Monday, September 06, 2010

Interrupted Flow

This was an unusually long weekend for me – the second one in a row, which is going to make next weekend suck – as I worked from home on Friday (yes, I actually did work, but I still count it as a day off, since I was able to sleep later and didn’t have to make the commute) and was, of course, off today for the holiday.

I spent a good amount of that time drawing, though I only have the one picture – the one I posted on Saturday – to show for it, as I’m not happy with one of the others I finished and need to revisit it, there was another I started on but didn’t finish (more on that in a bit), and yesterday I started on one that’s really, really damned complicated.

Even so, I’m very close to being finished with the complicated one, with, at most, only a couple more hours’ worth of work left on it, much of which will be minor tweaking and experimenting with some color effects.

It was a daunting prospect, and I made a couple of false starts on it, thinking, “Damn, this is going to be too much of a pain; I’ll work on something else instead,” and then thinking, “But if I pull it off, it’ll be really, really cool,” and then trying again, before repeating the cycle.  Eventually, though, I started working on it in earnest, and by around 3 AM this morning, when I finally decided that I needed to crash, I had managed to knock out the most challenging aspects.

It took me a while to get started on it again today, as my old arch-nemesis – hair – was what still awaited me.  Normally I try to knock out the hair early in the process and get it over with so that I can focus on the easier, less labor-intensive aspects, but not this time, as the hair was probably the least challenging aspect of the picture.

(I told you:  it’s a complicated picture.  Lots of really complex shading.)

Eventually I did get started on it, but then I had to stop, as I’d been invited to Scott and Stacy’s house for a barbecue this afternoon.

While it was good to get out of the house, see my friends, and eat something more substantial than the protein drinks and fiber bars that account for a good 60% of my diet on weekends, it did seriously interrupt my flow, and by the time I got home, even though the thought that had been foremost in my mind while I was away was “Must finish picture,” I found that I was utterly exhausted, and that I still had that window of opportunity in which it’s early enough in the day to take a nap without disrupting my ability to sleep through the night.

So I took a nap instead of working on the picture.  Then, feeling refreshed, it was back to the old computer to finish things up, right?


Not so much.  The flow, it seems, is difficult to restore once interrupted.

It didn’t really help that post-nap I felt even more tired, so when I finally sat down at the computer and contemplated finishing the picture I was incapable of putting stylus to screen.

Maybe tomorrow…

As for the other picture I mentioned earlier, I had started on it after one of the false starts on the complicated picture.  It’s considerably simpler – and the goal was to actually make the finished product even simpler, though sometimes, paradoxically, that proves to be complex – and should have been something I could have knocked out in a couple of hours.

Again, not so much.

Part of the challenge was that I decided to use it as a test of a new art program I got after hearing it referred to as “the bee’s knees” at the panel on creating comic art digitally I attended last weekend at the Con.

It seems like it could be cool – honestly, what’s so cool about a bee’s knees anyway? – but I’m not really a fan of the interface, and while it’s easy enough to fire it up and start working, there are some issues I’ve run into that a proving to be a stumbling block.  One of the problems I’ve encountered is resolution, and I’m not sure how to get around it.

Basically, it defaults to a crazy-high resolution, since it’s designed for print – it is, after all, a program specifically for creating comic books, or, more specifically, manga, but despite the differences between American comics and Japanese manga, the basics are the same – and (I think), as a result, the on-screen preview, which is a much lower resolution, kind of looks like…crap.

At least, when you get above a certain zoom level.  But while that’s true of Photoshop as well, normally the crappiness doesn’t really come into play until you get above 100%, whereas with this it starts to look crappy if you get above 25%.  It makes it difficult to judge the quality of your work when what’s displaying looks like pixelated garbage.

There may be some way around it, such as setting resolution or display preferences, but I don’t know how to fix that as of yet.

Still, I finished the line art and found that, for a first attempt – especially considering that it was a big change from my typical workflow, as it was done entirely freehand, or one of my more typical styles – it wasn’t total garbage.  However, I really didn’t like the color tools – again, it may be a matter of tweaking the preferences – so I exported it to Photoshop format and started on the coloring in there.  Once I got back into familiar territory, though, and had a better on-screen representation of my work – it still looked kind of ragged at zoom levels higher than 25%, though – I found that, while still not horrible, it wasn’t as good as I thought, so I decided that I would revisit both the picture and the program later.

Anyway, I just wanted to do a quick post – too late, I know – about my weekend.

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