Parallax: starting to go public.

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”.

workin’ workin’

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.

dailysnek: coffee smirk

 

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.)

the dream of the classic comics shortcut

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.

majgickqgh

Tool-Assisted Sigil.

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.

 

Fuzzy shading.

k-fuzzshade

A quick (~15min) doodle of Baron K from Parallax, mostly done to test out a shading method someone asked about on Reddit. The uniform is probably off-model, I didn’t bother pulling up the pitch bible.

I’m not sure about the Baron’s eyes here. I need to do some exploration of how to show expressions and keep his eyes looking like cute little beady mouse eyes. Does he look like he’s looking in a particular direction to you?


screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-1-03-01-pm

This is what I ended up with for the shading effect. Choose color, opacity amount, and blur/mezzotint settings to taste; if you make a Graphic Style and draw all your shading using that, you can tweak the appearance then do ‘redefine graphic style’ to apply it to the whole drawing.

k-fuzzshade-defuzz

And this is what it looks like if I turn off the blur and mezzotints. Just a bunch of shapes drawn with the pencil tool and occasional use of ‘draw inside’.

Parallax v2

In late 2015, I exhibited at SPX. Nickelodeon was looking for pitches there, and I threw together one for a sci-fi series in the week before the show. It was lacking a few important things like “stories”; it’s not surprising they didn’t bite.

My ex-with-benefits and I spent a little more than a year playing with it, outlining a season’s worth of episodes, and deepening the world and characters. We think it’s done now.

PARALLAX

(PDF link; click on the logo for the whole pitch.)

We are currently looking for a studio to interest in making this show happen. At some point we may also try crowdfunding it if studios don’t happen. Maybe. Gathering a crew myself sure sounds like work.

 

Parallax: Crew art, v2

federacracy-splash galactic-union-splash

(click for larger)

So. Nick and I have been working on the second version of the Parallax pitch bible for a while. I’m pretty happy with these versions of the cast, and will probably be using this as the art for each of them.

One thing constantly in the back of my mind is that I’d like to make it more representative of modern audiences than the straight white people most TV shows are aimed at. Gender and queerness is easy to do. One of these characters is trans. One of them is pansexual. Two of them are in a homosexual relationship. None of this is presented as a big deal in the show; it just is.

But ethnicity? The fact that they’re all cartoon animals makes that a little more oblique.

So I ask you, o Internet: Do any of these characters look like they should be voiced by someone of a particular ethnicity?

And then, a further question: would it be neat if the various characters were voiced by people whose ethnicities deliberately do not match the ones the characters look like they “should” have? With a distinct attempt to have a broad mix of voices, the US has more than enough cartoons with an entirely white voice cast.

I think that shuffling ethnic codes like this sounds like a good idea, but I also recognize that I am a middle-class white lady from a former Confederate state. If this idea is the hottest garbage fire you’ve heard of this week, then let me know so I can change it before I persuade someone to make a season’s worth of Garbage Fire: The Series.

(Also, if you are wondering, due to their Weird Names: Vaxenchalowroth is a lady; the Baron and Atber are guys.)