This week in making Kids’ books:

Having converted to the deck box method of making books, this week’s goal is to continue to seed my box. At least a couple of cards each day.

On the theory that Awesome Moments is the cluster most likely to be harvested next, and having done some “3D sketches” to get my knack back:

Each day, after seeding my deck, I intend to complete or retopo a sculpt to build up a library of pieces to use in future books. And I think I’ve worked out a guiding principle. I decided to post a challenge to teh twitterz (sic):

Continue reading “This week in making Kids’ books:”

Sculpting Warmup

This is part 3 of 2. Part 1 is why I’ve stopped work on Hat Trick for now (I have and I haven’t), part 2 is I’m likely to work on Awesome Moments next (we’ll see), and this is less a member of the series and more the fallout of that decision.

Here’s a bunch of pictures I’ve made by slapping down a 3D render, and then painting over it.

It’s not the only way I do things. I can also paint stuff without relying on 3D to cheat.

Wren Fall

And I left out the more egregious examples where the end result looked worse for the technique rather than better.

But I’d like to use the technique for Awesome Moments.

Or more specifically, I’d like to use a variation on the technique.

I would like to create a library of character pieces that I can mix and match to create a wide cast of characters. Stick Head A on Body B with Legs Q, and we all have the same hand model…

With each book I release, the new parts exponentially increase the number of characters, situations, etcetera, I can use. But first, I have to settle on a style and build the parts library for a single story.

It’s been about a year since I last did anything serious in 3D. I was starting to get a knack for sculpting in Blender when I made a lamb for a nibling.

But that knack has gone. And so, last night and today, I have been working on relearning how to sculpt in Blender.

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Awesome Moments

This is part 2; part 1, where I am with Hat Trick, is here.

Around Christmas last year, my wife set up a crèche, and my kid was all like, “What’s that?”

The child was directed to her father, who punted. It was an excellent punt. I wanted to weave a tale that spanned from a dragon tempting Adam, the first King of Earth, in a garden, to the return of Christ, the second Adam, nestling the nativity right into its context. But my brain wasn’t quick enough to manage it, so I just read a bit from the beginning of Matthew or Luke.

“Oh, gee, darn” the perceptive among you are saying. “You only relied on God’s words instead of your own words. What a terrible outcome.”

It’s okay. There’s sarcasm in the Bible. God thinks it’s funny too.

And I agree. Better to rely on the Word of God than man’s words.

Here’s the thing: Christianity is this epic thing. Angels and Dragons wrestling with flaming swords behind the curtain of reality. Echoes of Christ back to Adam and forward to the end, which is the new beginning.

And the available kids’ books are… well, they are sanitary. The heady communal wine has been replaced with grape juice. In sippy cups. And it’s probably really peach juice with artificial grape flavoring.

I’m not saying let’s break out the book of Judges or the Song of Solomon and read ’em to our five year olds. But our five year olds do need the death and resurrection of Jesus, which means there’s a level of sanitizing that you just shouldn’t do.

It’s an old conundrum on this blog. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “As far as that goes, I side impenitently with the human race against the modern reformer. Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end the book.”

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I drew a picture today

I put in my 2 pages today (3, actually), and then, for the heck of it, I entered a contest on the internet.

(Yesterday, alas, my progress on Hat Trick was a couple of cards written for the card box seed. I had to stay out of the house while it was fumigated).

The contest is to replicate the following image in one’s own style:

Image

And here is my entry:

Image

This marks the first time since I moved to Minnesota that I did an illustration start to finish. All the drawing I’ve done ’til now has been concept work or draft work. And, as I won’t have a book draft ready to produce for a good while, the pattern seems liable to hold.

thoughts occur

Zettelkasten

So, right now, I’m taking notes on blank playing cards.

There was some German sociologist who got the bright idea of keeping his notes in a box and numbering them 1, 2, 3, 2a, 2a1… etc… and allowing clusters to develop naturally. When a cluster got large enough, he could turn the cluster into a book. In this manner, he published some 80 books in his adult lifetime.

I’m neither a sociologist nor a great respecter of sociology. But I hypothesize this method can result in superior books on my part if I just do card notes for whatever I feel like tinkering with, and then ‘harvest’ clusters of cards to convert to my current bookmaking workflow. An Awesome Moments cluster has already started to develop.

Which brings me to my current labors on Hat Trick.

Hat Trick 2: Night Mare Nightmare, AKA Hat Trick 1: Night Mare Nightmare, consists of two parts. Part one is a story about Arthur Rabbit as a child, and is almost mapped out. Part two is the proper sequel of Hat Trick 1: The Death of Arthur, AKA Hat Trick 0: The Death of Arthur, and wraps up Arthur’s struggle with the Night Mare. The idea is to make the second book a worthy sequel to the first book, while at the same time making it able to stand alone as a comic book and to serve as a new, better foundation for the series.

Part 2 of Book 2 is not well conceived and planned. Up til now, my method of storymaking has been to plow ahead and see what I come up with, albeit I do start with the climax in mind, so I have some assurance that the story will work, and I do typically lay out an act-based plot structure before writing.

I have been considering planting HT2 it in my card case and harvesting it when it grows ripe, just converting my entire workflow to this new zettelkasten system. However, now I have a better idea. I will finish the mockup for part 1, plant the second story in the card case, and start seeding the card case for whatever I feel like. When Part 2 is ready to harvest, I’ll mock up the rest of the comic.

The result is Hat Trick 2 has been changed from definitely my next book to probably my next book.

My next book is whichever ripens first.

I will keep this blog updated with the statuses of the seeds in my card box. By way of example, the Awesome Moments cluster is currently about 15 cards, including 6 concept pages. The Hat Trick cluster has nothing, but over the next couple of days, it should grow quite a bit.

The Week of DOOOOOOOM!

So, last week was rather pathetic. Monday, nothing. Tuesday, nothing. Wednesday through Friday, the bare minimum amount of work.

This week, on Monday, I got three pages storyboarded. I was pumped. We were finally picking up speed.

Tuesday I had to help my brother make hay all day. No problem. I’ll just spend all of Wednesday working on the comic.

Wednesday, the tent housing all my belongings blew away in a strong wind, leaving my stuff out in the elements. I spent the whole day trying to recover everything, all of Thursday making more hay, and Friday recovering.

So we went from six pages in a week to three. Not good.

I need to re-evaluate my workflow and goals and bring them in line with reality. I have a couple of thoughts on this, but they are going to wait while I develop them.

Monday update

Last week the goal was two pages (e.g. one two-page spread) per day, Monday through Friday.

I only got six instead of the intended ten.

This week, same goal. I want to do twice that, two spreads per day, and I may attempt it on certain days, but I have to stack hay for my brother and get some of the moving in done, so I’m leaving the bar where it is.

Here’s today’s pages.

If you want to see the rest of the storyboards, I’ll be putting them on my SubscribeStar on Friday.

Looking at it, I don’t think a subscription service is necessarily the best way to do this. I will be debating over the course of the week whether I should adjust it, or what. The real idea behind the SubscribeStar, though is not to get the comic early or see behind the scenes… it’s so people who want me to make kids books can help me out with that. The Behind the Scenes bits are just there because why not?

Anyway, ONWARD!

The path ahead

In my last post, I went over the tests that have led me to a new workflow. I also said I needed to move to another state.

Well, I’ve moved. It’s time to start up my production machine.

Patreon is having some legal issues, and while I feel like they are liable to survive the immediate kerfuffle, their handling of it does not bode well for a long and salutary future. Fortunately, migrating my Patreon audience to SucribeStar is easy: I don’t have one yet.

My SubscribeStar is not set up fully yet. That’s what we’re doing right here right now, and we’re kicking it off with a preview of the comic book I’m working on.

go on

Gearing up for Hat Trick 2

I was forced to replace my laptop recently, and I took it as an opportunity to test out Clip Studio Paint, as I already have a license for it.

Clip Studio, for those who don’t know, used to be Manga Studio. It is a Japanese program designed for making comic books. I tried to use it to make Alphabeasts, but alas, it does not make PDFs without A) the Japanese version (which I don’t have) and B) a paid plugin for said Japanese version.

But drawing and making comic books is what it’s made for, right?

Well, it works. I like the sleek, smooth lines the inking tools give. I like how buttery and fluid the paint feels. I was very frustrated by the hotkeys and workflow, but that’s to be expected when using a new program. To a degree, you can customize it, and to a degree, you just have to learn it.

Okay, and…