Status of the Blog 04/02/15

March was a busy month as I worked on 4 different things that had many smaller things inside them. I won’t go into it here unless I hear back about any of them, but I finished them on time without going insane. I consider that an achievement.

Site-wise we had a memory error pop up out of nowhere. I had a fix I was going to implement but then I decided to try updating the version of PHP I was running and that seems to have fixed it. Site optimization is one of those things you have to take the time to work on. I just hate when something jumps up and I have to spend the day tracking down what stopped working. It’d be great if errors gave you context instead of vague messages like “FATAL ERROR” and a number.

April’s current project is Stencyl Jam 15. I’ll be posting the prototypes I put together on the site for people to test and provide feedback. I have an idea for the type of game I want to make but I’d like to build this one differently than I’ve done with others in the past. I’m going to tinker with mechanics and features, see if I can make them fun to play with, and then build the game up around them.

Status of the Blog 03/06/15

  • On March 6, 2015 ·
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When you build and customize a site with as many moving parts as mine, it’s like running a boat that’s regularly springing holes. You’re always running around plugging a new one up and panning out the water. The changes I made to the Podcast archive broke it so I reworked that. It’s still not exactly how I want it, but I’d rather it be functional. At some point the Portfolio images weren’t showing up in their individual posts. That’s fixed now. The home page should be displaying some more current links. I’ll be putting up more as I finish them. I added a Project List page where I’ll be adding things I’m working on so I can track their progress. I don’t like announcing things and seeing them lost in the shuffle any more than waiting until I’m completely done with something before I can even bring it up. I want to share works in progress here but it’s akin to presenting myself in the morning before a shower with my hair uncombed and my shirt hastily buttoned wrong.

Project-wise I spent the first half of last week working on a Thing I’m Writing™ then dove back into animating. Collecting resources, testing them, and taking screenshots, though useful, feels very academic. I’ll appreciate the research when I get back to actually writing but right now I want to be drawing.

Toddy’s Closet is progressing. I’m working my way through the rough animation right now. This means breaking down the storyboard sequences into more poses. You learn a lot about the character in deciding how they move between the storytelling shots. Once that’s done it’s back to inbetweening and cleanup. Then backgrounds, effects, and final mixing.

In newsletter news, I’m trying to spend weekends writing entries so there will be plenty of quality content for folks who sign up for it. The free guide I’ll be offering is done, save a few more links I want to add. I’d just like to get it thoroughly proofread. I’ve also shot some exclusive video for it I’ll probably edit on a weekend. Weekends are a bit of a break from my usual work routine and a chance to complete things.

Speaking of video, every time I sit down to play a game I’m recording it for Let’s Plays I’ll be posting to my YouTube channel in the near future. I’ve started editing some of them. Mostly I’m focusing on getting material recorded so I can spend weekends or evenings editing.

Status of the Blog – 02/04/15

  • On February 4, 2015 ·
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I decided to not label this a WIP Wednesday because I really want to keep those posts art-centric and image or video heavy. I’ve spent the last week or so writing the guide I’m going to include free to those who join my newsletter. Yesterday I was out of the house most of the day and, aside from getting the podcast posted, didn’t have time for much of anything studio related. Today I woke up about 1 in the morning and spent some time inking some comics. I’ve been thinking about my production schedule and how it’s frustrated me trying to get things to regularly post on the site. I’ve felt conflicted that I haven’t been posting enough to this blog. It seems every week I’m buried in some other aspect of a project that I can’t really share yet and I don’t want to be busying myself with work just to get it on the site.

Writing for a week straight has reminded me how much work it is to just shovel words around. I realize I’m running into the same problem I had with the Daily Doodles. I need to get a considerable way ahead in my work and then start sharing it when there’s a pile of material to pick from. I also need to get the hours in my day back. I’ve cut out some habits recently that used to eat up my time and I need to make it productive again. So basically I need to do a hard reset on my scheduling. I’ll keep posting the podcast, though even that might get retooled. I know Ian and I both want to keep a better handle on the length with it this year. Other content on the site will return when I feel it’s ready to start posting it again.

12/24/14 – Happy Holidays

My computer’s been crashing randomly and I’ve spent the last few days narrowing down the culprit. None of the scans I’ve run have identified anything so I’m just going to be pulling hardware until I find the problem. No thumbnails or video this week and no WIP Wednesday next week as that’s New Year’s Eve. December always turns into a bit of a mess schedule-wise, which is why I’m glad we planned the ending of Season 3 of the podcast early.

In personal news, I turned 32 yesterday so yay me. 😀

Hope you all have a good end to 2014, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, kickin’ Kwanzaa, fabulous Festivus, and whatever other holidays you may celebrate between now and when you hear from us again in 2015.

WIP Wednesday – 12/17/14 – Passion

  • On December 17, 2014 ·
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The thing I’ve been working on most lately is myself (my art, my business, my sanity) so I’m sharing some of that today.

Artist Hat vs. Manager Hat

The thing about pursuing a career as a professional artist is making art and sharing it with the world are both their own distinct job. As an artist, I think most of us are compelled to create. For some people that compulsion manifests itself as a hobby. Others strive to make it their life’s work. During our interview with Kevin MacLeod and Ryan Camarda, Kevin brought up the idea that art serves no purpose if nobody sees it. It’s an excellent point that art is made to be seen and not doing everything to get it in front of as many eyes as possible is a disservice to that purpose. My problem is that view eschews art therapy and people who make art for themselves like Outsider art. (Henry Darger is a fascinating example and the subject of the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal)

Putting all that aside, as a professional part of the job is getting your art seen. For a number of us this is where intentions clash. I saw it in college when professors would give students a project and they’d ignore all guidelines and direction. It’s baffling to pay thousands of dollars to attend a school, take a class, and then disregard instructions. Yet it happened regularly and at times I had to keep myself from doing it. Why? Well, artists make art to express themselves. When somebody tells you what to make you can feel like a circus animal, trained to do your trick the way they want you to. If there’s not enough room to be creative and make your project your own you can lose motivation. (As illustrated in Technical Dave 5 – Chocolate Rebellion)

Trying to manage yourself at times can feel like you’re of two minds. You make plans, you set goals, then you sit down to work and find you don’t feel passionate about it. If you chase down what you are passionate about it can be something fun but with little to no financial rewards. Professionals can’t afford the luxury of only fulfilling creative desires. We need to find that little part of the venn diagram where our interests intersect with what people will pay for. Sometimes this means reassessing and learning to appreciate other things, sometimes it means reassessing who you approach with your work and how.

Hangups

Creative Paralysis and Guilt

I started doing the Daily Doodle exercise for two reasons:

  1. To get myself to draw every day
  2. To allow myself to have fun drawing

I love drawing. I want to draw all day every day. But the reality of life is, when you’re in charge of your own schedule, things can get in the way. Building a site, promoting your work, having some form of a social life, it’s a lot to have on your plate. There’s just so much to do and there’s so many options now. It can become overwhelming and lead to analysis paralysis. You spend so much time trying to make your mind up on which action to take you fail to take action. Also, as much as artists struggle with guidelines, we usually need some semblance of them to make a project work. When somebody tells me to do, “whatever,” on a project I freak out. I have to figure out what it is, how I’m going to come at it, and then there’s trying to deliver my best while second guessing myself the entire time.

The second reason might sound odd considering I just said I love drawing. Why do I have to allow myself to have fun doing it then? It’s because of guilt. To get into the routine of producing things regularly you can’t often afford the time to enjoy and experiment. You have to get it done and move on to the next one. I remember hearing on Webcomics Weekly how occasionally they’re asked to show layout sketches and then they realize layouts don’t really factor into their workflow. I started realizing I don’t really draw for fun anymore because I’ve trained myself to see having fun with a drawing as I’m not getting things done. Like a person who can’t savor a meal because they’re afraid they’ll eat too much if they enjoy it.

Self Doubt

The main thing I want to focus on in 2015 is animation. I have lots of ideas and ambitions for things I want to make. When I’m in the thick of it I’m elated. My problem is I have limited experience. So when I come to something I haven’t done yet I have to work at it. I know I’ll lose days to learning the ropes. It’s just difficult to keep focus that you’re going the right way with something when you fall on your face. Some days I’ll be on fire and knocking things off my to do list. Other days I have to redo something because one link in the chain caused it to not come out right. Ask any artist how disheartening it is when a program crashes and you failed to save or your entire file got corrupted. These things creep up along with the insecurity most artists (heck, most people) feel in general.

Going Forward

You Oughta Be in Pictures

I’m planning to roll out my animations through several sites. Each has their own communities I need to get more involved in if I want to take better advantage of the opportunities they present.

Newgrounds

Newgrounds

Newgrounds is a site that’s been around a long time. It’s known for hosting flash animations and games as well as other arts. There’s plenty of animators on the forums and I hope I can make some friends there. As I experiment with making games I’m sure it’ll prove useful.

YouTube

YouTube-logo-full_color

YouTube has been my go-to for video, for posting on these WIP Wednesday blogs, live podcasts, and just sharing internet videos in general. There’s the potential to share my work with the most viewers possible. But by the same token there’s also a lot of noise. And, as we’ve discussed on the podcast, their viewing algorithm is weighted against animators by rewarding longer, more frequently-uploaded content. Considering I have plans in the works for both a Lets Play and video review series we’ll see how things fair.

Vimeo

vimeo logo

Vimeo is a video hosting site that also offers On Demand sales and rentals. They offer free, Plus, and Pro accounts. Their focus seems to be more on short films and telling stories. I know fairly little about their community but they do tend to have a more professional look.

Reopening Shop

When I start doing the Daily Doodle again I want it to be about being the most productive I can be. That means I need to be doing the drawings in bulk when I’m brainstorming and then sharing them here. Those doodles will then get refined and polished into finished pieces I’ll be putting on the Lil’ Reaper Books store. I’ve been studying which places to do the printing through, how to promote and market them, and thinking more critically about who I market them to.

WIP Wednesday – 11/26/14

  • On November 26, 2014 ·
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Hello, everybody. To all my fellow Americans I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving tomorrow and a safe Black Friday if you’re getting in on that.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a proper blog post so I thought I’d put one together before things get too hectic this holiday season. The end of the year is always kind of a smear as stuff starts happening. Here’s a quick rundown of things going on.

The NoRights Podcast

Ian and I are planning to do episodes until about the 15th of December. Season 4 will pick back up in January. Also, Ian and friend of the show Nate are going to be starting up their own geeky tech show in the near future. I’ll be sure to share the info on that once I know the details.

The Daily Doodle

I really liked this practice because it kept me drawing every day and posting content on the site regularly. My problem is I started focusing on having one finished drawing every day rather than doing a lot of drawings and posting the highlights on the site, as I should have done. Travel also disrupted things and I’m currently taking a break from it until after New Year’s. I want to strike a balance where I’m doodling daily while also working on a main project. Previously the doodles started taking priority when they really shouldn’t be.

WIP Wednesday

This helps keeps me accountable for making progress on things. I like making videos and posting pics as I work. Right now my main project I want to work on is a short film. I want to do something that’s at least a minute long. Probably not much longer than that so I don’t overcomplicate it or make it too ambitious. Once I’m done with that I’ll move on to the ~7 minute shorts and whatnot I’ve been planning. I’m just trying to nail down the concept so I can write it, storyboard it, make an animatic, and flesh it out. I’m looking into folklore to see if I can find something to adapt. Or I might just take some things I want to draw and build them into a story. I haven’t exactly figured it out yet. Once I do I’ll share drawings and other things on the blog.

Happy 2013

Happy 2013 everybody. Today I’d like to share some of my plans and goals for the coming year.

The first project I’m going to be jumping into is a short animated film. If things work out I’ll string it into a series and then hopefully a bigger film. Or I might make one and decide I want to go an entirely different route. The point is I’m going to be animating and developing this first one and when it’s finished I’ll go from there. I’ve done some ground work for it already so I’ll be revising and reworking it until it’s completed. I’ll be blogging as I go, sharing things I find helpful as well as sharing my problems.

Now that I’m done fussing with major site issues I’d like to spend my time writing and creating things. I enjoy blogging about creative stuff because it helps me focus my ideas into actionable steps for myself and usually I condense things into sharable lists. The problem stems from being introverted and just deleting posts rather than finishing them because I feel like I don’t have anything useful to say. I’ve been on the web long enough, I should be better at this. Now that I’m working in the studio again I can figure out a regular schedule which should help a lot.

I also just need to draw more. When you produce things you tend to become focused on only drawing what you need to because you need to funnel so much out. I mean how often does a guy who builds houses for a living get to lay brick just for the fun of it? I like drawing but too often it can become work you need to do rather than something you get to do. My approach is to love what you do, find something to love about it, or do something else.

Moving Forward

Today I’d like to talk about projects – specifically the ones I have ahead of me right now and my plans for getting them done.

Where are the comics?

You’ve no doubt noticed the comics aren’t working on any of the archives. Webcomic, the plugin that powers the comics, recently upgraded from version 3 to 4. Changes were made to the way comics are stored and formatted. There was an upgrade tool that was supposed to convert things over but it ran into some errors. I’ve alerted Mike, the developer of Webcomic, and he’s been looking into the problem. I’ve been holding off on posting about it in the hopes that there’d be a quick fix. Also I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated with the sites and considered hiring somebody to revamp them for me. The network is something of a Frankenstein’s monster, structural changes made without much planning into how they’d impact things down the road, features added by various plugins, all piling on top of revisions of previous versions over the years. I’ve considered hiring somebody to clean it all up for me, something I may still do down the road, but right now I think I want to be the one to straighten it out.

What’s the plan?

I have one more art project I need to get out of the way before I dive whole hog into rebuilding and testing the sites. The goal is to get that done by December so I can devote that entire month to the sites. I have plans for January and onwards but those are still reliant on outside factors.

Status of the Blog: 1-31-12

  • On January 31, 2012 ·
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I’ve been retooling the home page for awhile and I’m starting to like the changes. Basically all the stuff in the sidebar was looking off balance to me so I decided to change the layout. It’s really my goal to make this something of a hub/landing page for people to find all the stuff I put elsewhere on the network. When I blog you can still get to it and I suspect most people will find my blogs when I link them anyway.

Remember blogging? Yeah, I’d like to do some more of that but I’m disciplining myself to finish working on comics first before I burn any energy writing here. As for comics, 2071 has updated all of January so far and I’m pretty happy about that. Still working out the kinks of a regular workflow but we’re getting there. There’s something about the equilibrium of a weekly and daily routine.

Site changes include a couple of things. There’s the portfolio which should be self-explanatory. There’s also an events section where I’ll be listing all my upcoming convention appearances.

Status of the blog 5-26-11

  • On May 26, 2011 ·
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I’ve been working on chapter 1.1 of 2071. I scanned all the pencils I had and have been drawing digitally this week. I went from working in 600 dpi to 300 which has made both file sizes and actual drawing sizes more manageable. I really like the stumpy pencil photoshop brush (V2) though I’m still trying to settle on a proper inking brush. I downloaded this one but haven’t tried inking anything with it yet. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve known about in photoshop but never used that much until recently. I made an action that expands a selection by 2 pixels and fills it with the foreground color. Right now I’m using it to fill spaces while inking though it should come in handy when I’m coloring again. I know folks who swear by the flatten and multifill plugin. I also really like the floating lineart and convert white to transparent actions.

I’m trying to get into the habit of waking up at 5 and working on 2071 until noon or so, then winding down by experimenting with pin ups and stuff for a gallery. Problem is I tend to be in the starting frame of mind early in the morning. Once I’ve been drawing a few hours the part of my brain that decides how to lay out a new image shuts off. It’s hard to get out of render and refine mode. Usually I get stuck looking for references and don’t start drawing again. I need to get better at giving myself assignments for the day. I’ve got lists of images to draw I just need to rough them out enough so I can transition to them later when I’m starting to lose it.
In other news, I’m enjoying following people on tumblr nowadays since there’s a bunch of people on it. Haven’t posted anything on it since I stopped feeding my twitter into it but I might drop some of my experiments in there. It’s neat for following inspirational image accounts and I actually talk to people I know on there. Really I’m just looking for real conversation at this point. So many people set these things up as little outposts for themselves and it’s like seeing a bunch of billboards that all say “Buy my book!” Either that or I get the feeling people are talking to me while they happen to be checking their iphone and doing 5 other things. That’s sort of convenient I guess but I’m not a game for people to pause.