush-Off" and "Sonic Rainboom" so I wanted to make silly Dash and Gilda comics. Their early years in flight school felt like a good place to start. I needed more pegasus characters so I included Surprise and Firefly from G1. Brolly is a background pony in "Sonic Rainboom" and Argie is based off of a G1 toy. I started including OCs when interest in the comic took off.

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(edited)

I've got a question that's similar to Varrack's, but I wanted to ask it anyway. How exactly do you manage to come up with the details of your story - the various character iterations, cause and effect, etc.? I've been trying to write a story for years and I've only really managed to get spinets of detailed character iterations here and there, and I'm always worried that by the time I do get everything put together it won't feel natural. Is it something you think about, or do you just let it come to you?

Edited by Luminous Lotus
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Hi SorcerusHorserus! First of all, I'd like to say that I love your work, Dash Academy is one of my favorite webcomics, and your tutorials have been super helpful. :D

 

My question is, when you're working on the comics, what's your favorite and your least favorite part of the process? (like brainstorming it, sketching it, and so on)

 

Thank you!

 

My favorite parts are thinking up possible scenarios. It's fun to think about the what-ifs.

Then there are the 'busy-work' parts that aren't that interesting to do: coloring Gilda with all of her gradients, placing cutie marks, coloring line art.

Sketching and thumb-nailing is a hit-or-miss. Sometimes I have a solid vision of the comic and it's easy. If I'm having a hard time at this stage it usually means I need to re-think the script. It's better to realize the script isn't working out or isn't interesting early in the process. The worst part is realizing something needs to be changed late in the process since I get stressed about comic release times. It is worth making the changes though since having a part of the comic be confusing or unclear is the worst imo.

Hey, SH, how long -- on average -- does it take you to complete a single picture -- paint and all?

 

These times are for the 'painterly' pictures like the 'Gala Dash' image above: Average 4-5 hours. Simpler ones around 3 hrs, more complex ones 8 hrs.

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How long did it take you to learn how to properly draw, and what resources did you use to do it? For example, did you just decide one day to learn, and bought a bunch of stuff like tablets, softeware, and instructions? Or did you start small with pencils and paper?

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Hi SorcerusHorserus. I just finished reading Dash Academy front-to-back, and I must say I'm impressed with it ;)

 

Do you make your comic pages knowing exactly how the rest of the story is going to go, or are you often uncertain about how the rest of each chapter will pan out?

 

Thank you!

 

The entirety of the story is planned to the end. In the beginning I roughly divided up the chapters and the story arcs. It's along the lines of "Dash takes a fake date to the school dance and things end badly". At that point I don't know all the details yet. When I get closer to making those strips I start filling in the blanks. Blanks like, "Who is Dash's date? What is the theme of the dance? What other character development can happen here?" Then when it is time to do that chapter I break it down into strips. Then each strip needs a more specific script. This is the part where I write dialogue, character expressions and body language, and notes for what is happening in each panel.

Imma give the obvious Brony questions: Best pony?

 

Granted I might be asking one with an obvious answer here. D:

 

It's fluctuated over the years. Pinkie Pie is a long-time fav, but I have a soft spot for Rainbow Dash.

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Hi SorcerusHorserus!

First off I love the Dash Academy Series! But did you ever expect it to go on as long as it currently does?

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I will ask my favorite question to ask in these kind of things, what is your favorite color?

Also do you have a favorite pony?

 

I don't have a particular favorite color but I do have situational favorite colors. I use a lot of purple when I'm shading. Teal/turquoise is pretty as well as electric lime/chartreuse. I like colors that work well together and have a huge folder of collected artwork with drool-worthy color schemes.

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Hello Sorcerushorserus. :)

 

Do you have some kind of favorite ponyspecies, from canon and fanon?

 

(Canon: Earth, Pegasus, Unicorn, Alicorn. Fanon: Seaponies, Snakeponies, deerponies, etc.)

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Very cool, always fun to hear how long-running projects like this in the fandom were initially conceived.

 

OK, next question: what in particular do you like about pegasi?  You clearly seem to work with them considerably more than the other two races of ponies, so what made you fixate on them?  Is it their culture, aesthetic look, or just so happened to be that some of your favorite characters were pegasi?

 

Their wings are cute and they can use them in unexpected ways (like Dash hiding her face behind her wings and peeking through her feathers). Comic and story-wise wings add another layer of interest: puffing wings out for aggression, sagging wings for sadness, wing 'push-ups' for a training montage. Also, I thought that Dash's backstory would be funnest to do since I could add other winged characters like Fluttershy, Gilda, the 'bullies', Surprise, and Firefly.

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Their wings are cute and they can use them in unexpected ways (like Dash hiding her face behind her wings and peeking through her feathers). Comic and story-wise wings add another layer of interest: puffing wings out for aggression, sagging wings for sadness, wing 'push-ups' for a training montage. Also, I thought that Dash's backstory would be funnest to do since I could add other winged characters like Fluttershy, Gilda, the 'bullies', Surprise, and Firefly.

 

Awesome!  Speaking as a fan fiction writer myself, given the very long-running, detailed, in-depth in both plot and characterization story you've told, I guess I have to ask where that fondness for storytelling comes from since we don't see it from many artists in this fandom like yourself, and even when they do, certainly not as focused oftentimes as yours?  Do you read MLP fan fiction specifically, or is it simply a general fondness for a good story be it in literature or comic books?

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@@SorcerusHorserus,

 

Thanks for coming

 

Admittedly it's been a while since I've read Dash acedemy. I'm way behind. But I'm wondering, how often to events from cannon effect, (comics & show) effect the progression of DA? I mean for example, it was said early on in the show that Dash dropped out of flight school, so did a detail like that predetermine the path things would go for her? Or did you say "Screw it, I'm doing it my way?'

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Curious to know, @SorcerusHorserus;

Dat name tho. xD

How'd you come up with it?

 

I was staring at a blank username field on DeviantArt. The result was a name that's fun to say and brings to the mind an image of a magical pony.

I've got a question that's similar to Varrack's, but I wanted to ask it anyway. How exactly do you manage to come up with the details of your story - the various character iterations, cause and effect, etc.? I've been trying to write a story for years and I've only really managed to get spinets of detailed character iterations here and there, and I'm always worried that by the time I do get everything put together it won't feel natural. Is it something you think about, or do you just let it come to you?

 

I like having story arc threads and then filling in the details along the way (like the tabletop RPG method of playing to find out what happens). It is super basic in the beginning and I have no idea what parts I may throw out or change. With long story-oriented comics you have time for better ideas to come to you. I only get more detailed when it's time to write out the scripts.

 

Here's the first draft for Chapter 6 for example:

 

- RD apologizes to the Jr. Speedsters and helps them train.

- Ditzy is given a different position that she can excel in.
- They win their next game! (Against Fillydelphia?)
- Surprise throws a party. RD does Karaoke with ZZ.
- Over the next few days, Dash, Fluttershy, and ZZ hang
out, have fun.
- RD dreams about ZZ.
- RD becomes confused. She tries to become more
involved with her boyfriend, but he just doesn't interest
her.
- Meanwhile, the Jr. Speedsters have a winning streak.
- ZZ takes Dash to a secluded place near the ground where
the Wonderbolts are practicing. They watch secretly,
attempting to glean moves that might help them to do
even better.
- ZZ admits that she really likes Dash. They share their first
kiss.
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I was staring at a blank username field on DeviantArt. The result was a name that's fun to say and brings to the mind an image of a magical pony.

 

Alrighty, looks like we're on a new page of the thread (though with plenty of unanswered questions still on the first page).  I still have one question waiting myself, but I just noticed on your Twitter that you're a zoology grad, very interesting!  Do you ever find ways to utilize your art talents in your professional career, or is your fondness for ponies and MLP tied at all to your zoology profession?

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How long did it take you to learn how to properly draw, and what resources did you use to do it? For example, did you just decide one day to learn, and bought a bunch of stuff like tablets, softeware, and instructions? Or did you start small with pencils and paper?

 

I'm still learning, although I think the most progress happened during the first year of Dash Academy. Comics are art boot camp! Having a project with a finish line helps so much. 

 

I had drawn with pencil and paper before that, but not seriously enough to progress at a noticeable rate. After watching MLP:FiM I decided I wanted to learn how to make digital art and comics. I got a basic Wacom tablet and a free older version of Painter (and later SAI). After I found out I enjoyed it and was working for hours everyday on digital art I upgraded to a better tablet.

 

For starting off I recommend a fundamentals program like http://drawabox.com/

Hi SorcerusHorserus!

 

First off I love the Dash Academy Series! But did you ever expect it to go on as long as it currently does?

 

Thank you!

I had the story planned out until the end but I had no knowledge of the time it would take to make a fully colored multi-chapter comic. So in a way I knew but didn't.

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Hi, SorcerusHorserus!  :) After seeing your work on DA, I apologize for not knowing about you before. Your work, like Rainbow Dash herself, is awesome!  :wub:

 

I have a couple of questions. First, do you outline everything that will happen in your comics before you start drawing, or are you the "flying by the seat of your pants" type?

 

Second, do you have any tips to share for aspiring artists and/or writers like me?  :blush:  :squee:

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Hello Sorcerushorserus. :)

 

Do you have some kind of favorite ponyspecies, from canon and fanon?

 

(Canon: Earth, Pegasus, Unicorn, Alicorn. Fanon: Seaponies, Snakeponies, deerponies, etc.)

 

 

I have a soft spot for pegasi since their wings are so expressive. I've seen a few deer drawn in MLP-style and they are pretty darn cute. I also like the design of Queen Chrysalis and the OC changelings done by Siansaar. Can't say no to fangy-bug ponies!

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