Status of the Blog 11/30/15

  • On November 30, 2015 ·
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There’s no podcast today because Ian and I took the weekend off after Thanksgiving to spend with our families. I would, however, like to give everybody an update on how I’m doing and, by extension, how the site’s doing.

I’ve been on anxiety meds around 4 months now. It’s helped considerably though I’m still sorting some things out. Next time I go back to my doctor I’m going to ask him about seeing a therapist. The constant background hum of anxiety has quieted, for the most part. I’m able to concentrate and if I want to stop thinking about something I usually can now. I’m still working on getting a proper sleep every night. If I go to bed early I can wake up before midnight. If I stay up too late and try to get up at 5 I’ll feel exhausted, agitated, and the anxiety comes back. I took a bit of a break recently where I focused on getting more rest because I felt like I wasn’t getting enough time alone to recharge.

That brings me to something else I’m working on – dealing with other people. I’m an introvert. I like my quiet time where I’m able to clear my head. I’m trying to be better about being sociable. I have trouble telling people I need time to myself without feeling like a recluse. I also have a problem of feeling like an anxiety funnel. I love my family but they all have similar issues like mine they shrug off and let build up in the wrong places.

I noticed the other day it’d been a year since I said I was going to bring back the Daily Doodles after the holidays. I don’t post enough of my art online. I don’t draw enough in general. I’d planned to spend some time drawing ahead and post pieces from the pile daily. If running webcomics has taught me anything it’s that publishing daily or just regular content can be a hard habit to keep up. Back then I’d hit the exhaustion issue, feeling like I was working too hard just to get a doodle finished every day and the “real” work was getting pushed to the side. I miss the exercise.

So I’m officially announcing Daily Doodles are coming back to the site. I’m not exactly sure how the practice is going to go this time around but I’m looking forward to it.

Status of the Blog 05/11/15

  • On May 11, 2015 ·
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Hey how’s it going? Been pretty busy lately so I figured I’d share another SotB to let everybody know what’s going on.

Site Stuff

Had another fatal memory error crop up that I finally resolved last night. Also, you’ll notice I changed the Projects List system. I liked the idea of having a tracker for things I’m working on but the plugin I was using basically kept everything outside of the blog with it’s own specific post type. The way I’m going to try doing it now should use posts and pages, which you figure would naturally integrate better than they do. Now when I post about a project it’ll show up on the project’s dedicated page. This will hopefully encourage more regular blogging.

Stencyl Jam 15 Project Canceled

I’ve decided my project for Stencyl Jam 15 just wasn’t coming together. I’d developed three different ideas for it and didn’t give myself enough time to fully realize any of them. If you’d like to take a look at the prototypes I put together you can see them in the video for this week’s NoRights Podcast.

New Webcomic

As I said on last week’s podcast I’ll be launching a new comic this summer. Lately I’ve been thinking about the font. I’ve built fonts out of my handwriting before and I think they’re about due for an update. I’m also having to do research for this story as there’s dates and events involved.

Status of the Blog 04/29/15

  • On April 29, 2015 ·
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Here’s a quick update on my Stencyl Jam 15 entry. I spent most of April working on a roguelike dungeon generation system. I got pretty far but realized after awhile it would take more refining time than I had for the competition. So last week I started on another game idea. This means tweaking the goals on the project page, since I’m not going to have time to knock out two builds. Right now I’m working to get a functional prototype done as soon as possible so I can spend my time finishing sprite animations and the like.

Shadow Fighter

You play a security guard fending off apparitions in the shadows with your trusty flashlight. So far I’ve been building all the assets like sprites and background tiles, working out how things interact with each other. I’m currently testing how the enemies attack and laying out levels. I learned a lot with the shooting gallery I put together awhile back and I’ll be using similar approaches for the menu screens. It’ll be a bit of a crunch but we’ll see if we can meet the deadline.

Status of the Blog 04/02/15

  • On April 2, 2015 ·
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March was a busy month as I worked on 4 different things that had many smaller things inside them. I won’t go into it here unless I hear back about any of them, but I finished them on time without going insane. I consider that an achievement.

Site-wise we had a memory error pop up out of nowhere. I had a fix I was going to implement but then I decided to try updating the version of PHP I was running and that seems to have fixed it. Site optimization is one of those things you have to take the time to work on. I just hate when something jumps up and I have to spend the day tracking down what stopped working. It’d be great if errors gave you context instead of vague messages like “FATAL ERROR” and a number.

April’s current project is Stencyl Jam 15. I’ll be posting the prototypes I put together on the site for people to test and provide feedback. I have an idea for the type of game I want to make but I’d like to build this one differently than I’ve done with others in the past. I’m going to tinker with mechanics and features, see if I can make them fun to play with, and then build the game up around them.

Status of the Blog 03/06/15

  • On March 6, 2015 ·
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When you build and customize a site with as many moving parts as mine, it’s like running a boat that’s regularly springing holes. You’re always running around plugging a new one up and panning out the water. The changes I made to the Podcast archive broke it so I reworked that. It’s still not exactly how I want it, but I’d rather it be functional. At some point the Portfolio images weren’t showing up in their individual posts. That’s fixed now. The home page should be displaying some more current links. I’ll be putting up more as I finish them. I added a Project List page where I’ll be adding things I’m working on so I can track their progress. I don’t like announcing things and seeing them lost in the shuffle any more than waiting until I’m completely done with something before I can even bring it up. I want to share works in progress here but it’s akin to presenting myself in the morning before a shower with my hair uncombed and my shirt hastily buttoned wrong.

Project-wise I spent the first half of last week working on a Thing I’m Writing™ then dove back into animating. Collecting resources, testing them, and taking screenshots, though useful, feels very academic. I’ll appreciate the research when I get back to actually writing but right now I want to be drawing.

Toddy’s Closet is progressing. I’m working my way through the rough animation right now. This means breaking down the storyboard sequences into more poses. You learn a lot about the character in deciding how they move between the storytelling shots. Once that’s done it’s back to inbetweening and cleanup. Then backgrounds, effects, and final mixing.

In newsletter news, I’m trying to spend weekends writing entries so there will be plenty of quality content for folks who sign up for it. The free guide I’ll be offering is done, save a few more links I want to add. I’d just like to get it thoroughly proofread. I’ve also shot some exclusive video for it I’ll probably edit on a weekend. Weekends are a bit of a break from my usual work routine and a chance to complete things.

Speaking of video, every time I sit down to play a game I’m recording it for Let’s Plays I’ll be posting to my YouTube channel in the near future. I’ve started editing some of them. Mostly I’m focusing on getting material recorded so I can spend weekends or evenings editing.

Status of the Blog – 02/04/15

  • On February 4, 2015 ·
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I decided to not label this a WIP Wednesday because I really want to keep those posts art-centric and image or video heavy. I’ve spent the last week or so writing the guide I’m going to include free to those who join my newsletter. Yesterday I was out of the house most of the day and, aside from getting the podcast posted, didn’t have time for much of anything studio related. Today I woke up about 1 in the morning and spent some time inking some comics. I’ve been thinking about my production schedule and how it’s frustrated me trying to get things to regularly post on the site. I’ve felt conflicted that I haven’t been posting enough to this blog. It seems every week I’m buried in some other aspect of a project that I can’t really share yet and I don’t want to be busying myself with work just to get it on the site.

Writing for a week straight has reminded me how much work it is to just shovel words around. I realize I’m running into the same problem I had with the Daily Doodles. I need to get a considerable way ahead in my work and then start sharing it when there’s a pile of material to pick from. I also need to get the hours in my day back. I’ve cut out some habits recently that used to eat up my time and I need to make it productive again. So basically I need to do a hard reset on my scheduling. I’ll keep posting the podcast, though even that might get retooled. I know Ian and I both want to keep a better handle on the length with it this year. Other content on the site will return when I feel it’s ready to start posting it again.

12/24/14 – Happy Holidays

  • On December 24, 2014 ·
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My computer’s been crashing randomly and I’ve spent the last few days narrowing down the culprit. None of the scans I’ve run have identified anything so I’m just going to be pulling hardware until I find the problem. No thumbnails or video this week and no WIP Wednesday next week as that’s New Year’s Eve. December always turns into a bit of a mess schedule-wise, which is why I’m glad we planned the ending of Season 3 of the podcast early.

In personal news, I turned 32 yesterday so yay me. 😀

Hope you all have a good end to 2014, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, kickin’ Kwanzaa, fabulous Festivus, and whatever other holidays you may celebrate between now and when you hear from us again in 2015.

WIP Wednesday – 12/17/14 – Passion

  • On December 17, 2014 ·
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The thing I’ve been working on most lately is myself (my art, my business, my sanity) so I’m sharing some of that today.

Artist Hat vs. Manager Hat

The thing about pursuing a career as a professional artist is making art and sharing it with the world are both their own distinct job. As an artist, I think most of us are compelled to create. For some people that compulsion manifests itself as a hobby. Others strive to make it their life’s work. During our interview with Kevin MacLeod and Ryan Camarda, Kevin brought up the idea that art serves no purpose if nobody sees it. It’s an excellent point that art is made to be seen and not doing everything to get it in front of as many eyes as possible is a disservice to that purpose. My problem is that view eschews art therapy and people who make art for themselves like Outsider art. (Henry Darger is a fascinating example and the subject of the documentary In the Realms of the Unreal)

Putting all that aside, as a professional part of the job is getting your art seen. For a number of us this is where intentions clash. I saw it in college when professors would give students a project and they’d ignore all guidelines and direction. It’s baffling to pay thousands of dollars to attend a school, take a class, and then disregard instructions. Yet it happened regularly and at times I had to keep myself from doing it. Why? Well, artists make art to express themselves. When somebody tells you what to make you can feel like a circus animal, trained to do your trick the way they want you to. If there’s not enough room to be creative and make your project your own you can lose motivation. (As illustrated in Technical Dave 5 – Chocolate Rebellion)

Trying to manage yourself at times can feel like you’re of two minds. You make plans, you set goals, then you sit down to work and find you don’t feel passionate about it. If you chase down what you are passionate about it can be something fun but with little to no financial rewards. Professionals can’t afford the luxury of only fulfilling creative desires. We need to find that little part of the venn diagram where our interests intersect with what people will pay for. Sometimes this means reassessing and learning to appreciate other things, sometimes it means reassessing who you approach with your work and how.

Hangups

Creative Paralysis and Guilt

I started doing the Daily Doodle exercise for two reasons:

  1. To get myself to draw every day
  2. To allow myself to have fun drawing

I love drawing. I want to draw all day every day. But the reality of life is, when you’re in charge of your own schedule, things can get in the way. Building a site, promoting your work, having some form of a social life, it’s a lot to have on your plate. There’s just so much to do and there’s so many options now. It can become overwhelming and lead to analysis paralysis. You spend so much time trying to make your mind up on which action to take you fail to take action. Also, as much as artists struggle with guidelines, we usually need some semblance of them to make a project work. When somebody tells me to do, “whatever,” on a project I freak out. I have to figure out what it is, how I’m going to come at it, and then there’s trying to deliver my best while second guessing myself the entire time.

The second reason might sound odd considering I just said I love drawing. Why do I have to allow myself to have fun doing it then? It’s because of guilt. To get into the routine of producing things regularly you can’t often afford the time to enjoy and experiment. You have to get it done and move on to the next one. I remember hearing on Webcomics Weekly how occasionally they’re asked to show layout sketches and then they realize layouts don’t really factor into their workflow. I started realizing I don’t really draw for fun anymore because I’ve trained myself to see having fun with a drawing as I’m not getting things done. Like a person who can’t savor a meal because they’re afraid they’ll eat too much if they enjoy it.

Self Doubt

The main thing I want to focus on in 2015 is animation. I have lots of ideas and ambitions for things I want to make. When I’m in the thick of it I’m elated. My problem is I have limited experience. So when I come to something I haven’t done yet I have to work at it. I know I’ll lose days to learning the ropes. It’s just difficult to keep focus that you’re going the right way with something when you fall on your face. Some days I’ll be on fire and knocking things off my to do list. Other days I have to redo something because one link in the chain caused it to not come out right. Ask any artist how disheartening it is when a program crashes and you failed to save or your entire file got corrupted. These things creep up along with the insecurity most artists (heck, most people) feel in general.

Going Forward

You Oughta Be in Pictures

I’m planning to roll out my animations through several sites. Each has their own communities I need to get more involved in if I want to take better advantage of the opportunities they present.

Newgrounds

Newgrounds

Newgrounds is a site that’s been around a long time. It’s known for hosting flash animations and games as well as other arts. There’s plenty of animators on the forums and I hope I can make some friends there. As I experiment with making games I’m sure it’ll prove useful.

YouTube

YouTube-logo-full_color

YouTube has been my go-to for video, for posting on these WIP Wednesday blogs, live podcasts, and just sharing internet videos in general. There’s the potential to share my work with the most viewers possible. But by the same token there’s also a lot of noise. And, as we’ve discussed on the podcast, their viewing algorithm is weighted against animators by rewarding longer, more frequently-uploaded content. Considering I have plans in the works for both a Lets Play and video review series we’ll see how things fair.

Vimeo

vimeo logo

Vimeo is a video hosting site that also offers On Demand sales and rentals. They offer free, Plus, and Pro accounts. Their focus seems to be more on short films and telling stories. I know fairly little about their community but they do tend to have a more professional look.

Reopening Shop

When I start doing the Daily Doodle again I want it to be about being the most productive I can be. That means I need to be doing the drawings in bulk when I’m brainstorming and then sharing them here. Those doodles will then get refined and polished into finished pieces I’ll be putting on the Lil’ Reaper Books store. I’ve been studying which places to do the printing through, how to promote and market them, and thinking more critically about who I market them to.

WIP Wednesday – 11/26/14

  • On November 26, 2014 ·
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Hello, everybody. To all my fellow Americans I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving tomorrow and a safe Black Friday if you’re getting in on that.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a proper blog post so I thought I’d put one together before things get too hectic this holiday season. The end of the year is always kind of a smear as stuff starts happening. Here’s a quick rundown of things going on.

The NoRights Podcast

Ian and I are planning to do episodes until about the 15th of December. Season 4 will pick back up in January. Also, Ian and friend of the show Nate are going to be starting up their own geeky tech show in the near future. I’ll be sure to share the info on that once I know the details.

The Daily Doodle

I really liked this practice because it kept me drawing every day and posting content on the site regularly. My problem is I started focusing on having one finished drawing every day rather than doing a lot of drawings and posting the highlights on the site, as I should have done. Travel also disrupted things and I’m currently taking a break from it until after New Year’s. I want to strike a balance where I’m doodling daily while also working on a main project. Previously the doodles started taking priority when they really shouldn’t be.

WIP Wednesday

This helps keeps me accountable for making progress on things. I like making videos and posting pics as I work. Right now my main project I want to work on is a short film. I want to do something that’s at least a minute long. Probably not much longer than that so I don’t overcomplicate it or make it too ambitious. Once I’m done with that I’ll move on to the ~7 minute shorts and whatnot I’ve been planning. I’m just trying to nail down the concept so I can write it, storyboard it, make an animatic, and flesh it out. I’m looking into folklore to see if I can find something to adapt. Or I might just take some things I want to draw and build them into a story. I haven’t exactly figured it out yet. Once I do I’ll share drawings and other things on the blog.

Happy 2013

  • On January 2, 2013 ·
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Happy 2013 everybody. Today I’d like to share some of my plans and goals for the coming year.

The first project I’m going to be jumping into is a short animated film. If things work out I’ll string it into a series and then hopefully a bigger film. Or I might make one and decide I want to go an entirely different route. The point is I’m going to be animating and developing this first one and when it’s finished I’ll go from there. I’ve done some ground work for it already so I’ll be revising and reworking it until it’s completed. I’ll be blogging as I go, sharing things I find helpful as well as sharing my problems.

Now that I’m done fussing with major site issues I’d like to spend my time writing and creating things. I enjoy blogging about creative stuff because it helps me focus my ideas into actionable steps for myself and usually I condense things into sharable lists. The problem stems from being introverted and just deleting posts rather than finishing them because I feel like I don’t have anything useful to say. I’ve been on the web long enough, I should be better at this. Now that I’m working in the studio again I can figure out a regular schedule which should help a lot.

I also just need to draw more. When you produce things you tend to become focused on only drawing what you need to because you need to funnel so much out. I mean how often does a guy who builds houses for a living get to lay brick just for the fun of it? I like drawing but too often it can become work you need to do rather than something you get to do. My approach is to love what you do, find something to love about it, or do something else.