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.
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:
It felt wrong that my books were bigger than Dr. Seuss’s.
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 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.
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.
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 needed to make a mockup of the videogame I wanted to make. So I started with this:
I just grabbed a background off of DuckDuckGo. After all, there was no way I was gonna keep it. The actual background will be particular to the game.
Still, I wanted to stretch the grassy bit so none of the characters was floating in the air. And it would be nice if the backdrop fit the color palette I’ve been tweaking over the last three years. So I made an attempt to push it closer to my palette, and make it fit the characters. While I was at it, I smeared things around with a rough brush.
I shouldn’t’ve. It doesn’t matter after all. This will never be used in a final game. It’s wasted effort, it is.
Well, Sunday I don’t work on whatever my project o’ the month is. And since work on the background doesn’t count as work on the game, as the final game will have backgrounds made to order for the story, I decided to mess around with it a little.
The story is finished. Here are the next steps I plan:
Produce an additional 10 or so pages of character art/random illustrations in a finished state.
Make the damn book out of the storyboard pages, with the extra pages slotted in.
Have a printer’s proof made thereof.
Let it lie for at least one month.
Run a Kickstarter to fund editing and production.
If the Kickstarter funds, make a comic book!
I think I’m gonna spend a couple months playing with vidya. Running a Kickstarter in December is unwise because everyone’s broke with the Christmas spending. Running a Kickstarter in January is unwise because everyone is still broke with the Christmas spending. But February? February is fine. February is more than fine. People are starting to get their tax returns in.
So I’m thinking “What can I do to create the basis of my JRPG engine? Why not start by rebuilding Final Fantasy I, except my way!”
Or even Wizardry. Anyway, the point is not to end up with a Final Fantasy clone, but to create a small game using my RPG mechanics.
For that I need stand in characters. A real game developer (by which I mean a pragmatic game developer) would draw a rectangle, put an arrow on it so you know which way it’s facing, and make it different colors for different classes. I’m going to compromise. I’m not going to spend a lot of time animating, but I will print of several sheets of Piqha templates, and draw different Piqha over them, and since I’m thinking Final Fantasy I for my starting point, I’ll go ahead and take inspiration in these placeholder designs.