Captain’s Log 0210507.084

I’ve decided to storyboard a book in which Jump the Shark fights a giant robot on a volcano. Standard Kid’s Pulp formula faire, designed to be read to your kid in 7 minutes before bed, and yet be entertaining for all.

This is partly due to peer pressure…

Partly due to the fact that I’ve pursued my prototyping comic extensively for the last couple of weeks, and, stepping back, I’m not sure what I think of it. I think I’m investing too much effort for something I’m supposed to be able to take or leave on the cutting room floor, but not enough effort for something I’d like to sell.

For the last week or so, I’ve been assuming the comic is a resounding success that adequately pursues my goals while giving enough headway to my ADHD to avoid being confounded by it. But now I’m not sure. I want to trash or heavily revise two or three long-running storylines in the comic — and fair enough. It was designed so I could take it or leave it — but I’ve invested enough in the art that it’s a genuine emotional struggle.

Making a formula book is a good way to take a step back. It gives me the boost of adding another finished product to my lineup. It allows me to focus on all the lessons I’ve learned making books thus far, whereas more “serious” work, while incorporating those lessons, isn’t focused on them. It’s also a good dose of humility. I need to remind myself that my artistic pretensions are no substitute for skill, and what I want is not more important than what my audience wants.

And it’s an excuse to just have fun. The Jump the Shark books are me bullshitting for the sake of bullshitting for the entertainment of myself and my offspring. And, probably because they have that energy, people respond to them.

But frankly, there’s a part of me that thinks I should just make big ol’ children’s books. It’s the one win I ever get. I am inevitably drawn off that path, and yet whenever I step back on the path, things work out better. If I just stuck with it, I might see some proper success, too.

Anyway, I’m considering switching from a workflow of making these comics every day to a workflow of just building draft PDFs of children’s books. Maybe do a few pages of Jump the Shark, a few of Hat Trick, whatever strikes my fancy, all of them by the book and hewing to the formula (until such time as I have mastered the formula) and then produce whichever one is ready to go first.

In side news, I’ve been sculpting Crossover Arcade characters to fit in a toy voxel diorama world.

I really like this look. I want to use it for something some day. A book perhaps. But that’s… a lot more work between here and a finished product (although it will have the advantage that each finished book will make sequels exponentially easier due to asset reuse).

Captain’s Log 0210416.105: It Could Be a Bit More Awesome

Thanks to a retreat last weekend with my best friend, I realized that I’ve been focusing heavily on what is pragmatic in my constant quest for a golden workflow road.

No project is worth doing unless it’s full of awesome. Now, all of my projects have that potential, but I have not been specifically seeking that potential out. I’ve been looking for a way to do cheap and easy, instead of investing time.

I’m not sure how this revelation (which I need to rediscover from time to time) is going to shape projects in the immediate future. Awesome Moments itself may resume being my focus on the other side of the Weekend. However, we shall see.

In the mean time, here’s a workflow for making HD animations using Spriter & Krita:

Step 1: create prototype graphics at half size. Be careful about form and posture, and sloppy about everything else. The initial version of a character, especially if I intend to use character maps, should have out-jutty things designed to ensure each part takes up as much space as it ever likely will.

Here’s the Solar Guard, created for that exact purpose:

Step 2: Export at 4X size (that is, 2x the intended size; 4x the ‘sketch’ size) and animate in Spriter. Here, I am intending to shrink the graphic in Unity. By going to 4X size, I can allow for an amount of zooming without losing detail.

Step 3: Open the generated graphics in Krita and save them as *.kra files. Double the size once more, draw final quality art on new layers, then export it to a new skin folder at half size as png.

Apply skin in Spriter and see how it looks.

I may abandon shading on characters, in line with old cartoons where the backdrops were carefully painted and shaded, but the characters had flat coloring except in extreme situations. But I am content with this workflow and this art style.

I think after I’m done with Awesome Moments and in between books, I’m going to work on making a hand drawn game with Piqha. Maybe it’ll be an RPG. Maybe a platformer. Maybe I’ll work on both and see what happens. Maybe I’ll backburner Awesome Moments until my heart is in it again.

We’ll see what happens. But I need to feed my kid and the farm aminals.

Captain’s Log 0210408.043

I am kind of sort of burned out.

Work on Awesome Moments is at present stalled out. I’ve received proofs, done some out-loud read-thru edits, which I need to translate back into the PDF, and…

This post is gonna be long and self-indulgent, so I’ll stick the fold right here, and less a progress report than me writing down thoughts on why progress is stalled in hopes that explaining the problems to random people on the internet will cause my mind to settle on a solution I actually like.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log 0210408.043”

Captain’s Log 0210326.071

Proof is in.

Blanket Octopus : pics

Oops. That’s not my proof. That’s a blanket octopus. The females fly through the sea with superhero capes. The males went undiscovered until very recently because they max out at an inch long.

Ahem.

Image
Image

Work on getting my paperwork squared away for the Kickstarter proceeds slowly. My first read through of the book as already identified multiple grievous errors.

And I feel this close to figuring out my ‘golden path’.

wait, what?

Captain’s log: 0210320.054

The PDF of the Awesome Moments draft is done and can be downloaded here. Right now, I’ve just posted it to my subscribestar on a public post (so you don’t have to offer me money to get it).

Awesome Moments 1, maybe all of Awesome Moments, was always meant to be freely available to anyone. I want money, yeah, but I want people to have easy access to my religion even more. I think ultimately, the PDF of the finished book is going to be available on gumroad or something.

Yesterday I slept through my alarm and, being between tasks on the Awesome Moments project, made some half-hearted stabs at setting up the Kickstarter. There’s going to be a hiccup in the process of getting that going: despite it being several months since moving states, I still don’t have a lot of paperwork sorted out. So I guess getting my paperwork sorted is now officially working on my book!

Proofs are in the mail.

I included 4 ‘blank’ pages at the end of the proof, in case I decide I need to insert more pages to make the book work. Any more than 4, and I have to remove pages to get pages. Ideally, they remain blank, and I can use them in future prints to advertise the later books in the series.

But my brother suggested that any blank pages at the back of the book be turned into coloring pages. “Kids are going to color in books either way. Might as well have an officially sanctioned place for ’em to do it,” he reasons.

Well, it’s not a terrible. idea. In fact, I would like to make coloring books. I have avoided doing so thus far simply because I’ve yet to dig out a POD service like unto KDP in ease of use, and because everything I’ve made doesn’t naturally fit that format without extra work.

I broached the idea of making storybooks and just not coloring them on twitter and someone suggested the obvious thing I was missing:

Duh.

I’m not sure if I’m going to take that tack with Awesome Moments 1, or wait until my next book. It’s a tiny bit of bonus work, but it may be worthwhile just so I can sell a version of the book for $4 instead of $12.

I always get hung up on the price of my products. I should charge top dollar and make it worth my while, but I’m podunk, born and bred, and I want my people to be able to buy my stuff.

Continue reading “Captain’s log: 0210320.054”

Captain’s Log 0210315.061: A little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Not much to say. I left y’all on page 36. We begin this week on page 44. In addition to transcribing a handful of pages, I sculpted a face designed to look enough like Clay to be related, but distinct and different. This face will serve for Joseph and Jesse and I have named it Bo.

I’m not happy with the nose. My rough idea was take everything that was triangular and make it square, and I’m mostly okay with it. I also made this guy:

He wasn’t meant for the Awesome Moments books, but I might stick his head on a random bystander. I meant to make a political cartoon with him but then I thought better of it. His face is distinctive enough, though, that I do not regret making him.

Well! Time to transcribe until I can take it no more, at which point it is time to do something else. Preferably create art that can be used in the Kickstarter. At this rate, I should finish the PDF this week, though that may be tomorrow or Thursday, depending on how I manage to get on.

Captain’s Log 0210312.064: A critical workflow lesson.

It’s Report Day. We got the cover art made:

Created puppets for the fallen serpent, and for the floating mountain/garden/ziggurat of Eden/New Jerusalem:

We also, in what is a super tedious process, made it through page 36 of transcribing the storyboards into Scribus. I’m becoming more and more familiar with the software, finding ways to make it behave. So that’s good. But this sucks and I never want to do it again.

This book is not the first book I’ve storyboarded, nor the last. Fortunately, most of the others are comic books, which wouldn’t use this process to begin with, and the exception is my Bestiary, which is still in tinker mode.

I settled on this method after my previous books.

Jump the Shark 1 was storyboarded on paper. Alphabeasts had no storyboard at all, just concept sketches for the characters. Death of Arthur was storyboarded on index cards. And Pirate Princess was written, with no illustrations, to test the Kids’ Pulp Formula.

The result was that for three books, I wrote to illustrations, and for the fourth, I illustrated to the writing. I was dissatisfied with both approaches. I felt I ought to write and illustrate at the same time, so that the words and pictures could be designed to support each other and edited at the same time. And thus I have done. In each case, I create a template with margin lines and some sample text at the target point size in Inkscape, then import this template into Krita:

Then I draw and write what I intend to draw and write in Krita. Krita’s text tools are not nearly so accurate or useful, though, so I do it with the knowledge that I’m just composing and positioning the text to get a rough idea of where it’s gonna go…

With the idea that for the first draft, I’ll import the storyboard image minus the text into Scribus, and type the text in. This is the step I’m on now in Awesome Moments 1.

Now, Scribus isn’t embedding the image data in the .sla document. It’s pulling it from disk. Which means when I finish the final quality image, I should be able to just save it over the storyboard image, and it will magically update in Scribus. Nice!

Problem is I can’t just copy and paste the text over from Krita to Scribus, and retyping everything is tedious as heck. I want to tear my hear out after two or three pages.

I think, henceforth, I shall be composing my storyboards IN Scribus. I’ll add the pages in the appropriate place, save a “storyboard image” that is nothing more or less than the template in the appropriate folder, then I’ll type the text into Scribus, and draw the art in Krita, saving over the template image as I go.

It is, alas, too late to do this for Awesome Moments 1. I am committed to see the drudgery through. But the pain will serve to strengthen the lesson.

Anyway, I become increasingly doubtful I’ll be ready to Kickstart even by the Equinox. I’m moving the target to April.

Tomorrow I have to do farmhand stuff during my normal creative block, and Sunday is for the Lord. I’ll try and make headway on the PDF draft today, and burn off my aggravation by sculpting things that will actually be useful for the campaign. But I have to allow that this may be the end of the progress for this week, and if I have more to show when I start up again on Monday, it’s a gift from God to me.

Frankly, the realization that I find this process tedious, and I could have composed the storyboards in Scribus from the very start is a gift.

Captain’s Log 0210309.073: Cover Me

The correct time to make this update was yesterday, but I was unfortunately hijacked by dogsitting.

The original intended launch date for my crowdfund is the Ides of March, a week from yesterday. In that time, I aim to:

  • Create a 3D mockup of the book.
  • Create the PDF of the first draft and send it to Amazon for a print test
  • Create the trailer for the fund.
  • Pick one of the more spectacular pages or 2-page spreads and produce it as an example of the finished project.

I strongly doubt I can accomplish all of this in that time. It’s just barely possible, but I’d have to devote a lot more time to work on it per day. So my new plan is to have it ready for launch on the Ides, but to actually launch it on the Equinox.

A couple of notes

Got a new brush in the mail: a Princeton Round # 2 mini-detailer. The Windsor and Newton is more frizzy than an angora goat, and has been disposed of. At some point in the next few days, I need to create some big scene that I can illustrate with the tombows, the pentel, and the brush, so I can get a feel for the differences.

Spent yesterday tinkering on my RPG engine.

I finished out Tuesday by modelling Zoe, our puppet to play Eve and (probably) Mary and making a test drawing of the expulsion, which resulted in the above cartoon.

And just today, I tried shrinking the heads on the puppets to 80%. Because I always go overboard with the cartoon proportions.

Looks much better. It still looks cartoony enough for my tastes.

In real life, a person is 6.5 to 7 heads tall. Comic book or idealized proportions are usually around, what, 8 heads tall? According to this image I cribbed from Jesse White, 8.5 heads tall.

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 9.07.20 AM

How do Clay and Zoe stack up with the 0.8 heads?

Three and change apiece. But again, I’m going out of my way to produce cartoon characters, not comic book characters.

So here’s the to-do list of next tasks:

  • Finish transferring the storyboard to the PDF
  • Sculpt an angelic dragon to play the Serpent of Eden.
  • Create a full page illustration in a finished style, for promotion purposes.
  • Create a reasonable facsimile of the cover.

These can be done in any order, as I feel like. All of them need to be done before I can launch the crowdfund, and none of them is dependent on any other (although modeling the Serpent opens up possibilities for both the illustration and the cover).

I’ve been focusing on the creative work because it’s more fun. E.g. the next thing I “want” to do is sculpt the serpent. The theory I gave on Monday is that I can do the busywork (transferring the PDF) any time. But if any time never comes, it never gets done.

Eh. Let’s make the serpent today. We’ll do a variation on this picture:

With the new proportions and the serpent in the middle for the cover. After all, a good way to think of book 1 is the Kings of Earth. Adam, Satan, and Christ, are the three entities who can reasonably claim to be King of the Earth.

I’ll try and schedule a block of busy work for this afternoon/evening and see how it goes before I decide to double down and finish the PDF during my prime creation hours.

Update

There’s a start.

Additional Update

That’ll do.

I’ve finished modelling Clay.

And I got a Pentel Pocket Brush in the mail. Left is the Pentel, right is the Tombows, using the Pentel to fill in the blacks.

The pocket brush affords me much of the same life that the Windsor & Newton did, but more controlled. I can almost, almost draw with it. I think there’s a small but serious chance that with practice, the pocket brush may become my favorite way to ink. I think there is a larger chance that I will continue to work with some combination of the pocket brush and the Tombows.

Here we are colored in.

Next tasks on the list:

  • Produce a page in the chosen style. Using just Clay, here, I can produce page 4 or 5 (or both).
  • Sculpt models for Eve and for the Serpent.
  • Finish transferring the storyboard graphics and 1st draft text over into Scribus. (We’ve barely started, but I made an executive decision to work on the sculpts because transferring pages over is busywork, and can be done when I’m creatively tapped out).
  • Compose the first draft of the the Kickstarter pitch
  • Create the draft Kickstarter campaign so I can begin designing the graphics needed to make it work.
  • Contact people willing or likely to help me publicize my campaign.

Obviously, sculpting a naked caricature of whatever I think is the standard of feminine beauty, or a freaking angel dragon, are the most fun things on the to-do list.