I spent a while today and Monday doing something I’d been putting off for a good while: resizing the styles for the Mixolyne mechs. See, I’d drawn them super-huge originally, and a lot of the graphic styles I’d built out of those drawings performed poorly when I tried to use them at the right size. I’d been resizing them on an ad-hoc basis every time I pulled the styles into a new page, but last Monday I pulled up the first of several rough pages where Kirt and Noa will be spending a lot of time running around in their mechs, emoting at each other through body language, and I just really did not feel like rescaling these styles for every page individually like I’d done for the first few pages.
A few weird Illustrator hangs later, I’ve generated a feature request for folders in the Graphic Style palette, decided to do an ugly organizational kudge in the meantime of blank styles serving as separators to help me find stuff in the giant sprawling pile of styles I’ve ended up with, and created sets of styles for these mechs in both their shiny, healthy versions and the “dehydrated” versions they started the story in.
This took me a few hours but it should help a lot when I start actually drawing these pages; by doing this I’ve piled up a bunch of cool effects and taught Illustrator how to do them for me, and now I can just mindlessly re-use all of them at high speed.
I just spent two hours making this happen in Illustrator.
It’s the safe version of this. If you click on this image, or on any of the other ones in this post, you’ll see a higher-res copy. I am not sure I recommend doing this.
I can now use these flat-color Graphic Styles to draw a whole bunch of assorted shapes in something akin to three-point perspective. Which would involve following this grid that I built in Illustrator before building the previous two images.
And hell, let me try a quick test drawing. Just some basic shapes following these perspective guidelines.
Alt-drag twelve swatches around and…
Yep. This is gonna work. I’ve got a lot of drawing to do, and this won’t work for every single part of the image – but I should be able to lay down a lot of it pretty quickly like this. I’ll end up with tons of hatching that precisely lines up with the perspective I’ve drawn the shapes in. I had to do some funky stuff to set all of this up and part of me thinks I should write it up, but I also spent two hours in front of the computer and think I need to run around some.
Illustrator has a three-point perspective ruler mode. I’m really not sure I’m going to bother with it; I feel like the time I’d spend figuring out how it works is going to be really close to the amount of time I’d spend just doing it the “hard” way. I learnt how to do hardcore perspective years ago, and I’ve forgotten most of it, but I think I remember enough to fake this. Should be fun!
Here are two drawings of Olivia and Baron K. Nick drew one of them. Can you tell which?
Saturday morning. Went to the farmer’s market with Nick. We talked about Parallax and how much it’s changed since the versions where it was a TV show pitch. Pondered if we still want it to lead to where we originally wanted it to lead, now that it’s so different. (It’s kind of fascinating; it feels like it’s undergoing a reverse form of adaptation decay, where we start with the “Magical Truth-Saying Bastard Spidey” version and make our best guess at what “Transmetropolitan” was like based on that.)
We came up with a very clever and kind of horrible way to collapse two slightly-similar characters from the TV show version into one, which fits into the themes of that character’s personal narrative pretty well.
also we decided that another character is going to speak entirely in lowercase
with as little punctuation as we can get away with
because her voice is very monotone and either droning or calming depending on how you feel at the moment
and maybe even some e e cummings concrete poetry kind of stuff in her word balloons
because she is just that cool
(and because hey, i’m both the artist and the letterer, i can do things that require strong integration of the text with the imagery in a way a production line’s crew can’t)
So it was a pretty good morning, and we got some steak for dinner somewhere in this upcoming week to boot.
Today I finished page VX-8 of Parallax. Posted it to Patreon, felt good about making some money with my art. And then I posted the previous page to the comic site, and let the social media plugins do their stuff. They didn’t all seem to actually work but I will fiddle with that later. I also posted the first three pages to Furaffinity. In their entirety, not as teaser crops – since I make all my money from Patreon these days, there’s no need to drive people to my own page for those ad impression pennies. I plan to keep doing that; that’s where a lot of my fanbase hangs out, and this will keep them aware of the fact that I’m doing this thing. And maybe pick up a few more supporters as the pages bounce through people’s favorites and whatnot.
Part of me wanted to hold off on going semi-public until I had a few finished Mixolyne pages as well. But those are just beginning, and are going to be pretty dense to draw. I doubt they’ll be done until next month. And now that I’ve had a first month of actually getting money from the comic I feel like it’s time to get serious about getting it in front of people’s eyeballs. I should probably buy some ads or something, too.
It’s starting to feel like a real project now. There’s a lot of pages to pile up before it’s done. How many, I’m not sure; the first story alone looks to be about fifty to seventy pages. Enough to be a small book, really. About a year’s worth of work if I keep up a pace of one page a week; I’m hoping that it’ll get faster once we start hitting scenes where I can reuse background elements instead of having to design a ton of scenery for every page. I wonder what things will be like for me, Nick, and the world when we finish that chapter? Here’s hoping the answer is “generally better”.
I’ve been spending most of my time lately working on that funny-animal space epic I’ve been kicking around for the past couple of years. Here’s a few screenshots I’ve posted on dragon.style lately.
I’ve fixed the typo in the last sentence since taking this screenshot.
Kirt is a very very pretty boy.
Sometimes it feels like I have to sit around for a while designing something for every single page. This one’s nowhere near done.
Lighting is very important sometimes.
Color’s important too. I dreaded drawing this giant space station for weeks, then just kinda made it happen without much thought at all – I had a pretty solid basic concept in my head, lifted from a moderately obscure Big Dumb Object novel teenage me liked.
I’ve got four pages of this done, with a few more in varying degrees of progress, and about ten or so that only exist as Nick’s script. Nick’s been working on the script for the other first chapter of this story; I’m hoping to be able to start drawing that in the near future too. I really need to spend some time turning the Parallax page of my site from a placeholder into something I can start throwing finished pages into; right now nobody but folks supporting me on Patreon have seen the full pages.
So lately when I’ve been feeling unmotivated to work on the huge, complex backgrounds of Parallax, I’ve been trying to at least make myself open up Illustrator and do some drawings of my cobra character Kalinda. (Who is also sometimes an archaeopteryx, it’s complicated.) I have been referring to these drawings as “#dailysnek” even though they are not a thing I do every day.
Today, I went out to the Meowtropolitan (a coffee shop with a room full of very very jaded cats) with Nick. On the way I decided that it would be nice to work on a bit of design I need to do for Parallax but it was by no means necessary; if all I did was to do a color version of a Daily Snek, that would be perfectly fine. I’ve generally been sluggish and unproductive lately, and I figured actually finishing something would be a nice change from “slowly picking away at complex two-page spread backgrounds”.
Worth noting: the smoke coming off of her cup is one path, with a moderately complex Appearance stack on it.
The bottommost stroke has an asterisk next to its weight because it’s got a variable width profile applied to it.
And here are all of the #dailysnek doodles thus far. Will I keep doing these? I dunno. It’s been fun so far, and people seem to like them. Click them to embiggenate.
the is is the only one that involved looking at an actual photo of a real snake, I should do that more often to figure out how to properly pile up her coils.
And then, having done this, I used the last half-hour of my Mac’s battery life to rough out a spaceship design for Parallax. Yay!
Still needs some work to turn it into something I can drop into Silo and use as reference to model. But there’s a good start there at the bottom, with some shapes that evoke assorted 70’s spaceships (mostly the Liberator from Blake’s 7, which always looked like it was going backwards, and maybe a little of the Vipers from Battlestar Galactica. Though I think I’ll try to downplay that as I work on them, as this is an eight-person shuttle with its own stardrive rather than a two-seat fighter that lives on a carrier.)
This morning, I woke from a dream about tracing complicated layouts from a superhero comic, which was a little infamous for itself being lifted from another one. I suspect this was in response to me going to bed sad because progress on Parallax is slow, due to the massive amounts of complex background stuff the story needs.
Nice try, brain. I wish this solution would work. But the problem is that I’ve got to invent the remnants of a whole culture, not that the layouts are hard.
I posted this a week or two ago and had a few people say they wanted it on fabric. Well, your wish has been granted – it’s for sale on Spoonflower now. If you make anything with it I’d love to see a photo of the results!
Process: write statement of intent, cast out vowels/duplicate letters, draw cool sci-fi versions of letters, rotate/join/overlap until happy. Make pattern fill, crash Illustrator a lot while doing so (because I accidentally did my source imagery at a very large size, I think).
Abandoned version, part of the results of an hour or two of fooling around with a very stylized font I recently acquired.