What I have learned in the last 5 years is that quality takes time. About 6 months ago I began speaking with Kislay Mukherjee, a former PLU colleague who is currently working as a DBA at Amazon, about making a short film. Both of us have an interest in moving into the film production industry. The film making industry is a interesting field that has no formal process for getting in. It used to be that you had to live in Los Angeles or New York, and you had to know some one in the business. With the democratization of production due to technology advancement anyone can make films both short and feature length. Being software developers we are applying much of the software development rigor to our short film production process. We began our pre-production in January of this year meeting and agreeing to meet Sundays for an hour. These meeting tend to go over our allotted time, but this is always a good sign. Like I have said before in some of my other posts, that to be effective one must start with the end in mind. We settled on the target of the Tacoma Film with a due date of June this year for submission. We spent a month working on the script and developed an abstract science fiction love story. We are currently in the stage of story boarding and are about to begin casting. Technology has not only allow for more people to make films. It also allows more people to participate in film production, because it allows us to over come the space and distance. As we move along we hope to recruit more remote and local resources to complete our film, but I am of the belief that this will way of the production in the future, and the more that you plan the better your results.
How do you start a revolution? How do you get people to change? Everyday I watch the United States political and financial system spiral out of control. I often wonder what I can do in the little bit of free time I have. I can go and
occupy some place, I could join a group and protest, but I feel my time is best spent making art. So I have been wondering how can I say something with what I do, comics. Smile Revolution, the rebirth of my comic formally called “the Legend of the Broken Hearts” will follow Bunnie and her friend Kat as this jokingly start a revolution. I think that changing the world starts with very small gestures, like saying hello to the people you see on the street. Brightening the day of a cashier by placing the money directly in their hands, and not getting upset when people laps on minor social norms. I don’t have time to get actively involve with changing the world, but if I can make a difference in my little corner I would have to say job well done.
A few years back I created a portfolio to find work. The collection of work gave me an overview of where I was in my career. What I realized was that I hadn’t finished anything. George Lucas said that a movie is never finished it is abandoned. I often abandon my project before getting very far. So how do you finish? The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is about the practices of people who get things done. The habits are simple things anyone can do. Although habit one is probably the most important, “Be Proactive.” Habit two resonates more with where I am with my projects, “Begin with the End In Mind.” To put it simply, make a plan. Have a destination, it will make the journey much easier and shorter. I wanted to put habit two into practice so I created a layout sketch for the Archive Project book I am aiming to complete by the end of the month. The Archive Project is a preview into my projects. This will free me up from the stress of having to rush one of my stories to completion. I realize that stories take a really long time to craft and even longer when you are doing it alone. That is the primary reason I have gone to a open source creative process.
The goal of my Open Comic Project is to show that free/libre open source software can produce professional quality products, provided you have a clearly identified target and community involvement.
Inking is perhaps the most challenging part of comic creation. Inking comics is the process of going over the pencil work with ink to clean up and refine the artwork. Some people work with brushes, I use Faber-Castell PITT artist pens. I use primarily the fine and small pen for line work and the brush pen for fills. One of the biggest concerns of inking a page is line consistency. Line consistency is the ability to maintain uniformity of the line. The two main factors in maintaining uniformity are the pens that you use and the confidence with which the stroke is made. A hesitant line is shaky and wavy; a confident line is straight and true. Making a slow careful line will more often not produce the desired results. For inking I go to the Jedi and a quote from Qui Gon Jinn, “Concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Use your instincts.“ The goal of inking is to maintain the life and energy of the pencil work. Inking is drawing, except for the fact that you are committed to the line you make. It is easy to get lost in all the lines of the image, so it helpful to have someone else review your work. Ink on the page is permanent, and mistakes can test your resolve, but if all fails and you mess up your page you can always redraw. Don’t be afraid to destroy your art while moving it forward. Take a chance and you might just make one of those beautiful mistakes that help artist evolve.
A friend of mine who is a great graphic designer has now decided to pursue finance. He claims he has run out of ideas. How can someone run out of ideas? All the projects I am currently working on are ideas that I conceived more then 7 years ago. It is time to write down your ideas. Don’t wait, get them on paper. It may be another 30 years before you get to them but they will be there, patiently waiting.
Where do ideas come from? Where do ideas go? For me they come from the doodles I do in my sketch books. The sketch book is a forum for pictures and texts. It allows me to work through ideas without worrying about structure. I have sketchbooks in my crates which go back to highschool, and I plan to work my way backwards completing these projects.
The Disciples of the Night was originally Nick Butler’s Head Trip. The Head Trip was a graphic narrative, based on my time in L.A.. It then turned into diary entries, and from there it evolved into a story incorporating vampires, angels and gods. The book has evolved over the years into a story about an artist struggling with addiction and distraction.
Ideas evolve, plant the seed, and as you grow as an artist these pieces can be reaped and remixed into new ideas. Old ideas become new ideas.
I wanted to do this page all digital, but last night I had an analog relapse. I often return to pencil and paper because of the dexterity and control that I have with it. Currently I am using a Wacom Bamboo for my pen input. The Bamboo has multi-touch and a pressure sensitive pen, but unlike pencil and paper you are drawing on the table top and the image appears on the screen. With pencil and paper there is a direct connection, which you don’t get with the Wacom. I have been searching for solutions to this disconnect since I began drawing on the computer. When I began my current job I was issued an HP Tablet PC and I was sure that this was the solution to my drawing problems, but quickly realized it was to bulky and hot to spend hours on it drawing. The announcement of the iPad re-invigorated my hopes for a useful digital drawing tool. Soon I realized that once I put stuff in the iPad it was a challenge to get it back. My biggest issue with digital illustration tools is the feel. The tactile nature of pencil lead and paper is familiar and intuitive. I know digital input devices are competing more and more with traditional pencil, but when I am in a crunch I will always go back to my old friends to figure it out.
“To estimate the time it takes to do a task: estimate
the time you think it should take, multiply by 2, and
change the unit of measure to the next highest unit.
Thus we allocate 2 days for a one hour task.”
At the beginning of this blog I estimated that I would be producing a page a day. If we apply Westheimer’s rule, 2 weeks.
Yesterday I was browsing the Internet for animation and found Burning Safari. Burning Safari is an animated short about a space explorers who has an interesting encounter with a planet native. Produced by students from Gobelins, a French media design school, the site contains videos that let you into their creative process. These video portfolios allow the viewer to see all the iterations of the character and background design.
Following the Burning Safari Team’s lead I am trying to do more pre-visualization. The piece today is a character turn around for the father and daughter from the Revenge script. The turn around will make it easier to find character poses.