Hope you’re all having a good day. No video or screencaps this week as the things I’ve been working on have either been web stuff or writing. I would, however, like to take some time to give you a rundown on what I’ve been up to.
I bought the premium version of the theme I’ve been running the site on for awhile. You’ll notice the podcast page properly links to the archive now with a player button for the audio. If you mouse over “blog” in the menu you’ll see I’ve added links for WIP Wednesday and Daily Doodle posts. When there’s a video I’ve used the thumbnail as the featured image on the archive page. I’d like to add a few more categories and featured images but it’s a start. The featured items on the homepage are going to get changed up soon, too, to reflect current projects and ones on hiatus. There’ll also be a signup button for the newsletter.
I’m putting together an email newsletter that I’ll make available soon. I’ll be offering a free gift for those who join and I’m writing things now so there’ll be plenty of quality content when it launches. Expect behind the scenes looks into my studio, tips and tools I use, as well as exclusive peeks at projects before they’re mentioned anywhere else. I’m also going to encourage subscribers to tell me what they’d like to see more of so the articles are tailor-made.
Thanks for dropping in today. I plan talk about the newsletter on Monday’s show so remember to tune in for that. I’ll see you all on the other side.
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.
Creative Paralysis and Guilt
I started doing the Daily Doodle exercise for two reasons:
To get myself to draw every day
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some panels from my rough layouts so far. Getting sick has really punched my productivity in the gut but I’m still trying to work every day. I was really enjoying drawing on Monday’s Daily Doodle and then things went off the rails. Hopefully I’ll feel better next week so I can get more done.
This week I’ve been going through each story in the 7 Deadly Sins anthology, making panel folders and doing pencils. I’m trying to do about 10 pages of this a day, feeling out what the characters look like and placing them solidly in each panel. I really want to have this stage done before moving to inks. I haven’t yet revisited the last story that was giving me trouble. Think I’ll get the rest nailed down and spend a day or two on it. As I’ve been going through the early stories rely more on pictures while the later ones are more word heavy. I’ll probably trim text out where I can as I’d rather show instead of tell. It’s just some ideas tend to need more explaining than others.
Hey everybody, no video this week as I’m working on illustrations rather than animation. (I shot some video of me talking but I won’t subject you guys to that.)
I’ve been thumbnailing/laying out pages for awhile to get the writing out of the way. I’ve retooled the last story and I’m still not happy with it. It feels like I’m scripting a scifi story instead of a scifi horror. Right around the middle story I went from using little to no dialogue to having lots of dialogue. I’m concerned about trying to force the writing but I’m not sure how it’d fair if I tried winging it while I was drawing. Most of the other stories fit into 10 pages fairly neatly and I’m trying to do that here. Think I’ll try penciling pages and see if I can resolve issues before I move onto inking.
Welcome to a new feature on the site, Work in Progress Wednesday, where I’m going to be showing stuff I’m currently working on. I tend to have a couple projects going at a time and I think sharing my progress is going to be a good motivator on getting them done. It’s a good way to take stock of where things stand at the moment. I’ve done art postsbefore but I’d like to make this ongoing. Just remember all this stuff is in development and may change completely next time you see it. So lets get this party started.
This is a webcomic idea I’ve been working on about an internet reviewer and his obsessive nostalgia for the 80s/90s of his childhood. I’ve been trying to design the main cast at various ages and make family members look related. Also trying to add more detail to the style than I normally do.
Playing with the logo for the main character’s review show. I really like the Magic 3D Photoshop Action, I just need to get better at placing things in perspective. Also debating adding some explosions or something to this.
7 Deadly Sins
I’ve been wanting to do a collection of scary stories for Halloween so I came up with some ideas based on the 7 deadly sins. I’ve been playing with some of Ray Frenden’s Manga Studio brushes and a few others here trying to step out of my comfort zone a little with digital painting.
Here’s my first real attempt at animating one of my cutout rigs. I’m going to do a couple videos showing how they’re set up. I built this guy about 4 times or so as I switched tools and figured out better ways to set him up. The last was when I decided to get rid of the outlines except when colors overlap. I set them to appear dynamically which got complicated but should be useful down the road.
Here’s my second rig from this short I’m working on. I got really ambitious with the deformers on this one. Each finger on his hands have curves on them and the outlines also appear dynamically as well. It’s best practice to just swap the hand drawings out, and I probably will at points with this guy, but I want him to have really weird movements.
Here’s a couple frames of a shot so far. (The banding’s a result of the gif compression.) Debating if I should have the clouds wave any as they drift. Also not sure how I want the stars to twinkle in the background yet. That’s the fun of doing big projects yourself. All these little nuances you could spend an entire day tweaking that will just look organic in the end.
When I decided to make the characters line-free I had to reconsider how I was going to render backgrounds. There’s a lot of artists doing inspiring work with texture and brush strokes I’d like to learn from. This scrolling background is sort of in between styles right now. Background painting is it’s own special skill and I intend on developing it more.