deskupdate03

Hi again. Just plugging away. Did a lot of 3D this week. My first model of the city, hastily thrown together for the wide shot of it early in the first story, was not terribly complex:

oldcity

When I needed exteriors for the place the characters hang out, I started making more complex models in a different file, but I began to realize I’d want to redo the whole city some day. I’ve been working toward that. I took a screenshot of the crude model and blocked out what would be residential, what would be commercial, which parts are abandoned from when the trade lanes closed and which are still inhabited and such, then started to build stuff here and there. It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Since these colonies are prefabricated cookie-cutter things that were being tossed onto planets all over the galaxy, there’s not a whole lot of variety in building design. You’ll see a lot of repetition all over town. So once I have enough different models that I’m satisfied, I can just plug them into the grid I have and that’ll be that, more or less. I’m getting pretty close. Here’s a shot from the other file where I’ve been building stuff:

newcity

Not bad. Anyway. I’ve shown glimpses of all the main cast now, so I don’t know what I’ll post next week. Let’s find out together next Monday…

 

deskupdate02

I finished my “final” pass on the next script this week. I’m sure it’ll continue to get edited as I go, but it’s pretty complete. Started drawing my rough layouts. Did some floor plans. Drew some more character designs. Discovered a problem with my 3D city model just minutes ago I need to fix, but a problem whose solution is actually going to help me, I think. Keeping it movin’. I’ve begun to think I’ll start publishing the comic again in mid-May or so. Stay tuned for a final word on that.

deskupdate01

Like I said last week, I’ve got a lot of design to do for the next story. I’m trying to figure out how to give updates without giving much away. Here’s some snippets. New costumes for the characters, new characters, and a look at some 3D. As you can see, my 3D is pretty rough. I don’t just drop it into the strip and call it done. It’s mostly there so I can save time worrying about about the geometry of it all.

Last transmission of 2014…

This is the last page of the year. Christmas vacation would make making another one pretty tough, and I hope you’re too busy having fun in this time to look, anyway. This is actually a pretty natural place to break. I seem to get lucky with those.

This time last year, I had no idea I’d be 31 pages into a comic now. I wasn’t planning to do anything. I think the initial ideas began to form in January, and I didn’t draw anything ’til February. Now look at it. Thanks for taking the time to read Closed Galaxy! Come back in January for some all-out action. If I have done my math right, this story should wrap up in March. Then I have a shorter one planned, and then I have a longer one planned. Plenty of comics waiting to be drawn in the future…

On the subject of holidays…

So, your boy is going to be off work for Christmas and New Years for a mind blowing two solid weeks, and I’m just not sure if I can make a page in that time. Maaaaan, do I want to. I hate all these delays. Once a week is getting this stuff out too slow already. But I can only do so much when I’m not home, and I’m not gonna be home a lot. So, there will definitely be a page next Monday. After that? I really don’t know. I’m going to see if I can manage some kind of travel setup for working, but I can’t make any promises. We’ll have to see how it goes.

No comic next week.

Because I will have been out of town for 5 days by then. Them’s the breaks. I’d hoped to avoid this by cranking out these conversation grid pages faster than usual, but of course, the day I started on the first one, the computer went to crap.

I feel that the last two pages have been terribly inconsistent, and I’m really unhappy about it. But my computer problems appear to finally, finally be over, so in theory, all the distraction, confusion, and switching back and forth between two computers should be over, and I can get back to making the best stuff I can. Hopefully.

Hey, have a happy Thanksgiving if that’s something you’re into. I’ll see you on 12/08.

War Against The Machines.

Today is day 15 without my computer working. This has really been a bad time. Making this strip on my old desktop is no fun, and the amount of time I have to spend dealing with trying to get it to work again really eats into my comic-making time. Hoping something will get resolved this week.

When disaster strikes!

Last Sunday, as I was getting ready to start inking this, my computer decided it had had enough. It’s only 9 months old, so this was as surprising as it was horrible. I lost a whole lot of time (and money) this week trying to diagnose its problems before being told by a professional that the motherboard was bad. 9 months. Thanks, ASUS. Anyway, as it happens, I still had my 4-year old previous desktop in the closet, and was able to produce a page on it. But man oh man, is it not easy. I did most of Comics From Space! on that machine, but that, I hope you’d agree, was a much simpler project, and the computer wasn’t showing its age yet. In addition to that, there’s just weird stuff, like Manga Studio brushes behaving differently on the different computers using the exact same settings and the exact same Wacom tablet. That is not helping. It’s been some week.

Anyway, between installing a new motherboard sometime this week (And formatting the harddrive and starting over… ugh…) and the fact that this poor computer isn’t too able to deal with my files, I’m much more likely to be late with next week’s page than usual. Just a heads up.

Learning to simplify.

Simplification has been one of the Holy Grails of illustration since I started making comics. I feel compelled to draw every little thing all the time. I feel like I’m cheating if I don’t. I feel like you will know I’m a fraud if I don’t draw every leaf on a tree. Which is utter madness… but, upon realizing that’s insane, you have to try to figure out what you could do instead that still feels ok to you.

When I started Comics From Space, I was working in an intentionally simplified version of my natural cartooning style. I thought it would be quicker, I thought it would look better… I was wrong on both counts. Slowly but surely, the way I really draw crept into the strip, and it began to look better, and trying to remember the new rules I’d made up for myself actually made those early months take longer to draw. In comics especially, it seems like developing an instantly recognizable art style is the goal, but I am much more impressed with chameleons who can alter their line to suit a job, like Kyle Baker, or the astonishing Stuart Immonen, who seems just as comfortable with photorealism as with highly stylized cartooning. I sometimes wonder how they do it.

Anyway, the point is, I tried to simplify my line for a few reasons, and it didn’t work. And that was when 99% of everything was people in the same uniform walking down identical gray hallways. Now that I have detailed backgrounds and complex costumes, I feel more totally imaginary pressure than ever to render every little detail. It makes each page of this comic run right up to that Monday deadline. And I honestly don’t think most people would notice if the finished product relied more on gradients and color tools to give the backgrounds detail than my endless noodling. So, I’m trying to teach myself when to let go. I don’t want to alter things too obviously during this story for the sake of consistency, but I’m coming up with ways to make things more economical. This page has less background detail than has been the norm (Although as much because there’s 3 panels of close-ups as because of all the above babbling), but I think it’s still effective. It’s something I’ll probably be fine-tuning as we go. Or maybe I’ll revert to what comes natural. Who knows? It’s a process. Have a good week.

Transition complete.

I traveled 413 miles last Saturday, according to Google, to my new apartment and new job in breezy Chattanooga, TN. I’ve been busy trying to get my life in order all week. I’m still not really settled, but I think I’m in a position to get back to work now. Normally, I’d give myself another week to do the first page and try to build some kind of lead, but 2 weeks off is 2 weeks more than I would’ve liked, so I’m working without a net. Assuming I can make the deadline, tune in next week to start seeing how our gang is going to deal with what they’ve discovered out in the woods.

I’m a little sad about it because I feel like I’d really sharpened my game by that last page. That’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, Two weeks away from the tablet can’t be good for me. I was still trying to stay up on dailies as best I could, but those are fired off so quickly now, they’re hardly good practice. I’m afraid it’ll take me awhile to get back to the level I was at on page 21. Maybe it won’t, who knows? We’ll see.