Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sneak Peek #25: Pencils DUUUUNNNN!

The Volume 3 pencils are done!



Without further ado, let's see some samples:

...After working on V3 pencils for so long, it almost doesn't seem real that they're done. I started page one in... Checking planner... Damn. 2009. Rodmonsters. I feel a compulsion to launch into an explanation of why things have taken so long, but let's save that for when the book is actually finished. For now, I just want to savor actually hitting a concrete milestone, one that proves The End is Nigh, and show some more pencils.

...And I know I already tossed some of these on the Prelude off-week updates, but PSHOUGH. I wanna show 'em again.
A lot of the scenes required more than drawing- I frequently had to stop to put some design into the settings and props. Granted I'm no engineer, and my doodles wouldn't stand a hope of being feasible in reality. But I don't want to just thoughtlessly draw crap in in a fire-and-forget fashion as I blow through the book. I want to make things... Make... Sense. Like they look the way they do for a reason. I feel like the extra effort helps make the Dreamworld, within it's cartoony premise, feel more coherent and believable. For example, here are some of the doodles for the prop we gave Igrath in the above drawing:
The rear legs are longer to better absorb shock from firing recoil, so the thing doesn't risk tipping backwards after a heavy salvo. For hard-post sentry situations, there's a seat attachment. The flak shields on front are detachable, so if they can be replaced rapidly if battle damage renders them ineffective. There are also slotted retractable wheel mounts on the rear legs, and a front harness mount. Why would a weapons platform need a harness mount, you ask?

Ha heh, questions... Moving on.

Settings especially can require a lot more planning than meets the eye... This installation in particular required a complete top-down design before I even knew where to begin drawing. Also, I would like to point out that the staircase is collapsible and modular. Why build a staircase that can never go anywhere else?

The zig-zag outer wall design is reflective of military emplacements from the days of seige warfare. When the enemy is crowding against the base of a wall using it for cover, the angled wall system allows the defenders to continue pouring fire on them. I also tried to put some thought into a base setup that accomplished the main goals of the installation, one of them being storage... For example (This doesn't come up in the book, but I just thought it was cool) The springer cartridge storage area is flanked by water storage, so in the event of an accidental cartridge discharge, there's a natural barricade minimizing damage to the surrounding areas.

...I would like to imagine that our long production time on the pencils was due to all this fancy design development, but actually our production rate in past months is roughly double the average we had in years previous.
Switching Prelude from weekly to bi-weekly has, admittedly, been exceedingly helpful to V3 production. Additionally, notching the Joe Job from full to part time has helped incredibly. This ought to mean I can retain the fast pace on coloring, meaning the book will be done this year for certain!

Oh, also, I drew Grunn. Um, he took a lot of high-level design concept stuff too. In depth.

So the Volume 3 pencils are done. How close is the book to being actually, completely finished?

With pencils done, we just need to color the thing now.

The colors, both blocking and shading, are already finished on Chapter 7. The color blocking is nearly done on Chapter 8, there are only 4 or 5 pages which aren't fully blocked. Blocking is already started on many Chapter 9 scenes.

So, I need to do the shading on Chapters 8 and 9, and the blocking needs to happen on Chapter 9. After so long working in black and white, I'm thrilled to start making things dark, and shiny, and glittery, and chromatic, and-

But, alas, I have a few things to take care of first.

Before I jump into the shading blitz, I have to:
*Restock our Prelude que- don't wanna run out of updates.
*E-mails. I think there are about a zillion.
*Commissions. 7 and 8 are done, but it's time to get rolling on 9 and 10.
*Finances. Running a business requires keeping track of all sorts of businessy things - eSPECIALLY when it comes to taxes. What, you thought it was possible to draw some comics and sell them without paying off those people who didn’t contribute to any stage of the work- bureaucrats? Insert rant.
*New File Backups. I had an account with Megaupload where, after months of uploading, we carefully archived our DK files- until I took an arrow to the knee. And by arrow to the knee, I mean the federal government deleted my backups because... Hold on, there's a reason I'm sure. Because other people were sharing music files or something. I don't know. All I know for sure is that the people responsible for deleting Dreamkeepers have much, much more generous pensions than me- and their comfort is funded by taxes on my struggles for productivity. Regardless, I need to get our files backed up somewhere else, because I won't risk losing years of work to a hard drive crash. Let's just cross our fingers and pray nobody shares a Britney Spears song via the company I'm archiving with now, or all bets are off.

FIGHT THE MAN! Because women are scary.

Anyways, last task that needs wrapping up-

In the course of advertising on Youtube, I learned that one can promote a video of any length, it doesn't have to squeeze into a 15 or 30 second timeslot, the way traditional commercials do. So I'm tacking some extra content onto the end of our commercial before we fire it up again. Now, don't get your hopes up- more epic animation is not on the way. Do you want me to finish Volume 3 or not?! It's just a few extra minutes of persuasion, with some drawings added in to avoid a boredom-inducing blank rectangle. So nothing terribly fancy- because if it were terribly fancy, it would take too long, and I have a book to finish.

Thanks to everyone for keeping up with us for this long- we’re getting there!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lost in Pencilvania

We're alive! Still.

Sorry for being virtually mute online lately. E-mails are stacking up, and from all outward appearances we may as well have dropped off the face of the earth.

I've been lost in a glorious swathe of scintillating Volume 3 production.

...Where are the pictures, you ask?

On pieces of paper all over our apartment. Not online. YET. I'm taking a quick break to toss an update in here, but I don't want to take the time for a full fledged Sneak Peek because I'm SO CLOSE to finishing the pencils.


Today I completed the pencils for page 130. The last page of graphic novel story in Volume 3 is page 133. (The whole book will be 144 pages, but that includes bonus concept art sketches and production notes and such. And those are a pushover once the actual story pages are finished.)


Once I finish the last of the pencils, I'll take a breather and have a nice, big, draw-tastically visual Sneak Peek for you guys.

Colors are going great too- all but 9 pages of Chapter 8 are ready for shading, so once the pencils are finished I can tear right into lighting, textures, and final art.

Hang in there, it's coming together!