Status Report 0210118.053

Vargenstone

Vargenstone remains where it was last time I last time I spoke…

…and while I am going to try and get some serious work on it done this week, I’m not going to stress over it while I’m the only guy changing anything.

Theria

Meanwhile, I feel like I’m done with the virtual pet for now. Not permanently, but I was doing it to scratch an itch and the itch is scratched. I will probably continue adding pages to the book storyboard at a rate of one or two per week so that I’ve have a huge head start when the project gets the limelight.

Hat Trick

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Goofing around

Today is Sunday. Sunday I goof around. The other post I did today is work, but I didn’t do the work today, I did it yesterday.

My work on Alpha Test/ Retro Reboot still calls to me in other ways. Why not make a comic strip, even if it’s not pixel art? Why not just draw it? Why not prototype stuff in this manner? So today I tested a process for hand drawing a strip in this fashion and… I don’t really like what came out.

But I didn’t put a lot of effort into it either. I wonder what it would look like if I tried to make a book or two worth of stuff in this way.

Well, maybe I’ll find out some other day.

Super Saiyan Jesus

Family has the sniffles, so we’re skipping church this week, alas. Today I decided to draw Super Saiyan Jesus.

Step 1

It’s a bit dodgy. I’m not supposed to work on my project o the month on Sunday, but it’s not December yet, and this is not a storyboard for Awesome Moments, and I feel like doing it, so it doesn’t technically count.

So this is a ‘pencil’ sketch composed in Krita. My ideal workflow is to convert this to cyan, print it out on cardstock, and then ink it with my Tombow brush pens. The ideal workflow will be used for this picture, but may not be useable for the awesome moments books; my printer is not capable of printing or scanning large enough pictures for the U.S. Letter size book I aim to make.

But there are workarounds: printers exist that can manage big enough papers, and are available at high (for starving artists like myself) but reasonable prices. It’s possible my church may have an industrial printer that I can borrow which will solve all my problems. And at the last resort, I have determined I can ink it digitally, even though I really, really don’t want to. That was the whole point of making this picture:

I’m going to post this blog post right here, right now. But I’ll come back to it as I accomplish further steps on Super Saiyan Jesus drawing because I believe it will serve as a useful illustration I can point people back to when discussing making my books.

Step 2

It’s good to slap down a picture as quick as you can, and then walk away from it for a few minutes. All sorts of tweaks begin to suggest themselves.

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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.

Hypostasis

Growing up with an artistic bent, I constantly received two sermons.

  1. Art is just work. Do the work, research the market, get paid. Thinking about muses and inspiration and all that baloney is just the excuses of the lazy and incompetent.
  2. Art is this epic, painful struggle where you pour out your soul, and then have to defy the crass moneylenders who want to change this hallowed thing you have have created.

Neimeier neatly solves the conflict.

The ancient Romans had a saying, Ars longa, vita brevis. Moderns take it to mean that life is short, but works of art last.

We post-Renaissance types get the, “Life is short,” part right. But ancients and Medievals didn’t restrict the meaning of ars to “fine art”. For them, it could apply to any craft.

The equivalent Greek word is techne. That’s a big clue that everybody before the Modern era would have put Michelangelo and Steve Jobs in the same general category. Both made stuff according to a standard.

That’s really what writing is. A carpenter makes a birdhouse by putting wood, nails, and glue together in the right configuration. An author makes a book by doing the same thing with character, setting, and conflict.

Art is craft. Craft is art. That simple.

Ancients and Medievals understood that man is spirit and flesh at once, and thus all of his actions have a spiritual dimension. There is a role for both Martha and Mary. The shoemaker is no less holy than St. Anthony.

Cartesian philosophy, with its crude mind-body dualism, caused a rupture between the mystical and the mundane that’s since plagued Western thought. The body perishes, but the soul is immortal, so the soul must take priority.

Christendom has always had a bent towards the Gnostic. John writes against it in his first epistle. And of course, we’ve always called it a heresy from the first, but a heresy wouldn’t last long enough to get a name if it were not easy to slip into.

Especially in Baptist circles, which is very much the heartbeat of the American religious heritage. Part of the impetus in claiming Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are mere symbols is the very wrong instinct that God wouldn’t act using crude matter.

Entangled minds and the evidence for your psychic ...

But He does. He always has. E=MC² tells us even luminous beings are crude matter. God was up to His elbows in the material world from the instant He said “Let there be light.”

Conversely, physical acts like kneeling, breathing, speaking, are at once also spiritual acts.

This is one of the unique points of Christian theology.

C.S. Lewis held that religions tend to fall into two camps. You either deny yourself, take up your cross and reject the material world. Or you embrace the material world. You slaughter a bull to the gods and feast on its flesh, and then sleep with a ritual prostitute, or else you practice austere self-discipline. Christianity is a middle way. No! It is a both way. It is an incarnational way. A hypostatic way.

To worship the Muse, to agonize for her embrace, this is a Gnostic thing. We are not gnostics.

To reject the Muse, to subject goodness, truth and beauty, this is a materialist thing. We are not materialists.

Artistic integrity, as it turns out, is nothing more or less than when a carpenter has an opportunity to lay down a sloppy floor in a corner or a closet, and save a few minutes or a few dollars, but chooses to do it right, right down to the bones of the house, because he is a carpenter and that is his job.

We are artists with skin in the game. We are craftsmen with soul in the game.


Here’s the head of an epic tweet thread discussing the creation of Lord of the Rings. I’m not sure how this accords with my philosophy. It’s a necessary data point, however.

This is a test…

Obviously, these panels are not finished. But I need to see if WordPress’s gallery feature behaves as I expect.

In other news, I briefly toyed with making Alpha Test out of HD sprites and backgrounds. It would be… really sweet. But it would be too much work.

For now.

Image

All right. Let’s finalize ’em and try a different gallery layout.

Horizontal.

Vertical.

Captain’s Log 0201027084: Dropping Pretenses

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Two weeks of wheel spinning. The work on Alpha Test is not nothing, but I’ve made zero progress on Hat Trick 0.

I’ve stated in the past that I have moved from a habit starting and leaving off projects to a habit of getting them done. And that is what 2019 indeed looked like. But 2020, I’ve looked like my old self, minus the emotional disorder.

Doesn’t mean I’m going to give up or lay down in die or stop making things. Just means I gotta stop bragging about traits I thought I’d acquired, but it turns out I haven’t.

I think come All Saints day, I’m going to switch from pretending I’m working on Hat Trick to a smaller project. Take a definitive month off. I may make it just part of my workflow, only to spend a month on any given project. If project A is not done at the end of month A, I switch to B, and then switch back to A at the end of month B. It might be a way to harness my twitchy/flakey instincts and make them work for me.

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