Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sketchbook Experiment

It's that time of year again, when the streets of Pittsburgh are flooded with unofficial autonomous mascots - Anthrocon! And though Volume 3 is still far from completion, we actually do have a new book to sell at our table. What's it about, you ask?

Well, nothing really... Literally. Literally nothing. The pages are all blank... I dare say, it's the easiest book I've made so far. It's a sketchbook!

It's not much different from your average art-pad sketchbook, except it's bound in a really pretty glossy hardcover which I designed myself. I figured, if people are going to collect drawings in a sketchbook, maybe they'll want one with more of a themed cover.

Now, will there be any interest in our new sketchbooks? I have no idea. But I wanted one! So I made a batch, and we'll see if anyone else wants the other nineteen. Based on how well they sell, we might wind up printing more and offering them online, too.

Before you get too excited about our new sketchbooks however, I want to point out an excellent alternative I've recently discovered;

Having sent the hardcover files to the printer, I felt knockingly clever at being the first to offer custom sketchbooks - when , at the Furry Connection North, something caught my eye:

Another table selling custom sketchbooks - and with a fun variety of covers! Some were pop-culture related, and others were actually tactile and fluffy - they are the sketchbooks custom created and sold by Neko2. Neko2’s sketchbooks have other noteworthy features, too: They're bound on detachable rings, so you can shuffle the order of the pages however you want - plus, for those collecting commissions at conventions, you can keep your sketchbook with you and drop individual pages with multiple artists at once! The books include a plastic backstop to prevent ink-work from bleeding, and the paper quality is superb.

Now, to be clear, my Sketchbooks don't have those features... They just have nice looking covers, and paper inside. If you want more of a traditional-styled book to draw in, our Vivid Sketchbooks may be of interest to you - but check out Neko2's products too!

Check out his work here: http://www.etsy.com/profile.php?user_id=6279425
Or here: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/neko2/

Why, you ask, am I pimping someone else's product alongside mine?

Well, heck - I don't want someone to buy a sketchbook from me if there's another option that would fit their needs better. With the Dreamkeepers graphic novels, we can offer something completely unique - but a sketchbook is just blank paper, after all.

KAZAAAM! After such a blindingly persuasive sales pitch as that, it suddenly occurs to me that perhaps I should stick to drawing. I ought to get this guy to sell my stuff for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUbWjIKxrrs

He could coin such phrases as 'NOW with 20% more Igrath included in every story- COMPLETELY FREE! Your life will be EXCITING!'

Sunday, June 21, 2009

V3 Sneak Peek - Striptastic

Volume 3 work has been moving ahead at half-sail due to the focus on web design upgrades the past few weeks. That's not to say progress has stopped, though -we've been developing the pages in the next scene, and designing one of our more elaborate settings to date...

Our current efforts take place in an underground dance/strip club decked out with elaborate Aztec-inspired decor... Think if Disneyland went to the effort of designing a themed strip club. It’s got everything except the animatronic pirates and screaming stroller-bound 10 year olds.

With all the time spent drawing fountains, engravings, statues, tables, structural perspective, and paraphernalia, it seems by comparison the actual strippers come into play almost as an afterthought.
Now, don’t get consternated that striptasticness will be completely devoid on the pages - just be sure to appreciate all the freakin’ detail behind the girls!

Aside from an opportunity to draw cartoon divas with a tepid attitude towards attire, the scene does serve a purpose in the actual story. Seriously. This is not a contrived indulgence. Or, at least, not just that...

In our story, this particular nightclub is allegedly a cover for illegal activity and trafficking related to ‘Scinter’s Mark’ - and that’s more than just a reputation. It’s scenes like this that make me grateful we publish ourselves, so that we can handle adult situations and scenarios without skewing towards the kid-bubble-compatible spectrum of pap.

I will say, I’m also looking forward immensely to the lighting in this scene - think very moody, with the fountains and liquid displays done up in neon.

I especially like the Mickey sketch here, and think it actually holds up on it’s own humor-wise. I posted it on Deviant Art and Fur Affinity.
Obviously I won’t be using Mickey in the final scene, because Disney has more lawyers than I have hairs on my body, and an inversely proportioned sense of humor. Try bringing your own wild-eyed Mickey costume to Disneyworld with a plush bloodied hammer included, and chase kids in the park while wearing your hilarious custom outfit, and you’ll see what I mean.

...Completely off topic, but I just thought of another entry for my ’Before I Die’ list.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sparkle Power ACTIVATE!

After a few weeks of effort, and the obligatory 'David vs. technical competence' overtime round, new website pages are at last live!

If you're like me, obsessively fixated on turning Dreamkeepers into a viable career, then you'll want to dash over to the site and assess the new pages immediately. If not, well... They are pretty! Sparkly, with rollover buttons and... Sparkles. Did I mention sparkles? Whatever site you were thinking of hopping to today, I guarantee mine will have more glittery stuff, or your money back. That's right - all of it.

I'm especially pleased with the visuals on the 'Graphic novel' Volume 1 & 2 pages, and their nifty little sample page viewers.

'Shiny Factor' appeal aside, the site now actually has updates worth checking on aside from the weekly comic: Our Twitter feed (Yes, we have fallen victim to the fad- It's easier for Liz to throw a drive-by into Twitter than for us to actually sit down and formally update the web page constantly) is streamed onto the new 'news' page, so for those wishing to avoid the frivolity of a Twitter account, you can still check on our occasional updates. Also, there's a status sidebar indicating book stock and commission status, links to book reviews online, and 'Behind the Scenes' now doubles as a convenient online hub, linking to various Dreamkeepers accounts, articles, videos, and groups online. Also makes chili and fries.

Although I'm very pleased with the current round of upgrades, the site has a few lame pages, dead galleries, and renovations pending... And I'm still trying to think of some way to get subliminal messbuyages into the design. The next major tweak will be to enable digital graphic novel sales, hopefully by August. My time estimate here is a tad iffy, since I have utterly no idea what in the hell I'm doing.

But first, I'm refocusing my efforts on Volume 3 progress. Collecting all the reader quotes and reviews for the new web pages was tremendously encouraging, and is motivating me to make some strides producing the next book.

Not that I've been completely neglecting Volume 3 lately... I've been working steadily on the next scene, which involves designing and assembling a very complex interior setting... Think if Disney were designing an Aztec themed dance / strip club. There should be a Sneak Peek behind the scenes with concept development sketches soon.

*Sigh* yes... Themed strip clubs. My noble aspirations drive me incessantly to ever greater heights of artistic and literary achievement.