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Assessment 2

This is not a final picture, this is upscaled and painted with some different brushes, but I feel I’m onto something. The trick is whether this technique scales to full size, which I intend to spend today testing.

Trying to ink digitally at 900 DPI with the intention of downscaling to 600 and my laptop is chugging. Naturally. What if I go 450 to 300…

I can ink and paint at 450 DPI with the GDQ brushes. We may have a way forward.

Assessment

I only got 2 or three hours to paint on this, and I feel like I need a solid 8-12 hours to produce a final painting. But already I dislike where it is going.

I don’t dislike the concept sketch though. It suggests a final product I could be quite pleased with. But how do I get from here to there?

Should I do successive refinements leading to a printout across 4 pages of 8.5×11 with each page of the final book being inked across two pages? Should I kickstart funds for a big printer/scanner? Should I try to ink in vector art? Should I suck it up and see the painting to the end, wherupon I discover the lameness in this muddy middle was merely an awkward growing pain?

I’m not sure. But it’s good to ask these questions now, because I feel the answers are just beyond my fingertips.

Continue reading “Assessment”

Captain’s Log, 0201122.185

I’ve been too sick to move the last three days. Going into my sickness, I tinkered with Alpha Test (which I’m now calling 8-Bit Demake). I got a single comic done, and then I crashed hard.

When I look at all my projects, the only one that strikes me as long-term is Awesome Moments, because the only thing that matters in this world is who makes it into the next one. I would like to make the list. I would like my children, also, to make the list.

I’m a bad man, so I don’t really care if anyone else besides my friends and family make it, but it would objectively be a good thing if something I made got some rando stranger I don’t care about into God’s Kingdom.

Hat Trick, Re-Tail, all my other projects are dust in the wind. I will make better things in the Resurrection. Awesome Moments is the single project idea I have that will matter even after this world is aborted and the do-over spins up.

That’s technically not 100% accurate. I’m sure more people have been converted by Narnia than by Mere Christianity, by Lord of the Rings than by any theological rant of Tolkien. I don’t know how God will use my creations. My calling as an artist is to make the very best creations I can, and trust God to use them well, rather than trying to be a second-rate priest instead of a first-rate nursery jester.

But it’s close enough to the truth. I do have a duty to catechize my children. If I choose to do so by making for them a picture book, why shouldn’t anyone else in my religion profit by my labor? Truly, this is the only project of mine that can objectively be seen as urgent.

Yesterday, as I was slowly emerging from the mucus-encrusted cocoon of my convalescence, a thought began to find its way through my crusty brain. You see, my first book was a big 8.5 x 11 inches. But all the books I have created since have been scaled back to 6×9. There are two reasons for this:

  1. It felt wrong that my books were bigger than Dr. Seuss’s.
  2. I want to make my art large, and then scale it down for the book. But I haven’t a scanner nor a printer capable of handling something larger than 8.5 x 11.

The first objection was dealt with simply by reading a biography of Dr. Seuss. I ceased to view him as an unattainable standard, and instead began to see him as a rival I could one day overtake. There’s nothing sacrilege about having bigger books than him! If kids like big books with big pictures, then that’s what I should make!

The second objection fell last Sunday, when I did some art of Wren for fun. You remember, this bit?

I’m not 100% happy with this process. But I didn’t need to be for this picture. It was a one-off, not a product for a client or something.

However, that process of drawing a picture at low resolution, scaling it up and painting over it, then scaling it up and painting over it again… that could work as a “multiple drafts” way of making a children’s book. If I did the writing at the same time, gave each draft some space, got proofreaders and editors involved before the pictures had too much work put into them…

Maybe I can make 8.5 x 11 inch books after all.

So now we come to the end of my story. Today I woke up strong enough to cook and clean and look after my family, who are all ailing just as I was. And I had an impulse to do a quick color sketch of the first few pages of Awesome Moments.

I think tomorrow I shall pick a pair of pages and try to produce a polished painting so as to prototype the process.

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will try and do at least 4 more draft pages, and polish 2 pages, probably 4 and 5 (the middle pair) or 6 and 7 (the dragon pages!) into what would look like a final form. Tomorrow or Tuesday, another 4+ prototype pages and a a write-up of what Awesome Moments is, and why I’m so insistent on doing it. I aim to take Thursday off.

The muse has smitten. Ars longa, vita brevis!

To Everything, turn, turn, turn…

The contentions of this video are twofold:

  1. Choosing a theme is superior to making a resolution. This is because when presented with a fork in the road, it is easier to choose the branch in keeping with your theme than it is to force yourself to take the branch you resolved to take, whether it is there or not.
  2. Consider instead of choosing a theme for a year (or a resolution for a year) choosing a theme for a season. E.g. instead of “I will do 30 pushups a day”, prefer, “this will be the Winter of pushups!” or better yet “the winter of Health!”

I take a definite interest in self-improvement as I fall short on a number of fronts. Fortunate man I, Christ has suffered and died for my many evils. But I still want to better myself for a number of reasons. First of them is: it is good to be good. But more importantly, the better a man I am, the better it is for those I claim to love.

My habit has been making monthly goals, not yearly resolutions nor seasonal themes. And the system has been fruitful, but not as fruitful as I think is possible. I don’t know whether “seasonal themes” is the answer. Right now, I have taken ill and am preparing for sleep, and lack the mental firepower to usefully analyze it. But I have a notion it is more in tune with my natural rhythms, simply because my one-month projects always manage to expand to 3 months. And I wanted to note it down so I can look into it tomorrow, or whenever I am awake and my mind is clear.

When in Doubt, Downsize?

Here’s a desert scene in Alpha Test’s Game-boy Color / NES inspired art rules:

Here’s a desert scene in my experimental “Gameboy cartridge being run by a GBC or GBA, one background palette, one foreground palette” ruleset.

A lot of the same ideas. But I executed it way more quickly and it has way more personality. Since presumably I’m using a desert environment to retro-flannelgraph Bible stories, a background of hills with cities is more useful than one with pyramids. (Though revisting pyramids will come with time).

So what have I done here?

I’ve created two ‘grayscale’ ramps, one for backgrounds, one for sprites. The BG ramp has a blue/green tint, the FG ramp has a red/orange tint and is the only permitted use of pure black and white. And that’s it. All graphics must be made with these ramps.

I’ve also cut the screen size in half both ways, as befits a handheld. Though I’m still making an imaginary retro device that has a 16×9 widescreen aspect ration.

Hmm.

Here’s the WordPress Gallery, so I can test it for the phone…

And here’s the whole page in grayscale, so I can guess how it will print:

The whole idea of Alpha Test is to prototype my stories quickly. The more harsh my constraints, the quicker it can be assembled.

I think this is probably The Way.

Look, Ma, no mouse!

The Action Points now charge up automatically, based on the Speed of the character, which is the only stat thus far implemented. As a safety harness, the program keeps track of how fast all the combatants are and ensures that the speed at which AP bubbles charge is kept to a manageable level. I don’t like how I implemented my safety harness. But hopefully we’ll never even run into it.

Slow but steady progress on this game. I’m not a fan of how slow it is going. But we march ever onward!

Update:

Just to show that Speed does, in fact, play into the equation.

And I’m sorry, I can’t resist posting a full-color screenshot when forced for any period of time to contemplate the gif compression. Not that the gif isn’t doing its best!

You cannot be more righteous than God

The student loan thing is sweeping the social media again. My position has changed. Once upon a time, I was a big fan of personal responsibility, making your own way. It’s the American Dream, I thought.

But something has since occurred to me. God decreed that in Ancient Israel, all debts were to be forgiven on a regular basis.

Now, most of the calls I see to forgive student loans seem to be coming from socialists. I do not want them to implement their plans because I am certain they are trojan horses. And I, personally, am extremely uninterested in mass-starvation, gulags, and the like.

But the counter-arguments I see on offer are “I paid my loans,” or, “I made wise decisions and went to trade school.”

May God richly reward your diligence and wisdom. But if forgiveness of another is an offense against you, you are claiming that your justice supersedes that of the Most High.

If you claim to be more just than the Most High, you are wrong. Simple as.

There is some complaint that Caesar may take more of his denarii from our pockets to pay for the debts. And I agree this is unjust. My suspicion is that the loans can be rightly declared usurious and the degrees fraudulent, and the schools and banks that issued them should be made to pay rather than the taxpayer.

And I imagine some argument against forgiveness might be mounted on an esoteric economic basis. It might even be right.

I cannot become an expert in all things. I do not have the time to study economics enough to change my opinion to the economically correct one, or to mount a real defense of my opinion. I have barely enough brainpower to learn the crafts of writing, drawing, and game programming.

Where my expertise fails, I can be confident of one thing: My God, the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, knows all things. Therefore it is unwise to take a position contrary to His. And while His position is definitely not Socialist (“Do not muzzle the ox that treadeth the grain; He who does not work shall not eat”) it is also very much in favor of forgiveness. Or else we’re all doomed, anyway.

Here I stand. I can do no other unless persuaded by Scripture and plain reason. God help me.

Captain’s Log 0201116.103

So now the action point orbs reflect the player’s Action Points, and the player switches between charging and ready animations based on his AP total. I also started building the heart, but I’m probably just going to leave it sitting there for a few days while I work on other stuff.

My wife desires coffee. I think I shall appease her, and procure some for myself as well, and then take stock of where I am and what I can do next. This week’s goal is to continue tinkering on the RPG. In December, I may switch to making a kids book, switch to editing my comic book, or make a serious attempt to produce a game prototype based on my November tinkerings. We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

And now for something completely different!

Duck Comics, and the resulting TV shows inspire me. Not directly, as in, “oh yeah, I need to do that,” but obliquely, as in, “that’s very much in line with my goals, and I can see it is objectively of decent quality, therefore my goals have objective potential.”

I like this. I am sadly not going to watch the show due to time constraints and the fact that the Mouse is my sworn enemy, but I like this.

A useful data point I keep misplacing.

So you want a field in you Inspector that has sub fields. Its sole purpose is to just be a bucket of data, but you have no real need to share it between classes in Unity or have it be universal in any way.

Sounds like a good use for the C# struct, right?

Nah. Unity doesn’t roll that way. You want a plain old class. No inheriting from MonoBehavior nor ScriptableObject. Just decorate that bad boy with [System.Serializable].

Wait, Unity’s default code files don’t include System? I suppose I can see why, as I haven’t noticed ’til now, but years of working with XNA/Monogame led me to not see that coming…

Do consider, however, whether a ScriptableObject might not be right for you.