If I can ever get Jim on Facebook, we should bring some collective pressure to bear to see if we can get him to release the photos he had to take of himself for this piece.
In gaming news, I’ve moved to the Dark Side for a time.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has been filling the slivers and cracks of free-time I have. Think of the game like a PG-13 Mass Effect–the character models, voice acting, and goofy running animation you either love or hate from Bioware are all there.
At this point, I’m playing through the game with my brother and for all intents and purposes we’re playing it like a co-op game. There are, of course, giant guilds already and I’ve no doubt they’re engaged in power-leveling, flowcharts, drop rate analysis, and all the anal-retentive horseshit that makes MMO players so insufferable.
If I ever mention drop rates, or optimal dps builds–please, help me. Seriously, not joking, help me.
Anyway back to why the game is awesome and a threat to my soul… What separates the SWTOR experience from something like WoW is that Bioware has clearly worked to tell a story with each of the classes–a really, really good story.
Bioware has also succeeded completely in making me feel heroic from the outset. It shouldn’t take 40 “heroes” to kill any random mob (*ahem*Blizzard I’m looking in your direction), Bioware has gone the route of small groups and heroic battles and so far I’m totally and completely loving it the experience.
To my fellow Star Wars fans, if you’ve got a PC that can run it you really owe it to yourself to pick it up at some point. Forceflow, I’m talking to you my man.
After thumbnailing, it’s often time for more reference. Folks around me have commented on how PB resembles me in real life. Actually, all our characters do, because I’m mugging in front of a mirror in order to get those expressions and hands the way I want them. Or forcing my wife or son to take pictures of me in ridiculous poses to work from. Clothed, of course (you perv). Drapery– the way clothing folds and hangs around the body is something that reference can really help out with.
I don’t work with enough nerds my age.
My “Truffle shuffle” jokes generally fall flat, and I’ve completely given up going for the “Bog of Eternal Stench” reference…even if something does, “Smell BAD!”
Coming of age in the 80’s nurtured the nerd soul like no other decade ever has.
The 70’s was too cheese.
The 90’s too flannel.
For the nerd, much of the 80’s beauty is intimately tied to a brilliant catalog of coming of age movies. Nostalgia’s a tricky thing though–try to watch the Karate Kid today and the intimidating Cobra Kai will inspire more giggles than gasps. I suppose this is natural.
That said, the film’s charm remains. Perhaps it’s simply age, but I can’t imagine another The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, PeeWee’s Big Adventure, Labyrinth…or The Neverending Story.
Granted, they’re not all technically coming of age stories–but the teen protagonists were charming and accessible in a way that is lost. Lost in a crowded, derivative, and progressively more insipid youth culture.
Something is lost in pop-culture, but rather than mourn the loss–a meaningless and rather curmudgeonly use of my time–I’ll spend my time dabbling in nostalgia, by compiling a huge Netflix queue to work through with Baby Indy.
In that exercise my Luck Dragon jokes will, at minimum, have an audience of one.
After thumbnails, I work to size, with a #2 pencil and a smooth lightweight paper. No more small stuff, I rule out my page, and panel edges. I work from loose scribbles, slowly tightening and erasing. Dialogue is quickly scribbled in, to give me a sense of how much space it’s going to take up. Hopefully by now my research is serving its purpose and the drawings are flowing without much time spent comparing to reference. Sometimes a new pose or new way to frame the action occurs to me, and I re-draw that panel on a separate sheet because the panel on the main sheet is too cluttered to easily erase. I’ll composite that panel back in as I work on the tight pencils. This stage takes the most effort, as this is when problems in rendering and structure present themselves. It’s a constant effort for me to slow down, and fix or more thoroughly realize an element that’s troublesome, as it’s my nature to put it off. But if I don’t know how it’s supposed to look, and I try to wing it in the inks, it will only look like crap. It’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson– I’m still learning it! Drawing can be a constant fight against our own inertia. Without an undo button, I’m forced to learn good habits, or get used to publishing crap (or throwing a lot of stuff away).
On a small sheet of paper, I quickly sketch the panel layout for the comic. As I do this, I’m reading the script, considering Jack’s instructions, the characters’ dialogue and inner states, and the best way to frame each moment so that the story moves along and is easy to follow. I may go through a few sheets to come up with a page I like. I then fill the panels with gestures/scribbles that indicate character placement, action, emotion, word balloons, etc. As I do this, I’m looking for sticking points– places I expect I’ll have trouble rendering. I’ll shoot reference for those as soon as I can corral my wife or son. I usually do this on a Friday night, just before gaming with Jack and the others– so it’s often rushed. My thumbnails tend to be so abstract that if I look at them a few days later, even I can’t interpret them– so it’s important to move on to the next step soon.
These preparatory drawings are called ‘thumbnails’ because often that’s how big they are. Working small allows you to easily plan the overall composition without getting bogged down in small details.
So for a few days prior to actually tackling a script, I’m studying how (for example) Threepio’s head is shaped, and how his joints bend (or don’t), trying different approaches to rendering his shiny finish. This is the research stage. These aren’t drawings that make it into the comic, usually they aren’t even good. They’re notes that help me remember the details that make Threepio recognizable, and not just a generic humanoid robot.
If we’re referencing a game I own, I put it in and play for a little bit. I pause the game, or set characters up in corners and sketch them until a zombie comes along and eats their brains. I look up playthroughs on Youtube and pause the video to sketch environments. The goal is to get familiar with the characters and settings I’m going to be using.
Happy Halloween! Or Jesus Ween, if you’re so inclined. I love the idea of Jesus Ween because I love double entendres! And I particularly love it when people are oblivious to them. But my favorite form of celebration this time of year has to be the Mexican form. Sugar skulls, papier-mache devils, good food, good drink– Dia De Los Muertos is the way to go.
Good reference material is very important in getting good drawings. When I have to represent a well known game or movie character, I’d better make him or her recognizable. Details of costume, features or location are hard to remember, and reference makes the difference between instant recognition and, “who’s that supposed to be?” If I’m going to draw Red Beret or Baird, I need to find the details and shapes that make them who they are. Even if you play a game religiously, when it comes down to details, you might not remember anything useful. Fortunately, we have the internet to tell us. Unfortunately the internet likes small, blurry images that obscure the detail you seek. The “Large” setting in Google’s image search helps narrow your results to images that might carry enough detail to be useful.
For the record: “Safe Search” is your friend. You have no idea the kind of nasty crap you can expose your brain to with seemingly innocuous search terms. Or maybe you do. I’m not here to judge, you sicko pervert.