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A Cavalcade of Covers: Ramona

Last time’s dive into Wrinkle of Time was too much fun, so I had to do it again. For whatever reason, Ramona doesn’t seem to have had its covers reinterpreted as much as Wrinkle, but there are still quite a few, as usual spanning a range of good, bad, and indifferent.

Beady-eyed Ramona
These cartoony editions were quite popular for a while. I’ve never liked them. There’s a certain energy to the linework, but those beady little eyes give me the creeps. Unfortunately I’m not sure who the artist is. 3/10

Ramona of the 90s
Hoo boy but these airbrushed “photoreal” covers were popular in the 90s. (The Boxcar Children books all had them, too.) Most of my Beverly Cleary books were from this edition. I guess it must have been a real golden age for these artists, but it strikes me as pretty uninteresting now. And what is Beezus wearing? It’s not Easter, despite Ramona’s bunny ears. 5/10

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Behind the Scenes: Lynch & Lucas

In terms of the sheer amount of time spent on each page, Lynch & Lucas is probably the most labor-intensive comic I’ve ever done, so I thought it might be nice to do a quick overview of where all that time went.

The comic’s text comes from this short interview with David Lynch. My first task was to get a transcription that I could work from. First I thought I would have to transcribe it by hand, but then I remembered that YouTube generates a transcript automatically! (Click on the “…” icon and choose “Open transcript”.) It wasn’t perfect but it was more than good enough for my purposes. I printed it out and reworked my script on paper. If you watch the video you’ll notice that I rearranged the order of some of the sentences, but other than that the whole thing is more or less verbatim.

Next I had to figure out how I was going to draw the characters. Drawing likenesses is not one of my strong suits so it took some experimentation to come up with the best way to do it. Generally I just redraw the person over and over again until I hit on a simplification that seems to work. With George Lucas it took a few tries, most of which looked nothing like him at all, before I got a result that seemed usable:
George Lucas sketch process

Note that I also switched to a brush pen before doing the final drawing there. Maybe that helped get a good result; who knows. In any event, I thought that one brush pen drawing ended up being a better likeness of Lucas than most of the appearances in the final comic. Oh well!

David Lynch was next up. Since the comic features both his younger and older likenesses, I had to figure out how to draw both. I started with his current look.
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Two new “biographicomics”!

The reason Non-Seen updates have been a bit sluggish lately is that I’ve been sidetracked by some side projects, including some short biographical vignette comics. These have been announced on Twitter previously but not everyone is on there (such as me. I’m not really on there.) so I thought I’d better mention them on here as well.

First up, we have Igor Stravinsky telling us about his dreams of the perfect interval:
Igor Stravinsky's Interval Dream

And then we have David Lynch’s tale of his fateful meeting with George Lucas:
When David Lynch met George Lucas

Normal updates to The Non-Seen should resume soon!

A Cavalcade of Covers: A Wrinkle in Time

While working on my review, I couldn’t help but notice that A Wrinkle in Time has had a bajillion different covers, of varying degrees of quality. Unfortunately I have no information about the artists behind most of these covers, but let’s take a look anyway!

wrinkle_airbrush

Well isn’t this a delightful bit of van art! We’ve got Mrs. Whatsit as the centaur, the kids, an alien landscape, and some sort of misplaced line of emphasis under the word “in.” I give it a 6/10.

wrinkle_petersis

This was a very common edition when I was a kid. It was painted by Peter Sis, a peculiar Czech illustrator who produced some very strange children’s picture books. It’s an interesting image, although I’m not sure it really represents the book all that well. 5/10. Sorry Peter!

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Color flatting for Linux!

Hello everyone! If you’re like me, you’ve spent plenty of time thinking, “I wish Linux had an automated color-flatting tool.” Well, your days of wishing and hoping are over, because I have produced exactly the tool you’ve been wishing for. Behold:
pyflatter

For more information, check out the PyFlatter page, or just go download it on GitHub. Enjoy!

Behind the Scenes of The Non-Seen

As I launch into the exciting world of Chapter 2, I thought this might be a nice time to give you all a little peek into the process of making each page. Let’s take a look at the making of Page 1, start to finish.

The page begins as a script. I went back and forth a lot on what to open the chapter with, and ultimately decided to show Claire waking up on the first page, then cut to the parents talking on the second and third pages. Here’s what my script said:

We open with Claire awakening the following morning, happy at first and then transitioning to irritation as she thinks back to the events of the night before. She wants answers. She gets up.

Ruth is out at the shoreline, collecting marine life samples. Alan meets her with a cup of coffee on the way to the lighthouse. They discuss his dreams and his unsettled thoughts over the last couple days. Ruth mentions that she’s going on a trawling trip later.

As you can see, my scripts generally don’t include dialogue or any sort of blocking; I find that stuff easier to work out in thumbnails. Here’s how I initially broke down these three pages:
First draft- thumbnails for first three pages

As you may have noticed, these pages don’t really resemble that which I finally drew. These were a first draft and I ultimately scrapped them and tried again. (The slashes across the pages indicate that they are not for use in the final comic.) I eliminated the page with Claire because it seemed unnecessary and because I have a bad tendency to start chapters with characters waking up. Instead I decided to jump straight to the parents, and to merge their two pages into one, as it seemed a lot of that was filler. Here’s the final thumbnail (with this and all other images, I will display only the first panel. Click to see the rest):

second_draft_small

As you can see, the dialogue and blocking are more or less solidified at this point, and the panel arrangements have been decided.
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The Woodman’s Reward

oz_final_sm

Illustration for the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference 2014. Linework: Hunt 100, Color: Krita

The Non-Seen: Debut!

The Non-Seen: Logo

Hey, remember that teaser I posted back in December? Well, it turns out it’s not another abandoned project, because Chapter 1 of that comic, which will is called The Non-Seen, will be debuting in the Comic section on April 1. I’d hoped to post this announcement a lot earlier so that there could be a period of anticipation, but I was too preoccupied with the comic itself to get the announcement together. The Reader Orientation is available now, and the first few pages will all appear on Tuesday. For the first month there will be two pages a week, and after that it’s probable that I’ll have to go to one page per week, but we’ll see. Enjoy!

Unity Test

I’ve been wanting to gain some familiarity with the Unity game engine, so I did a little test with some old assets from Into the Titan. This, as you may recall, is the darkroom and the hallway leading up to it. I baked some nice lightmaps, which makes it considerably prettier. Comparison images are below the jump.

Meteorite Research Center passageway in Unity

Darkroom in Unity

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Small Game Project #2

church02_th

Texturing is not done, but it looks pretty nice already (at least I think so). I’m painting these textures by hand in watercolor. Most of the lighting here is dynamic (enabling a nice flashlight effect, not shown here), although the sunbeams on the floor are baked. More to come!

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