I’ve got a bunch of ideas whirling about right now. They’re not organized, and I’m blogging them because it’s better to have them out than in. This is going to take into account many of my recent adventures.
So, on a lark, I decided to try printing out templates to just draw twitter/KDP formatted comics on. And the idea, then, was I would just draw whatever I felt like. Hopefully, with the constraint that I am just scribbling ideas down, I can generate 2 or more per day, and after a month or two, show up with the best 30.
After my visit with my man, Greg, last weekend, I decided that trying to make things cheaply and quick needed to take a back seat to considering why a thing is awesome and looking for the awesomeness. My man, Greg, said, of spending more time and effort on a project, “is that effort worthwhile?”
While I mulled it over, I tinkered with making an HD hand drawn game.
After debating it for a while, I realized that hand drawing a black and white, three panel comic is not bad. I just need to be focusing on creating the best thing I can rather than being as efficient as I can. So I jumped back on the train of trying to crank out 2+ comics a day. And this time, I just jumped into trying to make Jump the Shark / Crossover Arcade.
The art is getting nicer and nicer. There are some really good moments. I’m starting to be actually proud of some of the stuff I’m cranking out.
But the thing is, I’m not just alpha-testing my kids’ books as a comic. I’m dumping anything I think of on the page. I’m using this format to exorcise my inventions. Then I can further develop any that I consider worthwhile. So, interspersed with me laying down the start of a Jump the Shark story, this happens:
So, for the next few weeks, my plan is to keep cranking out comics, keep praying and considering my next move. When I’m active on producing a project, such as when I do the Kickstarter for Awesome Moments, I will aim at a maintenance pace of one comic per day. Otherwise I’ll try to alternate months of building up backlog (2+ per day) and months of maintaining. But today, I may, may work on creating an animated mini knight sprite instead.
Because I can’t find my pens. Which is pretty serious. And will be the focus of an intense search once the house is roused, but I’ve gone as far as I can without rousing the house, and I need to tap my creative hours while I still got ’em.
So, the first step in building a part-swap based character is what I call the Solar Guard. The Solar Guard is low resolution, and has as many spikes sticking out as far as possible, so that future characters drawn over the top of the solar guard have plenty of room for crests, ornamentation, and the like. That’s this guy:
And the solar guard for my robots?
I figured a spear and a shield would be a good way to get maximum size and make sure enough space was reserved in the picture, and this certainly looks cool but… I’m rethinking that. I’m starting to think I want to approach the arms differently. Create something more universal and less dedicated for the base arm, and have shields, spears, etcetera, fold out when used.
Cache Miss? Crossover Arcade? Alpha Test?
To be honest, I’m thinking of naming the comic Brain Dump, or else, ADHD On Purpose. My one guiding principle is I have no guiding principles. If I have a thought and my pens, down goes a 3-panel comic. My hope is that if I produce fast enough and many enough, eventually I will be able to curate quality stories out of a mountain of mostly trash drawings.
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.
What if the handheld game console on which the sprites lived was a spaceship. Or more accurately, a ship designed to navigate the Dream, where stories have substance. And a piqha family uses that ship to rescue story characters who are being jettisoned by a mind virus that is ravaging the fictional worlds of the Dream.
It’s Wreck it Ralph meets Kingdom Hearts. Except politically too on the nose.
But the on-the-noseness will abate as the concept sees development. As I work out the rules of the reality and the motivations of the characters.
I think this is it. I think I’ve solved my story equation.
Only problem is this thing. This thing ain’t no spaceship.
Piqha started as digital creatures that live inside the computer who were characters for a game I made when I was a teenager.
I later decided they were not, in fact digital, but were some kind of psychic mollusk, and noted that they had many, many advantages as a creature design:
They are basically faces with feet and stylized shells. Easy to model in 3D, easy to get a wide range of character styles while keeping to the core concept.
Piqha are my creatures. Like the muppets of Jim Henson and the Whos of Seuss. In addition to being very marketable and very personable, they feature a lot of things I like. Basic shapes. Big, expressive faces, Marvin Martian style glowing eyes in an orb of darkness. Cool armor effects. And crystals. Gotta have glowing crystals everywhere.
Yesterday, I learned how to use LeanTween’s spline-following functions, and attempted to create an interface using Unity’s UI. It went horribly wrong and mucked up my input, so I’ve ditched it for… rolling my own buttons.
Today, work has begun anew on the radial menu. And I have the radial menu spawning on command at the location of my choosing, with as many buttons as I like, and gracefully disappearing on command as well.
Cool beans. Now I need to tie it to actions and teach it to accept input.
I have to say I love the sheer amount of math involved that A) I don’t have to do, and B) I don’t even have to understand. How do you move an object along a spline? Hell if I know; Lean Tween will handle it for me. How do you rotate a spline around an arbitrary axis point so that multiple icons will follow the same path, except rotated? Hell if I know; Unity will handle it for me.
Input’s going to be a tad bit tricky. Mouse and touch will be easy, but the point of a radial menu is that you press a direction with the stick or D-Pad and get the button in that direction. I’m going to have to figure out a general solution that works on every number of buttons. But first, I guess I better do some plumbing.