Sespie Sketch 2

I think I skewed a little young in the sketches from yesterday. I re-checked my notes and she's supposed to be 11 to 14 years old. These look a little closer, and a little better, I think.

Sespie Sketch 1

This is Sespie, a young girl that's taken in by Ruz and Solace at the Surly Unicorn. Her design needs a lot of work, these are painfully rough.

Solace Sketch 1

Marc decided on a name change for the protagonist, to Solace, that seems more name-y than what I was using, Sanctuary.

Tonight I sat down and rather than try to use a celebrity as reference, or set up a front view model-style sheet I just decided I was going to enjoy drawing for once. I think it shows in the sketch.

Sailing The Ether Seas

I actually finished it! Either just on time or a day early, too. I think I'm going to play around with a coloring style I've been mulling around in my head, though it'll probably be a while before I get around to it.

I enlisted the help of my friend Marc to write The Surly Unicorn and I'm interested in tackling the comic in earnest because of his added talent. Back to work on the girls!

Inked Dragonparrot and Ship

Moving along fairly well but I'm going to have to hit it hard tomorrow to get it done in time. I need to figure out how to work faster if I'm ever going to do a regular comic.

Inked Pirate Girl

I got a late start tonight and only had time to ink the pirate girl. I think she turned out fairly well, though.

CONduit 20 Coloring Book "Pencils"

Airquotes around pencils because it's not really pencil, but fits in the process the same way pencil sketches do in animation or comic books. Something to lay your inks down on top of. Which is the next step and good thing too, it's due this Friday.

I'm probably going to nudge the upper sail higher as it's making the composition feel too claustrophobic, especially for an outer-space awe-inspiring wonder piece. I'll also probably change the direction of the comet as it feels to same-y with the planet's rings.

CONduit 20 Coloring Book Sketch 2

Made myself sit down and thumbnail four more sketches even though I was exhausted from working in the yard today. I need to corner myself more often, I think.

CONduit 20 Coloring Book Sketch 1

CONduit, Salt Lake's fantasy & sci-fi convention, is coming up on May 28th-30th and they're asking for submissions for a coloring book they plan on selling at the show. The theme for this year, the 20th anniversary, is Space Pirates.

After a bit of a mental block last night I got things moving along today. Nothing spectacular but definitely a step in the right direction and a good starting point. The deadline is May 7th so I've got to keep at this to get it done in time. After that, back to The Surly Unicorn concept work.

Dendra Sketch 2

You know it's a bad night when the only good sketch you produce is the one eyeballed off photosource. Ugh, what a terrible batch.

Dendra Sketch 1

This is Dendra, Resskin's adopted daughter from a fallen war comrade. Her personality is an impulsive optimist, always seeing the best in people and throwing herself into whatever she decides to do.

Nothing fancy today, just some photo sketch-overs to start getting a feel for shapes of features.

Resskin Sketch 5

Fifth time's the charm, right? I think I may have finally nailed it.

Resskin Sketch 4

This time I tried making him 8 1/2 heads high rather than 7. He comes out looking less cartoony and more super-heroic in proportion. It feels more "my" style but I'm not sure how it suits the character. Thoughts?

Resskin Sketch 3

Something still seems off about his proportions, though not quite as bad as the drawing from yesterday. Still liking his face.

Resskin Sketch 2

I definitely got his build down and I'm getting closer to his face. I took aspects of the various faces I drew yesterday to try to get something fatherly yet grizzled war vet.

Resskin Sketch 1

The owner of the illustrious Surly Unicorn, Resskin or Ruz for short. Now if I can just decide which direction to go. He's an ex-adventurer/goblin war veteran and see him as a grizzled old father-figure that's probably grumpier than he should be to his customers.

Sketch 2

This is based vaguely off Rachel McAdams, though she may look a little too generic-comic-girl. Part of me wants to go with a looser style, the other part says the hell with it, just embrace it. Still trying to decide on a name for her as well.

There are three primary characters to the strip. This girl, a blonde outwardly friendly, inwardly exasperated sort of straight-woman for the strip; a dark haired elf girl who's the eternal optimist who is slightly impulsive; the owner of the bar and adoptive father of the elf girl who I haven't been able to nail any personality traits down for.

I will be working on this nightly so expect much progress.

Done Faffing About

I've been scarce. Initially it was because of a new baby, then it was because a friend expressed interest in helping with Battlesquad High which caused us to rethink things from the ground up.

In the meantime I discovered Questionable Content and marveled at his artistic improvement over the length of the comic. "Hey!" I say to myself, "I want to get better too! Maybe I should start a comic."

Maybe I should. And thus, The Surly Unicorn was born. Rough sketch of one of the main characters, Sanctuary.

Plotting and Naming

I've got most of the scenes mapped out for the first act, though only a bit of dialog. Still, having all the scenes planned out should facilitate further writing nicely.

I've also gone through and named over half the characters. Until I decide to change them as per my modus operandi. It still helps when writing out scenes to refer to someone by name rather than "girlfriend" or "best friend".

Building Up Character Bio For Rakesh

I spent tonight trying to get a sense of what this kid is like, what he's good at and what he's not. What his childhood was like and how that's affected him into his teenage years. I've thought about his reaction to being yanked out of school and how he'll behave once he's at the battle school. I've also thought a little bit about his family and his relationship with them.

There's a lot more to do but he's slowly coming into focus. Once I have something I'm satisfied with I'll post his official bio along with a polished portrait of him.

Writing Is Hard

So I have all these amorphous ideas in my head. General feelings of the universe for the game, vague emotions and traits for the characters, a sense of the gameplay.

Quantifying and distilling it into gritty detail when it comes time to write the story has proven vexing thus far. Even character bios have proven elusive. Back to the page!

Even BETTER Sketch of New Protagonist

Yeah, this is much closer to what I'm shooting for, though it's still not spot on.

Sketch of New Protagonist

This was done after a few hours looking for reference of different Bollywood actors, and then being away from the computer to look at said reference. Very rough but I thought the eyes are leaning towards what I'm looking for.

Finding A Style That Works With Mine

I almost threw up my hands tonight and said "fine, I'll miss my red X on the calendar for the day." That seemed entirely too defeatist and, well, typical me.

So I regrouped.

My normal art style, while being illustrational, is still fairly realistic in body and face proportions. I have the hardest time nudging myself towards cartoony. I envy people who can do more with less lines.

I was trying that style last night when I just couldn't seem to put anything I liked down on paper. For some reason it freaks my flow when I have a night like that and I was hesitant to pick up the stylus again tonight. Luckily I was searching for some examples of manga eyes and found a youtube video. There was a comment under it that basically said, "He did ok but he's no Mark Crilley." so of course I had to look the guy up.

This guy has an awesome set of how to draw videos he sticks up on youtube, mostly in the manga style but he had one on "realistic" manga. It's still stylized but it follows more natural proportions. If you've seen Death Note, that's where he took inspiration.

So I decided to give it a shot and it felt SO much more natural than what I was trying to force last night, while still looking like a nod to the japanese style. I think I've found my look.

The Only Constant Is Change

I like the name Marcus Orr and will use it for another character. Today is a partial fail because I couldn't get a portrait that even came close to acceptable. The biggest reason is because I've named our hero...


I've got my work cut out for me as I've always had the hardest time drawing ethnically distinct people. No time like the present, right?

Damned Names

I spent more time today brainstorming meta plot ideas with my friend Marc and planning stuff that will only be seen games into the future.

In regards to prelude I made a fairly significant change to the protagonist, who is now named Marcus Orr until I arbitrarily decide I don't like that name. I hope to post a brief bio on him tomorrow with a new headshot.

Until then I will continue the painful, agonizing process of naming the nine-odd characters I've written in so far. Wait, eleven now.

Dipping My Toe in the Writing Pool

I switched gears a little today and decided to start on the plot. After doing so I realized getting more story done might be a really good idea as it will give me a better handle on exactly what scenes and characters I'll need in the end.

I've already waffled on the first couple scenes (kid is yanked from class and taken to his parents, where they're told he's been recruited for mech academy) because they feel too familiar, but at least they propelled me through fleshing out the first group of scenes up until you meet the first date-able character.

That's given me 9 backgrounds, 4 CG's (full screen event pictures), and at least 9 characters that need sprites, though not necessarily each with a full range of expressions. That's for maybe ten to fifteen minutes of gameplay.

I've got my work cut out for me.
(special thanks to Marc for letting me bounce some ideas off him and come up with the start of a nice metaplot)

First Day of (mostly) Lack

So last week was my early week at work, leaving the office at 2:30 and having the rest of the night. This week I pick up my girls at 4:30 and it's dinner and getting them ready for bed until 7:30. Tonight add a podcast for a few hours on top of that and it's pretty much a bust.

I don't like this feeling.

I thought about the game today, even without producing anything for it. I'm trying to decide what theme to name the various space stations the various competing academies are based in. Greek gods are overdone. Do I go with gaelic mythology and theme it with a protagonist named Fagan Shaw? Station Fomori, Firbolg, and Tuatha?

Uniforms: Third Set

I think these two are my strongest, closest to the military cadet vibe I wanted to give off. I figure with the coat off it looks like number 3 from a few posts back, though I like the engineer boots more than the oxfords I paired with that outfit.

I may even use both 7 and 8, 7 for regular everyday wear and 8 for more ceremonial occasions.

What's In A Name? Everything!

Today feels like a cop-out day because I don't have any new artwork to post. Between a funeral and a baby shower I just don't have the time I'd like to sit down and work on Battlesquad today. I would still like to put something game-related up, though.

I'm one that likes to buck stereotypes in my projects and I've already started that a little, making the protagonist a self-assured pilot. I'm carrying this over to his love interests as well.

I've been hesitant to write too much about them because they're still nameless. Hell, even the protagonist is still nameless though I've got a few ideas. Picking names is one of my least favorite aspects of creating characters and story.

The name you give your characters is just as important, if not more so, than their character design. People fondly remember the names of their favorite characters instantly, decades later. So I typically spend way too much time juggling first and last names until I find something that sounds just right and five minutes later it's still not good enough.

So far I've debated naming the protagonist Fagan or Kyran Shaw. I don't have a name for either of the girls, but the girl from the engineering program is going to be a free-spirited, uninhibited, beat-of-her-own-drum sex pot.

If I could just settle on a name.

Uniforms: Second Set

I didn't get the four additional uniform designs up for today that I wanted due to lack of time. I was still able to get two done in my limited time today, though.

Uniforms: First Set

Here is my first brainstorm of uniform designs. They're mostly cribbed from various sources and mixed up a little so they're not too blatant a rip off. Hopefully I can squeeze out four more tomorrow.

Military School Uniforms

I sketched for an hour tonight trying to find a pose I liked for uniform sketch-overs. I was hoping I would get a few done but it just wasn't clicking. At least I've got the pose now and I can hammer some out tomorrow.

Sketching the Protagonist

I had the roughest time forcing myself to sit down and draw tonight but I eventually found some reference and roughed out a first portrait. I'm not sure I completely like it but it's a start.

I'm a little tired of the usual nebbish protagonists of most visual novels so I opted to make mine a little more self confident.

The Seeds of Battlesquad High

I've had the idea for Battlesquad High in the back of my head for a few years now, since at least 2005. The spark came from finding an obscure Japanese game, Princess Maker 2, on Home of the Underdogs.

I don't recall if I found it before or after picking up the first Sims game, but there's something about time management and stat progression that absolutely grips me. Deciding between increasing strength and getting paid by working on a farm versus going to school and increasing knowledge and refinement, for some reason, is my idea of fun.

I've also always been a fan of turn-based strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Front Mission, and Disgaea. Guiding individual units through a string of battles, raising their stats, buying them better weapons, seeing their performance improve in battle. You almost get attached.

Toss in a love for the battle school concept from Ender's Game and a steady diet of anime before I even knew what anime was and Battlesquad High was the inevitable result.

You guide a team of mech pilots through a season of competition against other schools. You can befriend the brains in the engineer corps to help R&D new mods for your mechs, as well as people from the officer school to lead and give advantages to your pilots.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself, though, as my first project will focus on establishing the universe and some of the characters. I'm going to do that through the medium of Visual Novel and add gameplay concepts from there. There are already a few "sim" type VN's (Princess Maker 2 was a raise-your-daughter sim) made using the Ren'Py engine so it's a good choice for me, and I have a little experience with the Python programming language.

So teens in outerspace, making friends, dating, designing and piloting robots. Sounds perfect!

Starts With One

I've seen mentioned in my regular online haunts the concept of a 365 project. Something you add to every single day of the year, come hell or high water. People talk about blogging every single day, taking a photograph a day, a drawing a day, writing a page a day. I appreciate the concept behind the goal for creative types, the only way to get better is to consistently practice.

Internet, I have this idealized version of myself. This guy, he eschews video games, TV, and general web browsing to produce great works of art. I said idealized. I want to become this idealized version of myself and this is my way of working towards it.

So here's my new blog to realize this goal. It wouldn't be me if I wasn't already two days late on the project but it is my resolution to put something on this blog every single day. A piece of art, a bit of story, a character, gameplay mechanics. (That's right, I'm going for the gusto, a PC game)

Tomorrow I'll describe the background for the game I'm working on, something that's been in the back of my mind for a few years now.